An anonymous reader writes: Best Buy and Barnes and Noble have a problem with showrooming — shoppers checking out the merchandise in their stores and then proceeding to order the goods at a discounted prices online. And Red Hat might have a similar problem with people (not just college kids and software professionals boning up on their skills at home, either) using the free-as-in-beer CentOS rather than licensing Red Hat Enterprise Linux and paying support fees. But according to CEO Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat's competitive position may actually be helped by CentOS in the same way that counterfeit Windows products sold on the streets in the Far East may have helped Microsoft — by cementing their position as the technology standard, in a marketplace that also includes entrants from SuSE, Debian, Oracle, and Ubuntu, just among Linux-based entrants. Who does Whitehurst consider to be Red Hat's most direct threat? VMWare.
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