Under the three-year agreement, Red Hat will port Red Hat Linux 5.1 and future releases of the software to Intel's StrongARM processor the underlying architecture of the NetWinder.
Corel is betting heavily on Linux. Just last week, the company launched a free Linux version of its business application suite.
The agreement also gives Corel the right to use Red Hat's name and logo on the NetWinder products. Additionally, Corel has the rights to distribute Red Hat CD-ROMs and printed documentation manuals to customers.
Linux, a free and relatively modern version of Unix developed by Linus Torvalds, is making inroads into the computer realm as it moves from the domain of hobbyists to more mainstream users. Five big-name database companies recently have announced they'll port their software to the operating system.
Currently the NetWinder family is running a custom Linux distribution based on Red Hat 4.2. When available, NetWinder customers will be able to upgrade their systems by either downloading the operating system from Corel's or Red Hat's Web sites, or by purchasing a CD-ROM from either company. Pricing details were not made available.
Although observers see Corel's Linux strategy as a way for the company to compete against Microsoft and its Windows-based productivity applications, many wonder if it will indeed be enough to turn the tide for the Canadian company.
"Corel is floundering right now," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "The Linux base has not been addressed by any of the major productivity vendors. They need to do something. This is important for Corel. We'll see if it is important for the industry."
The company may not gain revenue, but as corporate acceptance of Linux increases, the company could eventually have a large enough share of the market that it could begin reaping benefits from the move.
Linux is a relatively untapped market, added Enderle. "And it's getting [Corel] a lot of press."