- Alternate meanings: See Red hat
Red Hat, Inc. is one of the largest and most recognized companies dedicated to open source software. Founded in 1993, the company now has more than 700 employees and 22 locations worldwide, including its corporate headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina in the United States.
Red Hat is a market leader in the development, deployment, and management of Linux and open source solutions for Internet infrastructure, ranging from embedded devices to secure web servers.
Red Hat's name came from the manual of the beta version, which contained a request for the return of Marc Ewing's characteristic red and white-striped hat, should anyone find it.
Red Hat was founded by entrepreneur Marc Ewing, and in 1995 Red Hat merged with ACC Corporation , run by Canadian Bob Young. Young then took the role as CEO of the company, until he was succeeded by Matthew Szulik in 1999.
On August 11, 1999, the company completed its initial public offering of six million shares of common stock at a price of $14 per share on the NASDAQ. On November 15, 1999, Red Hat announced its merger with Cygnus Solutions, a leading open source vendor. Consequently, Red Hat now develops Cygwin. Other acquisitions have followed, notably those of ArsDigita and Sistina.
Open source software lies at the foundation of their business model. It represents a fundamental shift in how software is created. The code that makes up the software is available to anyone, and developers who use it may freely make improvements. Even competitors like Microsoft admit that the result is rapid innovation (compare the Halloween documents).
Red Hat solutions combine Linux, developer and embedded technologies, training, management services and technical support. Red Hat optionally delivers this open source innovation to their customers via an Internet platform called Red Hat Network.
Red Hat Linux used to be the company's flagship product for both home and corporate use. With the spinoff of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat began to focus more on the corporate market, and stopped production of the personal version of Red Hat Linux after version 9. The current consumer distribution of Red Hat Linux has been replaced by Fedora Core, a more rapidly updated community supported Linux distribution, sponsored by Red Hat, run by the Fedora Project, and in part derived from the original Red Hat Linux distribution. The bulk of Red Hat's revenue comes from corporations who pay yearly support subscriptions for the enterprise version of the product.