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Lenovo says no to Linux
Jun. 05, 2006

Opinion -- If you recently bought one of the most respected lines of laptops in the world -- the ThinkPad -- and a well-thought line of PCs, but were still losing money hand over fist, would you choose to alienate some of your customers? Well, I wouldn't.

But, that hasn't stopped the Lenovo Group's worldwide product manager, Frank Kardonski, from telling CRN reporter Edward F. Moltzen, "We will not have models available for Linux, and we do not have custom order, either. What you see is what you get. And at this point, it's Windows."

What we used to see, when IBM ran the show, was Windows and Linux. The ThinkPad has always been a popular Linux platform. IBM supported Linux on it, and I use Linux myself on an IBM T40.

To me, the ThinkPad has long been the Rolls-Royce of laptops. Now, however, Lenovo seems to be saying that the only engine I can have underneath that magnificent hood is the balky 4-cylinders of XP Professional.

What are they thinking?

I know that there aren't that many people out there who buy Linux laptops. I also know, however, that our numbers are growing and that we're pretty darn vocal.

Is this really a move that Lenovo wants to make? Lenovo already has trouble establishing a brand of its own, putting together a strong U.S. sales force, and opposition from government officials to its federal government sales. Why ask for more trouble?

Lenovo, by the way, isn't just in hot-water in the States. The company also saw its home China market share drop sharply in its last quarter.

May I make a modest proposal?

Why not support Linux?

It would be one less problem on an already overflowing plate of troubles. And, who knows, if they really gave Linux their full support -- be it one of the Chinese distributions, like Red Flag Linux for the home market, or Red Hat or Novell in North America and Western Europe -- maybe Lenovo would stop losing ground to Dell and HP, and see a profit again.

And, isn't that the idea for any PC manufacturer?

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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