Open Source

Red Hat is Back in the desktop biz...sort of

Is Red Hat Linux back in the desktop business, or are they trying to fool the IT industry? Jack Wallen offers up his take on this latest move by the folks from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Red Hat was once king of the Linux desktop. But times, they changed, and Red Hat decided to part ways with the "desktop" and opted to focus on enterprise needs. But don't everyone jump back on the Red Hat bandwagon just yet. You're not going to see Red Hat offering up fresh downloadable ISOs of a shiny new desktop any time soon. Why? It's not really a standard desktop that Red Hat is bringing back. So what is it?

Virtual. Yep. Virtual.

The excitement is all about the move from Xen to KVM and SolidICE/SPICE. What this move is going to do is allow a Red Hat server to dish out a virtual Red Hat desktop. Call me old-fashioned, but this just smacks of what we used to call "single point of failure." Let's say you have a Red Hat server that can serve up hundreds of virtual Red Hat desktops. What happens when, gasp, that Red Hat server goes down? No more desktops. Of course you can set up redundancies so that if that server goes down another one picks up where it left off.

That redundancy doesn't cover your network. What happens if your network goes the way of Windows Me? No more virtual desktops.You see where I am going with this?

Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of Red Hat coming back to the desktop. But I for one would rather see Red Hat be the Red Hat that helped me cut my teeth on Linux. I understand their need to focus on the enterprise. That is, after all, their cash cow. But if they can create a virtual desktop, they can certainly create a stand-alone desktop version and, gasp, sell it to the public.

If Red Hat is going to make some bold announcement that they are coming back to the desktop, then they should do what they say they are doing. I'm sorry but Red Hat is NOT coming back to the desktop. Red Hat is sticking with the server and making a move that might sell some corporate execs on something that sounds a heck of a lot better than what the reality will bring them.

I'm not saying Red Hat can't deliver. They can. They always do. But this time they are delivering something they might have a little trouble selling.

Unless...they market it as nothing more than a bonus feature of their new server. If they can pull that off, then they are good to go.

But please, don't try to fool an intelligent market. You, Red Hat, are not back in the desktop business. You are pimping nothing more than a "Cloud OS." Who knows, maybe it will be good. But it will not hearken back to the Red Hat of old.

Does this stir up some questions for you? Would you rather see Red Hat offer a desktop distribution like they used to? Or does the virtual desktop idea appeal to you and your business? Chime in below.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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