Red Hat CEO questions desktop's relevance in Linux debate

New paradigms, such as cloud computing, are changing the desktop scene, CEO Jim Whitehurst argues.

Linux has achieved success on servers, but can it make a go of it on the desktop? Panelists at a technical conference Tuesday evening debated the question, with a Red Hat official wondering whether the issue is even relevant anymore.

Representatives from organizations such as Red Hat, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Fidelity Information Services offered perspectives on Linux and open source on the desktop during a session at the InfoWorld Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in San Francisco. The session was entitled "End Users and Linux: Do We Have a Participation Problem?".

Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst pointed out several issues with running Linux on the desktop, including financial concerns the company has as a Linux vendor.

"First of all, I don't know how to make money on it," Whitehurst said. "Very few people are running a desktop that's mission-critical," so they do not want to pay the company for a desktop OS, he said.

There is some money in the Linux desktop, but not much, Whitehurst said. "We do have a desktop [version of Linux], but we typically sell it to big server customers who want some desktops." Red Hat offers its Red Hat Enterprise Desktop product, but Whitehurst added he was uncertain how relevant the desktop itself will be in five years, with the advent of concepts such as cloud-based and smartphone computing and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).

"The concept of a desktop is kind of ridiculous in this day and age," said Whitehurst. "I'd rather think about skating to where the puck is gong to be than where it is now," he said, using a hockey analogy.

Interoperability issues also are a hindrance, according to Whitehurst. "There's a reason Microsoft doesn't want to certify Evolution [a Linux mail client] hooking into [Microsoft's mail server] Exchange," he said. Microsoft has key control points locked up on the desktop, he said,

"There's a desire [to use desktop Linux] but practicality sets in," said panelist Vinod Kutty, associate director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. "There are significant barriers to switching."

Even Linux developers he has known prefer a Macintosh to a Linux desktop, Kutty said.

Another panelist, Timothy Golden, senior vice president for Unix engineering, security, and provisioning at Bank of America, concurred with Whitehurst. "I have to agree with Jim on this one," he said. How people view the desktop is going to change, said Whitehurst.

But another panelist, K.S. Bhaskar, senior vice president of Fidelity Information Services, gave a thumbs-up to Linux on the desktop, adding that his family even uses it at home.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags LinuxRed Hat

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Krill

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?