Red Hat puts brakes on app server build

At its annual Summit user conference last month, Red Hat Inc. disclosed plans to halt development of its Red Hat Application Server (RHAS).

The move had been anticipated since Red Hat in mid-April announced plans to buy open source application server provider JBoss Inc. for about US$420 million. The company will support RHAS users over the life of their contracts, which span one year, it said.

Aaron Darcy, director of global strategic services, declined to disclose the number of RHAS users, but he said that they won’t be rushed to migrate to JBoss. RHAS is based on the Jonas J2EE application server from the open source ObjectWeb Consortium.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat also announced at the conference plans to create a community called 108 for developers seeking collaboration from open source developers or guidance from Red Hat engineers. The company also said it will provide two internally developed testing tools to the open source community and that it is revising the shipment schedule for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Red Hat said the developer Web site,, will be similar to rival Microsoft Corp.’s MSDN Web site for Windows developers. Although the site will host open source code and projects, it doesn’t directly compete with the Open Source Technology Group’s SourceForge Web site, said Todd Barr, director of enterprise marketing.

Kevin Fox, a programmer and analyst at The Sherwin-Williams Co., said the mysteriously monikered 108 — Red Hat executives declined to reveal the origins of the site’s name — should help him plan future rollouts of Red Hat. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “I want to better know what features are going to be stable.”

The $7-billion Cleveland-based paint manufacturer runs its Oracle databases and supervisory control and data acquisition applications on Red Hat Linux.

Red Hat officials outlined plans to release the company’s internal tool, called Dogtail, for testing graphical interfaces, along with a suite of tools for testing nongraphical applications.

One Red Hat user who works at a Mississippi bank said his development team would welcome the availability of open source automated testing tools for Linux applications. “We’re mostly a Windows shop, including our quality assurance team,” said the user, who asked that he and his employer not be identified. “If they have to test a Linux system, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Both applications, which Red Hat uses internally to ensure that third-party applications run on its Linux distribution, will be available under the General Public License, said Jay Turner, quality engineering manager at Red Hat.

Red Hat also disclosed plans to lengthen its release schedule for major versions of and updates to its Linux operating system. “We’re slowing things down to cover customers who don’t want to change so often,” said enterprise marketing manager Nick Carr.

For instance, starting with RHEL 5’s expected release in December, major versions will come out about every two years instead of the prior 18-month intervals, Carr said. Red Hat will release a public beta of RHEL 5 in mid-September.

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