RealNetworks Inc. is moving to make its digital media player the default choice for Linux desktop systems, announcing Monday that Linux distributors Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. have both agreed to include versions of its player in their open source desktop software.
The new agreements supplement similar deals the Seattle-based digital media company has sewn up with Sun Microsystems Inc. and Turbolinux Inc., and underscore Real's intention to conquer digital media on the Linux desktop. Sun said last year that it would be including the RealPlayer with its Mad Hatter Linux-based desktop package and Turbolinux said earlier this month that it would ship RealPlayer 10 for Linux and Helix Player with its Turbolinux desktop products.
Novell's next Linux desktop product will include the upcoming RealPlayer 10 for Linux, Real said, while Red Hat has agreed to ship Real's currently available open source Helix Player with its desktop products. Red Hat will offer Red Hat Desktop customers a free upgrade to RealPlayer 10 for Linux when it becomes available.
Helix Player was developed by Real's open source Helix community and is the foundation of the upcoming RealPlayer 10 for Linux product, due out later in the third-quarter of this year. Both include commercial components such as SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language), MP3, and Flash as well as the digital media company's RealAudio and RealVideo formats, Real said.
With much of the digital media player market dominated by Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Player, Real has been aggressively moving to carve a niche for its player in the Linux market.
RealNetwork's announcement of the deals with Red Hat and Novell come on the same day that Microsoft Corp. was due to begin offering a version of its Windows operating system without the Media Player included, under orders from European Commission competition authorities. However, Microsoft was granted a temporary stay on the order Sunday and industry sources say that the remedy could be delayed until as late as September.
In the meantime, Real plans to advance its Linux plans, also announcing Monday that it is offering the Helix Player under three new General Public License (GPL) options, saying that it encourages further open-source development of its digital media offerings.