Page 4 of 6
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop 5.0
This month, Red Hat entered the enterprise desktop market with the release of version 5.0. In addition, Red Hat unveiled a new Red Hat Exchange partner program that aims to provide enterprise-level support to its customers. Exchange will help ISVs sell middleware.
As part of Exchange, a hosted Command Center will allow solution providers to monitor desktops remotely. Pricing has not been disclosed. With the acquisition of JBoss, Red Hat is also aggressively expanding its enterprise application stack. Red Hat now offers an enterprise Global File System to cluster servers and embeds virtualization technology into its Enterprise Linux product line.
However, while some of the server technology has trickled down into Red Hat's Enterprise Linux Desktop, average corporate users have little to gain from these features.
Overall, the company is still emphasizing server-level products over desktop software and functionality, and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux Desktop 5.0 seems to fall short of an enterprise-class desktop. In fact, it can be thought of as a network edge server for the desktop. For instance, Enterprise Desktop includes a Java Virtual Machine, but does not include the open-source .Net environment. According to Red Hat, it has no plans to include open-source .Net products.
Red Hat's Enterprise Desktop productivity tool suite is the same toolset used on its standard desktop and comparable to the ones offered by Linspire's and Xandros' corporate Linux desktops in this review. Red Hat includes OpenOffice, Samba for printing to Microsoft printers, MySQL database and other productivity products.
To use the desktop for software development, corporate developers can upgrade their desktops to Red Hat's workstation option. System administrators can also use the workstation option to monitor system resources, security and applications.
Now with version 5.0, the Red Hat desktop arrives with a new provisioning module that allows administrators to create different desktop configurations based on any group of users. Administrators can use the provisioning module to control new software and upgrades that are pushed to desktops. Once a group has been created, by simply selecting a software and user group the provisioning process takes over and manages all the installations.
Red Hat offers a remote and a local provisioning configuration for desktops. The company recommends using a Satellite provisioning server for VARs that are monitoring desktop systems and running patch updates. With the Satellite server, VARs can manage multiple customers from a single location. Another option is to use a proxy server, which allows VARs to manage desktop applications while the network entitlements remain controlled by Red Hat's remote management service. Auto updates also are managed this way.
Red Hat's desktop integrates with authentication and identity modules. With Active Directory, for instance, the same Kerberos credentials used by Windows users can be transferred to Red Hat users. For the past few months, Red Hat has upgraded its certified engineering classes to teach solution providers how to connect Active Directory with Red Hat Linux desktops. Red Hat recommends partners have at least one or two certified engineers on staff.
In addition, Red Hat offers a virtualization option with the workstation, which allows up to four guest operating systems. Red Hat's virtualization OS layer is based on Xen's Hypervisor technology. By combining the workstation with virtualization, corporate developers can use the desktop as a development and test environment. Client/server software can be tested right on desktops.
Customers looking for new software products have to go third-party sites to buy them. Red Hat encourages VARs to make separate deals with commercial Linux software vendors instead of using the Red Hat catalog.
Red Hat also made an announcement about a new MDF program for partners but has not provided all the details yet.