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Red Hat project brings open-source to digital media

Mugshot project adds "live social experiences," such as sharing music, to desktop apps and exposes non-developers to open source.

Red Hat has launched a social-networking project called Mugshot to promote the use of open-source software for digital media.

The Linux distributor detailed Mugshot on Wednesday, calling it a way to add "live social experiences" to desktop applications and expose nondevelopers to open source.

The initial two services offered on Mugshot--Link Swarm and Music Radar--are for sharing music. But in a blog posting on Thursday, the creators said that they are leaving the project's goals open to other possibilities.

Link Swarm is a service that lets people instantly chat with friends about music recommendations. Music Radar is a way to share music lists on a blog or over MySpace.

Mugshot also has a preliminary page for a service called TV Party for people to communicate about TV shows online.

The entertainment services rely on open-source software, but they represent a departure for Red Hat, which typically sells its support services to IT executives and developers.

In an interview with ZDNet UK, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said Mugshot is "an attempt to bridge a gap and attract more mainstream interest in open source."

Injecting more standards and open formats into the world of digital entertainment appears to be another goal of the project.

"Unlike most social networking services, Mugshot is a completely open system--including the server and client source code," according to the FAQ on Mugshot's site.

The software, currently available by invite only, can be downloaded for free and runs on Linux and Windows. There is limited Mac OS X support, according to the FAQ.

Mugshot services are meant to supplement existing music services, including Apple Computer's iTunes, and uses public Web services from Yahoo and

Red Hat also launched another community-building Web site on Wednesday, called 108, aimed at software developers. The site is designed to foster communication and code-sharing among individual developers, who can play an important role in influencing buying decisions, the company said.