Is it Microsoft or Ubuntu that scared Red Hat away from the desktop?

Is it Microsoft or Ubuntu that scared Red Hat away from the desktop?

Summary: I'm still digesting Red Hat's announcement that the company won't be focusing on the desktop market. But who is Red Hat really scared of - Microsoft or Ubuntu?


I'm still digesting Red Hat's announcement that the company won't be focusing on the desktop market. But who is Red Hat really scared of - Microsoft or Ubuntu?

Here's the meat of the announcement:

It’s worth pointing out what’s missing in the list above: we have no plans to create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market in the foreseeable future.

An explanation: 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. 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. 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.

The desktop market certainly does have a dominant vendor (Microsoft), but there's also a very dominant Linux distro. Ubuntu. If there's a dominant desktop distro, Ubuntu is it. Has this had a bearing on Red Hat's decision to leave the desktop? I can't but feel that it has. In a field where I firmly believe that there were too many distros competing for attention, now there's one less. That said, I did quite like Red Hat (although my favorite distro is Ubuntu).

Does Red Hat's exit now leave the desktop Linux field open to Ubuntu?

[poll id=282]


Topics: Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Hold On

    I though RedHat explicitly left the desktop Linux market
    when it spun off Fedora. Was I wrong? Does this
    announcement really indicate the explicit discontinuation of a
    • Re: left the desktop.

      It had left the desktop years ago and tried a comeback with Fedora.
      Arm A. Geddon
    • Yes/No/Maybe

      As far as I know, the last "consumer" desktop version was RHL9. They are still going ahead with their Enterprise Desktop/Workstation. This announcement makes no sense to me either, perhaps it is for share holder consumption.
    • What he said....

      RedHat explicitly left the desktop behind when they created the RedHat and Fedora wings of the company years ago.

      Saying RH was leaving the desktop is old news.
  • Does Red Hat???s exit now leave the desktop Linux field open to Ubuntu?

    Red Hat was never really in the desktop field to begin with, and has stated so rather pointedly on many occasions, so I don't see how the answer can be anything but no. SuSE is the other major player on the desktop, and always has been.
    Michael Kelly
  • Fix the article's title.

    Is it Microsoft OR Ubuntu that scared Red Hat away from the
    • We all know by now that Ubuntu belong as an underground OS to Sun Microsys!

      Ubuntu * : A distribution sponsored by Canonical Ltd as well as receiving major funding from South African Mark Shuttleworth. Aims to offer a complete and polished desktop on a single CD.

      Mark Shuttleworth (Sun Open Java) - Kathleen (Millionsofus) - Tim Bray (Sun Microsystems) - Simon Phipps (Sun Microsystems) --- --- Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL. For 8,5 B$. My SQL The world's most popular open source database before Sun Microsystems bought it.

      Servers market place is were is the money by now. Red Hat understand that perfectly and for that this Title is wrong, in my opinion.
  • Don't know the history of Mandrake, heh?

    Red Hat had gotten away from the desktop many years ago. That's when Mandrake took over improving it. That's the time I began using linux more. Soon Mandrake Linux became the #1 distro.

    Also, some people, believed Red Hat butchered the desktop with their Bluecurve GUI. Myself included.

    Prove me wrong. ;-)
    Arm A. Geddon
    • Mandrake 9.0

      Nothing should ever do that to a partition table. That's just unholy.

      I tell you, I had to have my HDD exorcised.

      Find a distro, pick a fault.
    • What came first the server or the desktop ...

      I always felt that focusing on the server alone and not on the desktop is the wrong strategy. I suppose MS proves my feelings right, they started with Desktops and then thanks to their Desktop stronghold they were able to break into the server market. Let's say your company has 800 PCs running Windows XP, and your IT guys spend their days fixing Windows, guess what they are going to choose when they need to replace an old Solaris of BSD server (for which they always had to get external support): Windows2008, Redhat, or Solaris. They'll probably just discuss whether they go with Windows2008 or 2003, and they'll all be plesed the 'nix thing is gone.
      Let's assume instead that I have 10 PCs running Ubuntu, what am I gonna run when I decide it is time to have a server: Ubuntu or Redhat? Redhat loses again.
      Would make sense that once people use your Desktop, get familiar with it and trust it, you'll get some of the servers too.
      • Sorry for typos

        it should be: "Solaris or BSD server"
        "Windows2008, Redhat, or Solaris?" "pleased" next time I'll let my cat do the typing
      • Not quite so cut and dried though.

        Red Hat has managed to maintain a strong presence in the server room because, despite being a complete pain to administer at times, it has also provided some indespensable tools such as Kickstart and some truly enterprise level capabilities such as the Global File System (GFS) and extending ext3 to a maximum filesystem size of 16TB.

        Of course Ubuntu, having based itself so heavily on the existing repository base of Debian, has never been a victim of Not Invented Here syndrome and GFS has already made it's way into 7.10 (if not earlier versions) so maybe it'll have all the advantages of RHEL without the painful hoops to jump for configuration. I mean, is it too much to ask that switching on NFS should have a default standard configuration and include all the supporting services like portmap? Or is that just RHEL 4?
  • Ubuntu has a better feel, but....

    The reason I would think why Red Hat is also jumping the desktop ship is that most programs for Linux are open source and lack advertising. All Linux programs are open source unless specified by the company and pay for their service. EVE-Online is one example. Blizzard's World of Warcraft is possibly another.

    if so many companies are out there to make a profit, why would they want to sell something you wouldn't collect money on? Support and upgrades might be the solution to the money woes, but I think many companies haven't jumped on the bandwagon like Google.
  • Don't forget OpenSUSE, Mandriva and Fedora

    OpenSUSE, Mandriva and Fedora are all excellent easy desktop Linux distro's, with large communities of developers behind them.

    So there is still a lot of competition for Ubuntu. Which is very good: competition drives innovation.

    However, Ubuntu has something that the other three "big distro's" don't have: a long period of support with security updates. Three years for the LTS versions of Ubuntu, and 18 months for the non-LTS-versions.

    The others have only one year of support. Plus it's somewhat harder to install the missing multimedia codecs in them. But nevertheless: they are fine products.

    Greetz, Pjotr.
    • Competition good?

      Is there anyone out there that really believes that competition for the Linux desktop is a good thing?

      OK, then answer this: does Linux stand a better chance of competing with Windows with four alternatives, or one?
      David Gale
      • Largely irrelevant

        All Linux distro's are essentially much the same. Therefore variety is not a problem.

        There are much more than three alternatives to Ubuntu. There are hundreds of Linux distro's out there. But OK, there are about five big players with good continuity prospects, if we count Debian in, which is not so user friendly.

        This may seem bewildering, but in fact all of them are in essence much alike. They all share the same Linux kernel and they all have about the same set of applications: Firefox, Open Office, Thunderbird et cetera. If you know one Linux distro, it's very easy to find your way in another.

        If you know nothing of Linux, it's a good start to begin with probably the most user friendly "big distro", which is Ubuntu right now. But the other big distro's will be only a little less easy for a beginner. You can't go wrong, so to speak.

        Greetz, Pjotr.
      • ...

        I would say with four. Reason, simple. Many of the IT folks that will be rolling Linux out will have a preference so that will play into how a distribution is selected.

        Each vendor can offer something a little different as for tailoring for various market types.

        And it would force more quality control and growth between the 4 competing Linux systems and Windows. ]:)

        Just my take.
        Linux User 147560
      • Diversity Is Good In Moderation

        Choice is one of the pluses of Linux. I know I wouldn't be using Linux today if it weren't for Puppy Linux (which I still use).

        The different distros allow someone to have the advantages of Linux with the flexibility to have their needs met. I'd agree that newbies (especially) should be presented with a relatively small number of choices initially (a visit to would probably throw a lot of folks into the screaming meemies). However, since the kernel and the core apps are pretty consistent from distro to distro, having flexibility in the GUI and in specific features is a good thing, IMHO.

        Multiple makes, models, colors and features of cars haven't exactly ruined the automotive industry, I'd say.
      • Choice

        The whole point is the differences. I don't much care for Gnome, so I use KDE, but guess what, that desktop GUI works on Ubuntu and OpenSuse, moving between the two a user would probably not know the difference. An admin might, because you use different tools to configure the OS.
        If your desktop suite was Firefox, OpenOffice, Gimp, Scribus and a few other apps, you can run these apps on any OS in any GUI. Competition keeps the systems compatible.
        • Choice is not a panacea

          Don't confuse choice with meaningful choice. What many
          linux advocates call choice is actually just noise.