Wyse Technology Ubuntu LinuxWyse Technology, the prominent thin client company, is preparing a "completely new product in the consumer and enterprise space" that leverages Ubuntu Linux, The VAR Guy has learned. Our resident blogger is nearly sworn to secrecy... Still, here are some preliminary details about the emerging Wyse-Ubuntu effort. Plus, the implications for Canonical (Ubuntu's chief promoter) and channel partners that focus on thin clients.

According to those in the know, Wyse is working on a project that involves embedded and server side development across Linux and Windows. A small team of engineers is striving to create an "entirely new look and feel" for desktop-oriented computing and desktop applications. And yes, that user interface apparently will run on Ubuntu.

The forthcoming Wyse initiative apparently will leverage Clutter (an open source software library for creating fast, visually rich, portable and animated graphical user interfaces) and Glade (a graphical user interface builder forĀ GTK+ and GNOME).

Alas, The VAR Guy doesn't know when Wyse will publicly announce its Ubuntu-oriented project. But our resident blogger's best guess suggests Wyse will be in the market talking about the consumer and corporate effort in late 2010 or so, with potential products in 2011. (The dates are speculation on The VAR Guy's part.)

Timing Is Everything

Wyse's interest in Ubuntu comes at an intriguing time for both Canonical and its channel partners. Canonical is preparing to launch Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) in April 2010. The forthcoming Ubuntu 10.04 is a so-called L0ng Term Support (LTS) release, which means software and hardware developers, as well as corporate customers, might be more inclined to support Ubuntu.

Wyse isn't the first company to think about Ubuntu as a thin-client opportunity. IBM and Virtual Bridges have been working with Canonical to promote virtualized Ubuntu desktops running on centralized IBM servers. But so far, it's unclear whether the IBM-Virtual Bridges-Canonical effort has gained traction with customers.

Hardware Moves

Also of note: Canonical has been working hard to promote OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that preinstall Ubuntu on a range of devices. But the OEM strategy remains a work in progress. Dell's Ubuntu efforts have been hit and miss; HP has offered only a limited endorsement of Ubuntu; and smaller (but savvy) Ubuntu OEMs like System76 and ZaReason remain below the radar of most corporate customers.

Meanwhile, thin client computing has had a mixed history. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison predicted the world would start shifting to thin clients way back in 1996. But for the most part, thin clients have been limited to specific vertical market applications.

Still, Wyse is one of the best-known providers of thin clients. And the company has a channel-centric sales strategy. The VAR Guy will be watching to see where Wyse ultimately takes its Ubuntu devices. Into businesses? Into homes?

The VAR Guy's best guess: Both.

And yes, The VAR Guy has reached out to Wyse for additional comment. Stay tuned.

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