Menu
Red Hat sees no consumer desktop Linux in its future

Red Hat sees no consumer desktop Linux in its future

If you're waiting to see market-leading Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. release a desktop Linux operating system anytime soon to compete in the consumer market, then think again.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based company is apparently ceding the admittedly small and nascent demand to other Linux vendors, including Ubuntu, according to a post Wednesday on one of Red Hat's blogs.

"We have no plans to create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market in the foreseeable future," the company said in the blog report, titled "What's Going On With Red Hat Desktop Systems? An Update."

"As a public, for-profit company, Red Hat must create products and technologies with an eye on the bottom line, and with desktops this is much harder to do than with servers," the post continued. "The desktop market suffers from having one dominant vendor, and some people still perceive that today's Linux desktops simply don't provide a practical alternative."

"Of course, a growing number of technically savvy users and companies have discovered that today's Linux desktop is indeed a practical alternative. Nevertheless, building a sustainable business around the Linux desktop is tough, and history is littered with example efforts that have either failed outright, are stalled or are run as charities."

Instead, the company said, it will continue to focus its attention on its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop edition, which is compatible with its Linux server operating systems; its open-source, community-supported and free Fedora Linux operating system; and on its delayed but still-under-development Red Hat Global Desktop edition that's designed for small, reseller supplied deployments in emerging markets.

A company spokesman declined to comment on the blog post Thursday.

Red Hat's decision to stay out of the consumer market is not a surprise, said several industry analysts.

"One key word here is consumer desktop," said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H. "They do have Red Hat Enterprise Linux desktop, so for enterprises, they do have a desktop product. They [also] have Fedora, so for a consumer who doesn't want to pay for a desktop operating system on their computer they can always load up Fedora" for free, which has the most-needed consumer features and can be loaded with add-on video and music players as needed.

The need to include such players could be one of the reasons that the company is shying away from offering a consumer version, he said. "Red Hat's approach has always been pure open source, so the need to have some proprietary codecs and things like that to round out a consumer desktop version, that's not really Red Hat's philosophy anyway."

In the end, Haff said, it comes down to economics and revenue. "How many consumers are going to pay for a desktop Linux for their home?" he asked. "Very few. It's not like the consumer desktop market is very big anyway, and then you take the group that's willing to pay for it, that's a tiny, tiny slice indeed."

"My take here is that Red Hat has Fedora, and that home users can perfectly well run Fedora," Haff said. "I guess this is generating a little buzz that Red Hat isn't creating a consumer desktop. But they never have. This isn't really changing anything."

Dana Gardner, an analyst with Gilford, N.H.-based Interarbor Solutions LLC, agreed. "It's not compatible with their business, and it's not going to make them any significant dough," Gardner said.

Other recent developments in the fledgling desktop-as-a-service marketplace could also be playing a part in Red Hat's strategy, Gardner said. In that marketplace, vendors including Chelmsford, Mass.-based Desktone Inc., Redwood City, Calif.-based MokaFive and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix Systems Inc. are building systems that allow multiple users to work from one instance of an operating system, reducing the number of operating system licenses that are needed, which lowers revenue for OS vendors.

"What they're doing is kind of turning the economics" around, he said. "The timing and the economics have shifted. This makes perfect sense."

The Red Hat announcement is a bit ironic because it comes less than a week before Ubuntu is unveiling its latest 8.04 editions of its free consumer desktop and enterprise server operating systems on Monday. Ubuntu gains revenue by selling support for its operating systems through its commercial sponsor, Canonical Ltd.

Ubuntu has had some modest success with a sales effort by computer maker Dell Inc. that includes desktop Ubuntu Linux offered on a select number of Dell machines.

The Red Hat announcement also comes the same week that Curl Inc., which builds software to create rich internet application (RIA) features for Web sites, debuted its installer that now supports Ubuntu Linux on the desktop. The new Curl 6.0 installer will allow Ubuntu desktop users to see RIA rendered code on their machines. Curl added the installer in part because of growing customer demand for desktop Ubuntu support, the company said.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Red Hatinternational news

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments