Today, Linux and open-source software rule the tech world. Twenty-five years ago? It was an amateur operating system that only geeks knew about. One of the main reasons Linux got from there to here is Red Hat turned a hobby into an IT force.
Red Hat co-founder Bob Young -- who had run a rental typewriter business -- became interested in Linux. In 1993, he founded ACC Corporation, a catalog business that sold Slackware Linux CDs and open-source software.
Everyone knew, as Young remembered later, "Solaris was much better than Linux, but it was only by using Linux that he could tweak the operating systems to meet their needs." Young realized that while he couldn't sell Linux as being better, faster, or having more features than Unix in those days, he could sell one benefit: users could tune it to meet their needs. That would prove to be a key selling point, as it still is today.
So, he joined forces with Linux developer Marc Ewing, and from Young's wife sewing closet, they launched Red Hat Linux. Like other early Linux businesses, Red Hat started out by selling diskettes, then servers, services, and CDs.
Today, in an interview, Young said, "What I love about the story is that it took many great contributors from the free software/open-source communities including Stallman to Torvalds. To Marc and I and our team-mates to Matthew Szulik, and now Jim and his vast team. None of us could have fundamentally changed the way software is developed and deployed without all the others."
Young continued, "As my internet software developer son-in-law puts it: he and his colleagues couldn't do what they do without all the free