Dell Bolsters Linux, Invests in Red Hat

Dell Computer (Nasdaq: Dell) boosted the profile of the Linux operating system on Tuesday by announcing that it had made an equity investment in Red Hat Software and will factory install a Red Hat version of Linux into Dell computers, including servers and workstations. Linux is freely distributed software, but Red Hat sells packaged versions of Linux and offers services and support via its Web site.

“Our expanded partnership with Dell represents a broad commitment by both companies to make Red Hat Linux a success in the corporate market,” said Robert F. Young, co-founder and CEO of Red Hat.

The move makes Dell, which is the leading supplier of computer systems to corporations in the United States, the first major system vendor to offer Web ordering of systems with Red Hat Linux already installed.

“Our relationship with Red Hat, a leader in the delivery of Linux technology, enables us to respond to customers with Dell systems configured with Linux that are reliable and backed with the outstanding support,” said Michael Lambert, senior vice president for Dell’s enterprise systems group.

Burlington Orders Linux

Dell and Red Hat also announced that Burlington Coat Factory has purchased 1,250 Dell desktop PCs with Red Hat Linux installed.

“Dell’s powerful one-to-one relationship with its customers and its highly efficient, build-to-order capabilities make it tremendously easy for companies to choose and order Dell systems pre-configured with Red Hat Linux,” Young said.

Linux Gaining Market Share

According to research conducted by IDC, Linux was the fastest-growing server operating environment in 1998, capturing more than 17 percent of all server operating system shipments. It is estimated that Linux now has more than 10 million users.

Numerous big companies have helped support Linux by investing in Red Hat. Last month, IBM, Oracle, Compaq and Novell took minority stakes in Red Hat. Intel and Netscape became investors in September.

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