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Lenovo finally delivers SUSE Linux-based ThinkPads
Jan. 11, 2008

PC vendor Lenovo has promised ThinkPads with pre-installed Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 for some time now. Lenovo will deliver the goods the week of Jan. 14.

Lenovo will release pre-installed SLED 10 on its Intel Centrino processor-powered ThinkPad T61 and R61 14-inch-wide notebooks. In February, Lenovo's pre-integrated Novell Linux offering will expand to include some Penryn-based ThinkPads.

The ThinkPad T61 with SLED 10 Service Pack 1 will come with the Intel Core 2 Duo T7250. The T61 laptop is powered by a 2.0GHz processor with an 800MHz FSB (front-side bus) and a 2MB Level 2 internal cache. For memory it comes with 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM (double data rate 2 synchronous dynamic RAM).

For graphics, the T61 will use an Intel GMA X3100 GM965 on the motherboard. This, in turn, displays images on a 14.1-inch WXGA (Wide XGA) screen. This widescreen has a maximum resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels.

On the storage side, the T61 uses an 80GB hard drive that speeds along at 5400 rpm. The PC also includes a combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. For network connectivity, the system will use a built-in ThinkPad 11a/b/g Wi-Fi wireless minicard.

The starting price for this system will be $949, $20 less than the same laptop with Vista Home Premium.

The R61 with pre-installed SLED has almost identical equipment. However, it's been designed to be quieter and use less power than its T61 brother. Its price will also be about $950.

With both systems, Lenovo will provide direct support for the hardware and operating system. Novell will provide maintenance updates for SLED directly to ThinkPad notebook customers.

Lenovo has offered SLED-equipped laptops before. In 2006, it started offering its high-end ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation. Company officials also promised in August that Lenovo would finally deliver pre-installed desktop Linux in its consumer and small business lines. A quarter later than expected, Lenovo is finally following through.

When asked about this development, Michael Applebaum, senior manager of desktop Linux marketing at Novell, said, "We're very pleased to see our work with Lenovo reach the market and begin bearing fruit for customers around the world. The Lenovo ThinkPads with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop pre-loaded allow customers to reap the security, usability and flexibility advantages of Linux with the comfort of knowing it is pre-installed and fully supported by their hardware provider."

Applebaum continued, "It's never been easier to buy a Linux PC, deploy it into an existing environment and have it work seamlessly with current technologies. Going forward, you will see Novell and Lenovo continue to collaborate as we provide the market with additional models and capabilities to meet a range of customer needs."

Lenovo is finally joining Dell as one of the first top-tier PC vendors to offer pre-installed Linux desktops to its customers. In the meantime, other lesser-known vendors, such as Asustek Computer and Everex, are also delivering inexpensive computers with pre-installed Linux. Pre-installed Linux desktop systems are still far from being as easy to find as Windows-equipped systems, but they are out there now and are relatively easy to find and buy.

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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