Red Hat’s CEO, Matthew Szulik, is stepping down after nine years on the job. He will become chairman of Red Hat’s board of directors. Jim Whitehurst, former chief operating officer of Delta Air Lines, has been named by the board to replace Szulik as president and CEO. Not everyone agrees on the choice of the replacement though.

Excerpt from eWeek:

In an e-mail interview, Gordon Haff, senior analyst for research house Illuminata, said, “He clearly has experience with an operationally very complex business. But one would have to look awfully hard to see the sort of innovation at old-line carriers like Delta that tends to be so important in technology companies,” Haff said.

The move comes as a surprise even to senior staffers of the company. However, it is understood that the board has been looking for a suitable replacement for some time now.

Sources close to Red Hat said that Szulik’s wife is quite ill and that Szulik felt he had to leave to attend to her.