Red Hat CEO Jim WhitehurstSometimes, you have to respect someone for sticking to an opinion and a vision. Other times, you have to wonder if a consistent vision becomes a fatal flaw. I'm still undecided about whether Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has the correct -- or flawed -- long term vision: In a New York Times article, Whitehurst (pictured, right) once again dismisses speculation that Red Hat will pursue the consumer Linux desktop and smart phone markets. Here's why.

“We have an extraordinary brand, and the last thing I want is for someone to take a computer home and find something is not working,” Whitehurst told The Times.

Short term, it's difficult to argue with Whitehurst's logic. Many consumers wind up disappointed after they purchase Netbooks without realizing Linux is running behind the curtains.

Long term, I've got to think the consumer Linux story is going to have a happy ending. And eventually, as Canonical grows up, Ubuntu will make the jump from desktops to mobile Internet devices and servers -- putting the squeeze on Red Hat in selected areas, such as small business servers and departmental servers.

Red Hat is putting all of its eggs in the server basket -- while branching out into JBoss middleware. Is Whitehurst brilliant -- or too stubborn to open his eyes and his mind to the desktop opportunity?

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