As far as Novell, he says Red Hat does not see the company very often in competitive deals.
"In terms of being a competitor, it is not a bad competitor to have if you are not running into them a lot," he says. On Oracle, Whitehurst doesn't slow down. "They create a lot of noise but not a lot of progress," he says. "It always pays to be paranoid, so we do follow their activities closely. But our model is quite durable so we feel very, very good about that."
The Red Hat model is open source projects such as Fedora and JBoss complemented by enterprise versions of the same software tied into a service package.
Whitehurst says he's not about to abandon the desktop but is pragmatic about the evolution of desktop Linux, a business he says does not appear to have potential to generate a lot of "big dollars."
"I think desktop is a place that is important to support certain areas of the world or certain customers in certain circumstances," he says.
Overall, Whitehurst sees his role as executing on progress. "This is a company that still has a lot to do in developing the processes and the systems and the governance structures to continue to scale and be effective," he says. "So I will be spending a fair amount of time making sure that we are developing the models of decision making and all of this basic infrastructure kind of stuff to ensure we are enabling the business and not hindering it."