RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Mark Webbink, general counsel for Red Hat, certainly pulls no punches when it comes to the expanding dispute between the Hatters and Novell and Oracle on the Linux software front.

Writing in Linux Magazine under the headline “A Question of Trust,” with a byline of Mark H. Webbink, Esq., the lawyer declared that what customers “value more than anything else in a vendor” is trust.

In other words, trust Red Hat – don’t trust Novell, Oracle, Sun or anyone else.

“Now some may consider trust somewhat abstract, particularly in this context, but it really isn’t,” Webbink wrote. “Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as ‘assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.’ Given that definition, let’s analyze each vendor’s recent announcements to measure trust.”

While conceding Oracle’s launch of “Unbreakable Linux” – a service offering designed to woo Red Hat customers away from support services – is “for the most part legal”, Webbink went on to ask Oracle “can be trusted” to deliver on promises.

It’s his contention that “Oracle intends to merely rebrand Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” and asks if Oracle has the Red Hat Enterprise Linux experience needed to deliver on promises.

“That remains to be seen, but if Oracle’s support of its own software is any indication, don’t hold your breath,” he wrote.

Ouch! Not very nice legalese.

Further, Webbink said Oracle had “simply pulled information from Red Hat’s website and passed it along.”

Get this:

“You can see where this is headed — why would you trust someone to provide your critical open source software when they display so little character or ability?

Well, certainly Microsoft should be considered trustworthy, shouldn’t they? (Do I really need to answer that question for you?)”

On to Novell. Webbink scorches Novell – the owner of SuSE Linux – for its recent deal with Microsoft. That partnership means Novell can’t be trusted, Webbink wrote.

“No matter how much lipstick you put on that pig, it’s still a pig. It represents a deal done for business expediency, not customer protection.”
At least Sun “gets a passing grade” on trust for opening up Java, Webbink said.

To his credit, Webbink doesn’t spare Red Hat from criticism.

“Red Hat has had a misstep or two along the way, such as discontiuning support for Red Hat Linux without Fedora in place, or announcing the formation of the Fedora Foundation then changing directions,” he conceded.