Red Hat to Protect Linux Customers

By Sean Michael Kerner

Number one Linux distributor Red Hat announced today that all of its Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
subscribers will be protected under its Open Source Assurance program.

The move comes less than a week after business software company Novell said it would offer indemnification protection to its customers in the face of alleged intellectual property infringement charges that SCO Group is claiming against parts of the open source operating system.

SCO Group’s lawsuit against IBM is over whether select versions Unix, parts of which SCO claims copyright to, slipped into select kernels of the Linux operating system. While that issue works its way through the legal system, systems vendors are increasingly moving to offer indemnification protection to customers using Linux in order to ease their concerns over potential legal exposure.

The move also follows similar actions by Hewlett-Packard to offer a indemnification program for its customers that deploy Linux operating systems with some of the vendors’ product lines.

According to Red Hat spokesperson Leigh Day, Red Hat was not pressured by customer demands into making this announcement and in fact has been offering a degree of customer warrantee for some time.

“We made the announcement to demonstrate our commitment to our customers and to broaden the availability of the warrantee to include every subscriber to Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” Day told

Day also said HP and Novell’s assurance program’s had no
impact on Red Hat’s decision to do the same. “Our policy ensures that if there is infringing code, Red Hat will fix the problem, replace it and make it so the customer can continue using the code,” she said.

The extended protection for RHEL users announced Tuesday is all part of Red Hat’s Open Source Assurance program. The Open Source Now Fund, which was created in August by Red Hat as a legal defense, and education fund for users that may be affected by the SCO lawsuit is also part of the same program. Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has also setup a similar legal defense fund setup for Linux users.

Red Hat is also planning on adding new features for customer protection as part of the Open Source Assurance and Open Source Now initiatives.

“It’s an ongoing commitment to customers that we will add features to the program that will further help them leverage their investment and protect their intellectual property investment,” Day told

With the further expansion of its customer protection and indemnification initiatives, Red Hat is firmly staking its position in the SCO dispute.

“We have full confidence that the code we make available to customers is not infringing on the valid IP rights of others,” Day told

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