Red Hat to Protect Linux Customers

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-01-20 Print this article Print

Red Hat follows HP's and Novell's lead by announcing a Linux indemnification program that will protect its customers' Linux investments.

NEW YORK—Red Hat Inc. on Tuesday will follow the lead of Hewlett-Packard Co. and Novell Inc. by announcing a plan to protect its enterprise Linux customers. The news comes just as the Linux and open-source faithful are gathering here for the annual LinuxWorld conference and expo this week. The plan, to be known as the Open Source Assurance Plan, is designed to protect customers Linux investments and ensure they are legally able to continue to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux without any interruption.
Red Hats move comes just a week after Novell, of Provo, Utah, set up a Linux Indemnification Program for its SuSE Enterprise Linux customers, under certain conditions, with protection against intellectual property challenges to Linux and to help reduce the barriers to Linux adoption in the enterprise.
Red Hats and Novells indemnification moves also follow that of HP, which in September announced that it will indemnify its customers against any legal liability from the use of Linux. Click here to read more about HPs Linux indemnification program. At that time Martin Fink, a vice president at Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP, said the company will indemnify new customers who buy Linux from HP, agree not to make unauthorized changes to the source code and sign a standard support contract. The need to indemnify enterprise Linux users follows legal action by The SCO Group against IBM for allegedly incorporating parts of proprietary Unix code into Linux. SCO holds the rights to Unix. Red Hats move will also intensify the pressure on IBM to consider indemnifying its Linux customers, something the Armonk, N.Y., company has not done. Scott Handy, a Linux vice president at IBM, told eWEEK there is "no change in our policy toward customer indemnification." Bryan Sims, vice president of business development at Red Hat, said in a statement sent to eWEEK on Monday night that a key feature of the Open Source Assurance Program is an Intellectual Property Warranty, which ensures that, if an infringement issue is identified in Red Hat Enterprise Linux software code, Red Hat will replace the infringing code. "Red Hats warranty assures customers that they can use Red Hat Enterprise Linux and related solutions without interruption. The warranty is available for all customers having a valid registered subscription to Red Hat Enterprise Linux or related solutions," Sims said. "Enterprise platform deployments are key investments that should be protected. We have provided this guarantee to many of our large enterprise customers and we are now extending this guarantee to all customers who use Red Hat Enterprise Linux," he said in the statement. The Open Source Now Fund, created by Red Hat in August to help companies with legal expenses associated with litigation related to the development of software under the GPL or other open-source licenses, will now become a feature of the Open Source Assurance program, Sims said.
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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