We will always send our code upstream and abide by the open source licenses our products use, which includes the GPL. When I say we abide by the various open source licenses that apply to our code, I mean it. I was shocked and disappointed about how many people got so much wrong about open source software and the GPL in particular —especially, industry watchers and even veterans who I think should know better. The details — including open source licenses and rights — matter, and these are things Red Hat has helped to not only form but also preserve and evolve.
I feel that much of the anger from our recent decision around the downstream sources comes from either those who do not want to pay for the time, effort and resources going into RHEL or those who want to repackage it for their own profit. This demand for RHEL code is disingenuous.
In the strictest sense, Red Hat has a point in that as long as the company abides by the various licenses covering the code they use, alter, and redistribute, there’s really nothing anyone else can really demand from them. Abiding by the licensing terms of open source code is the bedrock and foundation upon which the entire open source ecosystem is built, and suddenly demanding people do more is actually not fair – if you want to demand more from the downstream users of your code than, for instance, the GPL demands, then you should choose a different, stricter license.
That being said, the open source community is also, as the term implies, a community, and taking something you have been providing for decades away from a community merely for financial gain – which is ultimately what their reasoning comes down to – is never going to go down well. And since you’re building upon and are part of that same community, you’re biting the very hand that feeds you.
I understand Red Hat’s position, and as long as they abide by the licensing terms in question, I’m not going to be mad about it. However, it’s still shitty, and it still negatively affects a ton of people.