Lenovo to Load Linux on ThinkPad Laptop

Lenovo Group is planning a full embrace for Linux.

The PC maker, at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo beginning Aug. 14 , will announce a plan to pre-load Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 on one of its ThinkPad notebooks, sources familiar with the two company’s plans said.

Lenovo, whose ThinkPads have long been a favorite of Linux users, will become the first PC manufacturer in recent history to allow individual customers to buy one of its notebooks, a ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation model, with the operating system pre-installed, the sources said.

Lenovo has projected itself as a strong supporter of the operating system in the past—it has certified most of its ThinkPad and ThinkCentre PC models to run Novell/SUSE, Red Hat and TurboLinux distributions—but to date it has only pre-installed the operating system on a custom basis for large customers.

Lenovo officials declined to comment for this story. However, in June 2006 they indicated a desire to more fully invest in the operating system.

“We’re about to reinforce that [Linux] strategy and go beyond what IBM [Personal Computer Division] or Lenovo, until now, was doing in terms of its commitments to the Linux community … and to our business partners who want to use Linux,” said Marc Godin, vice president of marketing for notebook at Lenovo in Raleigh, N.C., during a June 2006 interview with eWEEK.

That pledge came following a claim by one Lenovo executive who said the company would drop support for Linux. However, Godin said during that interview that the executive misspoke.

Instead, Lenovo, which purchased IBM’s Personal Computer Division in May 2005, appears to be tightening its relationship with Linux in part to help differentiate its products.

The company is working to increase its growth outside of China and particularly in areas such as emerging markets and the small and midsize business space.

But it must also guard its position with large customers in geographies such as North America and Europe.

Now third in PC market share behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard, it has become decidedly more aggressive of late with new products.

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