The Biggest Blunder: Or why Red Hat and Novell just left the door wide open to Ubuntu

Posted by garymax on Apr 21, 2008 2:40 AM EDT
LXer Linux News; By Gary Maxwell
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LXer Feature: 21-Apr-2008

In recent announcements both Red Hat and Novell made it pretty clear that their foray onto the desktop would be delayed quite a bit longer. What they do not know is that they just left the door wide open for Ubuntu to conquer the desktop and the server space.

Well, we know now where both Red Hat and Novell stand as far as desktop Linux is concerned.

Novell feels that it will be five more years before the desktop is a viable space for Linux. And Red Hat just doesn't seem to find any relevance in the desktop at this time.

Now it's not that these two technology companies can't make decisions that they feel are in keeping with their mission or core business objectives; it's the cold hard fact that their absence from any active desktop initiative will spell problems down the road.

Like him or not, Mark Shuttleworth is one shrewd businessman. Of course, you do not sell your company for $500 million and not have at least a modicum of business savvy. Over the last few years Shuttleworth has been incrementally putting the pieces of a global infrastructure/empire in place. The developers, the support services, and the whole Ubuntu ecosystem. With every release Shuttleworth eliminates barrier after barrier to Linux on the desktop. The excuses of “no driver support” or “hard-to-configure X server” are things of the past. Even restricted drivers are a click away.

While Novell and Red Hat seem content, at the moment, to remain in the enterprise space, Canonical is “attacking” both desktop and server niches and this could spell trouble—big trouble—for Red Hat and Novell down the road.

Here's why.

The time is ripe for a Linux distribution to come to the fore and champion Linux on the desktop. I think we all can agree that, like it or not, Ubuntu has assumed this role. Now, as Ubuntu gets to be more popular on the desktop, a standard will emerge using Ubuntu as a metric. We already see other vendors such as Dell offering Ubuntu on the desktop. Add to this a server push that is scheduled to begin next month and you have a potential one-two combination that is hard to beat.

By becoming a de facto standard on the desktop, Ubuntu can assert its role as a server OS much more easily. After all, it only makes sense that you use a desktop/server combo from the same company for best performance, right? And with Canonical recently announcing that major vendors such as HP, Dell, Sun, and IBM certifying their hardware to run Ubuntu server, it's easy to see how Canonical could easily offer end-to-end solutions with the developer and support infrastructure to back it up.

By remaining on the sidelines where the desktop is concerned, Red Hat and Novell may have just passed up an opportunity of a lifetime. And by the time they realize what they've done, it may be too late. Ubuntu will have become entrenched as an end-to-end solution in every sector of industry.

It should be interesting as the whole scenario plays out, but if I were a betting man, I would be looking hard at Canonical and putting my chips on their end of the table.

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features; Groups: GNU, Linux, Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Ubuntu desktop cabreh 17 3,086 Apr 25, 2008 12:21 PM
Wrong. cjcox 60 3,142 Apr 24, 2008 12:55 AM

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