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Shared stories are the cornerstone of community. And in open organizations like Red Hat—where community is paramount—shared stories are especially important to the collective identity that binds participants together.

At Red Hat, we're quite fond of the stories that inform our shared history, purpose, and culture. We've just collected some of them in a new version of the Book of Red Hat, which is available now.

Here are just three of the community-defining moments the book recounts.

The mission statement

Red Hat's mission statement—"to be the catalyst in communities of customers, contributors, and partners creating better technology the open source way"—is a guiding beacon for everyone who makes us what we are. And as you read the Book of Red Hat, you won't be surprised to learn that the statement itself came to life the open source way. 

More than 400 Red Hatters collaborated on the statement to refine it, hone it, and ensure it spoke precisely and powerfully about our role as enablers and stewards of open source software. It's as compelling today as it was in 2009, when we revealed it to the world.

The marketing pitch

Make money selling free software? In the 1990s, when Red Hat was in its infancy, it was a wild notion. Few people understood how it could work. Why would someone choose open source software over proprietary alternatives? The idea needed clear—and convincing—explaining. And few people were better at it than Red Hat co-founder Bob Young

A former typewriter salesman, Bob knew how to make the benefits of open source resonate with people who had never heard of it. "Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?" he asked during a ZDNet interview in May 2000—a powerful (rhetorical) question that emphasized the benefit of being able to inspect and tinker with the tools we use. The Book of Red Hat reprints part of the interview transcript—a testament to the enduring impact of Bob's pitches.

The leap of faith

The open source software powering Red Hat's solutions has changed dramatically since our early days. And Red Hat's business model has evolved just as much. In the Book of Red Hat, you'll read more about our early ventures selling boxed copies of software on retail shelves. "Our open source development model was innovative," the book says, "but our distribution and business models were conventional." That changed in 2002 with the introduction of Red Hat Enterprise Linux—and a shift to the subscription-based revenue model that broke with industry norms. It's still in place today.

You'll find many more of the milestones that shaped Red Hat in the Book of Red Hat.


Bryan Behrenshausen is a community architect in the Open Source Program Office at Red Hat.

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