Red Hat offers software management service, new OS

Red Hat Inc., a leading Linux software vendor, announced Monday the release of a new service to simplify the administration of systems running its software, as well as a new release of its operating system (OS).

The new service, called Software Manager, is included as part of the standard installation in the new Red Hat Linux 7.1 and allows IT managers to receive customized information about each computer on their network, including virus alerts, notifications of bug fixes and software updates. The program will allow managers to view the software configurations of each system and install or remove software, all remotely. Software Manager can be manually configured over the Web or through an automated feature included in the operating system.

As more devices are being connected to corporate networks, IT managers' time is becoming more valuable, said Marty Wesley, product manager for Red Hat Linux. Software Manager offers IT managers easier, more efficient administration and allows them to support more machines using the same resources, he said. Red Hat expects that the service will be used most by medium-sized companies that need the kind of support offered by the service, but can't afford to hire enough IT staff to do it themselves, though large companies and even individuals will also use it, he said.

Software Manager is available now as a US$19.95 per-PC-per-month subscription service, though it is available at the special price of $9.95 per-PC per-month until Sept. 1. Localizations for international versions are already underway, Wesley said.

Software Manager is the first service to be offered through the Red Hat Network, a technology that enables delivery of services and applications to computers running the Red Hat OS, Wesley said. The Red Hat Network will eventually offer customers options such as subscribing to their favorite applications, he said, which would, much like Software Manager does, provide them with bug fixes and updates as those become available.

Red Hat created the Red Hat Network because "software is increasingly becoming a service," Wesley said. However, Red Hat will always offer its customers the option of simply buying and installing their own software, he said, bypassing any subscription-service model, which some users find objectionable.

Red Hat also announced Monday the release of Red Hat Linux 7.1, the latest version of its Linux operating system. The OS is built around the new 2.4 kernel and offers improved symmetric multiprocessing support, new configuration tools and a new installation interface.

The software is available immediately for worldwide order at Red Hat's Web site, though it will not ship until April 23, and will be in retail stores on April 24. The OS will be offered at three price levels: $39.95 with technical support and Software Manager included for one system both for 30 days; $79.95 for technical support and five Software Manager licenses running 60 days; $179.95 for support and 10 Software Manager licenses both for 90 days. And, as always, Red Hat Linux is also available as a free download at the company's Web site.

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