Red Hat Inc. may move its headquarters from Durham to a 120,000-square-foot building once occupied by Lucent Technologies on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University.

"It represents an evolution for Red Hat in the stage of our development," said Matthew J. Szulik, Red Hat's chief executive officer. "There's a great deal of enthusiasm to move into a fabulous, fabulous facility."

Szulik said he would like to see the move take place by mid-March if a deal to take over the space from Lucent can be reached. Red Hat's Durham headquarters covers 65,000 square feet.

"We've done 14 acquisitions in the last two years and we're moving more and more of those associates here," Szulik said.

He said that a move to Centennial Campus would be a symbol that Red Hat is committed to continuing to build the company.

Having Red Hat on its campus would be a boon to the university. The Centennial Campus, which was built to foster research partnerships with the university, has about 70 corporate tenants.

"There were a lot of folks that thought that Red Hat should move to Silicon Valley," said Thomas Miller, N.C. State's vice provost for distance education and learning technology. "That would have been a tremendous loss. There's no other company here that compares to Red Hat."

The Linux software packager made a big splash when it first went public in 1999, with shares trading as high as $150 per share.

But the company has struggled with the realities of building a business based on the freely available Linux software. Its stock currently trades at around $7 per share.