Covert, credited for revitalizing Adobe, left last week, the company said. At Red Hat, he replaced Manoj George, who had been Red Hat's CFO and treasurer since May 1998. George will now focus on the company's merger and acquisition efforts, a spokesman said.
The high-level management change is one of several that have taken place at Red Hat since August, when it became the first Linux company to go public. In November, Bob Young handed the chief executive reins to Matthew Szulik, though Young remained chairman. And on Jan. 12, Red Hat co-founder and chief technology officer Marc Ewing ceded his place to Michael Tiemann, founder of Cygnus Solutions, a Linux company Red Hat acquired in January. Ewing became leader of Red Hat's Center for Open Source, dedicated to promoting wider use of open source software like Linux.
Red Hat sells Linux software as well as technical support and consulting services for the Unix-like operating system, a competitor to Windows. Adobe makes graphic design software used for editing photos, videos and other digital content.
The two companies are more closely tied than they might appear at first blush. In an interview, Adobe chief executive John Warnock told CNET News.com that his company is working on a Linux version of some of its software.
However, the two companies have dramatically different philosophies about their software. Red Hat shares the source code (the original programming instructions) of all its software, whereas Adobe keeps it a closely guarded secret. The two philosophies are known as open source and closed source.
Covert said he knows which way the wind is blowing. Open source programming is "the most important new way of developing and supporting software," he said in a statement.
Covert will also help Red Hat with mergers and acquisitions, he said.
"Hal?s global experience with scaling the financial and operation strategies of publicly traded companies is a tremendous asset to our team," Szulik said in a statement.
Though Warnock declined to say exactly which product would first arrive on Linux, he said it was likely FrameMaker, PageMaker or InDesign. The first is a publishing tool used chiefly to create long documents such as books; the others are used to design pages for newspapers or other types of publications.
Linux, though having a stronghold on servers, is gaining modest adoption in the desktop area, particularly among technically proficient users, according to market research firm International Data Corp. However, most agree that it's not as well suited to Windows or Mac OS users.
Adobe had a version of its PhotoShop image-editing software for Unix, the operating system on which Linux is based, but canceled it some years ago.