Red Hat delays its global desktop Linux indefinitely

Mixing technical concerns with a truckload of business issues, Red Hat has stealthily acknowledged slipping its deadline for Red Hat Global Desktop (RHGD), which might have given it an edge against Novell's competing SuSE Linux.

Unlike the existing Red Hat Enterprise Desktop (RHED), the planned RHGD is aimed exclusively at small, reseller supplied implementations in emerging geographic areas such as Brazil, China, and India. Red Hat also sponsors a community project called Fedora, which develops and maintains a free desktop product.

But RHED and the forthcoming RHGD are both commercial products geared to businesses.

First announced at the 2007 Summit users conference, RHGD was then expected to ship a few months later.

"The technology side of the product is complete," according to a blog posting which slid quietly on to Red Hat's Web site this week.

"[But] there have been a number of business issues that have conspired to delay the product for almost a year," interjected the anonymous blogger, about midway through a more generic update on "What's Going On With Red Hat Desktop Systems?"

Indeed, some of the contributing factors listed in Red Hat's blog are unarguably business-related, including market changes and "start-up delays with resellers." RHGD, by the way, is supposed to be supplied by Intel channel partners in these emerging markets.

Others reasons mentioned, though, lean to the technical side, including hardware changes, "multimedia codec licensing knotholes," and "getting the design and delivery of appropriate services nailed down."

The blogger also talks cryptically of "technical developments that have become available over the past year or two and are accelerating the spread of the Linux desktop."

Regardless of the exact reasons for the delay, though, it's certainly in Red Hat's best interests to get the product out the door -- and into the hands of businesses in emerging markets -- as soon as possible.

Like Fedora, many other Linux desktop offerings are freely available over the Web. In the commercial market, however, Novell is Red Hat's chief competitor. But although Red Hat is the largest selling commercial Linux vendor in North America, Novell's SuSE is still more popular in Europe, where desktop Linux is gaining faster business acceptance.

The emerging markets targeted for RHGD could bring great opportunities for Red Hat to get its foot in the door for both the desktop and server sides.

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