When Red Hat announced its upcoming Linux desktop at its annual summit in May, the company predicted the Red Hat Global Desktop would be out by September. Now, delayed a bit, the new desktop Linux will be appearing in November, company executives are saying.
The delay was caused, Gerry Riveros, Red Hat senior product marketing manager for enterprise Linux, said in an exclusive interview with DesktopLinux.com, by Red Hat’s desire to support Intel’s full PC hardware platform lines.
Originally, RHGD (Red Hat Global Desktop) was going to launch with support for only Intel’s Classmate, Affordable, Community and Low-Cost PC lines.
“We decided that if we changed our release date by a few weeks, we could put in RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 5.1’s vastly improved hardware support. With this, and our partnership with Intel, we could enable RHGD for the entire Intel hardware platform.
“This means that RHGD does appear, white-box vendors and system integrators will be able to deploy it on any Intel PC. It also means that RHGD will include the new Devicescape wireless stack, which first appeared in the Linux 2.6.22 kernel, and improved ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) support.”
The really new feature in RHGD, according to Riveros, however, is that “RHGD will include legal codices for WMA (Windows Media Audio), WMV (Windows Media Video), MP3, WMS (Windows Media Streaming).” However, Red Hat has not partnered with Microsoft to add support for the media formats. Instead, “We ended up going through a third party,” Riveros said.
While Riveros wouldn’t say what company Red Hat, based in Raleigh, N.C., had partnered with, sources close to Red Hat indicate that it has made a deal with Fluendo, the Spanish Linux/Solaris multimedia company. The RHGD codices are meant to be used as plug-ins for the GStreamer Multimedia Framework. GStreamer, in turn, is used by many Linux multimedia applications such as the Totem video player, Rhythmbox music player, Banshee music player, Elisa media center and Jokosher sound editor.
Talks with Microsoft broke down, according to sources, after Microsoft refused to license the codices to Red Hat without a patent deal. Red Hat has repeatedly said it has no interest in signing a patent partnership with Microsoft.
The new desktop will be built on the foundation of RHEL 5.1 According to Jonathan Blandford, Red Hat’s engineering manager for client solutions, RHGD will use the GNOME 2.16 desktop as its standard interface. It will also include “Firefox, Evolution, Thunderbird, OpenOffice and other popular Linux desktop applications,” Blandford said.
Red Hat is not going to be targeting consumers with RHGD. “This is not a Windows replacement,” Riveros said. “It’s meant for small businesses and government offices.”
This desktop is not going to be available, at first, to North American users. “It’s really a channel product. It’s meant for Intel white-box partners in the APAC (Asian/Pacific), EMEA (European, Middle-East and Africa), and South American markets,” Riveros said.
Indeed, “RHGD will not be available directly from Red Hat” at all, he said. It will be made available to Intel’s partners along with hardware certifications and a cookbook for white-box vendors and system integrators on how to install RHGD on Intel-based PCs. Even resellers will not be able to buy RHGD as a shrink-wrapped or one-off download product.
Red Hat plans on pushing RHGD’s evolution quickly. Instead of a 24-month development cycle, RHGD will be on a 12-month clock. At the same time, if there is demand in the North American market from Intel’s partners for RHGD, the two companies will consider releasing RHGD to Intel’s U.S. and Canadian partners, he said.
The source code for the software that’s not from Fluendo will be available, of course, through Red Hat’s ftp source code site.