RALEIGH, N.C. – Red Hat is generating a great deal of attention around the world with its announcement of a forthcoming suite of Linux desktop offerings during its recent annual conference inn San Diego.

In fact, it appears that the Hatters are on the verge of delivering a new paradigm in desktop operating systems since it is designed to employ Web services such as Google. By doing so, the Red Hat desktop would provide word processing and other tools without having to rely or require a proprietary suite of offerings like Windows and Apple. It also will be incorporated in the global “One Laptop Per Child” project, which red Hat supports.

Gerry Riveros, product marketing manager for Red Hat’s desktop offering, and Havoc Pennington, who helped create the desktop team at Red Hat and who founded freedesptop.org, explained Red Hat’s thinking in an interview via e-mail with WRAL Local Tech Wire.

Red Hat appears to be setting a new paradigm for a desktop OS – one that enables/directs users to employ web services such as Google docs rather than proprietary apps such as Windows or Apple, etc.

Precisely; many applications are now available in web-hosted form, from web mail to Google apps to small business software such as QuickBooks Online. We are exploring a desktop OS tuned for these applications.

The reality is that many people are living primarily in web applications. As these applications evolve and gain more features, more and more people will be able to take advantage of low cost, simple to use web-hosted software.

Red Hat Chief Executive Officer Matthew Szulik has often talked about his desire to put R.H. Linux on the desktop. Is this the fulfillment of that goal? If so are you trying to leapfrog the competition and create a new desktop environment?

Our approach to the desktop is to find new opportunities the proprietary vendors are missing. We have several of those in progress right now. For the One Laptop Per Child project we have an entirely new open source desktop environment called Sugar, tuned for kids. With Red Hat Global Desktop product we’re offering a more traditional desktop environment but priced appropriately for and distributed to the international market. And with the Online Desktop project we’re exploring how a desktop environment could be simplified and redesigned around the Internet.

All of these offerings have the same core Linux technologies and share many of the same design ideas.

What will be the cost for the desktop offering?

The end user pricing for Red Hat Global Desktop [$40, according to another Red Hat spokesperson] will be announced in June when the product becomes available. However, it will be less than half of what our enterprise desktop currently costs. It’s too early to say for the other projects.

Is this strictly for enterprise users or for individuals or both?

Both.

Will this be the OS for the one laptop per child project? If so, what applications/services such as word processing will be offered with it since many of these users are likely to be in areas without Internet access?

The Sugar environment for the One Laptop Per Child shares a core with our other products, but it’s tuned for kids and developing countries.

Sugar uses a "peer to peer" model rather than relying on an Internet connection. So for example Sugar has its own word processor that can talk directly to a word processor on another laptop using a local network rather than the Internet. The laptop supports a number of Internet features as well, of course, but it doesn’t rely on a connection to the same extent we might in the United States.

(By the way, LTW says “Thanks” to Kerri Catallozzi of Red Hat Corporate Communications for helping arrange the interview.)