Red Hat has announced it is releasing the Red Hat 9 core to the open source community as part of a new project called Fedora.
In doing so, it allows Red Hat to focus on its core technology and most profitable area - enterprise software and support.
Red Hat involvement in Project Fedora is similar to the model of support taken by Sun to the OpenOffice.org application suite, and Netscape to the Mozilla browser, said Red Hat's global support manager for Asia Pacific, Martin Messer.
"It was originally a Red Hat 9 project," he said. "Now it is released to the open source community. So we are going to let them [open source community] run with the ball."
And while the core will be released to the community, the project remains closely watched over by Red Hat and will receive guidance from Red Hat software engineers.
"Without good stewardship, the project will die," Messer said. "We have to keep a very close eye on it."
He said the project would be based on a Darwinist approach where the best product developed by the open source community on the base core, will survive.
"It is a big social experiment," he said.
The first release candidate of Fedora is expected sometime before year's end. Because of the nature of its development, Messer said it would be a stable release at certain points.
"We are not sure when that will be," he said.
Messer said the release would appeal to open source community developers, "bleeding edge" home users and people that like to "push the edges" with new hardware and software. But he stressed that it was "definitely not Red Hat 10 and nor is it an [Red Hat] enterprise product".
Fedora is at pains to point out it is a project and not a product.
The Fedora site says that rather than being run through product management as something that has to appear on retail shelves on a certain date, the Fedora Core will be released based on schedules that are set by the steering committee.
Doing it this way ensures users could get the latest updates as quickly as possible, it said.
This means receipt of the core will bypass the sales channel.
The Fedora core releases will be available as ISO images for both CDs and DVDs.
It will also be available "through other channels such as third-party online sales of physical media; distribution at Linux User Groups, included in magazines and in books, and maybe even handed out at trade shows", according to the Fedora site.