Red Hat has just announced a 37 per cent jump in revenue for its fourth quarter compared to the same quarter last year, and an increase of 42 per cent for the whole year ended 28 February 2006.

The open source market leader hoovered up $78.7 million in the last quarter - up eight per cent from the prior quarter - and $278.3 million over the year, with subscription revenues making up most of that. Red Hat also owns cash, cash equivalents, and investments of $1.1 billion.

Red Hat is growing up and proving that the open source development model can generate serious amounts of income. Accounting for the way that the company is out-performing the IT market generally, European VP Werner Knoblich said that there was no single specific reason for the income hike.

"Effectively, we're becoming more boring because what we do is more mainstream. As a result, we need to do less selling of Linux, so instead we can help customers find the right strategy, and do it quicker. As a result, sale cycles are becoming shorter.

"We've focused on converting users from Unix to Linux and we've grown the ecosystem, which is key in terms of getting more ISVs and hardware vendors on board. For example, we are HP's major software partner and, along with IBM, Oracle etc., it gives open source more credibility."

The commitment shown by large vendors means that customers feel more comfortable with committing to open source products, said Knoblich: "Open source is not a religion any more, it's just one more method of software development."

VP of investor relations Dion Cornett said: "We are pleased to report continued market momentum. Fiscal year 2006 was a great year in that we outgrew leading industry analysts' estimates for Linux market growth and substantially outpaced rivals, thus implying continued market share gains. The positive interaction between our community, ecosystem, and customers continues to extend our leadership position as the world's largest provider of open source solutions."

Red Hat launched Fedora Core 5 last week.