Red Hat Begs To Clarify its Desktop Position
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Well, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens says that’s not exactly
He’s ready to concede that Red Hat, which has already
canceled a couple of coming-out parties for its so-called Red Hat Global
Desktop (RHGD), hasn’t a clue when the widgetry will debut – or, in fact, if it
It all depends, he says, on whether the commitments it got a
year ago from Intel white box channels in emerging countries hold and whether
everybody agrees on pricing and these resellers and integrators sign term sheets.
Brian says he will be “shocked” if Red Hat doesn’t get the
commitments for millions of systems – and hence the go-ahead – but that the
process will take a long time. Collecting signatures is apparently hard.
RHGD was supposedly for emerging markets, primarily the BRIC
countries. But it was never clear that such a thing could be – or would be –
contained to the
And now that hardware for emerging markets like Intel’s
Classmate laptop is set to flood the
But Red Hat blogged late Wednesday that it has “no plans to
create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market in the foreseeable
future,” meaning the consumer market in
It says penetrating that consumer desktop market would be
“much harder than with servers” and that building a sustainable business would
“History,” it says, “is littered with example efforts that
have either failed outright, are stalled or are run as charities.”
In a left-handed way it blamed Microsoft. “The desktop
market suffers,” it says, “from having one dominant vendor,” – and here’s the
clincher – “and some people still perceive that today’s Linux desktop simply
don’t provide a practical alternative.”
We are now told the blogger meant a separate for-a-fee home
It doesn’t mean, Brian says, that Red Hat didn’t ultimately
expect RHGD to bounce back to the US and Europe from emerging markets; it’s
just trying to stage things in a phased rollout and avoid having to support and
service RHGD users. Intel’s Classmate plans got ahead of Red Hat and Brian’s
not sure what the numbers might be for Linux. He hasn’t talked to Intel about
The thing that’s delayed the sight-unseen RHGD, a cut-down
version of its server-compatible commercial product, the Red Hat Enterprise
Linux Desktop, he says, has been negotiations over the Microsoft-like
multimedia codecs that RHGD needed so user could play music and watch videos.
Those negotiations were with a third party – not Microsoft –
and Brian says he held up RHGD waiting for the lawyers to assure him that the
third party actually had rights to the IP.
That’s finally been done, he said, and that means that all
the RHGD technology is in the can – down to the localizations – and is supposed
to explain why Red Hat, which announced RHGD at its Summit Conference last May,
blew through its scheduled debut last August and again in September.
Its blog, however, suggest the delays were more
It says Red Hat had still hoped to deliver RHGD “within a
few months” from now but “a number of business issues…have conspired to delay
the product for almost a year. These include,” it goes on, “hardware and market
changes, startup delays with resellers, getting the design and delivery of
appropriate services nailed down and, unsurprisingly, some multimedia codec
licensing knotholes. Right now we are still working our way through these
issues. As mentioned earlier, the desktop business model is tough, so we want
to be prepared before delivering a product to emerging markets.”
RHGD, by the way, is supposed to include an “enterprise class suite of productivity applications” and is actually targeted at SMBs.
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