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Red Hat’s vision of the desktop Linux

SAN DIEGO – With interest in desktop Linux at a bit of an uptick in recent weeks — not least because of Dell’s announcement that it will ship laptops and desktops with Ubuntu — Red Hat shed a bit of light yesterday on the role it sees for Linux beyond the server.

Or rather, visions; the messages from Red Hat yesterday were split between short-term pushes in developing countries and a long-term vision in areas, such as North America, where personal computing is already the norm.

In developing countries, the company is working with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project to provide cheap laptops, running an easy-to-use, Linux-based system, to children in developing nations. Meanwhile, the company announced yesterday the Red Hat Global Desktop, a slightly stripped-down version of its Enterprise Linux which Intel-based systems builders in developing nations will be able to pre-install on desktops.

In developed areas, Red Hat has little interest in competing against Microsoft head-to-head with a “Windows clone,” said Red Hat’s CEO Matthew Szulik. But the company’s chief technology officer, Brian Stevens, outlined a vision for an online desktop predicated around integrating various Web-based applications, such as Salesforce.com and MySpace.

Yuval Shavit

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