Red Hat abandons desktop Linux for consumers (and RC-SMB)

It's IT Blogwatch: in which Red Hat gives up on the consumer desktop Linux market. Not to mention some Chinese guys with too much time on their hands...

Todd R. Weiss reports:

If you're waiting to see market-leading Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. release a desktop Linux operating system anytime soon to compete in the consumer market, then think again. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company is ceding the admittedly small and nascent demand to other Linux vendors, including Ubuntu ... The Red Hat announcement is a bit ironic because it comes less than a week before Ubuntu is unveiling the 8.04 editions of its free consumer desktop and enterprise server operating systems on Monday ... Ubuntu has had some modest success with a sales effort by computer maker Dell Inc. that includes desktop Ubuntu Linux offered on a select number of Dell machines. more
Mark Hachman adds:
There are already dozens of consumer Linux implementations, with Mandriva, Ubuntu, and the Linspire/Freespire implementations as among the most popular. Red Hat, however, is one of the largest vendors of commercial Linux distributions. more
Red Hat's anonymous "Desktop Team" blogger blogs:
It’s time for an update on the current state of the desktop at Red Hat ... our desktop goals for 2008 and 2009 include: Delivery and fostering of client technology advances ... build revenue-generating products ... ensure that our desktop products complement our server and middleware products ... 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 ... 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 ... our desktop product plans for 2008 and 2009 include: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop ... Fedora ... Red Hat Global Desktop. more
Kelly Fiveash decodes the statement:
Red Hat has abandoned plans to develop a consumer desktop product because it cannot compete with the might of Microsoft ... Red Hat has also been forced to rejig its roadmap somewhat. The company said its Red Hat Global Desktop (RHGD) product – which was announced last year and is aimed at the small, reseller-supplied deployments in emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India and Russia – has been delayed by nearly a year. Red Hat had originally planned to cough up RHGD in the next few months, but said that “business issues” have pushed the launch date back. It’s encountered a variety of problems with developing the product including startup delays with resellers, hardware and market changes and “some multimedia codec licensing knotholes”. Red Hat acknowledged it had stumbled onto the garden fork with its second failed attempt at a consumer desktop Linux distribution in as many years. more
Erna Mahyuni is sanguine:
Red Hat’s decided ... to stay focused on its proven gravy train - enterprise. You can’t blame them, really. With the U.S. economy woes and the resulting global economic slowdown, Red Hat’s probably feeling that right now isn’t the best time to gamble ... With the negative publicity Microsoft’s Vista received, many Linux hopefuls thought that maybe, just maybe this was the time for Linux to start making its way onto consumer desktops. Instead, Apple’s capitalized on consumer wariness of Vista to get more publicity for its new Leopard operating system. Linux is still struggling to earn a place onto consumer machines, with retailers not as keen to promote sales of Linux-based PCs ... Cue the scathing blog posts on its about turn, after all Red Hat was all in a tizzy just last year, ditching Fedora and making out that Red Hat was going to seriously go into consumer desktops. more
OK, cue Noel Le:
Hmmm. Red Hat diverting commercial efforts away from direct competition with Microsoft? Pretty soon, we will hear the Free Culture-Software Movement crying stifled innovation in the desktop space due to lack of competition (despite the fact that non-competition is due to Red Hat unwilling to go head-to-head with Redmond). If Red Hat was really a good FOSS community citizen, it would still compete directly with Microsoft on the desktop, ride any loss to its bottom line, and therefore promote the freedom to tinker and the FOSS revolution. more
But Fake Steve Jobs is apoplectic with mirth:
Great news, Mac fans! Red Hat is getting out of the desktop OS business, which will make life so much easier for us. No more having to sell against Red Hat. Yay! Red Hat's basic argument is that not enough people want Linux on the desktop -- I know, shocking, right? -- and so they can't make money doing it and because they're a publicly traded company they can't do things that don't make money ... Pathetic statement. more
This Anonymous Coward doesn't get the joke:
The most important lesson from Apple is that you can be successful in many ways (including making lots of money) with a few percent market share. Gauging Linux's success on market share is pointless. Who cares if most people use Windows? All we need is enough of a Linux community to ensure a thriving and evolving platform for those who find that Windows and/or OS X does not meet their needs. You can easily achieve that with a market share of 0.5%. Please, no more "World Domination" bull****. more
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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