Red Hat, a distributor of the Linux Operating System, named former Delta Airlines Chief Operating Officer James Whitehurst as its new chief executive officer on Thursday.

Whitehurst will replace Matthew Szulik, who will remain chairman, on January 1. Szulik said he is stepping down because of serious health issues in his family.

Red Hat has selected a talented executive who has successfully led a global technology-focused organization at Delta, Szulik said in a statement. Jim is a hands on guy who will be a strong cultural fit at Red Hat.

Shares of Red Hat rose $0.53, or 2.90 percent to $18.79.

The news came on the same day that it reported that net income for its latest quarter rose 39 percent to $20.3 million, or 10 cents par share, from $147.6 million, or 7 cents per share. Revenue rose 28 percent to $135.4 million.