Yesterday at LinuxWorld Expo in San Francisco, business computing giant Lenovo announced a partnership with Novell to offer preinstalled Linux systems to its customers. Beginning in Q4 of this year, Lenovo will ship its ThinkPad T Series notebooks with the option of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 preinstalled. And although this particular distro is geared toward enterprise customers, it will be available for anyone to buy.
Linux support in general is old news for Lenovo, which has long certified its products for Linux compatibility. (Although, until now, you've had to buy your own copy of Linux separately.) But the announcement of preinstalled Linux systems—with official Lenovo support—for end users marks a significant milestone in the slow and steady march toward widespread Linux adoption on the desktop.
While the Lenovo announcement certainly broadens the spectrum of options for Linux users, it's still a far cry from making Linux mainstream. As it is, Lenovo serves primarily business customers, and boasts relatively little penetration in the home consumer market. Even so, if the company is able to move enough units in the corporate sector, it will make a substantial contribution to the overall profile of Linux on the desktop—and that could give yet another boost to end user adoption.
Currently Dell and Lenovo are the two largest PC vendors to offer preinstalled Linux PCs. Now all we need is a consumer-friendly Linux announcement from HP, and we'll have a trifecta.