Lenovo & Linux: Honeymoon's Over? - InformationWeek

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9/12/2008
02:51 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Lenovo & Linux: Honeymoon's Over?

Word's been circulating that Lenovo's no longer going to be offering Linux on ThinkPad notebooks to individual customers, at least in the U.S. But it's far from the end of Linux for Lenovo, period -- it just means the honeymoon's over.

Word's been circulating that Lenovo's no longer going to be offering Linux on ThinkPad notebooks to individual customers, at least in the U.S. But it's far from the end of Linux for Lenovo, period -- it just means the honeymoon's over.

There are some echoes of what happened with Wal-Mart and its Linux-powered gPC offering earlier this year. After offering the gPC for a time in stores, Wal-Mart eventually discontinued stocking it for in-store purchase, but continues to offer it through its Web site. In Lenovo's case, most of its sales for Linux-loaded notebooks were through corporate sales teams or partnerships, not through online direct sales -- so it's focusing on that as the main source of requests for Linux systems.

Lenovo certainly hasn't abandoned Linux support or certification. But it is stepping back from making ThinkPads with Linux widely available to people who just want to step up and buy one.

That's frustrating, since ThinkPads are widely used by Linux folks. Check out the ThinkWiki site for a great testament to the Linux fandom for the ThinkPad -- the level of dedication that it has for getting the most out of the machine is palpable on every page. This makes it that much more difficult for it to point to Lenovo as a way to get Linux-out-of-the-box for a notebook.

I think what we're seeing here is a reflection of another trend: the rise of notebooks as Linux devices (cheap, built for Linux) means that full notebooks (more expensive, built more generically) won't be seen by manufacturers as the ideal place for Linux. That might seem paradoxical from the outside, but think about it this way. What's better for a company's image -- a shiny new product line with cutting-edge pizzazz, or an existing product line with a different OS?

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