Red Hat CEO Talks Up Open-Source Revolution

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-06-02

Red Hat CEO Talks Up Open-Source Revolution

NEW ORLEANS—Red Hat Inc. CEO Matthew Szulik opened the companys first annual trade show, Red Hat Summit, with a keynote speech that was light on news but heavy on preaching to the choir.

In front of about 1,000 attendees, Red Hats Szulik talked about what he called the "open-source revolution." In it, "if youre not doing work to improve society then what is your worth as an organization?" he asked.

Szulik continued to preach the free software religion by saying such crowd pleasers as, "No longer should one vendor dominate 95 percent of software, no longer should patents and copyright be held hostage to laws from the 19th century."

Moving on to business, Red Hats CEO officially announced the arrival of the newly open-sourced FDS (Fedora Directory Server) and the subscription-based RHDS (Red Hat Directory Server).

Click here to read more about the Red Hat Directory Server.

Both programs are LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) servers used to create network-based directories. In turn, these directories can be used to provide infrastructure security and manageability by centralizing application settings, user profiles, group data, policies and access control information.

RHDS and FDS are based on the technology used in assets acquired by Red Hat from America Onlines Netscape Security Solutions division last September. This technology, in turn, was built by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Netscape, which sold them as part of the iPlanet line of server applications. This same directory technology would become the basis for Suns ONE (One Network Environment) directory program.

For now, RHDS and FDS are functionally the same. However, in a press conference after the keynote, Red Hats director of product marketing, Michael Ferris, said, "Like Fedora and RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux], FDS will be the cutting-edge, non-supported version, while RHDS will become the mature, supported edition for the enterprise."

FDS is being open-sourced under the GPL (GNU General Public License). While the core program and its source code are now available online, not all of it has been open-sourced yet, according to Karen Tegan Padir, Red Hats vice president of infrastructure technologies.

For now, parts like the administrators console are still closed-source. This, according to Padir, is because the code must be cleaned up and all copyright issues addressed. Only then will the full program be released under the GPL.

RHDS is available using the same annual subscription model as RHEL, for $15,000 a year per server. This includes maintenance, unlimited support incidents and upgrades. There is no additional charge for multiple CPUs, multiple CPU cores or users.

It will be available for RHEL 3 and 4 and Solaris on SPARC, as well as on the HP-UX 11i operating environment on HP Integrity and HP 9000 servers. Each release will be supported for five years from initial product availability and will include access to updates and upgrades for active subscribers through the Red Hat Network.

Next Page: RHDS not available on Solaris on Intel.

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RHDS will not, however, be available on Solaris on Intel. "This would not help our business plan," said Padir.

"RHDS is meant for large enterprises," explained Ferris. "Its first market will be current Netscape Directory users and Suns customers."

While no one mentioned Novell Inc.s eDirectory as a target, Novell did take note of Red Hats new efforts in directories and dismissed them.

Also at the Red Hat Summit, two enterprises share Linux success stories. Click here to read more.

"Novell provides solutions for a broad range of identity and access management challenges including password management, user provisioning, single sign-on and audit. It will be years before Red Hats technology equals the functionality Novell offers today," said Rod Anderson, a Novell spokesman.

There had also been rumors that Red Hat will be open-sourcing a Fedora version of the Netscape Certification Server and its commercial equivalent, but the company did not officially make these announcements.

In an interview with, however, Padir said that Red Hat will be releasing both products this summer. "We didnt announce it because while were on a fast track to do so, we still need to finish up our work with the Department of Defense, which had been the Netscape versions largest customer."

As for the keynote itself, Szulik ended it by leading a local choir, the Joyful Choir of New Orleans, in a song with the lines "Ive been lonely, Ive been cheated, Ive been misunderstand," "Theres been a chance since you came along," and "Im free, are you free today?" The crowd roared its approval.

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