2016 might just be the year of Linux on the (virtual) desktop

Citrix releases desktop-linux-as-a-service preview

Come November, some “pundit” will declare that next year is the year of Linux on the desktop. This November, expect a twist on that prediction, as 2016 could just perhaps conceivably be the year of virtual Linux desktops now that Citrix has taken kit capable of delivering it into Beta.

That kit is called the “Linux Virtual Desktop Tech Preview” and can be had here if you're a XenApp or XenDesktop customer with an active Subscription Advantage account. Citrix Partners can get it too.

What will those lucky, lucky, folks be installing? Citrix says the new tool allows you to build shared Linux desktops running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6Workstation and Server editions, or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and Server 11 Service Pack 3.

“You can now add Linux Virtual Desktop in your XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5 or 7.6 test environment containing existing components such as StoreFront, Broker, Studio and Director,” Citrix says. “Once the Linux machine has been joined to the domain using standard Active Directory binding tools like Winbind and Quest you just need to install the RPM package and setup the Desktop Catalog and Desktop Groups as you would with a pure Windows environment.”

Which is all very nice except for one thing, namely the fact that Linux on the desktop has just never become a thing. So why is Citrix – which is in turnaround mode – bothering to make the efffort? The company reckons its “... customers are asking for virtual desktop support for specialized applications built exclusively for Linux, particularly in the oil and gas industry, manufacturing, digital media, and entertainment industries” and that such customers “... need to offer secure, global access to employees using a wide variety of mobile and desktop devices, while maintain centralized control of business-critical intellectual property.”

If that's the case, virtual Linux desktops sound like just the ticket and a better question about their viability might be “what took you so long?”

The answer could well be this survey that Citrix has created, asking for input on what its final Linux VDI play should look like. Maybe customers aren't quite clamouring for virtual Linux on the desktop just yet, after all? ®

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