Global desktop: ancillary gifts of One Laptop Per Child

by Andy Oram

Red Hat, which is holding a summit this week, announced plans for a new desktop that will seamlessly integrate local data and applications with remote data and applications accessed over the Internet.

We'll have to see details before desktop users can determine how new this is. Many will say, "I already have several desktops that seamlessly integrate local and remote data and applications. One is called Firefox, one is called Konquerer, one is called Internet Explorer..." I assume Global Desktop offers a new level of collaboration we aren't used to already.

And although quotes from Red Hat managers in a Vnunet article contrast the new desktop with what they consider an obsolete Windows model, my sense of what Microsoft is doing (from SharePoint through the new integrated Office features and onward) strives toward the same goal: letting everybody work on data stored on local corporate networks or the Internet, without regard for location.

But I'm optimistic; maybe this is big. Maybe a product modestly "intended for local government and small business customers" will turn out to be a paradigm shift.

Whether or not it's significant, what I find most interesting is that the driving technology was borrowed from One Laptop Per Child, which Red Hat is heavily involved in developing. This would be just one more example of the oft-noted phenomenon that technologies developed for non-commercial purposes end up benefiting industry and taking off in new venues.