Red Hat's chief executive Matthew Szulik has outlined the company's mission to consolidate the Unix market around Linux, which he said would become possible once Linux is available for an Intel 64-bit environment.
Speaking exclusively to vnunet.com, Szulik said that the project to port Linux to the IA-64 architecture - called IA-64 Linux Project - would for the first time allow a level of functionality in the OS comparable to proprietary solutions such as Sun Solaris.
With Linux for IA-64, Szulik said it is possible that clustering and other technology developed by proprietary vendors can be used with Linux. He compared making high-end functionality available for the free operating system with Robin Hood taking from the rich and giving to the poor.
"Part of our mission, as a representative open source community, is to act as a Robin Hood and return all of that high-end functionality and make it freely available from whence it began," he said.
"Open source development efforts provide an opportunity to bring a level of functionality to enterprise customers at a previously unavailable price performance level."
Notwithstanding the increased scalability of Linux, even enthusiasts for the freeware operating system see a continuing role for Sun Solaris.
Nick Kew, technical director of Linux development and support organisation WebThing, said: "It seems to me that Solaris and Linux can coexist very happily. The only issue is the applications that they run. I use both [Solaris and Linux] and the only one I avoid is Windows."
Szulik said the proposed break-up of Microsoft would create opportunities for Red Hat and the Linux community, but is not a prospect he greets with much enthusiasm.
"Do you remember horror movies when the monster gets cut in two? All of a sudden you have two monsters to deal with, and that is my concern about the Microsoft trial," he said.
Aside from its legal problems, Microsoft faces a challenge in its aspirations to move into the corporate data centre, and in its other technology developments, according to Szulik.
"Microsoft will have to deal with the growing migration of applications over to a browser server relationship as opposed to client server," he said.
A key area for Red Hat is embedded systems, and Szulik said the company would make announcements of customer wins in the handheld device market later this month. Linux based handhelds will be between 25 per cent and 40 per cent cheaper than devices currently on the market, and would be available within 12 months, he predicted.
"We're going to cannibalise the royalty stream Microsoft receives from its proprietary franchise from Windows CE and hopefully this will be passed on to the consumer," he said.
"Innovation can occur much faster with open source operating systems to produce more interesting technologies at a lower price."
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