Red Hat LogoThe VAR Guy will keep a close eye on the Red Hat Summit, which kicks off June 18 in Boston. Here are five trends and themes he'll be investigating at the event.

1. Red Hat on Laptops: Sure, Red Hat has publicly stated that the company isn't launching a consumer desktop initiative. But that doesn't mean Red Hat is ignoring the corporate desktop and laptop markets.

In fact, Red Hat's Richard Hughes will host a session on Laptop Power Management, which will show attendees how to "make batteries last longer and how to make suspend work successfully in a modern Linux desktop."

2. Linux on Appliances: The VAR Guy spends considerable time writing about open source appliances, and the growing popularity of network-centric open source products from Untangle, Groundwork Open Source and others.

But how is Red Hat attempting to serve the appliance market, and how can ISVs as well as hardware companies cash in? We may get some clues during an appliance-centric session scheduled for June 18.

3. IBM vs. Microsoft On the Desktop: We all know who won this ugly , one-sided war in the 1990s. This time around, IBM is wisely reaching out to open source developers and partners to aid its desktop cause. IBM's John Walicki will be on hand June 19 to describe customer case studies involving the IBM Open Collaboration Client Solution (catchy name, eh?).

The VAR Guy hopes Walicki will describe how that effort relates to Lotus Symphony, the productivity suite alternative to Microsoft Office.

4. Red Hat Exchange: The company's online software store, known as Red Hat Exchange, launched with great fanfare last year. It was supposed to serve as an Amazon.com of sorts, that would allow customers to buy a range of open source applications from dozens of software providers. But how is Red Hat Exchange actually performing? The VAR Guy will search for answers.

5. Managed Services: Red Hat hinted a few weeks ago that the company planned to more aggressively work with hosting providers as well as managed service providers. During the conference, The VAR Guy expects Red Hat to quietly tell channel partners more about this strategy.

Assuming The VAR Guy doesn't take a wrong turn toward Fenway Park, he intends to cover the Red Hat Summit closely. Plenty of additional strategies -- related to middleware, software as a service, and virtualization -- should capture his attention at the event.