Red Hat scurries away from consumer desktop market
Pesky Microsoft just won't play ball
Linux and open source software giant Red Hat has abandoned plans to develop a consumer desktop product because it cannot compete with the might of Microsoft.
The firm said in a statement yesterday: “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 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.”
That dominant vendor which Red Hat also described as a bad "community player" is of course Microsoft, with its Windows operating system.
Red Hat has also been forced to rejig its roadmap somewhat. The company said its Red Hat Global Desktop (RHGD) product – which was announced last year and is aimed at the small, reseller-supplied deployments in emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia – has been delayed by nearly a year.
Red Hat had originally planned to cough up RHGD in the next few months, but said that “business issues” have pushed the launch date back.
It’s encountered a variety of problems with developing the product including startup delays with resellers, hardware and market changes and “some multimedia codec licensing knotholes”.
Red Hat acknowledged it had stumbled onto the garden fork with its second failed attempt at a consumer desktop Linux distribution in as many years. Explaining the rather hefty RHGD delay, it urged caution: “The desktop business model is tough, so we want to be prepared before delivering a product to the emerging markets.”
Yesterday, Novell’s president and CEO Ronald Hovesepian agreed that it will take time to develop its own Suse Linux desktop distribution for the consumer market.
According to reports, he said: “The consumer market is taking longer to develop… The market for the desktop for the next three to five years is mainly enterprise-related."
Major computer makers such as Dell and HP have been experimenting with open source flavoured desktop products over the past year in an apparent attempt to satisfy customer demand by offering a Windows alternative. But even though the Vista OS has received a lukewarm at best response from customers, it's too early to declare Linux a fully fledged consumer OS.®
In response to "What a bunch"
"Look, if you claim you are a tech head type of person and can't get your head around a simple (yes simple) OS like a Linux distro, then you are no tech head. You are a Windows head. If you can't draw a parallel between a dialogue box config and a text file config, then you are just plain stupid."
I *am* a tech head, and can offer one degree, an HND and 10 years of support experience on PCs to back it up. Before you dare to call me a "Windows head", I have offered support for DOS, Windows (3.1, NT 3.5 and 4, 2000, XP and Vista), Mac OS9, various types of Unix based OSes (Mainly Solaris and OSX. I have used various versions of Linux (Redhat, Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Mandrake).
Linux is not as easy as Windows to configure Linux. Last time I tried to install Ubuntu at home, it would boot from the CD, but would not boot from any of my SATA hard drives (although it would access them when booted from CD).
I am using an onboard Intel Chipset. My Motherboard is an ASUS P5B, which in terms of chipsets doesn't included anything unusual.
After three days of trying to persuade the system to boot Ubuntu, I gave up and re-installed Vista. This went pretty much without a hitch, although I did have a lot of drivers to install to get things like my sound card and video card to work properly.
It's exactly this sort of problem that Linux has to overcome if it is to become a mainstream OS. You may argue it is OK to bugger about with config files to get the OS to work, but the average punter knows little about computers beyond how to turn them on and fire up the word processor, their favourite game or browse the web.
You may argue that Linux has to fight to gain acceptance (and support) from the major PC manufacturers. It does, and has had 15 years to do so. So far, apart from IBM and Dell (who both seem to be doing the minimum possible to promote and support Linux), it has singularly failed to do this.
DISTRO TALK, FUN
I'm definitely a GNU/Linux, BSDs newbie, but installed PCBSD and Asolute Linux ( a Slackware distro desktop) on computers at home with little or no trouble. Both detected all my hardware, including the 3 button mouse and the USBs.
Too be fair though, I've formatted and re-installed XP and previous Windows versions a few times. Never had any real trouble there either. Could be because my hardware is typically middle of the road technology, so there's lots of time for drivers to be created.
I agree with several of the people who've commented that they play with these distros for fun. I too am doing this and having a hoot. Just trying to get Slackware 12 going next. Something about configuring X, oh well, I'm in no hurry.
It makes me sneer to hear people mention Windows' useability (lack of). Features that I take for granted such as auto-focus (on the window under the mouse) and multiple virtual desktops, and which I have been enjoying since my Amiga days, are still missing from Windows. Major time saving conveniences such as having your session saved when you log off and having it restored it when you next log in (which even the old OS/2 had) are obviously non-existent in Windows - it is all the more strange considering that a Windows user would benefit from that feature much more so than a Linux user, since the former would encounter BSODs (or whatever MS disguises it as these days) so many times a day.
Little things like text highlighted with the mouse being automatically copied to the clipboard (and can be pasted using the middle mouse button) are major time savers - and I don't need to worry about accidentally overwriting the clipboard because klipper allows me to keep a clipboard history.