Red Hat tries spreading open-source idea

Red Hat is taking a second crack at trying to spread its open-source philosophy beyond the realm of software development.

On Wednesday, the Raleigh, N.C.-based Linux seller announced a partnership with the nearby University of North Carolina to try to encourage use of the open, collaborative model in the fields of health care research, biotechnology, bioinformatics and public policy.

"The history of open source has taught us that the more broadly and transparently information is shared and re-used, the faster and stronger the results," Joanne Rohde, Red Hat's executive vice president of operations, said in a statement.

The move hearkens back to 1999, when the company launched the Red Hat Center for Open Source, with company co-founder Marc Ewing leading the effort. In an interview at the time, Ewing said, "What we want to be able to do is facilitate thinking and discussion about the principles of open source and how they apply in communities other than the software development community--law, medicine, business, governance, scientific research, education."

That earlier effort fizzled. This time, however, the company has a partner.

"We need to know what works faster, better and cheaper than we could do in the past. That means collecting data from more sources, not just in teaching hospitals...but in all settings where new technologies are being used--private practices, health departments, health education centers and walk-in clinics," said Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina's Biomedical Research Imaging Center.

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