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Red Hat widens software brim

The Linux distributor announces plans to offer additional open-source software to expand its presence in large companies.

Linux distributor Red Hat on Tuesday announced plans to offer additional open-source software to expand its presence in large companies.

The software maker unveiled its Open Source Architecture, an outline and statement of direction for introducing additional programs on top of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. The additional programs include application development, clustering and systems management tools.

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Matthew Szulik, CEO, Red Hat
Red Hat's software runs chiefly on Intel-based servers, though the company's upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 operating system will run also on IBM mainframes and on systems built on Intel's new Itanium processor. Red Hat is taking on companies such as Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, which sells servers running with Unix--the basis for Linux.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 is due in early October, according to the company.

Typically, companies have to acquire software from multiple companies in order to assemble Linux-based server systems. Those products aren't always compatible and can be troublesome to install and manage, said Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat.

"With the enterprise line, we solved a lot of problems...inherent in Linux that were really pronounced in the enterprise such as multiple versions, with no focus on binary compatibility. We have set out to solve that," Cormier said.

Tuesday's announcement is seen as a step by Red Hat to branch out into the enterprise software market and to fight the notion that the company is, in effect, a proprietary software maker.

"Red Hat would like to be the open source enterprise stack provider, versus Sun and IBM, which are more or less proprietary software purveyors," said Steve O'Grady, an analyst with marker researcher RedMonk. "Delivering on those ambitions is quite difficult. There aren't many companies that can play that role," he said.

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Cormier said that Red Hat has worked with industry groups, such as the Apache Software Foundation and the Eclipse IDE development community, to make sure that the company's planned products adhere to industry standards.

The company plans to initially focus on server virtualization, which allows companies to quickly add new servers and applications, and systems management tools. Cormier said that early next year Red Hat will introduce clustering software for joining servers running its Linux operating system. Java application server software and virtualization tools are set to be available from Red Hat by midyear.

Red Hat has not announced pricing for the new products.