Linux desktop market musings
One site i visit every day is LXer.com which is a Linux news site. Today that took me to a
blog entry "Five Reasons Red Hat Should Ignore Consumer Linux Desktops"
by The Var Guy, who i typically enjoy. I posted a comment in agreement, and when i do that, sometimes i like to repost it as my own blog entry, with some imbellishments, as i've done below, even though this is a Java blogging site and not a Linux one per se. However, my only other blog is decidedly non-techie.
So on the issue of Red Hat Linux desktops, we know that some of Red Hat's enterprise clients are migrating desktops to Linux eg. for call centers et cetera, and so Red Hat have their Enterprise Desktop for them.
Consumers are not going to want to pay for support, and at the same time want a lot of support to get their goodies working, from wifi to cameras, iPods et al - certainly not worth the hassle because let's face it, when you can't specify the hardware, Linux is a royal pain in the arse compared to Windows.
I think Canonical is investing in the consumer desktop primarily for personal passionate reasons of Mark Shuttleworth, and secondarily as a way to get into the market of enterprise desktops and servers with monthly support subscriptions, in order to sell the company because then it'll be getting too corporate and boring for the Benevolent Leader.
So the consumer desktop is Mark Shuttleworth's entry strategy, and the enterprise is his personal exit strategy. Red Hat is in the enterprise already, so no need for them to market consumer desktops as an entry strategy like Canonical.
Having said that, the "consumer desktop" is probably not Ubuntu's demographic, as much as the "technical desktop" ie. the Linux PCs of enthusiasts, system & network engineers, and software developers.
The risk then for Red Hat (and Solaris) and is that these engineers and developers become such passionate Ubuntu advocates, and/or that
Ubuntu skills are most readily available and accessible, to encourage management to choose Ubuntu over RedHat in some cases. Probably not for the NYSE, but maybe in some small to medium enterprises that might otherwise have choosen Red Hat.
But anyway what Red Hat looses on the swings, it gains on the roundabouts via Canonical's contribution to Linux desktop development, eg. GNOME et al, testing and what-not to accelerate upstream bug-fixing.
Do you think Red Hat et al are, or should be worried about Ubuntu's meteoric rise, and how they might or should respond?