For years, the holy grail of the Linux desktop has been to get a major computer vendor to commit to preloading a Linux desktop. It finally happened.
On August 4, we found out that Lenovo Group, the company that has taken over IBMs Personal Computing Division, had made a deal with Novell to preload SLED 10 (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) on its ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation.
For the first time, a major OEM (original equipment manufacturer) has committed to preloading a Linux desktop.
For years, you could get preloaded Linux from smaller vendors. Linspire, MEPIS, and Xandros all have arrangements with second and third-tier OEMs to produce preloaded Linux PCs and laptops. If you were a big-time customer ordering hundreds of systems at a crack, you could also get a major OEM to preload Linux for you.
Over the years, Hewlett-Packard has flirted with offering desktop Linux. For example, in 2004, it released the Compaq nx5000 laptop with SUSE Linux 9.1 as a "test" launch. Dell has slowly moved closer to offering a real Linux desktop, but its not there yet.
Of course, both HP and Dell will sell you a computer without an operating system, or with FreeDOS and their best recommendation for a Linux for that system, but thats really not the same thing.
So, if you were just Joe User in North America, and you wanted to simply order or pick up at a store a brand-name computer with a brand-name Linux, you were out of luck.
That was then. This is now.
The T60p isnt just any laptop. It boasts a high-end, 2GHz Intel Core Duo processor T2500, with a minimum of 512MB of RAM, which can be pushed up to 2GB of memory. For graphics, it uses an ATI FireGL V5200 with 256MB of RAM.
The system is also expected to come with what Lenovo is calling a "ThinkPad Experience" under Linux, which includes: Access Connections, Configuration Utility, Power Manager, warm and cold docking support for USB and video, and Help Center support.
Ironically, in June, Lenovo was in hot water with Linux fans because an executive had said that the company would no longer support Linux on its ThinkPad line.