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6/5/2006
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Lenovo Backtracks On No-Linux Statement

Lenovo executives Monday backtracked from remarks last week that the company would not support Linux on its PCs, saying it would continue to pre-load Linux onto ThinkPads on a custom-order basis for customers who purchase licenses on their own.

Lenovo executives Monday backtracked from remarks last week that the company would not support Linux on its PCs, saying it would continue to pre-load Linux onto ThinkPads on a custom-order basis for customers who purchase licenses on their own.

In addition, they said, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company was working behind the scenes to boost its Linux support in conjunction with the expected July release of the next version of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

Last week, a Lenovo product marketing executive and a spokesman each said the company would not support non-Microsoft operating systems on either its ThinkPad or Lenovo 3000 systems.

Frank Kardonski, Lenovo's worldwide product manager for Lenovo 3000 offerings, told CRN: "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."

Two days later, a Lenovo spokesman confirmed the statement, and that it applied to ThinkPads as well. But that's not the case, company executives said Monday.

After growing and negative reaction to the remarks on a series of Internet sites, including Slashdot.com, Lenovo said they erred.

"We gave you some inaccurate information," said Raymond Gorman, a Lenovo spokesman.

Monday, Lenovo executives said they would continue to work with customers who wanted Linux on ThinkPads – under a process that allows customers to buy the Linux license themselves – apart from Lenovo – before the manufacturer preloads it.

Lenovo does not provide Linux on Lenovo 3000 systems.

"Today, the objective of the Lenovo 3000 is to meet the particular requirements of the very small individual customers that we target through out transactional business model," said Marc Godin, Lenovo's worldwide vice president for marketing for Lenovo's worldwide notebook business units, said. "This is a model that is leveraging a channel infrastructure and which is based on targeting volumes to get to the sweet spot, the most demanded offerings of the market. Because we want to address significant volumes, we could not…find an integrated solution with Linux" that would fit the needs of Lenovo's target market for the Lenovo 3000.

The support for Linux is set to change, though, Godin said.

The company is gearing up for an announcement in the next several weeks to be timed with the Novell announcement of availability of its latest desktop Linux offering, Godin said.

"That's exactly the distribution we've been working very closely – very, very closely – to significantly improve our commitment," Godin said. "We are working very closely with Novell for that future release."

Godin said the company had no plans to change the placement of marketing collateral on its product line, which states that "Lenovo Recommends Windows XP Professional."

"We will be recommending Windows, but at the same time we will significantly strengthen our support and commitments to the Linux community," Godin said. "I don't think those things are incompatible."

Godin stopped short of saying whether or not the company would pre-load the forthcoming version of Linux onto its desktops or notebooks, but said Lenovo would also boost its Linux support to the solution provider channel in conjunction with its July-time-frame announcement.

From Novell's perspective, the company said it was receiving good response from all major OEMs toward its future Linux release, including Lenovo.

"We continue to work with them," said Justin Steinman, director of marketing for Linux and operating platform solutions.

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