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Red-hot moves

RedHat’s recent gains–including first-time profitability–are good signs for Linux and bad signs for its competition. Red-hot moves RedHat’s recent gains–including first-time profitability–are good signs for Linux and bad signs for its competition.

Like it or not, RedHat is the dominant player in the U.S. Linux market. (TurboLinux is the one to beat in Asia and SuSE has Europe.) While RedHat’s stock value has plunged over the last 12 months, recent events warrant some attention.

RedHat turned a profit in Q1 of 2002. This is a significant step in the life of any startup, and is welcome news amidst the glut of dot-com disasters. Among the partnerships RedHat had reason to crow about are, among others, Adobe, NEC, Ericsson, Nortel, BP, Lucent, Thrifty, Bauhaus AG, and NHL.com. Services provided ranged from server software to POS systems.

Linux on POS systems is an extremely logical fit. A small-kernel footprint and rock-solid stability are just the ticket for these machines. Proven, fast networking is also a plus, and no licensing fee is something to appreciate when the number of POS systems in a retail operation can easily reach into the thousands.

Also among the recent announcements are the RedHat Tux 2.0 Web server and the RedHat Database. In the ZDNet benchmark, Tux 2.0 blew away IIS and Apache in raw transactions per second. While Tux 2.0 does not yet sport the cross-platform range of Apache nor support the range of modules currently supported by IIS and Apache, it is designed to run alongside Apache quite nicely. For serving purely static content, Tux may very well be the one to beat.

In the database realm, RedHat has begun its own development of PostgreSQL as the RedHat database. While some fear proprietary code forking as we are currently witnessing in Mozilla development, others see the development of a branded RedHat SQL database as critical to RedHat’s overall success. RedHat did first approach Great Bridge, the current commercial branch of PostgreSQL, to co-develop the database, but according to the CNET report, these talks did not work out. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the RedHat branch of PostgreSQL, but count on strong interoperability with the Tux Web server.

What does all this mean?

I think it’s good news overall. It’s nice to see a Linux-based company in the black. When you consider the rhetoric spewing from the executives in Redmond the past few weeks concerning the cancerous, Pac-Man-like nature of Linux and/or the GPL, as well as Oracle’s recent slashing of prices, it is evident that the giants of the industry are taking notice of their open-source cousins and realizing that the battle for the nascent computer industry is not quite over yet. Whether or not RedHat will join the dark side remains to be seen.

Garth Gillespie is architect and chief technologist of ComputerUser.com.

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