It didn't come as a big surprise for Linux aficionados, according to an industry insider, when late last week Red Hat announced that it was discontinuing support for its Red Hat Linux 9.
The Raleigh, N.C.-based Linux vendor had announced earlier this year that it would stop support for earlier versions of Linux, setting April 30 as the end of the line for Red Hat Linux 9. Users are now being directed toward the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Platform.
"This is the difference between Linux and the more user-based Linux movement versus the commercial Linux movement," said Warren Shiau, senior software analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto.
"Essentially this really makes it clear that Red Hat wants its users to move to Red Hat Enterprise, which is a fully commercial licensed version of Red Hat," he explained, adding that Red Hat 9 was a version that could be downloaded and used freely.
Now that its officially the end of the line for version 9, Shiau said that the decision to end support was something that all vendors have realised needs to be done in order to make Linux a viable operating platform within the enterprise. Both Red Hat and SUSE Linux, which have major Linux distributions, now have a fully commercial model.
On the user side, the announcement has caused debate between those who buy into the open source model, versus the commercialized Linux model, which tend to be developers or open source advocates versus business decision makers, Shiau noted.
Red Hat also last week announced its two-year roadmap for security in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which was a very important move for the Linux vendor, he said.
"There has been a perception that Red Hat has really needed to do something like this," he said. "So what users have been demanding is that Red Hat provide visibility into their security plans going forward."
Users can now make enterprise decisions based upon Red Hats long-term plan, Shiau added.
Red Hat said its goal is to advance industry security standards and simplify security for customers.
In January, Red Hat said Enterprise Linux had reached Evaluation Assurance Level 2 (EAL 2) certification. However, this is one area where it lags SUSE Linux, as well as Unix and Windows systems. A lot of Unix and Windows versions of EAL have certification up to level 4 and SUSE to level 3, Shiau said.
The company said that it is working to achieve higher levels of security evaluation with EAL3 and 4 certification in future releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It also said that its completion of EAL2 allows security-conscious customers to be assured of using a secure operating system to run their enterprise applications.
Red Hat on Tuesday is expected to unveil a new version of the Linux operating system designed for the corporate desktop, called Red Hat Desktop.