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Red Hat to be first major Linux IPO

But as it 'grows up,' stresses become apparent...

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As predicted here las t April Red Hat is to be the first major Linux IPO. The company, which has been strengthening its management recently, is to make an offering of $96.6 million. Red Hat has won a series of high-profile investors, including Intel, IBM, Netscape, Oracle and SAP, within the past year. These and the lucky management team -- some of whom have only just got there -- should now be in a position to recoup their investment, presuming of course that all goes well. But it's not necessarily all roses for Red Hat. As also predicted here, the company's relationships with 'normal' commercial outfits, the increased profile associated with these and the fact that it is itself turning into a more conventional operation have started to create stresses within the Linux community. An opinion piece on Linux Today, for example, is headed "Linux is not Red Hat," and is critical of "Red Hat's fast and furious deal-making." In particular, author Arne Flones is worried that following a deal with Red Hat "Metrowerks is releasing CodeWarrior not as CodeWarrior for Linux but as CodeWarrior for Red Hat Linux." Flones fears that this and similar deal may mean that "the balkanisation of Linux becomes a reality." His views aren't those of Linux Today, but they seem to be a reasonable reflection of a fairly widely-expressed concern in the Linux community. Outfits like Red Hat are being perceived by the outside worlds as 'growing up,' but as they do so they'll inevitably be accused of selling out. ®

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