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Red Hat chief executive Matthew Szulik kicked off the company's second annual user conference in Nashville, Tennessee by emphasising the open source specialist's commitment to "democratising content".
Speaking to a crowd made up of a mixture of enterprise technology professionals and hardcore open source enthusiasts, Szulik chose to side-step specific issues of how the company is performing, preferring to expound his views on how open source technology can benefit society.
"The open source community drives social change and new, inventive ways to bring technology to markets. I don't think work is finished but one thing we have learned is that if your whole business is based on competing as a single corporation and a single identity, you're going to find it increasingly difficult to compete with a community," Szulik said.
Szulik briefly commented on the company's ongoing acquisition of JBoss, the open source application server and middleware company. He claimed that although the move had been categorised in the press as an attempt by Red Hat to take on more mainstream tech companies such as IBM and Microsoft, it was really about delivering customers a complete stack of software.
In a speech that was introduced by a short video repeating the mantra "Truth Happens", Szulik also chose to comment on how the Internet and blogging have become a major source of political interaction and information. On the issue of transparency of information, Szulik used the example of New Orleans, the site of the 2005 Red Hat summit, which suffered huge damage from Hurricane Katrina last August.
"Lots of questions are still being asked about what happened in New Orleans — what really happened there?" asked Szulik.
The Red Hat boss chose to make his speech short, claiming that he did not wish to ape the normal conference performances of leaders of proprietary companies who "try to sound smart and technical for 45 minutes", and left more time for Red Hat execs to discuss specific projects and for partners to contribute.
Red Hat manager of quality engineering Jay Turner followed Szulik onstage to discuss a new testing project the company is preparing to launch, which it claims will give customers the ability to create more robust implementations of the open source specialist's software in their companies.
The project does not have a name as yet but Turner revealed that the testing project will build on existing tools such as the company's dogtail graphical test utility. "Today I am here to announce that we are submitting a new testing project to the Fedora board to establish standards around open source testing and give us all the confidence we need," he said.
Turner said the project's overall aim was for the community to find ways to improve testing in a collaborative way. "The final point is that we want to develop process together. We know we are good at this, but know a lot of you are good too."