So, what took Red

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-05-04 Print this article Print

Hat so long?"> Asked why it took Red Hat so long to release a true desktop product and if the move was a reaction to Novells embrace of Linux and open source across its product line, Ferris said Red Hat had been looking at this desktop product for close to a year, well before the Novell acquisition of SuSE Linux Inc., and the company had wanted to make sure the technology was ready and focused on the open-source architecture and all the necessary roadmaps required to get to a secure and managed client.
Tuesdays announcement isjust part of a larger client strategy within the company, which is extending that family of products down to the client. "We are extending the Red Hat open-source architecture down into the client.
"One of the core components of that architecture is the operating system, and so we are taking that platform and providing the benefits of open source down to those clients that have existed," Ferris said. "Red Hat had already announced some efforts with companies like Wind River [Systems Inc.], so if you look at the client strategy as part of the overall whole, what we are doing is building momentum around the focus on having an open architecture across the entire infrastructure, from the desktop and client all the way to the largest servers, including the mainframe," he said. According to Ferris, the Red Hat Desktop is the first step in that strategy, and Red Hat will be taking a phased approach to the delivery of the technologies. The first phase will focus on the security and manageability of the clients, as well as incorporating this under a unified platform. The second phase will involve more interoperability and productivity, things like assisting clients and migrations and helping them interoperate with existing infrastructures. "Think of Microsoft in that realm," he said. The third phase will focus on the thin client. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 3 and, likewise, Red Hat Desktop Version 3 will have some of this security manageability messaging, but the first phase will really kick with the release of Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Desktop Version 4, expected in the first quarter of 2005. "So you will see a lot of the additional things coming out at the time and, likewise, there will be more interoperability that starts at that time. We certainly have some today, but from an infrastructure perspective around the open-source architecture, thats really where we start to implement things and then move on heavily into Version 5," he said. Thin client and other infrastructures that allow the customer to control their desktops much more tightly will also start in Version 4 and move forward. "But the intent is to watch how customers are interacting with the data and start to mature the models around that rather than focusing in on what happens on an individual client or desktop," he said. Customers are going through a shift in how they interact with data on the client and what they do moving to new hardware, Ferris observed. The shift is more about security and manageability, the "core themes of this desktop release," he said. Asked if Red Hat saw Sun Microsystems Inc.s Java Desktop System as its primary competitor, Ferris said there are some primary differences between them and while the core functionality of the desktop is very similar, "the biggest difference is that we own the full stack whereas Sun is emphasizing the fact that theirs is a layer that sits on top of an operating system they happen to provide. "Not only are we providing a desktop environment that includes the operating system and the applications for that operating system, but also that you are building out from the same code base that you can deploy your servers from. So, every time we release or update the unified Linux family, we will do it at the same time for the Red Hat desktop product," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis. Be sure to add our Linux news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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