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Red Hat wins over Windows convert

The Linux seller says its new customer will move from Microsoft Windows to its open-source software for database systems--a tougher proposition than a Unix-to-Linux switch.

Linux seller Red Hat--which chiefly looks to displace Unix rivals--announced today it has landed a customer that is bumping aside Microsoft Windows in favor of Red Hat software for its database servers.

Acuity Lighting Group, an 11,800-employee company that sells $2 billion worth of light fixtures annually under brand names such as Lithonia and Peerless, decided to use Red Hat's Advanced Server version of the Linux operating system to run Oracle's 9i RAC database software atop a group of Dell Computer servers. The system is replacing Windows servers for running human resources and manufacturing databases, Red Hat and Acuity said Thursday at the OracleWorld conference (formerly known as Oracle OpenWorld) in San Francisco.

Linux is a clone of Unix that works similarly to that operating system, but mostly on less-expensive Intel-based servers. Consequently, it's not that big a step to adapt software and retrain administrators for a move from a version of Unix, such as Sun Microsystems' Solaris, to Linux. Windows--in contrast to Linux--is an entirely different operating system.

Acuity is running three new Linux databases, Dell said. The first is spread across a four-computer cluster, each database system a four-processor Dell PowerEdge 6450. The second database runs on an eight-processor PowerEdge 8460, while the third is on a four-processor PowerEdge 6450.

The databases will support 1,500 simultaneous users, the companies said. Acuity still uses many Windows servers for other tasks, a Dell representative added.

Dell, Red Hat and Oracle have a tight sales and development partnership. In addition, Dell relies on Red Hat to provide some Linux services to mutual customers.

The vast majority of Oracle's software is based on proprietary, closed underpinnings, a polar opposite to Red Hat's open-source products. Most Red Hat software is based on code distributed under an open-source license, which permits modification and redistribution as long as the changes are returned to the developer community. But Oracle took a step in Red Hat's direction in August with the release of an open-source Linux version of its Cluster File System, software that makes it easier to split a database across several independent servers.

Red Hat responded warmly to Oracle's move. At the OracleWorld show this week, Red Hat announced it would distribute the Cluster File System software to its customers.