November 4, 2003

Red Hat realignment opens door for Red Carpet

Author: Joe Barr

Earlier this year Red Hat said it would drop Red Hat Linux to focus exclusively on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In September the company announced that the community-based Fedora project would replace what used to be the free version of Red Hat Linux. Yesterday
Red Hat told its customers when it would end support of Red Hat 9. Those developments raised important questions for Ximian Desktop users. Would Ximian support Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora? And would the company position its Red Carpet service as the natural successor to Red Hat Network (RHN), since those who don't step up to Enterprise Linux will be left without RHN support for Fedora?To the relief of many, Novell's recent purchase of Ximian has not altered the organization's basic market strategy.

Yesterday afternoon Miguel de Icaza, co-founder of Ximian and current CTO, told me, "We are going to support Fedora, and we are going to support Red Hat. Remember, we want our software to be as widely used as possible." He added, "We are Linux vendor-neutral. We are going to support every Linux distribution because different markets have different needs. It just makes sense to be vendor-agnostic and support every player in town."

Every Linux distribution? "There are some tiny distributions we can't support ... but as long as they remain fairly compatible with the LSB, we'll be glad to support that."

Miguel said that included in the list of platforms Ximian supports or will support is Novell's own Nterprise Linux Services, which will run atop major Linux distributions like Red Hat and SuSE and provide additional services. According to Miguel, these services are "basically the offerings that Novell had on Netware and that we are launching now. That includes things iFolder, iPrint, eDirectory, w/DirXML, all of that software stack -- which is, by the way, proprietary -- but it's part of the other side of Novell."

As to the void left by Red Hat offering Red Hat Network support only for Enterprise Linux customers, the Red Hat moves have created a golden opportunity for Ximian to expand its customer base. Ximian's Red Carpet provides the same type of services as the Red Hat Network - high-speed lines for downloads and automated updates for security and bug fixes - for a comparable price. All Ximian needs to do to gain new customers from those abandoned by RHN is to support Fedora, and they say that's what they're going to do.


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