Red Hat: Next Redmond?

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-08-26 Print this article Print

There is concern in the Linux community that Red Hat will become the 'Microsoft of the Linux world.'

Concern is growing in the Linux community that the forthcoming UnitedLinux distribution will not be able to meet the enterprise server challenge of Red Hat Inc. in the United States.

Red Hats dominance is worrisome to some industry players, who say the Raleigh, N.C., company needs effective competition to prevent it from becoming a Microsoft Corp. among Linux vendors and to ensure the operating system continues to develop in an open way.

International Data Corp. reported this month that Red Hat won nearly three-quarters of the $80 million in U.S. Linux sales last year. Most of the balance went to SuSE Linux AG, the report said.

UnitedLinux partners say there is strong interest in their product despite the strength of Red Hat. Caldera International Inc.s new president and CEO, Darl McBride, said the UnitedLinux group will offer Linux users and enterprise customers an alternative to Red Hat Linux. "Also, if you combine the assets of the United-Linux members, we are the biggest Linux vendor," McBride said.

Sun Microsystems Inc., new to the Linux field, is going so far as to claim that the more Red Hat penetrates the enterprise, the closer it comes to making a proprietary version of its Advanced Server, according to Jonathan Schwartz, Suns executive vice president of software, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Stacey Quandt, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., also in Santa Clara, said this is not the case, although Advanced Server does contain bleeding-edge I/O and performance customization that is not available in standard Linux distributions. This could have led to perceptions that it is becoming proprietary, Quandt said.

Red Hat Vice President Mark de Visser scoffed at the notion that the companys products are becoming more proprietary. "We started as an open-source company, and we remain one," de Visser said. "Our commitment to open source remains absolute, no matter what our competitors are saying."

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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