Lenovo to Load Linux on Laptops

Novell and Lenovo, the world’s No. 3 PC manufacturer, have inked a deal to pre-install the Linux operating system (OS) on certain Lenovo ThinkPad notebook PCs, the two companies announced Monday at LinuxWorld, held this year in San Francisco. Lenovo will also provide support for Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED), Novell’s open source OS.

“We have seen more customers utilizing and requesting open source notebook solutions in education, government and the enterprise since our ThinkPad T60p Linux announcement, and today’s announcement expands upon our efforts by offering customers more Linux options,” said Sam Dusi, Lenovo’s vice president of product marketing for the notebook business unit.

Late 2007

Lenovo will begin selling the preloaded Linux notebooks during the fourth quarter of 2007. The offering will include the ThinkPad T Series class of notebooks, a favorite of business users. The Linux systems will also be available for purchase by individual consumers, the company said. No pricing information has been disclosed.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with Lenovo in delivering this pioneering Linux preload to the enterprise client computing market,” said Roger Levy, Novell vice president and general manager of open platform solutions. “Pairing Lenovo’s quality and innovation with the stability, flexibility and security advantages of the Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 operating system gives enterprise customers the fully certified and supported Linux-based solution they have been seeking.”

Two Birds in the Hand

Lenovo becomes the second major PC maker to offer Linux preloaded on its machines. Dell, the No. 2 PC maker, became the first in May when it began offering Ubuntu Linux on three systems following the receipt of considerable consumer feedback clamoring for an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows OS.

Lenovo’s announcement is significant for Linux on the desktop for enterprises because now two of the three tier-one global PC suppliers to enterprises will be pushing for better software and driver compatibility for Linux, Benjamin Gray, an analyst at Forrester Research, told LinuxInsider.

“While Dell has flirted with the idea of Ubuntu for [small to medium businesses], Lenovo steps up and offers Novell’s SLED 10 SP1 on their ThinkPad T Series designed for enterprise customers,” he said. “And if that wasn’t good enough to convince enterprises to pilot Linux, Novell is also offering direct support to end customers — something they haven’t yet done.”

The disclosure comes at a particularly good time, Gray continued. Novell is currently significantly expanding its distribution channel at a time when a lot of enterprises are struggling with if, when and how they should deploy Windows Vista.

“So, what does this mean for Microsoft?” Gray pondered. “Almost nothing. Competition is good — may the best solution win.”

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