HP’s nx5000: First Mainstream Linux Laptop

Hewlett-Packard will be the first major PC maker to offer a Linux-based notebook computer, the company announced at LinuxWorld in San Francisco.

The Compaq nx5000 business notebook PC will be preinstalled with Novell’s SuSE Linux 9.1, along with OpenOffice, CD-R/RW support, DVD and media player, wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, and HP support and services. The estimated street price is US$1,140.

Customers will also have the option of skipping Linux and instead installing Windows XP Pro, Home or Windows 2000.

Details, Details

HP has noted that the release of the nx5000 is a test to discover the depth of demand for products that boast a preinstalled open-source operating system.

Customers will be given a choice of CPUs, from a 1.2-GHz Celeron up to a 1.8-GHz Pentium M. The computer supports up to 2 GB of 266-MHz DDR SDRAM, and is offered with 30 GB to 80 GB of hard drive storage capacity.

Industry analyst Bill Claybrook told LinuxInsider that many developers and Linux enthusiasts already have Linux on their laptops, but that the nx5000 will give Linux more exposure in the consumer and corporate arenas.

“This will appeal to anyone who has an interest in Linux, and I think that could be a hefty market,” he said. “A lot of companies are now using Linux, and having HP put it on a notebook, it makes it easier for them to give Linux to individual employees.”

He added that if HP is successful in getting Linux into the mobile market, it should serve the desktop market well. It should also give Linux servers a boost.

“Linux on the server is doing well,” Claybrook said. “That’s ready to spread to larger desktop deployments, and one way to do that is through Linux-based notebook use,” he explained.

Linux on the Go

HP is not the first company to tie Linux and notebooks together. In January, Taiwanese computer maker EliteGroup and California-based Lindows announced the deployment of low-cost Linux-based laptops in the U.S. market.

Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio told LinuxInsider that even with these challengers already working in the market, HP should see major traction with the nx5000 very soon.

“Putting Linux on notebooks makes a lot of sense,” she said, adding, “And HP has a great channel in place in order to sell them.” She noted that the company has recently begun to be more aggressive in its marketing tactics. “It’s almost like a sleeping giant waking up,” she said.

Also of benefit for HP is the company’s ability to navigate its many business relationships with a variety of partners. “They’re like the Switzerland of the technology world,” DiDio said. “They have many alliances.” That neutrality and number of partnerships should work well as HP launches nx5000.

For the Love of Penguins

The Linux-based notebook was one of several announcements HP made at LinuxWorld.

The company also unveiled the HP Compaq t5515 thin client, which it calls the first of the t5000 series to offer the security and freedom of Linux while providing businesses with flexibility, manageability and a superior price-to-performance mix.

The t5515 also features a free copy of Altiris Deployment Solution, management software for remote deployment, management and updating of HP thin clients. HP says it is the only company that allows corporate customers to manage all of their networked clients with the Altiris package.

HP also announced that it will now offer Linux on HP Integrity Superdome servers and the midrange HP Integrity rx7620-16 and rx8620-35 servers. HP customers who use the servers will now have full Linux support across the entire HP integrity family and HP StorageWorks portfolio.

The Linux-based technology announcements from HP comes as no surprise, DiDio said. “HP has made no secret of the fact that they’re married to Linux,” she said. “We should see many announcements like this from HP in the future.”

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