Linux provider Red Hat Inc. will on Monday release the next version of its personal and professional Linux operating system.
The company is hoping Red Hat 8.0 will help expand its reach into new markets, including call centers and those users who run single purpose trading or other applications.
"We try and expand potential markets and the user-base with every release of the product. Usability was clearly the step we needed to take with this product," Erik Troan, a senior director at Red Hat, told eWeek in an interview.
While there is a growing number of client-side applications where Linux would be well suited, Red Hat Linux 8.0 is not a general desktop offering.
"We think it is becoming far more of a client operating system," he said. "If you are, for example, running a call center and your primary job is using a Web browser to get to your information and if, maybe, you need to run a spreadsheet so you can fax off a financial analysis to someone, Red Hat 8.0 is going to be very attractive to you."
Red Hat also is quite aware that the product would not displace Microsoft Corp.s Windows operating system in the mass consumer market. "We are expanding our scope to include technology enthusiasts, those running Windows and Macs today who are curious about Linux," Troan said.
Red Hat has also configured the KDE and GNOME desktop environments to look and behave in similar fashion, a move that has created some controversy.
Among the new and advanced features designed to enhance usability in 8.0 are the user-friendly desktop with numerous graphical enhancements and icons, a robust suite of configuration tools, a graphical tool to easily customize security settings and the Red Hat Network integration, which allows point-and-click utilities to monitor and integrate existing system updates.
Also included are the OpenOffice.org desktop productivity suite, the Apache 2.0 Web server, Mozilla browser as well as e-mail, calendaring, contact management capabilities.
The personal version of the product retails for $39.95, which includes Red Hat Network basic service for 30 days for a single system and 30 days Web-based support. The professional version sells for $149.95 and comes with 60 days basic service from Red Hat network, as well as 60 days of Web- and telephone-based support.
Red Hat and HP also recently announced the availability of the Advanced Workstation on the IA 64 architecture. But there would be an Advanced Workstation release for IA32 later this year, Troan said.
Red Hat has also been busy making deals. It inked a multiyear alliance with IBM earlier this month that includes services and expanded support for servers and software.
That followed several other deals announced recently. At the LinuxWorld show in San Francisco last month the Raleigh, N.C., company announced it will support Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s upcoming 64-bit Opteron chip with a special release of its Advanced Server software next year.
Also at that show, Dell Computer Corp. announced new professional services designed to accelerate the deployment of Linux in the enterprise, part of which will be jointly delivered with Red Hat.
The agreement extends the One Source Alliance between the two companies to help customers migrate from proprietary Unix systems to Linux.
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