Open-source apps win Red Hat nod

Red Hat Software's newly expanded mission to support all open-source software will likely encourage corporate users to hop off the fence and adopt open-source products, observers said.

If that happens, current users of software like Apache and SendMail could benefit, even if they don't want to pay Red Hat for support, because of the increased clout of open source in the marketplace, a user and an analyst added.

Linux vendor Red Hat has garnered the name recognition that can bridge the confidence gap between users and noncommercial software, said analyst Stacey Quandt at Giga Information Group. "Red Hat's successful [initial public offering] and branding in North America could be compelling for companies," she said.

Red Hat's business plan is based on offering fee-based support packages to users of Linux, which is free. Last week's announcement expands Red Hat's commercial support to all open-source applications, many of which are included with its Linux distribution.

Quandt said Red Hat is leading a movement among Linux vendors to make support contracts a key part of open-source software.

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