According to an article from Ars, Lenovo has signed up to selling Linux based computers. Available immediately, ThinkPads will have the option of coming with SuSE Enterprise Linux Desktop pre-installed. Although ThinkPads have been certified for Linux use for a while, this marks the first time that they will actually come shipped with the alternative OS installed.
According to the article, Lenovo claims that the pressure to support Linux came from enterprise customers. The article quotes: "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."
Although I have some political issues about the choice of SuSE Linux, I have no question about the technical choices made behind the decision. Linux is a much better OS and is perfectly capable for enterprise use for many years now. The two most successful enterprise Linux distributions are RedHat and SuSE. I'm sure that Lenovo had made it's choice after evaluating the different customer requirements.
So, now we start to see how the Linux PC vendor space is shaping up.
- HP (world #1 vendor) already provides Linux lines of products for their workstation and server families. Unlike the rest, they do not go around brandishing their Linux credentials as they have always supported Linux development directly (HP provides machines for kernel.org and pays for the salaries at OSDL). However, rumours abound that they will expand their Linux lines soon.
- Dell (world #2 vendor) is staking a claim on the home user segment by shipping Ubuntu (the most popular distribution) on it's XPS (gaming) and Inspiron (low cost) lines of products. They are also applying pressure on device vendors to provide good driver support. They have yet to release any official numbers but have hinted that their Linux line is doing well. They have clearly stated plans to expand support worldwide over summer.
- Acer (world #3 vendor) is still undecided about their Linux strategy. From the pirouettes that they have been doing, they're obviously interested, but unsure of how best to position themselves in this market. They could possibly end up providing an alternative to everyone else by shipping Linux across all product segments.
- Lenovo (world #4 vendor) is now staking claim on the enterprise user segment by shipping SuSE (the #2 enterprise distribution) on it's ThinkPad (busineses) line of products. They have also openly acknowledged that there is a growing demand for Linux. It won't surprise me if the expand their support for other product lines later.
UPDATE@1910: The BBC also has an article about this latest development.
UPDATE@1050+1: Dell has just announced the immediate availability of it's Linux line in the UK, France and Germany.