With a missing link in the Linux chain continuing to be its widespread presence on desktops around the world, Red Hat offered another solution to solve that problem Wednesday with the release of its Global Desktop for Linux.
Red Hat said that Global Desktop for Linux, intended primarily for developing nations, was developed largely as a result of its work in helping to create the user interface and operating system for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.
That project, headed by famed MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, initially set a goal of developing a networked, "revolutionary" laptop for $100, which has since been updated to about $175, and then sell it by the millions to India, Pakistan, China, Brazil, and countries.
A key requirement for the OLPC laptop was an operating system that was open source and low on power requirements. Red Hat began working with OLPC in 2006.
One-Size-Fits-All Model Exhausted
In addition to targeting local governments and small businesses in developing countries, Red Hat's stated intentions with this OLPC commercial spinoff include emphasizing network -centric over desktop-centric computing and providing an adaptable, open-standards desktop.
Brian Stevens, Red Hat CTO, said in a statement that the traditional, one-size-fits-all desktop paradigm is simply exhausted. "Commercial customers are still begging for desktop security and manageability for their knowledge workers," he noted. "Consumers are rapidly adopting new online services and applications; and developing nations are looking for affordable information technologies that bypass traditional desktops entirely."
Red Hat's strategy, he explained, is to deliver open-standards technologies that are "specifically appropriate" to each of these needs. The company said that Global Desktop has "an enterprise -class suite of productivity applications" and that it had worked closely with Intel to support future and current desktop platforms, including the Classmate, Affordable, Community, and Low-Cost PC platforms.
Competitive in 'Green' Areas
Developments such as the Global Desktop "could very well change the environment in developing countries" for the Windows OS, noted Laura DiDio, an analyst with technology research firm Yankee Group.
"Linux is very, very competitive in 'green' areas," she said, meaning "pristine environments where there is little or no existing infrastructure ." She added that "it is generally hard to get people to switch from Windows to Linux, but when there's nothing there, no installed base to compete against, it's a threat to Microsoft ." This is why Microsoft is offering Windows XP in low-cost versions in those regions, she pointed out. (continued...)