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Smug Red Hat buoyed by UK gov's open-source three-line-whip

Sir Humphreys gobble Linux subscriptions, we're told

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The UK government's love affair with open-source technology has given software house Red Hat a shot in the arm, we're told.

The company boasted that its government and system integrator business has grown in the "high double-digit rates" over the last three years. Red Hat, which offers various flavours of the open-source operating system Linux, said subscriptions for its software make up the majority of its revenue from Whitehall.

"The Cabinet Office is helping our business," Phil Andrews, the Hat's vice-president for northern and eastern Europe, said on Wednesday.

Andrews, who spoke during a roundtable chat in London, would not reveal any sales figures. But he reckoned Linux is infiltrating Blighty's bureaucracy because it is "value for money" against closed-source rivals.

It's understood government IT projects that explore only closed and proprietary software are denied formal approval and funding; systems that don't at least consider open-source software are therefore kicked back to the drawing board.

"They [the Cabinet Office] are not there to make friends, they can easily say: 'That's rubbish, you haven't looked at cloud or open source options, go back and look again'," the Home Office's then lead architect on infrastructure and open source Tariq Rashid told the Open Gov Summit last year. At the time, Rashid did not say which projects had been kicked back.

But speaking yesterday, Andrews claimed that, despite the suggested benefits of openness and lower price of open-source software, Whitehall's Sir Humphreys found it hard to ditch closed-source tech - but that change is inevitable.

"You can't move away from the fact that legacy systems can be so much of a lock in that customers have no option but to change," he said. ®

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