Alan Cox, regarded as one of the top Linux developers at Red Hat, is leaving the company.

In a letter sent to the Linux news site LXer, Cox said he was taking a position at Intel.

Cox is a 10-year Red Hat veteran whop has focused on the Linux kernel around which various red Hat products, such as red Hat Enterprise Linux and the Fedora project, are built.

“Alan has been working on the Linux kernel since the early days of 1991,” noted LXer, pointing back to the early develop of the open source software.

“I will be departing Red Hat mid January having handed in my notice,” Cox wrote. “I’m not going to be spending more time with the family, gardening or other such wondrous things. I’m leaving on good terms and strongly supporting the work Red Hat is doing. I’ve been at Red Hat for ten years as contractor and employee and now have an opportunity to get even closer to the low level stuff that interests me most.

“Barring last minute glitches I shall be relocating to Intel (logically at least, physically I’m not going anywhere) and still be working on Linux and free software stuff.

“I know some people will wonder what it means for Red Hat engineering. Red Hat has a solid, world class, engineering team and my departure will have no effect on their ability to deliver.”

Matt Asay, who writes about Linux and open source for the Cnet Web site, believes Cox is leaving because of a change in Red Hat’s product focus.

“I suspect the impetus for the change has much to do with Cox’s interest in the "low-level stuff" that Intel needs, and Red Hat much less so. Implicit in Cox’s note is an indication of where Red Hat is going: up the stack.

“This shift will not happen overnight, but it very clearly has been happening. From the JBoss acquisition to Red Hat Exchange, Red Hat has slowly but surely been moving ever closer to applications. This makes sense for Red Hat as it seeks to increase its relevance (and deal size) to the enterprise, selling solutions rather than just cheap bits.”

Asay said Cox “will be missed” at Red Hat but that the company “should more than compensate” for his departure with its new product emphasis.