Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

Summary: After years of steering away from the Linux desktop, in 2012, Red Hat will fully support a virtual desktop infrastructure.


San Francisco--Red Hat is the strongest Linux company in the world when it comes to servers, but it has almost no presence on the desktop. That will be changing in 2012 with the reintroduction of a Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments (SPICE)-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

It's not that Red Hat has ever completely done away with the Linux desktop. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop is still available, but in the big scheme of Red Hat's business, the desktop counts for little. That may be changing though as Red Hat gets ready to explore a server-based VDI thin-client desktop.

This revised desktop will use SPICE, which like Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Citrix's Independent Computing Architecture (ICA), is a desktop presentation services protocol. The point of these programs is to let the servers do the heavy lifting while a thin-client gives the user the illusion of a full fat-client desktop.

This desktop won't be a competitor to traditional desktops like the forthcoming Ubuntu 11.04 or Windows 7. Thin clients are meant for corporate desktops, like those in a company where Red Hat is already powering the servers. Remember, it's in Linux servers, not desktops, that Red Hat has made its riches.

On the server side, SPICE depends on KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) for its horsepower. Guess what Red Hat's favorite virtualization platform is these days? That would be KVM. So if you have a company that's already invested in Red Hat on the servers, wouldn't it make sense to offer them a complementary Linux desktop option as well? And perhaps sell a few more server licenses along the way? That makes good business sense to me and it fits into Red Hat's existing business plans.

Red Hat has explored the SPICE-based VDI idea earlier, but put it on the back-burner when they discovered that SPICE was filled with proprietary code. While Red Hat open-sourced that they could of SPICE it ended up losing most of its speed.

Worse still, as a Red Hat architect, explained to me at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in San Francisco, the server side of Red Hat's SPICE, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager (RHVM PDF Link), runs on Windows server.


Yes, that's right. A major Linux program required Windows to work. That, as you might expect is one reason why Red Hat hasn't been pushing either RHVM or a SPICE-based desktop. As the Red Hat employee said, "Customers would ask us about it, and when we said, 'It requires Windows Server;' they'd say, 'You've got to be kidding.' And, that was that."

This is changing, albeit slowly. First, Red Hat has to "remove the Windows bug" from RHVM as the Red Hat staffer put it. The next version of RHVM 3.0, which will appear either late this year or early next year, will be a purely Linux-driven server application. Its Active Server Page (ASP) components will be replaced by Java equivalents.

In addition, he said that Red Hat is working hard on getting SPICE back to its former speed. "Open-source SPICE is now at about to 80% of the propritary version's speed and we hope to have it to 100% by the Fedora 15 release." Fedora 15 is now scheduled to appear on May 24th. For Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) users, you can expect to see full-speed SPICE in RHEL 6.2.

Put it all together and what it means is that you can expect to see a full Red Hat Linux VDI desktop in early 2012. Will it replace fat-client desktops? No, Red Hat doesn't expect that it will. But, as he said, "It's a tactical fix for a tactical problem" for some businesses' desktops.

I, for one, will be interested in seeing it. While I don't see myself using a thin-client desktop, it's all the desktop many business staffers need. I can see companies that have already standardized on RHEL for their servers seeing this as a very natural, and cost-effective, extension of Linux to their line-of-work desktop users.

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

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  • Message has been deleted.

    Jack-Booted EULA
  • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

    <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a></a></a></a></a></a></a></a></a></a></a><br><br>With SPICE will be a lot easier to switch to Desktop Linux. <br><br>I.T. Departments who must forget about old (FoxPro) desktop applications ( my case) , can switch to SPICE . In the beginning - one or two years - the user will not comment because his computer will continue to run Windows. In the second step - when all enterprise apps runs on the - Virtual "CLOUD" Desktop - the user's computer will BOOT the Fedora Desktop and the user cannot complain because he is already familiar with the new business software.<br><br>@cornpie, @Cayble, @DevJonny<br><br>IF, and only IF - the management approves and enforces the new ERP via SPICE , in a Small Business, a complaining user has only one alternative : to resign <br>In this way, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office can disapper in a few years ...<br><br>Another subtile way of introducing SPICE is with a WEBMAIL server. If an user wants Mozilla Seamonkey or Thunderbird, they cannot have it on their road-warrior laptop , but instead on the SPICE account ...
    • Oh, you havn't been around long...

      @auntaru believe "the user cannot complain". Of course users can (and will) complain! Its what they do best. They will complain about anything that is different than what they did yesterday. They will complain about the switch to linux, and if for some reason a year down the road you decided to switch to Windows 8, they would complain about that too. It would be as if they had never used anything but linux.

      For users, what ever they have today is good and anything different is bad. Once you switch, what ever you are switching to becomes the "new normal" and you will then have a heck of a time switching from that.
      • Your right. And with good reason.

        The single most difficult task one often has to overcome on the ZDNet message boards, and indeed, even when responding directly to the author of a blog, is that the person your responding too is so deep into the world of IT that they cannot accurately directly relate to the average man on the street or woman at the workplace desk so to speak.

        People who work breath and live IT even inundate their family and friends with their knowledge and therefore they often get commentary from even those people already skewed by what they have "learned" from the IT person who has been dealing with them as a family member or friend for years.

        It becomes very difficult to know what the average completely novice or relatively uneducated computer user thinks, desires or even wants when your life has become IT and you have brought some of that life into the awareness of those around you.

        Students often get a laptop as a gift for example, not even being part of the purchase process where they may learn something about what they are looking for. People of all ages go into big box stores and discount computer shops and hear a salesman spout off a pile of stats on a computer they are considering purchasing and they quickly forget what those stats even mean and just go for what "sounded" the best in their price range. Make no mistake, people would purchase more Apple computers if they were cheaper then Windows based computers because Apple makes themselves sound so damn good. Its just the price that gets in the way, and when a salesman at another shop tells them they can get what is essentially the same internals for less, thats what they buy. Thats the extent of Joe Averages consideration on a computer purchase in the real world.

        And what do users want? Well your right, they want a computer that is easy to use and familiarity works toward that. Like it or not its a massive selling point. And as much as that works for Windows and not so much for OSX and Linux, its an honest and valid selling point.

        If you want any average, non savvy computer user to switch their OS, even to a different flavour of Windows they usually are not going to be happy about it. Quite frankly, anyone who used Vista for a while for example can attest to the fact that there wasn't anything really so wrong with the OS, perhaps not as great as one hoped but nothing essentially wrong. But there were complaints and you can count on the fact that the vast majority of those complaints were born out of minds that simply didn't like the differences from XP, and couldn't justify them because there wasn't anything so wonderful about Vista that was worth offsetting the nuisance of learning the nuances of a new OS.

        People will complain. And the bigger the change the louder they will complain. In general. Truly, all Linux enthusiasts really should take an honest hard look at the question of why Linux hasn't gotten as far as it probably should have by now.

        Unlike many, I did use Linux for a period of time, not overly long but about 3 months or so with SUSE 9. I thought it was a surprisingly great OS and came with a pretty phenomenal installation package. And it was FREE. Wow, admittedly hard to beat. Problem was, and still remains so to this day that not everything worked as I would have liked. There are still too many things that Windows can do with a few clicks that Linux will not. And worse yet I guess, its so difficult to just give up every single Windows application you ever liked, games particularly, so Linux then wants you to run Wine to access those programs, if they work on Wine. If it was just a bit too much for me to live with for the rest of my life, count on a true and fair explanation of Linux to Joe Average too reasonably be met with a no thanks. Also count on him complaining like hell if he comes in to work one day and finds out thats whats now been foisted upon him.
      • Too true!


      • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

        Perfectly said, and IMO - dead on.
  • And perhaps sell a few more server licenses along the way?

    I thought Linux was suppose to be free? - The hypocrisy.

    Yes, that?s right. A major Linux program required Windows to work. - PR and Credibility disaster.

    I, for one, will be interested in seeing it. While I don?t see myself using a thin-client desktop - Then why you such a big defender of Chrome OS?
    Mr. Dee
    • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

      @Mr. Dee I like Chrome OS, but I wouldn't say I'm a big defender of it for my personal use. I think most power-users will always prefer fat-clients--be it Windows 7, Mac OS X, Linux, whatever--but for a lot of non-techie people a thin-client/cloud OS desktop is all they'll need.

      • Does that go for consumers as well?


        I agree that at work thin clients are fine for many people, and that the number is increasing.

        Is it a great idea to push the idea that all data can be held in the cloud to consumers though? That's potentially a lot of people storing a lot of personal data in the cloud without realising the full implications in what they're doing for data security. Currently we're in a situation where the majority of malware is installed because end users don't fully understand what they're doing, can you imagine that being run through again with credit card details.
      • @OffsideInVancouver

        This wouldn't be cloud based, or you could say it was a "Private" cloud. All data would be held on internal (to the organisation) servers / datacentres that you would hope have the proper protection against internal & external threats.
    • Just imagine the heat Microsoft would catch if they attempted...

      @Mr. Dee: [i]And perhaps sell a few more server licenses along the way?[/i] do something similar. Oh wait, they have and they've caught the heat from the ABMers.
  • Well, is anyone surprised???

    <i>"Yes, thats right. A major Linux program required Windows to work."</i><br><br>Well, Duh. anytime anything useful is needed to be done, that's the operating system it's done on.<br><br>All the fanbois and tweakers can blow smoke all they want about how their little iPad toys and linux desktops are useful for the enterprise...<br><br>but when it's time to shut up and actually get work done, you know what operating system is used:<br><br>Microsoft Windows.
    • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

      • yeah, nice try...


        but more people use iOS than use linux:
    • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop


      That would depend on which facts you choose to believe

      "In 2009 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that Linux had a greater desktop market share than Mac, stating that in recent years Linux had "certainly increased its share somewhat". Just under a third of all Dell netbook sales in 2009 had Linux installed. By 2010, as a total of retail sales Linux represented 8% of desktop operating systems"
      • ROFLMFAO!!!!


        First, the link I provided above is as recent as March 2011. Your quoting data 1-2 year old "facts".

        Second, funny how... Steve Ballmer doesn't know d!ck unless you need to take a snippet of something he said to support your argument. Let me guess: that one statement is the one nugget of truth he let slip out, huh?

        Third, the link I provided was from a organization whose purpose is to provide market data; the link you provided was from an organization who allows people like you and me to write their "facts".

        LMFAO... you said it yourself: it depends on which facts you choose to believe. Just, next time you state some "facts", don't cite wikipedia as a source.

        Careful, your double standards are getting dangerously close to the Apple faithful.
      • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop

        @guzz46 Wow, that is impressive. I have been running dual boot machines for years, back in the day it was RH 6, today it is Ubuntu 10.04(LTR, less pain).

        Sometimes I run Linux, sometimes I run W7, the one thing I won't touch is OS X. W7 is a really good gaming and multimedia OS>
    • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop


      I'm still laughing about how they think going backwards to a Linux server and using (shudder) Java rather than ASP makes the product better ;-) Apparently a simple web server and a slow, slow language are all that's needed to overcome the prejudices of Linux fanatics.

      Lame is apparently a marketing benefit ;-)
      • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop


        Yeah, asp.....that's a sports car of a language. ROFL
    • RE: Red Hat's Future Linux Desktop


      So are you implying that in one year linux desktop market share from dell's netbooks alone has dropped by 7%? and webpage hits aren't an accurate way of how to measure market share.

      When did i say that steve ballmer doesn't know d!ck? if you are upset then take it up with ballmer not me, oh and you do know that wikipedia has links to the quotes in its articles don't you?