Red Hat to build 'Global Desktop'

Quite a bit of news coming out of the Red Hat Summit. I really would have liked to attend this, but somehow the date slipped by me. Hopefully next year. One of the major announcements made was ‘Global Desktop’. From the article:

Red Hat is preparing to release a new ‘Global Desktop’ that over time will grow into an online desktop which integrates online services into a client desktop platform.

The platform will allow users to access online and local data in a unified way.

Red Hat has teamed up with Intel for the platform. Local PC manufacturers will build the actual systems.

The software borrows from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, with about 95 per cent of the code overlapping.

The OLPC uses an adapted version of Red Hat’s Fedora Linux. The Global Desktop won’t share the OLPC’s ‘Sugar’ user interface, but will come bundled with applications such as Firefox and OpenOffice.

The first version of the software is due out in June and will use a traditional user interface.

Subsequent updates will move to a model where traditional applications are integrated with online services, said Red Hat chief technology officer Brian Stevens.

“It will take online services and integrate them richly into a client desktop, and make them first class citizens with the traditional applications,” Stevens said in a keynote at the Red Hat Summit in San Diego.

Integrating online services with local data is required for the next-generation desktop, he argued. Data will be pulled onto the client using service oriented architectures (SOAs).

Note that this has two very specific target markets: Emerging Markets and Enterprise. This doesn’t seem like something meant to be used for mass consumer adoption. At least not yet. While the merging of online and offline seem inevitable long term, the details to getting that system to work for the average person just isn’t quite here. There are just too many times I’m in an airplane or the tube or for this to work today. However, once apps like Firefox can seamlessly give me access to apps while I’m offline and then sync when access is available, this will trickle into the mainstream quickly. By targeting markets for which this technology is good enough now, Red Hat is positioning themselves to pounce when the opportunity is right. It seems to me that a perfect partner here would be Google, but I’ve not seen any official word on that front. The official press release is available here.

–jeremy

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One Response to Red Hat to build 'Global Desktop'

  1. Phaedrus says:

    Combined power of piracy and MSFT seems like a tough combat for Red Har in the deveoping world’s desktop OS market!!

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