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Could Sun swallow Red Hat? Or vice versa?

Neither company has a lot of cash to burn, but in some ways, it would make a lot of sense to see the two biggest open-source companies band together as one.

In the midst of reading Paul Rubens' well-reasoned "Linux vs. Unix Values Evident in Red Hat, Sun Market Valuations," I was struck by this thought:

Who might buy Red Hat is a game that can be played endlessly, and just about everyone who is anyone has been mentioned in the past--Microsoft, Dell, Google, Oracle, you name it. So what about another name that's been mentioned less frequently in the past: Sun?

Much of Red Hat's business is selling support services for open-source software, which is an activity Sun would like to be doing more of. Sun's pretty much got the cash, and such a move might get its share price moving north again.

At one level, it's a ludicrous idea, but on another...perhaps. Neither company has a lot of cash to burn, but the combination of the two could be potent: Red Hat's dominant Linux distribution (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and JBoss middleware, coupled with Sun Microsystems' deep bench in Java, Open Storage, MySQL, and more.

The pairing would arguably make more sense in the absence of Sun's hardware business, but it's an interesting thought. I doubt that it would happen. Red Hat no doubt feels that it would be burdened by taking on Sun's baggage, and Sun likely wouldn't see much added value from Red Hat's still relatively small $600 million in revenue.

As an outsider, too, I like the two companies as two open-source companies, pushing hard against established, proprietary incumbents to open code, reduce margins, and drive innovation.

Yet my curiosity is piqued. What do you think? Is it a momentary lapse of reason or a seed of a good idea?


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.