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Red Hat ponders going proprietary

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In a surprise announcement, Red Hat is looking into a move away from open source and making its flavor of Linux a proprietary OS. The shift, if undertaken, would be a tricky one that would delve into thorny legal issues of ownership within the open source community.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst indicated that the proposed move is intended to bolster Red Hat's position as a leader. "We see open source getting embraced more and more by not only customers but other vendors like Microsoft, and I think this can be directly attributed to Red Hat's leadership," said Whitehurst. "Now is the time to reassert our leadership by taking the next step and making our products and community full-on commodities. Naturally, we think this will appeal directly to enterprises, which crave the stability and security of proprietary systems."

Left unsaid by Whitehurst was how, exactly, he plans to pluck Red Hat's Linux from the open source community and wall it off. He said only that the company's lawyers were "investigating options" and declined to elaborate further.

The fundamental question raised by the move is who ultimately "owns" Red Hat Linux.

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