Red Hat rejects Microsoft advances

Largest Linux vendor spurns renewed interest from the software giant in a patent or technology tie-up

Red Hat, the largest Linux vendor, has distanced itself from the possibility of a pact with Microsoft.

Microsoft said on Friday it wanted to do a deal with Red Hat, similar to the pacts it has already negotiated with Linux firms Novell, Xandros and Linspire.

"We'd love to do the same deal with Red Hat. We're always open to talking to them," said Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager of corporate interoperability and standards, speaking to

But Red Hat said there would be no such deal. Referring to previous statements distancing itself from Microsoft, the company insisted: "Red Hat's standpoint has not changed."

The company referenced a statement written when Microsoft revealed it was partnering with Novell, saying that its position remained unaltered. Red Hat director of corporate communications Leigh Day added: "We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency."

Many open-source followers argue that Red Hat, as the largest Linux vendor, would have a lot to lose from partnering with Microsoft.

Both Linspire and Xandros are much smaller companies.

Linspire will work closely with Microsoft in a number of areas, including instant messaging and web search. Although Microsoft has said that open source infringes its patents, the software giant has agreed not to sue users of Linspire.

Microsoft's deal with Xandros, a distributor, is based on both technical and legal considerations. They will work on improving interoperability between their servers to improve systems management.

Microsoft's pact with Novell is rather more complex. The two companies are marketing each other's products and are working on product interoperability. Their pact is subject to a series of sales- and patent-related payments worth hundreds of millions of dollars.