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Red Hat Launches New Linux System

Red Hat Inc. has unveiled the latest version of its Linux operating system as the open-source software company continues to combat Microsoft's market-dominating Windows platform.

Developers for the Raleigh-based company touted Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 as more flexible and more manageable than its prior versions, and said they worked for two years on the product.

"Our customers are an integral part of the development process," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president for engineering, echoing the open-source tenet that users be allowed to view and edit the software's code.

Resoundingly, Cormier said, customers wanted less complexity.

The new operating system supports "virtualization," which Red Hat said will help companies consolidate their technology workload onto one server -- saving energy, space and money.

"Customers have figured out that they've got rooms full of racks and servers," said Nick Carr, the marketing director for the operating system. "They're taking up heat and power and space, but they're only 15 percent loaded. They want to know how they can use what they have more efficiently."

For desktop computers, Red Hat touted its advances in security to protect systems from external and internal attacks.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which recently launched its long-awaited Windows Vista operating system, still dominates the software market. Red Hat says Linux can be found in the majority of Fortune 500 companies, where savvy tech departments have switched to Linux to cut down on costs.

Along with the new Linux product, Red Hat launched several new service programs to help companies migrate their data centers to Linux and to help customers get support for a variety of different open-source programs.

Red Hat's business model is based around service. Unlike Microsoft's proprietary software, Red Hat delivers its products for free but makes money by selling subscription packages for service.

Shares of Red Hat fell 19 cents Wednesday to close at $22.52 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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