Billy Marshall, who as a VP at Red Hat helped take its North American sales from $8 million in 2001 to $150 million in 2005, and Erik Troan, ex-Red Hat VP of product engineering, have moved a few miles down the road to found rPath. The company wants to make it easier to bundle Linux with software applications. It serves app vendors, such as Digium and Ingres, that in turn produce digital files that include the Linux operating system preconfigured to run their specific application.
That bundling may not sound revolutionary, but consider this: Troan came up with Red Hat Package Manager, or RPM, the product that distinguished Red Hat from other Linux distributors. RPM is a method of describing a Linux package amid hundreds of other components. Except for the kernel, Linux consists of hundreds of small component packages. Knowing which package is the most recent and the dependencies between packages was once a skill possessed only by highly knowledgeable Linux programmers. Red Hat simplified all that by embedding the information within the package and allowing automated assembly of a Linux operating system.