Red Hat scraps plans for Linux PCs

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Red Hat scraps plans for Linux PCs

Hopes of Red Hat releasing a desktop version of Linux for consumers were scratched today as the company announced no such plans would eventuate in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, its long awaited Red Hat Global Desktop Linux remains on indefinite hold, despite being slated for an original launch date of August 2007.

Although Red Hat had previously announced it was planning to launch a version of Linux designed for users of personal computers, the company has now backed down in the face of stiff competition and the likelihood of little profits.

“We have no plans to create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market in the foreseeable future,” read a Red Hat blog posting.

“Red Hat feel that 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.”

Earlier this week, Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens said the company was yet to determine whether the market was ready for a consumer focused Linux desktop system.

"It's one of those things. It's worse to sell (just) 100,000 units than to sell zero -- because of the commitment you make," he said. "Right now we are sizing the global opportunity."

Despite acknowledging that Linux on the desktop could provide a practical alternative to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the blog conceded that building a sustainable business case around such a venture would be much harder.

“A growing number of technically savvy users and companies have discovered that today’s Linux desktop is indeed a practical alternative,” read the blog.

“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.”

Instead, Red Hat said its focus for the next 12 months would centre on its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, its continuing contributions to Fedora and the eventual go-to-market plans for Red Hat Global Desktop which has been designed for PCs used by ordinary office workers and consumers in emerging markets.

But in a sign that Red Hat is still stumbling in its commitment to Linux on the desktop, Red Hat Global Desktop has also hit its fair share of snags.

Originally slated for an August 2007 release, it has since been put on indefinite hold due to a “number of business issues that have conspired to delay the product for almost a year,” according to the Red Hat blog.

Although Red Hat says the technology side of Red Hat Global Desktop has been completed, hardware and market changes, as well as several startup delays with resellers has kept the release under wraps.
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