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Lenovo Backtracks on Linux Support Statement 74

Posted by timothy
from the danke-sehr dept.
After a report that the company would not install or support the Linux operating system on any of its PCs, morcego writes "Looks like Lenovo decided Linux is a good idea after all. From the article: 'Lenovo executives Monday backtracked from remarks last week that the company would not support Linux on its PCs, saying it would continue to pre-load Linux onto ThinkPads on a custom-order basis for customers who purchase licenses on their own. In addition, they said, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company was working behind the scenes to boost its Linux support in conjunction with the expected July release of the next version of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.'"
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Lenovo Backtracks on Linux Support Statement

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  • Their Logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:13AM (#15494222) Journal
    According to IDC Research [pcworld.com], there may be a rise in mobile operating system use and Linux will probably retain around 15% of the market share. Granted, this isn't for laptops but instead for things like phones or tablet PCs, it still probably holds some weight.

    I doubt Lenovo would be changing their tune because it seems to be that (as of 2004), Linux runs on something like 2.4% of desktops [wikipedia.org] and probably less laptops. Lenovo probably is imagining their products getting smaller and competing with cell phones & PDAs. In order to do that, they're going to need to support applications written for Linux or maybe even Symbian OSs so that they can steal users from the other side of the market.

    Plain and simple: Laptops, PDAs, cell phones & tablet PCs are all about to vie for the "must have" device that does it all. Any manufacturer needs to be sure they can support the other side's applications if they want a piece of the market share. I think Lenovo knows the winds are changing and they are trying to support as much to satisfy their consumer. It's only natural that a buyer wants as many options as possible even though they have no intent whatsoever to utilize said options.
    • Re:Their Logic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skiflyer (716312)
      I think you're over thinking this one, alot.

      My guess to their logic is much simpler, even with their consumer lines Thinkpads are primarily business machines. Lenovo's comments probably raise a bit of a stink with a couple high dollar clients who said, if you're not going to support Linux on the 100 Linux laptops we order yearly we're going to stop ordering the 10,000 Window laptops from you as well and find another vendor. (Insert whatever numbers make it realistic to you)

      But I'm just guessing... I didn't
    • Re:Their Logic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by strider44 (650833) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:08AM (#15494664)
      I doubt Lenovo would be changing their tune because it seems to be that (as of 2004), Linux runs on something like 2.4% of desktops and probably less laptops. Lenovo probably is imagining their products getting smaller and competing with cell phones & PDAs. In order to do that, they're going to need to support applications written for Linux or maybe even Symbian OSs so that they can steal users from the other side of the market.

      That's not very good logic. Dismissing that your link said 2.8% in 2002 and taking your stats as true, not only was 2004 a long time ago in the Linux world (it was before Ubuntu took off even) so probably the real figure would be even higher now but 2.4% itself is an amazing amount of desktops. There are, what, a few hundred million desktops in the world? At least tens of millions sold each year? 2.4% of this could be perhaps a million desktops each year, being conservative. As many people have said before, a million customers would be an entire market for most companies, so it's not something a sane corperation would shrug off lightly.
    • If I'm not mistaken, Power Users within IBM had the option of running a Linux laptop instead of the normal boring Microslop. I bet that part of the spinoff was an assurance that IBM would continue to use Linvo laptops for some period of time. Given those two tidbits, it may be that they just decided that if they have to support Linux anyway, might as well support it for anyone who wants to use it.
  • by soren42 (700305) * <j AT son-kay DOT com> on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:16AM (#15494248) Homepage Journal
    After all these back-and-forth stories in the press, I imagine that Novell is pretty ticked at Lenovo around SLED 10. I mean, at the end of the day, it'll still be more sales - but not what it could have been. I think Linux-consumer confidence in Lenovo probably isn't very high now.

    And that's sad, really, because Lenovo bundling/installing/supporting SLED would have been a big win for Novell and Linux on the desktop in general. Now it almost seems like an apology.
    • More realistic. I would just be happy if they could get back to where the ThinkPad was, almost. Just make hardware and support Linux. Don't tie yourself into supporting only one flavor of Linux (RedHat, SuSE) because that's always going to piss off someone you don't support and it misses an opportunity for sales and support.

      If they just made hardware with support, meaning the manufacturer would work willingly with the volunteer developers to create the GPL drivers necessary to distribute on any *NIX pla

  • Oh good! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by mrchaotica (681592) *
    I've been looking for a Tablet PC, and the previous announcement forced me to mark the Thinkpad X41 tablet off my list (it was at the top). Now I can add it back, thankfully!
    • Re:Oh good! (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'd probably hold off on the X41. They are slow machines. Slow hard disks, slow CPU's, slow everything. The tablet function works great, but you'll get tired of waiting for things to respond.

      The T60 and R60 are out, so the X60 shouldn't be far off. I believe there is a X60 tablet in the pipe as well.

      If I were shopping for a tablet, I'd be looking for the X60 tablet.
  • On one hand, Microsoft, and their alleged "reluctance" to give you some neat price cuts for their OSs should you sell anything but their OSs.

    On the other hand IBM, one of the heaviest pushers for alternative (read: Non-MS) OSs.

    Dunno how cozy it is between Big Blue and Red Mond...
    • Ummm... Hate to break it to you, but Lenovo is not IBM. IBM sold their Thinkpad division to Lenovo, which is a Chinese company. At this point in time, IBM has very little if anything at all to do with this.
      • Wrong. IBM has a lot to do with it at this time. First off, there will be a transition of employees. Second, Leveno NEEDS IBM to continue recommending thinkpads. While the contract may require IBM to push it, employees may decide to do otherwise (esp with encouragement by their managers). Finally, Leveno needs IBM just for the marketing.
      • RTF comment - He knows that. he is talking about the commercial arrangements with IBM as a major purchaser of Lenovo laptops and desktops.

        In addition since IBM sets up deals with companies purchasing IBM servers and services, IBM is in a position to give recommendations on the sourcing of desktop and laptop purchasing.
    • Lenovo-not-IBM aside, is any discount offered for taking the Linux option instead of Windows? Chopping $300 off the price of a Thinkpad would make it much more affordable, especially when I don't intend to run Windows anyway.
      • It's most likely be far less than 300$. First of all, Lenovo will have to hammer out a way to create a fool-proof way to "reinstall" Linux, unattended and as easily as people are used from using IBM. I.e. CD in, turn on, wait 15 Minutes.

        And second, I could imagine that MS has special deals with OEMs that sell a "few" licenses so they don't pay the 300$ we pay for the MS-OS.
      • You get less then $100 back for M$ for the pre-load of Windows. The cost ot the OEM is very small.
  • by DoraLives (622001) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:18AM (#15494260)
    pre-load Linux onto ThinkPads on a custom-order basis for customers who purchase licenses on their own.

    Pretty tepid "support" if you ask me.

    The Great Swarm isn't going to be doing much special requesting, which means there's not going to be all that many machines that actually wind up with linux on the hard drive.

    Better than nothing, I guess. Sigh.

    • But where can I purchase a Debian license? I've been trying to buy one, but no one will sell me one.
    • Not what I'd call optimistic. sigh Put your shoes in the average Windows user. Would you want some alien OS you'll probably never use taking up precious storage space on your hard drive (assuming duel boot)?
      • assuming duel boot

        Is that like Gunfight at the OK Corral or Deliverance (Dueling Banjos)?

        This conjures up images I can't even begin to describe adequately in the space given.

        Sorry...couldn't resist that one. GRIN

        • duel boot

          Is that like Gunfight at the OK Corral or Deliverance (Dueling Banjos)?

          Heh. It reminds me of the first time I tried building a dual-boot machine by installing linux on a Windows box. I ran linux for a few weeks, then one day had to do some testing against Windows, so I booted it up. When I tried going back to linux, I couldn't get it to boot. It turned out that Windows had made the linux partition non-bootable.

          My investigation found a paragraph hidden in the machine's paperwork where they said

    • by writermike (57327) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:00AM (#15494593)
      The Great Swarm isn't going to be doing much special requesting, which means there's not going to be all that many machines that actually wind up with linux on the hard drive.

      Better than nothing, I guess. Sigh.


      Yes, you're right, but I think it ultimately depends on what they wind up doing. If they offer a button during the customization phase of ordering, then that's progress. Yes, we would hope that, say, when the next Ubuntu came out they'd put a big flash banner on the front page announcing it's now available for all Lenovo laptops, but it's all still progress.

      I think it's very interesting that they decided to backtrack at all. Clearly they've changed their minds and certainly that has to have come from some sort of outside pressure. In years past, I think any company such as this could have just as easily said, "Screw 'em." But Lenovo didn't. And for whatever reason they ultimately wound up announcing their backtrack, it's still progress.
    • So are you encouraging a high return rate? Pushing Linux onto people that don't ask for it is a little disingenuous as the current standard is Windows. Most people don't consider that there are alternatives, but those alternatives don't have the apps that they want and they shouldn't have to relearn how to use a computer if they don't want to. Even if the alternative operating systems have equivalent apps, forcing them to relearn how to use all their apps and such is a bit much. It strikes me as dising
  • I knew it was a bad business decision to step away from a growing operating system. Way to stick it to the (M$) man! Go Lenovo, go Lenovo, go, go, go!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I thought Lenovo was based out of China, not Raleigh?

    • I thought Lenovo was based out of China, not Raleigh?

      That was always my impression as well. However, from their "About" page (http://www.lenovo.com/lenovo/us/en/ [lenovo.com]):

      Lenovo's executive headquarters are in Purchase, New York, USA with principal operations in Beijing, China, and Raleigh, North Carolina, USA and an enterprise sales organization worldwide. The company employs more than 19,000 people worldwide.

    • Their corporate operations were in Purchase, N.Y, and recently moved to NC. Raleigh is where IBM's R&D campus was. Or something like that
    • Lenovo has always been based in Beijing, although much of their business operation moved to Hong Kong. The company was founded to make Chinese language expansion cards for the IBM PC and eventually became the largest PC manufacturer in China, under their own brands. When IBM went looking for someone to manufacture overseas Lenovo was a natural choice. They were called Legend then, but early in the century decided to move on their own into the international market, changed the name to Lenovo and established
      • You speak of this as if its a new thing. I laughed the other day when some site was discussing the quality of the new American Chevvys, the fact that they're a Korean car based heavily upon European technology seemed to escape them completely. It been the norm for some time to establish a company and declare the technology as American and thus patriotic when the reality is somewhat different.
        • You speak of this as if its a new thing.

          For me it is. I am now "middle aged," i.e. I have expended more than two thirds of my alloted three score and ten. In my youth countries of origin were brandished with a good deal of pride by manufacturers. There was a form of patriotism both in business and in consumption. The People often ignored brand names and refered to their possessions by country of origin. You owned a Japanese radio, not a Sony.

          The example you give is entirely unlike what is going on now. You
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:25AM (#15494314)
    I guess this just means that there aren't Linux drivers for all those snazzy spytools that Lenovo's been putting in their machines...
  • by thebdj (768618) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:28AM (#15494325) Journal
    Lenovo: "We will not support Linux."

    IBM: "We won't let you keep using the names and trademarks we made famous if you do not support Linux."

    Lenovo: "We will support Linux."

    The only thing missing is a little ass kissing...
    • by vrwarp (624266) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @09:35AM (#15494394) Homepage Journal
      I thought the announcement that Lenovo was going to drop linux support was odd since they are a China based company after all. The last time I checked, the chinese government wanted to move away from windows and instead, back linux.
      • I'd rather view the decisions purely from a business perspective.

        Unlike in the 70s, there're more and more things over which the government has no control, Lenovo being one. A lot of people think Lenovo is a government controlled company and that's why they bought IBM's PC business. The truth is, however, if Lenovo had been such a company, it wouldn't have stood a chance in competition against rivals such as Dell and HP. The bureaucracy alone would have killed it. They've got to have a hell of business se

      • Actually when China's head of state visited the U.S. a few weeks back the first person he visited was Bill Gates and not George W. They cut a deal where China was going to work harder to stop Windows piracy and Microsoft was going to invest a billion or two more in China.

        I wager Lenovo's announcement dropping Linux might have been due to government pressure to only sell Windows on their machines to keep Uncle Bill happy. You see Uncle Bill is of the opinion that any PC that ships without Windows and witho
    • IBM: "We won't let you keep using the names and trademarks we made famous if you do not support Linux."

      I really doubt Lenovo would have been stupid enough to sign a deal with IBM that let IBM unilaterally take back its brands and trademarks. When it comes to blackmail its almost 100% the Chinese who are blackmailing the Western companies and not the other way around as in, "if you want access to our markets you do what we say". In IBM's case it was "if you want access to our markets you are going to sell
      • From Lenovo's site:

        Lenovo and IBM have a strategic alliance designed to provide a best-in-class experience for enterprise customers. The companies have entered into significant, long-term agreements that give customers preferred access to IBM's world-class customer service organization and global financing offerings, and that enable Lenovo to take advantage of IBM's powerful worldwide distribution and sales network. Lenovo's customers are able to count on the entire IBM team - including sales, services an

    • It may not have gone exactly like that, but it probably was similar. The day the announcement hit, I emailed my Lenovo rep to confirm the news. I also emailed my IBM rep separately, saying something along the lines of "at our work, we view Lenovo and IBM as being pretty much tied together - there's an IBM logo on the Lenovo ThinkPads we just bought, for example." And then asking IBM to confirm their continued support of Linux, as my part of the business runs a lot of IBM servers to run Linux.

      IBM respon

  • They know what's good for them.
  • Linux Crowd (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps if the Linux crowd would voice their opinions about Linux, and other topics as well, instead of acting so timid and polite, in fear of offending others, perhaps Lenovo would learn that there's a large group of people that have strong feelings, deep, down inside, about Linux.

  • I mean, first we tell we'll remove something and then we tell we'll keep. Both times - a lot of articles and blog posts...
  • Non-Story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NutscrapeSucks (446616) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @10:10AM (#15494678)
    This entire thing is non-news. IBM was not shipping Linux on PCs and ThinkPads. Now Levano is not shipping Linux on PCs and ThinkPads. There's been no change in policy or "backtracking".

    Apparently a lot of you saw an IBM Linux commercial and then invented a fantasy world where IBM was selling Linux to desktop users. They weren't, and they've been consistant in saying that there is no real demand for such outside of particular consulting opportunitites.
    • Kudos to you. I'm not sure what kind of kool-aid some of the slashdotters (and me) are drinking. Initially I was wondering, but after reading a few of their comments even makes me think as if IBM sells tons of Linux laptop/desktop before.

      This is worse than non-news, esp. given the kind of titles are so misleading (backtracking). Everybody, including /. wants to be their audiences fox news.

  • ... said they would continue to work with customers who wanted Linux on ThinkPads - under a process that allows customers to buy the Linux license themselves ...

    BUY a linux license? That just shows how far out of touch with the real world most 'executives' are.

  • The real think... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
  • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @11:50AM (#15495492)
    "[...] it would continue to pre-load Linux onto ThinkPads on a custom-order basis for customers who purchase licenses on their own."

    Oh well, if only Linux licenses were a little cheaper this would be a nice outcome.
  • They got a call from their largest customer, Big Blue.

    Lenova corporate accounts, hello.

    Yeah, uh I was just about to place an order for next years sales force laptops and I came across this article...Is it this true?..

    Yes sir, our company strategy is to support Microsoft Windows only.

    Hmmm.. Our corporate Stratagy is to Bury Microsoft Windows, payback is a bitch. I guess we will be placing orders for fewer laptops this year.

    How Fewer?

    Hello

    Hello

  • Recently, my employer bought me a Lenovo T43 thinkpad. As soon as the
    product recovery CDS were burned I started putting fedora on it.

    Later I had some problems on the windows install (I left it on as a dual boot machine)
    So I ended up calling tech support about it. (IBM's thinkvantage software installer
    updater was trippin and I didn't know why)

    Once they had me straitened out on the windows side I mentioned that 95% of the time I
    just used Linux on their thinkpad `cause I have little use for Windows. (My job is
  • "Raleigh, N.C.-based company"

    Lenovo is a Chinese company. Raleigh is not (yet) Chinese territory.

    Who would trust anything coming from the two sides of the mouth [google.com] of this company based on two sides of the world, depending on to whom they're talking?
  • Based on this CNET article [com.com] it looks like Frank Kardonski was talking about selling licensed copies of Linux (which I assume means a paid for support copy of SuSE, Red Hat, etc.). Basically, just a mis-communication. Yawn.
  • ...it smells of lawyers and broken contracts. Will Novell's SuSE Desktop really be that groundbreaking?

    I think not.
  • I wonder if there might have been some pressure to support Red Star Linux at home?

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