Home  |  News  |  Articles  |  Forum  |  Polls  |  Blogs  |  Videos  |  Resource Library

Keywords: Match:
Lenovo denies ditching Linux
Sep. 08, 2008

[Updated 4:30] -- Lenovo, which years ago purchased IBM's personal computer business, appears to have quietly stopped offering Linux as a pre-installation option. None of the company's 49 ThinkPad and IdeaPad notebook models -- nor its many ThinkCenter and IdeaCenter desktops -- can currently be ordered with Linux.

Lenovo does offer four high-end ThinkStation workstation models without any commercial operating system software, but all of its other systems now carry the "Microsoft Tax," it appears. That is, in order to purchase one of the systems, you have to pay for a Microsoft Windows operating system license.

Lenovo's executive director of external communications, Ray Gorman, denied in vague terms that the current situation marks a strategic shift, though he did admit the company is "refining its Linux strategy." He added, "Lenovo is not abandoning its commitment to choice of operating system, and actually is increasing the role of the Linux operating system in Lenovo's product portfolio."

All evidence to the contrary.

Gorman continued, "In 2008, Lenovo offered preloaded Novell SLED 10 Linux on some of its ThinkPad notebooks, targeting business users. We are now seeing greater demand for Linux from consumers and those in education, and are bringing Linux preloaded on soon-to-be announced Lenovo netbooks targeted to education."

Actually, Lenovo already announced its Linux-based S9 netbook models, when it launched its Netbook line about a month ago. However, the company provided pricing and availability information only for the Windows XP-based "S10" model, saying that the Linux-based "S9" model would be limited to overseas education markets.

In other words, if the government of some large country wants to order a few hundred thousand of them, they'll build some, and not before.

Gorman continued, "We will continue to certify Novell and Red Hat Linux on our ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktops. Additionally, we will be offering Linux on our Think servers, an area we are seeing a greater demand for Linux."


IBM's ThinkPad line played an important role in the history of Linux, becoming the first notebook from a major manufacturer to be available both certified and pre-installed with Linux (Red Hat was the flavor of choice back in 1999, and the ThinkPad E600 was the model that everyone wanted, if memory serves). And too, prior to buying IBM's PC business, Lenovo -- even then China's largest PC maker -- offered Red Flag Linux pre-installed on some systems.

After acquiring IBM's PC business, Lenovo's first Linux ThinkPad shipped in January of last year with Novell SUSE Linux pre-installed, to positive, but not glowing reviews. Prior to that, Lenovo talked about Linux a lot, and even mulled Ubuntu as a pre-install option. Now, though, the company has apparently stopped offering Linux as an option on its T-61 and other popular ThinkPad notebook models.

It's no secret that for decades, PC vendors have offered free technical support for Microsoft operating system products, a business reality that has helped Microsoft achieve its famous market-beating profit margins. Once bitten twice shy, systems integrators like Lenovo are understandably chary of adding Linux to their support burdens. Lenovo's initial trial with Linux was a limited release that left the user to load SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on the system themselves, and seek support from Novell should anything go awry.

Linux arguably benefits from superior online support resources, compared to Windows. However, none of that does much good if the user is not able to go online. The typical PC support call costs $35, according to a spokesperson from Everex, a top-10 global PC vendor. Meanwhile, PC margins face increasing downwards price pressure from the new crop of ultra-low-cost "nettops" and "netbook" PCs.

At the same time, it seems unfair for PC vendors such as Lenovo to force customers toward a single operating system choice, with so many great alternatives to Windows these days.

-- Henry Kingman

Thanks to Tamas Papp at Princeton University for letting us know about this. Additionally, Robert Pogson wrote to let us know that Lenovo recently added Linux as an option on some IdeaPad netbooks.

Do you have comments on this story?

Talkback here

NOTE: Please post your comments regarding our articles using the above link. Be sure to use this article's title as the "Subject" in your posts. Before you create a new thread, please check to see if a discussion thread is already running on the article you plan to comment on. Thanks!

Related Stories:

(Click here for further information)

Home  |  News  |  Articles  |  Forum  |  Polls  |  About  |  Contact

Ziff Davis Enterprise Home | Contact Us | Advertise | Link to Us | Reprints | Magazine Subscriptions | Newsletters
Tech RSS Feeds | ROI Calculators | Tech Podcasts | Tech Video | VARs | Channel News

Baseline | Careers | Channel Insider | CIO Insight | DesktopLinux | DeviceForge | DevSource | eSeminars |
eWEEK | Enterprise Network Security | LinuxDevices | Linux Watch | Microsoft Watch | Mid-market | Networking | PDF Zone |
Publish | Security IT Hub | Strategic Partner | Web Buyer's Guide | Windows for Devices

Developer Shed | Dev Shed | ASP Free | Dev Articles | Dev Hardware | SEO Chat | Tutorialized | Scripts |
Code Walkers | Web Hosters | Dev Mechanic | Dev Archives | igrep

Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Except where otherwise specified, the contents of this site are copyright © 1999-2011 Ziff Davis Enterprise Holdings Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Enterprise is prohibited. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.