Why Red Hat will go bust because of Ubuntu

In this Free Software Magazine article, Tony Mobily gives the reasons why he thinks Red Hat will go under. The main reasons he gives are their departure from the desktop market and Ubuntu. While I also wasn't a fan of the way Red Hat did what they did, i think it's a bit myopic to be calling for their demise. The year of “Linux on the Desktop” has been declared so many times that it's now an industry joke. While it's absolutely true that Microsoft gained much of their dominance by attacking the desktop first, that was a different era that played by different rules. Linux on the desktop is at a very tenuous point right now. From a stability standpoint it is so much better than Windows that it's not even a contest. Same goes for security. But, from a usability and application standpoint it's still not that close. No amount of wishing will make it so. We still don't have out of the box mp3 support. No current Flash and no Photoshop at all. Many things are still a manual configure. What does that mean? The Linux desktop is the desktop of choice for many of us. In reality though, we've not even caught up to the Mac yet, so why some people seem to think it will overtake Windows in a year is beyond me. Red Hat could not attain any semblance of desktop penetration, so they bailed. I think they could have made some different moves, but of course hindsight is 20/20. I think their server offering is of a high enough quality and is entrenched enough that many people will stick with it, at least for the mid term (and by mid term I am talking many many years here). Don't forget, to many enterprises Red Hat is Linux on multiple levels. On to Ubuntu. I have to admit, I really like what they are doing. To be fair though they have very little track record and have not proven what they'll be able to do once the money Mark so graciously donated is gone. They have to build a viable business before that money is gone, or else they're in big trouble. Even if they do build a viable business, I'd be more worried if I was Novell than if I was Red Hat. I have no doubts that the enterprise distro market will heat up, but Ubuntu is still a very new offering. Desktop success doesn't translate directly into server success with Linux. You want Oracle support for Ubuntu? Nope. Well, surely an Open Source company like Zimbra will mention Ubuntu on their downloads page. Also a no (although they do have beta Debian support). Same goes for EMC, Veritas, and most other enterprise products. In the end, I think it's a bit too early in the game to see who will be the eventual dominant player (or more likely, players). It could be Red Hat, Novell and Ubuntu – but realistically it could be something else. Remember though, people no longer want one single dominant player (and for good reason). If I had to guess I'd say all major distributions will be in the picture for the foreseeable future.
–jeremy
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One Response to Why Red Hat will go bust because of Ubuntu

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good article Jeremy.
    I think that Ubuntu's falling down point is that it doesn't appear, IMO, to be a “corporate” OS. It's very friendly and feels as though it's been aimed at the home user. That, and the fact that so much is done for you, means that I doubt it will ever be a coporate distro favourite.
    Techies will want to go with what's on the server and that's be Red Hat or Fedora or similar.

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