Red Hat is bringing Sun's Solaris operating system into the Red Hat Network. It announced the plans at the LinuxWorld conference.

By the end of the year, Red Hat plans to release a software management module that will allow users of its Red Hat Network to manage both Solaris and Red Hat Linux systems using the same interface. The software will allow users to group systems, set permissions and schedule specific management actions, all using the Red Hat Network.

The Red Hat Network is a system for managing and updating the Linux operating system that uses the Internet to deliver bug fixes and security enhancements to the operating system.

Red Hat hopes that the new Red Hat Network module, which it expects to make available by year's end, will help draw Sun's customers to Linux. "We're using this as a tool to help people migrate off of Solaris," said Leigh Day, a Red Hat spokeswoman.

Red Hat does not offer a similar product for rival Linux vendors, but it makes sense for the company to target Solaris, said Charles King, an analyst with the Pund-IT research firm. "You go after the weak. There are some traditional Sun markets where Linux has been particularly attractive," he said, citing the financial services and telecommunications sectors as two such markets.

As expected, Red Hat also unveiled Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 4 (RHEL v.4) at the conference. The release marks the most significant upgrade to Red Hat's Linux operating system since October 2003, when the company released version 3 of the product.

RHEL v.4 will include new versions of the wide array of open source software products that are included in Red Hat's Linux distribution, but the most significant enhancements will come from the Linux 2.6 kernel - the core component of the operating system that performs its most basic functions.

The software includes a number of desktop productivity enhancements, security enhancements derived from the US National Security Agency's Security Enhanced Linux project, and a rewrite of Linux's I/O subsystem, which manages the transfer of data between components on the computer.