Not real bells and whistles of course...Linux vendor Red Hat is to show off the fruits of a strategy which lets it more aggressively adopt the latest technology for its lower-end products, with the release of Red Hat 9 on 31 March. Codenamed Shrike the new product will be available in the shops on 7 April, Wilson said. But subscribers to the company's Red Hat Network service will be able to download it on 31 March, as part of an incentive to encourage people to pay for the service. Red Hat Network, which is primarily used to deliver bug fixes, is a key part of the company's plan to shift revenue toward recurring sources that pay continuously instead of in a one-time surge accompanying a new product release. The biggest single change coming with version 9 is a move to a new way of handling simultaneous programming tasks called "threads". The new threading system, called the Native Posix Threading Library (NPTL), means deep changes to how some software interacts with the heart of Linux, called the kernel. Matt Wilson, manager of Red Hat's base operating system, said: "We felt it was important to get NPTL to a mass audience soon," Wilson said. Better threading improves server tasks such as running Java programs and databases; it also helps the performance of some desktop software, such as the Mozilla Web browser and the OpenOffice software suite, Wilson said. Red Hat Linux 9 costs $39.95, including 30 days of web-based and Red Hat Network support. The product can be downloaded for free, but that version doesn't include any support. Red Hat Linux 9 Professional costs $149.95, and it includes 60 days of support, more office applications, and a rescue tool. One key endorsement for Red Hat's changes came from Linux leader Linus Torvalds, who has accepted NPTL into the 2.5 version of the Linux kernel, the test version that will be numbered 2.6 when ready for real-world use. Another endorsement came on 14 March, when IBM programmers working on their own threading improvements - a project called Next Generation Posix Threading - announced they were focusing their attention instead on NTPL.