With Oracle boasting that it won over 26 companies who were Red Hat customers to Oracle Unbreakable Linux, including Yahoo, Matthew Szulik, Red Hat chairman and chief executive questioned the impact of the recent announcement.

“Yahoo executives communicated to me that they consider Red Hat to be an important and strategic customer and that they plan to continue to build on their historical and successful relationship with Red Hat. They said they did not replace Red Hat across the enterprise, they implemented Oracle Linux on certain Oracle database servers,” said Szulik.

He said the company’s latest financial results prove the company can withstand new competitive challenges. Last week, Red Hat reported fourth-quarter sales of $111.1 million ($56.5m) in sales, up 41% from sales of $78.7m during the same period one year ago.

The sharp rise in sales came despite stepped up competition for Red Hat, including Oracle's introduction last October of lower-cost version of Red Hat's subscription service for businesses using open source software – Unbreakable Linux. In addition, Microsoft started working to make features of Novell's Linux distribution work with Windows as part of a deal between the two companies.

These developments haven't slowed down Red Hat, which added 10,000 new customers during the fourth quarter, and 44,000 for the year, Szulik said. In response to Oracle claims of wins with 25 other Red Hat users he said: “When we did our analysis, most of them, if not all, had very little to no Red Hat penetration.

“[Red Hat], as a pure open source play, with the combination of the development model, the service capability and the economic model, will continue to produce superior results for our customers.”

And he poured scorn on Microsoft’s talk of interoperability in its deal with Novell: “As long as I have been in the business, which is almost 30 years, I have heard that Microsoft is trying to improve interoperability. So I'm wondering what kind of magic dust is going to get sprinkled over this relationship that is going to improve the satisfaction of the customer to operate and be successful in a heterogeneous environment,” Szulik said. “All the marketing money in the world will not distort the truth that customers will achieve a higher degree of interoperability when there are vendor-neutral standards.”