Red Hat boost for Linux on the desktop

Red Hat last week unveiled a long-term strategy for supporting Linux on the desktop, which includes the release of its Red Hat...

Red Hat last week unveiled a long-term strategy for supporting Linux on the desktop, which includes the release of its Red Hat Desktop product and a two-year roadmap for security in its Enterprise Linux operating system.

Analysts hailed the move as a sign that Linux suppliers are beginning to offer a credible alternative to Microsoft.

Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said the commitment to corporate desktop products from the major Linux distributors would have far-reaching significance for business IT users.

"At last Red Hat - and Novell and Suse - are offering an alternative desktop client for long-suffering IT managers," he said.

"Microsoft Windows' 96% share of the market has led to apathy and a lack of innovation. Open source desktop software can now ask serious questions of the fat-client approach."

Dan Kusnetzky, vice-president of system software research at analyst firm IDC, said, "Strategies to lower costs while still providing a well-managed, secure platform are increasingly important. This announcement makes it clear that Red Hat understands these emerging requirements and has a strategy to provide the products and services needed."

Red Hat Desktop will be available to download from 15 May, and IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell will be offering it over the next 12 to 18 months.

The product will be based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux bundled with the Openoffice productivity suite, the Mozilla web browser and Evolution e-mail.

Red Hat said it was working to ensure that future releases of the Enterprise Linux platform would meet security standard Evaluation Assurance Levels 3 and 4.

The desktop announcement comes a week after the company officially ended support for its freely available Red Hat Linux 9 operating system, a move designed to push users towards the commercialised Enterprise Linux platform.

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