Why I work on OpenShift and Fedora/RHEL

Every weekday for many years now I’ve woken up, dropped my kids off at school, then grabbed a coffee and sat down at my computer to work on OpenShift and Fedora+RHEL.

Doing this for so long, over time I’ve thought about and refined the why I do this, and I want to write it down so that I can refer to this in various places. Some of this is a more condensed/rephrased variant of this blog post.

I was inspired to be here originally (over 20 years ago) by the Free Software movement – one thing in particular I remember is seeing the Emacs start screen linking to the FSF website on our school’s Solaris workstations (In app advertisement worked!). Along with that, one thing I always found fascinating about software in general is the feeling of "the power of creation" – I can type something and make it happen.

Since then, software has become much, much more foundational to our society (in some cases, probably too much re: social media, etc). In particular here the rise of software-as-a-service and the public clouds. And while we say "public" which has connotations of "openness" – these are all very proprietary clouds.

For businesses (and individuals), the level of "lock in" that can occur with these clouds is profound. I work on OpenShift and RHEL because it helps blunt the power and lock-in of those clouds – and crucially we support exactly the same software for on-premise. (There’s really a whole blog post to write about the CoreOS model of having the exact same bits across multiple clouds/onpremise and making that work sanely). And our code is FOSS.

I pay extra attention to bugs for people who are doing Fedora CoreOS, OpenShift/RHEL on premises (particularly bare metal) both because the problem domain is interesting, but I personally want them to succeed. And more generally, computers are everywhere – and so is Linux. Outside the datacenter, from "edge devices" to workstations, I think Red Hat has been a powerful force to sustain FOSS and Linux.

Broadly speaking, a lot of the "why" here aligns with the broader Red Hat values – and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been at Red Hat so long (16 years this month). Initially I worried this would change with the IBM acquisition, but that hasn’t happened at all; I think Red Hat still has a lot of the same "soul" as the company I joined so long ago – although it’s grown many times that size! And despite that growth, it feels far from a "Big Tech" company. On that topic, we have a lot of interesting job openings!

To summarize: Computers are everywhere; FOSS is an important part of ensuring that users/businesses have control over their computers, not the other way around. And Red Hat has done (and I believe will continue to do) a good job of sustaining FOSS in the enterprise. So that’s why when I sit down with my coffee and turn on the computer, it’s to work at Red Hat.

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