Sometime back I had tried Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop 5.2. Well, I did not purchase it. My cousin, an RHCE aspirant got that for me. The interaction was short – First I installed RHEL 5.2 on his Desktop (specifications: Intel 845 motherboard, PIV 1.8 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM) then tried to installed the same on an HP DV notebook. Installing on the desktop was painless, but it could not install on the HP DV notebook. So, when the 5.3 release was announced I was really curious to try that. After all, version 5.3 has many updates, especially those about device drivers.
Having decided to try RHEL 5.3 I browsed the www.redhat.com. Registration was damn easy. After a short while I got mail with details of my account and activation for downloading the evaluation version of RHEL 5.3. Having those info with me I logged in to Red Hat Network (RHN) and reached at the download page. And that's exactly where all my enthusiasm ended. Actually I was looking for the Desktop version of RHEL, but to my despair Red Hat offers evaluation versions for Servers only. There is no option to download and try Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop. Sad! It made me think that RED HAT DOES NOT AIMS AT OR CARES FOR LINUX ON DESKTOP.
Despair and frustrated I browsed www.centos.org. After all, Centos is the free clone of Red Hat. Downloading Centos 5.3 was easy. I downloaded through the bin DVD. Installing Centos 5.3 on my Desktop was hassle-free. But again, Centos 5.3 was joke on the same HP DV notebook. Then I tried the same on my Compaq notebook. It failed again. It could not detect some of the devices and it could not configure (though detected) many others. Well nothing to blame Centos, it is just a recompilation of Red Hat source packages.
My search for Red Hat Linux Enterprise Desktop 5.3 and my hands-on experience with Centos 5.3 tought me a lesson. Both these distros are not meant for notebooks at all. Of course, you can use them if your notebook is more than one decade old. Well, you can use them on relative old and standard desktops.
I hope you know Novell has already released its SLE 11 with a new kernel and updated packages. Even Debian is shining and ready to sit on most of the notebooks and desktops with its relatively new 2.6.26 kernel and xorg 7.4, where as the RHEL 5.3 is still sticking to that 2.6.18 kernel and an age-old xorg, making it a big NO for notebooks. What's more, there is no sign of the plans for RHEL 6. May be, it will take another 2 years when the it hits markets.
It seems to me that Red Hat does not aim at the desktop/laptop markets.