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

: Does Comparison Go Too Far?"> Some users said comparing Red Hat to Microsoft goes too far. "Red Hats product is open-source. The product comes with the hood wide open rather than welded shut like Microsofts," said Jamin Gray, a programmer in St. Louis and a contributor to the GNU Network Object Model Environment Project.

Lewis Mettler, a software developer in Mountain View, Calif., said the kind of activities Red Hat could engage in are in no way equivalent to what Microsoft could pull off. "Things like Product Activation and more stringent end-user license agreements would drive Red Hat customers away in a heartbeat," Mettler said.

Nevertheless, concern remains regarding the declining U.S. operations presence of UnitedLinux partners Caldera, Turbolinux Inc., SuSE and Conectiva S.A., perhaps a sign that they have ceded the U.S. market to Red Hat in favor of global markets.

Last week, Turbolinux, of Brisbane, Calif., sold its Linux business to Software Research Associates Inc., of Tokyo. The new Turbolinux business will be based in Japan and have fewer than 10 U.S. employees. Earlier this year, Caldera laid off 15 percent of its global work force and shut offices in Massachusetts and Germany. SuSE last year laid off 30 of the 45 people in its Oakland, Calif., office and shifted much of the responsibility for North American operations to its headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany.

As a result, some Linux users say Red Hats lead is unassailable. A software engineer at a large global media and communications company in California, who requested anonymity, said Red Hat has the U.S. market "pretty well sewn up. My company uses our own modified version of Red Hat on over 1,200 Linux servers. Like many other large companies, we have standardized on Red Hat and see little reason to change."

Dan Agronow, vice president of technology for Linux shop, part of The Weather Channel Enterprises Inc., in Atlanta, disagreed, saying his company moved from Red Hat to SuSE Linux. "We found value in another Linux distribution," Agronow said. "American businesses want choice, and having two enterprise-targeted distributions gives us that."

Related stories:
  • UnitedLinux Set for Beta; Caldera Eyes New Era
  • Red Hat Expanding to Corporate Desktop
  • Review: Red Hat Shows a More Limber Linux
  • Linux Vendors Gang Up On Red Hat
  • LinuxWorld Coverage

    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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