I have taken some time from teaching and working on Solaris 10, to attend the first ever RedHat Summit, which happened in New Orleans 1-3 June. I had a fantastic time at the conference itself, as well as outside of it. The setting, organisation, programme, sessions - both keynote speeches and the breakout sessions - were both informative and interesting.
To me, one of the most striking features was the apparent objectivity of the approach. OK, there was a lot of criticism of certain competitors, in connection to their handling of the open source issues, but that was mostly merit-based, but when praise was due, it was acknowledged. There was very little rhetoric or dogma, which was quite refreshing for this kind of event. This is very important, as one of the underlying themes of the conference was "choice". In fact Red Hat is promoting the following definition of Choice: "The Open Source Architecture is built around choice. A choice of architectures, hardware, middleware, applications. How you assemble your solution is up to you."
It was nice to see that they practice what they preach. It would've been destructive of them to have a go at the competition for the sake of it.
I suppose what I'm saying is that this was as much a conference on Open Source as it was on Red Hat products. Both Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have been criticised for their handling of open source issues, yet both were given credit for their efforts in other areas: Sun for supporting the movement preventing the extending of the European IP legislation (which would hinder the open source development), whereas Microsoft was mentioned in a positive (well, non-negative) context of making tentative steps in a collaborative work in relation to inter-operability policies.
Red Hat had in the past come under a lot of criticism when they announced the new model of the