Tooling Up Linux

Red Hat CEO Szulik focuses on collaborative application development.

As Red Hat Inc. CEO Matthew Szulik sees interest in Linux picking up, most recently with Sun Microsystems Inc.s announcement that it is backing the open-source operating system, he is looking to push the envelope on collaborative software development even further. His company last week acknowledged it had purchased collaborative development technology and hired developers from ArsDigita Corp. to aid in this push. Szulik recently discussed the future of Linux and open-source development with eWeek Senior Writer Darryl K. Taft.

eWeek: How does Suns Linux announcement affect Red Hat?

Szulik: We didnt see much of an announcement. Look historically at the comments that Sun has made over the last three years about open source and Linux ... things Sun has said about Linux not scaling and do you trust your enterprise to a bunch of renegades. It sort of reminds me of Gandhi, who said, "First they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

eWeek: What are you doing to foster a Web services development community around Red Hats solutions?

Szulik: Web services are getting an incredible amount of hype right now. Budgets are incredibly tight and were not seeing a lot of exploratory work.

When it comes to application development, were trying to see them move more and more large enterprise apps over [to Linux] first, and I think that will spawn new categories and new opportunities for app development.

eWeek: Is Red Hat doing anything in particular to support Web services?

Szulik: Our core focus is to continue to build up the OS stack. [But] were also in the tools business. When you talk about app development, were responsible for GCC [GNU C Compiler], GDB [GNU Debugger] and the libraries within that. I think that markets in its infancy right now. Companies like NuSphere [Corp.] are doing interesting work.

A lot of the [independent software makers] are using GDB and GCC. Theyre not structured development tools. Theyre not as graphical and dont necessarily have their home in a Windows environment. But for C developers, I think they are increasingly becoming quite pervasive on a global basis. As that starts to work out, I think it will be interesting to see what happens with collaborative software development tools.

eWeek: Is that the future?

Szulik: For us it is, very much so. ... Were proving it works. Through participation in the open-source community, youre seeing an improvement in function at really a marginal if not negligible cost to the consumer. That, with increasing [chip] performance and [an aging server population, presents] a fantastic opportunity for Red Hat and open source at large.

eWeek: What is the strategy behind buying the ArsDigita software?

Szulik: The basis of our business is collaboration and is focused on being able to share knowledge. And the more solutions that we can build around that concept in an open and a collaborative environment and get the most value that we can create as part of our offerings.