posted by Thom Holwerda on Thu 17th Apr 2008 18:54 UTC
IconBack in September 2003, when Red Hat discontinued its home-oriented Red Hat Linux desktop and offloaded that market to the community-driven but Red Hat-sponsored Fedora Project, many people were left wondering if Red Hat would ever again offer a product aimed at home desktops. We have the answer now.

In an update to Red Hat's plans concerning desktop offerings, which sometimes "find themselves in the shade" due to Red Hat's focus on server offerings, Red Hat's Desktop Team gave a clear-cut answer to the question: "We have no plans to create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market in the foreseeable future." That leaves little to the imagination.

The reasoning given by the Desktop Team is fairly clear to me. Red Hat is a public for-profit company, and as such, it needs to think about its bottom-line. Getting a good bottom-line is much tougher in the home desktop market than it is in the world of servers, due to the fact that the former has one dominant vendor, while the latter is much more diverse, making it easier to successfully market for. They state that building a sustainable business model around the home desktop is tough. "History is littered with example efforts that have either failed outright, are stalled or are run as charities."

So, what will be the focus of Red Hat's desktop product plans? From the blog entry:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop. This is our fully supported, commercial product. It is 100 percent compatible with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux server products. Its focus is to provide a desktop environment that is secure and easily managed. And it is upgradeable with the Multi-OS option (which provides virtualization support) or the Workstation option (which provides high-end workstation capabilities).
  • Fedora. This is a Red Hat sponsored, fast-growing, free product. While Red Hat doesn't formally support Fedora, users can turn to a healthy online community to obtain help when they need it.
  • Red Hat Global Desktop (RHGD). Plans for this product were originally announced at the 2007 Summit Conference. It is designed exclusively for small, reseller supplied, deployments in emerging markets (e.g. primarily the BRIC countries), and will be supplied by a number of Intel channel partners.

That should more or less settle the matter for at least the coming years.

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