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I like Red Hat's distibution.

I've used and supported Red Hat's Linux and many other network OSes (NT, Netware, OS/2, AppleShare), and I _don't_ believe Red Hat (or any of the current distributions) will own the desktop PC market in the forseeable future.

It's still far too difficult to set up and configure Linux -- XFree86 in particular usually takes even geeks 1-3 days to get running well on new video cards.

That said, I'm still fairly bullish on the future of Linux, primarily in two market segments. On the high end, Linux can become the primary OS in internet service providers, web sites, and even corporate data centers, because it doesn't make sense to spend $700-$1000 a pop on software for a room full of $2000-3000 servers, when an acceptable free alternative exists. (I'm painfully aware that you can spend much more on server hardware, but as with desktop PCs, server prices continue to drop, and ISPs and startup web sites frequently use hardware in this price range as servers).

This is a market that is currently very profitable for Microsoft, and where Red Hat is primarily aimed. For a Windows NT shop, each server's OS is typically ~$750 up front. Then, to get decent support, the customer enters into a support agreement with Microsoft that typically runs somewhere in the 5 figures per year (depending on number of servers), and includes CDs, more complete access to Microsoft's internal bug-tracking and problems database, and some level of guaranteed response.

Red Hat can focus the money IS managers spend on the area of greatest concern -- quick response to problems and bugs through annual support contracts on a server-by-server or corporate basis, but without the up-front costs.

On the low end, I doubt that the consumer future is in desktop PCs. Products like NetPliance, WebTV, and the like are great candidates for an embedded Linux, and Red Hat and other companies are interested in this space: . The Tivo personal video recorder is running Linux today.

The likely success of Linux in this market doesn't necessarily equal success for Red Hat. Most companies that have to customize the OS as much as these will can just create their own version of Linux for their own product, and this sort of product must by definition run with minimal or no ongoing support, which equals no ongoing support revenue.
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