Robert Young, chief executive of Red Hat said the company's acquisition of embedded compiler developer Cygnus will help spread the open source operating system into more markets than if it just concentrated on the enterprise space.
Speaking to a packed auditorium at Comdex on the day the company announced plans for the $674 million acquisition, Young said: "Cygnus' story is in the embedded space. There's a great opportunity to build the killer app for the next century's Internet appliances."
The acquisition will place Linux firmly in Microsoft's firing line, particularly as Microsoft fires up its embedded Windows CE strategy. But Young was bullish about the idea that Red Hat would be competing with Microsoft.
"No, Microsoft will be competing against us," he said.
He believes the future is not in desktops but in Internet appliances and it is crucial that developers create devices that have all the necessary applications to allow users to be instantly connected to the Internet. PCs, he argued, are complex systems that require the combined IQ of the audience to understand and operate.
According to Young, the market for embedded systems is worth $1 billion and figures from IDC estimate Cygnus owns 75 per cent of the embedded compiler market.
Despite being bullish about the deal, Young also admitted that there is still much work to be done to spread the open source message and was at pains to dispel several myths during his keynote.
He believes there is a "feudal relationship" between software vendors and users because users are at risk of breaking the law if they attempt to fix bugs themselves, but with open source software, users have a licence to improve things.
Young was also keen to clarify that Red Hat does not sell the Linux operating system as such, but the kernel for Linux. It is when the kernel is supplemented with items such as compilers that turns the product into a useable application.
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