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Red Hat's directory server set for release

Open-source version of program acquired from Netscape ups ante in rivalry with Microsoft, Novell and Sun.

Red Hat plans to release a directory server later this month--a move that further pits the open-source software developer against Microsoft, Novell and Sun Microsystems.

The directory server, which is designed to manage system user names and access policies, is one of several programs that Red Hat acquired from the Netscape division of Time Warner last year. The company committed at the time to releasing them as open-source products, inviting anyone to use, modify and redistribute the software.

Red Hat Directory Server, previously named Netscape Directory Server, is now compatible with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system, Red Hat's core product, the company said on Tuesday. It's also designed to work in Hewlett-Packard and Sun operating environments.

With the release, Red Hat is expanding its product set, giving the company more ammunition against proprietary technology from rivals Microsoft, Novell and Sun. The expansion strategy is aimed at bringing more businesses and government agencies into the open-source fold and allowing Red Hat to charge a greater premium for its Linux systems and related services, the company has said.

In addition to a directory server, Red Hat also gained a certificate server in its purchase of the Netscape Enterprise Suite. The company has pledged to release that product, which is designed to manage user identity and encryption chores, to the open-source community as well. The U.S. Defense Department recently renewed a big contract with Red Hat for the certificate server.

Red Hat said on Tuesday that it plans to release additional Netscape technologies in the coming months. Along with select distributors, it plans to offer the Netscape products under the General Public License, and sell maintenance, support and upgrades for them under an annual subscription agreement.