For years now, HP has been slowly edging towards releasing a pre-installed Linux for general users. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reports that this week, HP finally took the big plunge.
For years, HP has been slowly edging
towards releasing a pre-installed Linux for general users. This week,
the company finally announced that it would be releasing
Novell's SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10 SP 2 on its low-priced business class HP Compaq dc5850.
This new desktop offering is aimed at
SMB (small-to-medium sized businesses) and education users. Anyone
interested in a Linux-powered work desktop, though, will be able to
put the SLED-powered dc5850 to use. While HP would sell you desktop Linux on a business PC in the past, it
had to be 'ordered.' Now, you'll be able to get it 'off-the-rack.'
The dc5850 is a small form-factor
desktop. It comes with a wide variety of AMD processors. These range
from the 2.2GHz AMD Sempron LE-1250 processor to the quad-processor
2.3GHz AMD Phenom X4 9600B processor. The system can hold up to 8GBs
of RAM, but typically comes with 512MB to 2GBs of RAM.
You also get a variety of choices for
your graphics. These include integrated AMD Radeon 3100 Graphics;
NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS or the ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT. You also have
many hard drives to choose from. The one thing the drives have in
common is that they're all fast. At the low end, there's a 80GB 7,200
rpm drive and you can go up to a 500GB 7,200 rpm drive or a smaller,
but faster, 160GB 10,000 rpm drive. You an also pick from one of
three removable SATA drives.
Why has HP
finally taken the pre-installed Linux desktop plunge? Because, Lance
product marketing manager for business PCs at HP, explained in a
Linux Planet interview, "You're right. The Linux desktop option has
been on the table at HP for several years. We evaluate the market,
the customer requirements and competitive situation on an ongoing
basis. We talked to educational customers in particular and it became
apparent to us that now was the appropriate time to roll this product
In other words, customers were asking
for Linux. Grant Ho, Novell's senior product marketing manager
SLED, added, "We're very excited about this release. Desktop Linux
in education very clearly meets the need to help meet the pain point
in security, value and cost savings." With today's economy, SMBs
can certainly use that same help.
Besides SLED's usual assortment of
programs, such as Firefox for Web browsing, Evolution for e-mail and
OpenOffice for office work, Novell and HP will be jointly offering a
repository of more than 40 open-source applications, including math,
art and word games, to improve student learning. In addition,
applications for school administration and instruction will be
available for teachers and administrators. This repository will be
available in early January.
Stevens said that that the delay is
because Novell and HP are still certifying this set of education
programs for use with this particular platform. What this means for
you is that when you call HP for first and second-tier support,
they'll not only be able to help you with SLED on the PC, but with
these applications as well. To the best of my knowledge, this is the
first time a PC company is offering free and open-source software
support, beyond the operating system and Web browsers, to customers.
In a statement, Roger Levy, senior vice president and general
manager of Open Platform Solutions, for Novell said, "We are
excited to expand our work with HP to take advantage of the
high-growth desktop Linux space. As the best-engineered and most
interoperable Linux desktop, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop helps
customers increase security and improve productivity. With the focus
on educational users, this affordable joint offering delivers a solid
learning platform and prepares students with 21st-century technology
The HP Compaq dc5850 with SUSE Linux Enterprise
Desktop is expected to be available Dec. 15 in North America at a
U.S. street price of $519 via HP's Web site. The systems will also be
available through educational and SMB VARs. Customers will be able to
buy totally pre-configured, "Smart Buy" systems or pick and
choose their own hardware configuration.
This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.