Three Minutes with Red Hat's Chief

New CEO brings passion and an eclectic background to help him chart a new course for the Linux vendor.

IDGNS: Are you worried about Microsoft's patent claims against Linux, which were recently dismissed again by Linus Torvalds?

Whitehurst: We've spent a lot of time looking at that and we have an assurance program for our customers, so they don't need to worry. Microsoft for years now has talked about 235 patents [that they own that Linux violates], but they've yet to tell us any of them and we continue to ask, "Show us what they are." How many times can you keep saying it before you pass on the opportunity to do anything? At first people got concerned, but after years and years and years, you recognize it's a lot of bark and no bite. We never want to take any claims of intellectual property violations lightly, but those have been around so long with absolutely nothing behind them. After a while it becomes harder and harder to take those seriously.

IDGNS: Where would you like to see Red Hat be in five years?

Whitehurst: Again, this company is currently the open-source leader. Open source is still really a nascent part of the IT infrastructure in corporate America. As the leader of open source, one of the things we need to do, and should do, is foster and further open-source awareness and adoption in worldwide IT. My view of success includes how well Red Hat does that in the future as a multibillion-dollar company.

We want to see the continued adoption of open source as key technology across corporate IT. [We'll] continue to foster communities of use in the developing world where we operate, and communities of use where we remain sure that information and software remains free and unencumbered by proprietary formats. When we do well, we do good. We certainly have aspirations for size and growth and profitability, but we do recognize we have a role in fostering adoption and the benefits that go along with that. The great news is, this is a company in wonderful shape with a fantastic brand and market position and extraordinary, high-quality people. It's up to us not to squander that opportunity.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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