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VA Linux aims to be "leading Linux company"

VA Linux's acquisition of Andover.Net will help the company beat Red Hat and become the leading Linux company, chief executive Larry Augustin says.

NEW YORK--VA Linux's acquisition of Andover.Net today will help the company beat Red Hat and become the leading Linux company, chief executive Larry Augustin said today.

VA Linux, which sells Linux computers and services, acquired Linux news and information site Andover.Net today for more than $800 million, bolstering the company's effort to lure corporate customers by offering a good way to foster open source development projects.

Augustin showed no shortage of ambition when discussing the acquisition after a keynote address at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here today.

"We're going to be the leading Linux company," he said. "We're creating a Yahoo for developers."

But VA Linux has a ways to go before displacing Red Hat, a seller of Linux software and services and the first Linux company to go public. Red Hat's market capitalization of $15 billion is nearly three times the $5.1 billion worth of VA Linux.

Linux is a clone of the Unix operating system that competes with Microsoft Windows but has won a place in the product lines of many of the biggest computing companies.

Augustin said the Andover.Net acquisition took only a few weeks to close, with discussions beginning in January. He declined to say which company approached the other. Andover.Net declined to comment on the deal.

VA Linux operates the Linux.com general Linux site as well as the SourceForge open-source developer site. Andover.Net operates the Slashdot "news for nerds" discussion site, the Freshmeat open source software announcement and repository site and the QuestionExchange technical support site.

While the sites are critical to associating VA Linux with the Linux services business, Augustin said VA Linux doesn't plan to be obtrusive in running the sites. "We will not do heavy branding of the VA Linux logo" on the site, he said.

Heavy branding would cause the open-source community to "react negatively," he said.