Red Hat outlined a good chunk of its desktop Linux plans in a blog post, but noted that it has no intention of delivering a traditional consumer product.
In a blog post, Red Hat delivered what could be called a state of its desktop Linux plans and outlined its goals for 2008 and 2009. It plans to dish out its client technology to the Linux community, generate revenue through its products and use desktop software to compliment its middleware and server lineup.
What's missing? A traditional desktop product for consumers. That's not too surprising since it's unclear whether there's money in it--consumers are unlikely to pay support--and it makes more sense to allow others like Ubuntu (all resources) take the lead on desktop applications for the masses. If Ubuntu got traction, Red Hat could always acquire the company.
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But it really comes down to money. Red Hat's desktop team writes:
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.
Red Hat makes a perfectly valid point: As a public company, it's almost impossible to take a detour to target consumers on the desktop. Instead, Red Hat is focusing on its bread and butter: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, Fedora and Red Hat Global Desktop, which targets emerging markets. Red Hat also noted that its Global Desktop rollout has been delayed for almost a year as the company wrestles with business issues.
The takeaway: Desktop Linux is a tough business.