Red Hat Skips Consumer Linux Desktop

Red Hat has no plans to create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market, but will continue to place its bets on a desktop for commercial markets.

"We are focused on infrastructure software for the enterprise market, and to that market we are offering the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop," said Michael Chen, vice-president of corporate marketing at Red Hat.

"You need a different support ecosystem and applications for the consumer desktop," Chen added.

Among the company's desktop goals for 2008 and 2009 is to ensure that its desktop products complement its server and middleware products, Red Hat said in a company blog post Wednesday.

Red Hat's strategy is similar to that of Novell, which is currently focusing on Linux for enterprise desktops. The market for Suse Linux on the consumer desktop is taking time to develop, and the market for the desktop for the next three to five years is mainly enterprise-related, Novell President and CEO Ronald Hovsepian said Wednesday.

Red Hat said that the Red Hat Global Desktop (RHGD), originally announced last year, was delayed because of business issues, although Red Hat had hoped to deliver RGHD in a few months, it said in the post. The RGHD is designed exclusively for small, reseller supplied, deployments in emerging markets, like Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and will be supplied by a number of Intel channel partners, the blog entry said.

In a reference to Microsoft, Red Hat said that 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. However, a growing number of technically savvy users and companies have discovered that today's Linux desktop is indeed a practical alternative, it added.

"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," according to the post. But there's good news too. Technical developments that have become available over the past year or two are accelerating the spread of the Linux desktop, it added.

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