Red Hat CEO issues call to arms

Dismissing pundits who disparage new technologies, Matthew Szulik has a simple message for LinuxWorld attendees: We will prevail.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
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SAN FRANCISCO--Dismissing pundits who disparage new technologies, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik had a simple message for LinuxWorld attendees: We will prevail.

Speaking to attendees during a keynote speech here, the head penguin of Red Hat likened critics of Linux to those in the past who've been wrong about new technologies, adding that it's time for the disparate open-source community to come together.

"Each of you here are heirs to the future information society," Szulik said in Monday's speech at the Linux conference. "I'm here to ask you to participate...in moving the entire industry forward."

As one of the two major distributors of Linux software, Red Hat has a lot to gain from community solidarity. In the past, the open-source movement has been attacked by companies that assert software should always be proprietary. This year has the added twist of ailing Unix company SCO Group claiming intellectual property rights over Linux.

With digital-rights battles raging in the software industry and the entertainment industry, Szulik highlighted that it's time for open-source developers to take a side.

"If the '60s was the generation that fought for civil rights, what is going to be the generation that is going to be looking after digital rights?" he asked attendees. "That's the generation I want...When you can see the code and not be arrested."

Szulik didn't hawk products, but did highlight the $1 million that Red Hat is using to start a legal fund for those fighting off SCO. He said the money is a way to thank the community.

"Because of people like you that made voluntary contributions, that allowed us to build an organization that is publicly traded," he said.

He also called for others to contribute to the fund.

"We will find out very quickly which of those choose to exploit the community and which of those will step forward," he said.