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IBM Dropping Laptop Linux Support 367

Bjarne Bula writes "In a message to the linux-thinkpad mailing list, Keith Frechette, former (as of Monday, June 24th) lead developer of Linux support on ThinkPads, reported that IBM has decided to no longer fund that project." I've been using Linux on a ThinkPad for some time now. If it stops being compatible, my next laptop won't be a ThinkPad. Too bad, because the machines are solid. Update: In an interesting counter-point, Information Week tells us that IBM will be opening a manhattan based "Linux Center of Competence" to show off Linux. Go figure.
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IBM Dropping Laptop Linux Support

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:04PM (#3737577)
    IBM are a bunch of graffiti spraying vandals anyway.
  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:04PM (#3737578)
    on IBM's part.

    "Linux is our flagship technology going forward! Quick, let's cancel it on our sexiest products!"

    What a great way to torpedo enthusiasm in the techie community... :-p

    Time for someone to set up a petition page...

    • IBM's statement (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timothy_m_smith ( 222047 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:21PM (#3737729)
      I think to some people since IBM was one of the first mega-corporations to embrace Linux, this announcement about cutting support for Linux on the laptops comes as a suprise. However, where is it that IBM has made all of its Linux progress? They've made their progress in the enterprise on big ass IBM servers running Linux. However, the desktop/laptop space is very different from enterprise servers. The margins appear to be much thinner on those machines and so I'm sure that business unit is trying to cut costs. I doubt they have seen enough traction from Linux on the desktop to justify the cost of support and development. I also think that IBM knows that there will be some unofficial ThinkPad Linux support that is provided by its users.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @09:14PM (#3740798) Homepage Journal
      The attitude of IBM toward Linux has always been "Not on the Desktop." I guess they're a bit shy about taking on Microsoft in the desktop arena anymore. Remember what happened last time... Anyway, none of the Lotus desktop products are available under Linux. No Notes Client. No Smartsuite. No Sametime client. Nothing. This makes it a bit of a pain in the ass to use a Linux system full time in the company but fortunately the Win3.1 versions of those products mostly work in Wine now.

      Much more interesting to me at the moment is Apple's current desktop grab. I decided several months ago that if I were in the market for a laptop, I'd go for a Powerbook running OSX. Actually I find the Powermac to be a pretty tempting desktop platform too. It's going to be an interesting choice when the next upgrade cycle rolls around.

  • I just about creamed myself first time i saw a SSH terminal open up on one of those oh too sweet looking iBooks... Kinda sad about the thinkpads tho, IBM has been doing it so right for so long, it's a shame to see them discontinue support. Makes me wonder if they're going to do something else with linux on those laptops, given their recent billion dollar commitment to linux..
  • Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

    by sheepab ( 461960 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:05PM (#3737585) Homepage
    An older article here [] has the developers of their open source devision saying...

    IBM Kernel Hackers:
    All of the people in our group and most in the LTC have Thinkpads for their daily development and run Linux on them (I'm writing this on one as I sit in my apartment). There may not be as much corporate support there as you want, but there is plenty of grass-roots support. We had to learn all the quirks to get Linux installed and get all of the little things working (just like you). I've always wished that we shared more of this information, but there are usually people who are farther ahead than we are. I've uploaded the meager information that we put together during a meeting once. If you're curious, take a look: p People don't buy many small computers just because they will run Linux (the geek population just isn't that large). People do, however, blow large chunks of cash on big machines just to run Linux. Mom-and-Pop can almost always undercut IBM on prices for small machines, and geeks are thrifty. You don't have to sell many million dollar machines to justify being involved in Linux development.

    Why dont they just start working on Linux for Laptops?
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OUSpirit ( 94320 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:17PM (#3737700)
      I think you pointed it out yourself...

      People don't buy many small computers just because they will run Linux (the geek population just isn't that large). People do, however, blow large chunks of cash on big machines just to run Linux. Mom-and-Pop can almost always undercut IBM on prices for small machines, and geeks are thrifty.

      The point is there's not a lot of money to be made there. One thing we've got to remember is that regardless of how "cool" something is, if it doesn't generate enough money for the company, it won't last long. Just look at what IBM did the the folks in San Jose. Hard drives just don't have the same profit margin as a p-series, or z-series server, or selling lots of software and consulting services. That's where the money is, not in working with the Linux community to make sure every major distro will run on IBM's laptop. There are plenty of people who do that for free. Why should IBM pay someone to do that?

      Just my 2 cents.

      • Agreed... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sterno ( 16320 )
        I'd be happy if IBM officially supported linux on laptops, but I've bought laptops before from other vendors that weren't officially supported linux and have had little trouble. It just takes some up front research to figure out what's going to work and what won't.

        Now, IBM may be cutting official support, but it's reasonable to believe that IBM will continue to support community efforts. That is, they'll probably be helpful in making the information about their laptops available to the kernel hackers out there so that they can be made compatible. This way, IBM spends very little, and you can still get an IBM laptop running Linux, it just means there won't be some guy at IBM you can call and ask questions.

        No big deal, I never used to do that even when I ran Windows ;)
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Does anyone have a clue why they did it? After all (and as the poster hints at), linux support does in fact *help* selling ThinkPads.
    • "Does anyone have a clue why they did it?"

      I'm curious too. The Linux community could use the feedback. If the problem is that it's too hard to support Linux users and maintain customer satisfaction, then Linux should be more evolved to make it easier.

      If the problem is that Linux gurus are too expensive to keep on hand, coupled with too few people buying the laptops, then there's little to do about that other than have people provide unofficial support.

      Imagine if Tom's Harware bought up new laptops, got Linux running on them, and documented what it took to fix some of the basic problems that came up.

      A site like that 6 months ago (when I tried to install it on my laptop...) would have meant I'd be a Linux user today.
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

        Imagine if Tom's Harware bought up new laptops, got Linux running on them, and documented what it took to fix some of the basic problems that came up.

        A site like that 6 months ago (when I tried to install it on my laptop...) would have meant I'd be a Linux user today.

        Well, Tom's Hardware sure didn't (because all they test linux-wise is NVIDIA driver performance, and this only because Q3 is cool.), but others [] did.
    • Money (Score:4, Interesting)

      by captain_craptacular ( 580116 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:42PM (#3737901)
      To be blunt, why should IBM lay out the serious cash required to support linux on laptops when the only people who give a damn run linux on their laptops anyway and never use the support? It's basic economimcs. IBM probably sells a couple thousand thinkpads with Linux a year. Those sales probably cost them 20x as much to support as they make. If the product loses money, axe it.
  • Good Thing (tm) (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:07PM (#3737607)
    IBM also said it was going to include Generic Unix support rather than Linux only (scroll down). This means, they are embracing the entire spectrum of free Unix OS's instead of just Linux (Which IS A BONUS). They would be supporting OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Darwin, OpenCLT, WindRiver RT, OpenDOS, Linux (no distro specific). Frankly, it was weird seeing IBM saying they only support RedHat Linux (Linux is Linux whatever distro runs it, and at hardware level this shouldn't have mattered, AFAIK most IBM use was at hardware level). This IS A GOOD THING.
    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:35PM (#3737846)
      IBM also said it was going to include Generic Unix support rather than Linux only (scroll down).

      Do you have a reference to back this up? Both articles on the /. story made no reference whatsoever to this. The first is just a link to the thinkpad mailing lists, while the second is an email sent to the lists by the IBM lead developer who was laid off.

      I see absolutely no indication, anywhere, that IBM plans on continuing any sort of non-Windoze support of their T-series thinkpads, which is a shame as my company alone bought 4 of them specifically to run GNU/Linux (we are, after all, a GNU/Linux shop). Aside from individual sales they will loose with this rather short-sighted and foolish policy, they are likely to loose a number of corporate customers who are migrating away from Windows because of BSA-Licensing nonsense and don't want Microsoft licenses or software anywhere on their premesis. And if you were to foolishly think we are unique in that desire, you would be sorely mistaken.

      IBM was uniquely positioned to take advantage of the ever-growing number of companies moving away from Microsoft because of their ever-more-draconian licensing terms, fees, and enforcement, as the ability to run the target operating system (likely GNU/Linux) on their laptops is an important part of such a migration.

      This is a profoundly unstrategic move for IBM to make, and I suspect has a great deal more to do with bulk OEM licensing of Microsoft's monopoly operating system for installation on their hardware than it does with their desire (or lack thereof) to support GNU/Linux. Especially with the DOJ making it clear that they have no intention of enforcing anti-trust law against Microsoft in any meaningful way, IBM may well have felt they had no choice if they were to avoid paying twice what everyone else is for the privelege of reselling Microsoft's shoddy products.

      Oh well, there are plenty of other laptop manufactuerers out there ... I suspect as the migration away from Microsoft picks up steam one or more of IBM's competitors will step up to the plate. In the meantime its back to getting everything working ourselves, something we Free Software users have always been pretty good at.
      • I've really got to start proofreading my posts. Rereading it made it sound like I was convinced the original post is wrong, which is not necessarilly the case.

        I'm looking for a solid reference to indicate IBM is in fact taking a more agnostic, distribution (and specific *nix OS) independent approach, rather tha simply dumping support altogether.

        IFF the post was correct, this is indeed Good News(tm). If, however, it isn't correct them there should be some concern, and the speculation I posted above may have some real relevance.

        Here is hoping all of my speculation is wrong.
        • IFF the post was correct, this is indeed Good News(tm).

          Would it really be? General Unix support on IBM laptops? That would be such a huge money-loser that I would call it an "extremely foolish move" rather than a "good move." Supporting many OS's which will generate very little revenue is much more expensive than supporting one OS which generates a small amount of revenue. Given IBM's recent moves to cut traditional areas (like hard drives) that don't generate a healthy profit, I'm more inclined to believe the original poster was wrong. It goes against IBM's recent actions, and it doesn't make any sense businesswise, no matter how UNIX folks might hope for it.

      • IBM was uniquely positioned to take advantage of the ever-growing number of companies moving away from Microsoft

        Well, unique except for Apple. They'll welcome companies moving away from Microsoft, too, and sell you Unix compatible laptops, desktops, and servers. If you really want Unix on a Laptop, try Darwin on an iBook.

        You knew all that. But I just think that 'unique' isn't correct.
  • by why-is-it ( 318134 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:08PM (#3737610) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that IBM is looking at Linux as an operating system that belongs on server grade hardware and beyond, not on desktops or laptops. There probably are not enough people using Linux on their laptops to justify the time spent supporting it.

    They used to have Thinkpads that ran AIX. Some of the SysAdmins I know at IBM used to prefer them for on-site troubleshooting at the server farms since it was UNIX end-to-end (to the extent that AIX is UNIX anyways). But someone decided that it was not worth having the product line and they were scrapped.

    Too bad, but this sounds like more of the same...
    • unfortunatly for IBM, if your thought is correct, they have made a poor choice here.

      Linux is best suited for several enviornments. I agree that laptop support may not have been the best idea, but to say that it is only worthwhile supporting on server level is ridiculous.

      Although if I were to get a laptop, my next one would be my first Apple. That's just me though.
      • Actually, I'd bet it's not a "poor choice" at all, from their standpoint. The majority of their customers are business users who are sold on Linux because it provides them a cost-savings and increase in efficiency. Loading Linux on corporate laptops has yet to accomplish either of these things for anyone I know.

        (Sure, sure - someone on here can probably drag out an isolated case where Linux is used daily on laptops, and with great success. I'm talking about the 99.5% of corporations today - not the .5% of the exceptions. That's what IBM is obviously concerned with too.)

        Loading an OS like Linux on your laptop has always been sort of a "geeky power-user" thing to do. Mainstream support for that isn't really ready yet, IMO.

        Unix has traditionally been a *server OS*, and attempts to make it do anything else are much more recent/modern - and not as "proven". Let's face it, we can't even get a simply majority of users out there to run something like KDE or Gnome on a full-blown desktop workstation yet. The laptop is the last terrority to be conquerored.
    • It seems to me that IBM is looking at Linux as an operating system that belongs on server grade hardware and beyond, not on desktops or laptops. There probably are not enough people using Linux on their laptops to justify the time spent supporting it.

      This is a chicken/egg problem: the vendors say it is not worth to support linux on the desktop/laptop because there ate not enough users, but in the other hand, there are not enough users because they can't get the proper support from the vendors.
    • "IBM is looking at Linux as an operating system that belongs on server grade hardware and beyond, not on desktops or laptops"

      This is very true, and, IMO, rather pathetic. For a company so willing to spout and trumpet the open source software they are "embracing" and spending "1 billion dollars" on, it seems fairly counterintuituve to drop linux support on any level, expecially a level where they are still forcing people into that damn M$ tax. I refused to buy an IBM laptop because of this about 2 months ago. It makes no sense for a HUGE company like IBM that purports to "embrace linux" and has a rather bitter history with M$ to be so resiliant to employ OSS on anything other than their high-end servers. Sorry, I'd rather buy a laptop with forced (Argh) winXP from Dell then support rampant hypocrisy and buy a laptop from IBM with (again) forced winXP.

      They are big enough to tell M$ to "fuck off" and go ahead and sell whatever the hell they want with their machines. Why don't they?


    • It's a shame really, it means that IBM internally will probably go on buying OS's from Microsoft. If they really tried, they could bring out a Lotus Notes client for Linux, and probably switch the majority of their employees over (most of them just use their desktops for email - I know from experience).

    • It's hard to imagine that Thinkpads would suddenly stop running Linux. Most of the people running Linux on laptops will continue to do so, with or without overt support from IBM. The support for Linux on IBM Thinkpads may well work better if it does *not* come from within IBM.
      IBM needs to focus on what they do well, big expensive hardware that does not make mistakes and furthermore catches any and all of the mistakes that "can't happen". Anything that resembles consumer electronics is best left to somebody else. I've got a Compaq Presario (among others). Based on that one computer I would never buy any Compaq server.
      IBM sells big-business grade, not hacker-grade. Product and support are part of it, but most important, the customer is buying a piece of IBM.
      • I've got a Compaq Presario (among others). Based on that one computer I would never buy any Compaq server.

        Well, that's not exactly a tough thing to avoid at this point...they're all hp servers now.

        However, that ignores the difference between the former-Tandem part of CPQ and the former-Digital part of CPQ and the, er, former-rest-of-CPQ part of HPQ.

  • as long as... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nick-less ( 307628 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:08PM (#3737613)
    ...they don't stop giving out hardware documentation, I can't see any real problem here - most other company's don't found Linux development either and people still buy their hardware...

    • they don't stop giving out hardware documentation

      and that's the real rub in this case.

      From what little I know, one of the biggest hindrances to using Linux on a laptop effectively is that most all of them use Winmodems with closed, proprietary and difficult to reverse-engineer interfaces. IIRC, IBM distributed the binary drivers need to get their winmodems to work under Linux.

      There are sharp developers that could probably write some of these drivers if they had the specs for interfacing to the hardware, but I fear that the complete specifications for winmodems will be more scarce than they are for insides of the some of latest video cards (nVidia, anyone?).

      I need to buy a laptop soon for doing on the road presentations and would like not to be stuck having to use ppt on Windows. I was leaning away from Dells and towards IBM solely because of IBM's support for Linux on their own hardware. Now, I'm not so sure.

      • From what little I know, one of the biggest hindrances to using Linux on a laptop effectively is that most all of them use Winmodems with closed,

        Winmodems and built-in modems are useless anyway. You don't want to plug a built-in modem into a random phone line because it may fry it. And Winmodems are just not reliable.

        There are plenty of tiny PCMCIA and USB modems that work really well. And when they get fried (which they will sooner or later), you just get a new one.

        • Winmodems and built-in modems are useless anyway

          It is attitudes like this that cause Linux to have poor support for the majority of modems out there today. There is not a laptop out there whose internal modem is not a winmodem.

          More to the point, winmodems are very useful when someone wants to spend only $300 to build a computer.

          This meme that the Linux community has about Winmodems is not healthy.

          - Sam

  • I love my Thinkpad, as it has the best keyboard of any laptop that I tried. I use the built in keyboard enough that I've worn the texturing off half the letters.

    There are many support pages and "rings" around the web for thinkpads,and I hope that at least the IBM design teams think about non-MS Operating systems when producing future thinkpads, unlike the TP600 modem debacle.

    It'll be a tough one to replace when the time comes.

  • Strange that I posted this story [] earlyer.

    Anyway the inquirer had a little more info [] and opinion.
    • Hmm. I've tried following this link 3 times (from 3 different posts to this story). Each time it has crashed Mozilla 1.0 ... which has otherwise been rock solid.

      Either their web page is b0rked, they are running a b0rked java or javascript applet, servlet, or what have you, or they've managed to uncover a bug in Mozilla that slipped through the release process. Well, I guess a 4th possiblity is that it is a malicious site, and the link is a troll, akin to the link of yore, but that seems unlikely.

      Has anyone had any luck viewing the Iquirer site with a non-microsoft browser, and would they perhaps be willing to post the text here for those of us who do not, or cannot, run internet exploder?
  • Wrong attitude... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:10PM (#3737629) Homepage Journal
    "If it stops being compatible, my next laptop won't be a ThinkPad. Too bad, because the machines are solid. "

    I dunno if that's the attitude I'd have. The reason you buy a Laptop from IBM is their manufacturing compatibility and support. (support meaning they'll replace a defective component...)

    If there's an icompatibility with Linux and one of these Laptops, then people should rush to fix it. The reason I'm saying this is that corps who buy these laptops aren't going to be worried about Linux until they really really need it. It'd be a lot easier for everybody if the information on how to make Linux work on an incompatible laptop were easy to find for the non-Linux initiated.

    I'd have been a Linux user 6 months ago if I could have gotten it to work on my laptop. Unfortunately, I couldn't find what I needed to fix it, so it got Windows 2000 instead. It'll be a while before I have the free time to pursue that again.

    I'm thinking of the Linux community as a whole, here. I can understand somebody saying "This laptop won't do me any good if it doesn't wrong what I need", hell I'd have the same attitude. I'm just thinking that if everybody says that, then this will always be a Microsoft world.
    • People that say, "If support for Linux on my system is dropped then my next system won't be from that company", are just ignorant. They most likely installed or learned Linux in an unsupported environment. The ThinkPad the guy bought 1-1/2 years ago running Linux was in an unsupported state.

      • I have a ThinkPad 380D (150Mhz). IBM never supported Linux on this system, but I managed to install Slack 7 on it. I even got my very old PCMCIA card to work (a true miracle, since the driver was found on a very old web site and the state of the driver was very beta). X also works great as does my CD-ROM. I can't imagine IBM designing laptops to _be_ incompatible. Taco is quite the cynical guy...
    • Well, but this all depends on just what is meant. (The original reference seems a bit vague [see post "by Anonymous Coward on 02:07 PM June 20th, 2002"].)

      The thing is, when I got my current Thinkpad, IBM was providing support that was as good as I could get elsewhere, and the only problem that I have is that the built-in modem doesn't work. (I could get a modem card if I wanted to.)

      But when I buy my next laptop, I will again scan my options. At this point a system that isn't supported, and has unuseable hardware won't be the only real option. So I won't choose it.

      In practice that translates to "If they stop supporting it, then I'll buy from someone else instead." at any practical level. When said that way the tone appears to express a feeling of betrayal (not totally absent, though also held in suspense pending clarification). But the practical effect would be just the same.

      I don't feel about them the way that I feel about an obscene company like Disney. I wouldn't pay money to Disney even if I made money doing it. IBM may have made a business decision that I disapprove of. Their right. Disney furthers the corruption of the counties government. That's a whole 'nother level of (pick your description).

  • Business sense. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AntipodesTroll ( 552543 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:10PM (#3737632) Homepage
    Good business sense, at that.

    As displeasing as it might be to the faithfull, it dosent make much sense bottom-line to invest a lot of money in this area. It dosent nessesarily mean that Thinkpads will become horrors of proprietory that will become useless for Linux, it just means spending less money supporting a free OS that honestly manages to support itself well enough anyway. (The Linux work isnt adding value to IBM laptops for the average punter, to the point where they will decide on a Thinkpad over an Inspiron.)

    Then there is the fact that IBM may cash-cow their x86 laptop business anyway in preparation to sell it off, rather like their hard disk business.
    • Re:Business sense. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by carlos_benj ( 140796 )
      Right. Like the kernel hackers at IBM said recently, their customers aren't asking for Linux on low-end hardware but they're clamoring for it on high-end servers. THAT's where they're investing in Linux with things like AIX5L (L for its Linux affinity). Laptops aren't where the bulk of their customers are wanting Linux. That doesn't mean that the laptops will suddenly stop working with Linux.
  • >>as part of IBM's recent Server Group "resource action."

    Does that mean IBM is trimming all non-essintial non-server based roles? I have wondered for a long time why IBM is still in the PC business. It seems like they don't sell very many end user machines. While it is common is some circles to have Thinkpad laptops, I have not seen one myself in a couple years.

    I have never though it was really a business IBM wanted to be in. I wonder if this means maybe they agree.

  • by zulux ( 112259 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:10PM (#3737638) Homepage Journal
    IBM designs their laptops and either makes them or has someone else make them to their design. So somebody probably got the bright idea to just buy random Taiwan made laptops and slap an IBM logo on them - they think that this will reduce costs and increase competitiveness with new designs intoduced monthly.

    The only have to look at thir Aptiva line of desktops to see where this stratigy will go - their good name will carry a few customers for a while, but in the end, nobody will pay a premium IBM price for a non-IBM product with an IBM sticker slaped on the front.

    Well to be fair, it look lie IBM did design the plastic bezel for the Aptivas.

    What does this have to do with Linux? We'll getting Linux to run of crappy hardware with Win-Modems and no name audio chips is a pain in the butt - if IBM was to suppot Linux, assuming they are going where I think they are going, they would have to pay a lot of money to get it done right.

    Eithr that or the Microsoft OEM contract is up for review.....
    • Hmm.... now that's a possibility I didn't consider, and you may be right. I sure hope not. I *hope* IBM is smart enough to realize their laptops command a premium price and are highly regarded BECAUSE they engineer them to superior quality standards. They innovate, when everyone else is imitating. (Remember the "butterfly keyboard" that folded out when you opened the lid of a Thinkpad? Remember the built-in keyboard light on a few models? And love it or hate it, didn't they bring a whole new mouse technology to the laptop world with the eraser-point? Aren't they doing new things now with secure encryption chips integrated into their laptops?)

      If they opt to use cheap generic laptop parts, they eliminate the only real reason to keep buying Thinkpads in the first place.
    • I can not disagree with this statement enough. I watch the market and this won't happen. I've owned 4 thinkpads, know them inside and out, watched as IBM has improved them. You can now get more bang / buck from a Thinkpad than from any other laptop on the market, and great support. They keep winning awards for a reason.

      Keeping in mind that IBM's laptop and desktop lines have nothing to do with one another, do you have anything to base your claim on? Personal experience w/ Thinkpads? Anything?

      Saying that IBM will slap it's logo on random Taiwan junk just is not justified. It's like saying that BMW would slap it's logo on a Chevy.

      I have trouble seeing how this comment got moded up so high.

      And incedentally, Redhat runs great on Thinkpads. There are some wonderful utils out there to give you full control of every aspect of the hardware. IBM even has some very helpful sites.

      It's easy to employ 2 programmers and claim you offer Linux support for your product. It's harder to publically say that you don't dedicate enough resources to it to be able to claim you support it.

      • Did you actually *read* my coment?

        I said nothing about the bulid quality of Thinkpads.

        If I did, I would say that they are excelent - THATS WHY I OWN SEVERAL.

        They are preceved, rightly or wrongly, by the market as being expensive.

        As for IBM slapping a sticker on someone elses product - they have done it already with the Aptiva.

        I also did not say the *will*, I said they could, and this would explain the dropping of Linux support.

        It seems that we both agree that, *if* they did this, it would be a mistake - I'd stop buying Thinkpads if they did, and I imagine a lot of other people would as well.

        PS. The BMW 5 and 3 series automatic transmissions are designed and built by GM. So yes, BMW does stick it's sticker on a Chevy ;)
        more info [] - look at the application notes.

    • This comment contains so much crap, it is astounding.

      IBM designs their laptops and either makes them or has someone else make them to their design. So somebody probably got the bright idea to just buy random Taiwan made laptops and slap an IBM logo on them - they think that this will reduce costs and increase competitiveness with new designs intoduced monthly.

      IIRC The i-Series ThinkPads were designed by IBM and produced by Acer. (I am a RTP IBM'er and had to use an engineering sample of the i-Series for a little while, so I know they are developed in-house.)

      All other ThinkPads are designed by IBM, and built by IBM. So you had that part right.

      How on earth to do you take the fact that IBM has dropped funding for Linux support, and end up with the conclusion that IBM is OEM'ing (relabling) laptops? (Something that IBM has never done.) My mind is boggled.

      The only have to look at thir Aptiva line of desktops to see where this stratigy will go - their good name will carry a few customers for a while, but in the end, nobody will pay a premium IBM price for a non-IBM product with an IBM sticker slaped on the front.

      The Aptivas were designed by IBM (and if I find the designer somewhere in IBM that has the flat-head screw fetish (anyone that has ever had to service Aptivas and PC 300s will know what I mean), I will bring on the LART :-), and produced by IBM and contract manufacturers. HP and Compaq did this also for their retail lines. (As opposed to the business boxen, which are a completely different animal.)

      IBM pulled out of retail because it is simply impossible to make any significant amount of money selling computers in stores. The sales were structured in such a way that the manufacturer, not the store, has to take the depreciation hits for the decreases in price. Over the past several years, the best that any company has done in retail is about break even. (HP) IBM and Compaq lost money the moment E-machines entered the market. It is impossible to make money when a comptitor (E-machines) has no qualms about losing money.

      IBM has NEVER OEM'd PC's of any kind.


      • I guess I wasen't clear enough, another person made the same leap that you did.

        I diden't say IBM is going to OEM their laptops only that they could - especially considering that the seem to be pulling out of any commodity market.
        Cheap desktops, disk drives and keyboards to name a few that they have pulled out of.

        I was unaware that they built their Aptivas - I assumed that they were OEMd due to their suckyness. They really reminded me of Compaqs cunsumer Presario line - and the kicker was that the Aptiva's were expensive.

        Whatever the cost-cutting measures IBM pulled with the Aptiva - wether they did the design or someone else did - I hope they don't do with the Thinkpads.

        Whenever a quality manufacturer faces a commodity market they can race to the bottom and get killed or they can go the Boutique route - I hope they follow the latter.

  • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:10PM (#3737644) Homepage Journal
    The Linux community right now doesn't really need a whole lot of support. If IBM would use hardware that already has decent and proven drivers in their laptops then there isn't too much to complain about, you can install Linux and be happy.

    Now of course if they make you buy it in the beginning with Windoze then we have some reason to complain.
  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:14PM (#3737675)
    Okay so IBM doesn't have enough money to fund creating drivers for Linux for Thinkpads. Fair enough since resources are finite. However isn't one of the best features of Open Source projects is to get people who are interested in contributing to the project?

    Why does IBM need to hard dedicate manpower to Thinkpad driver writing? IBM can just provide open hardware specs(assuming they don't violate some NDA from inside or 3rd parties), a little TLC and feedback from a maintained ML, and let people who are modivated to get stuff working do their thing. Heck even IBM can maintain the CVS repositories if they want.

    The point is that although it would be handy to have IBM leading driver development for Thinkpads or whatever hardware, it isn't exactly necessary. IBM can just as easily, and for a lot less bucks, forster a community that will help support them and themselves.
  • by addikt10 ( 461932 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:15PM (#3737680)
    Most of the stuff that was "special" about laptops has been standardized, including power management (APM and ACPI) internal peripherals (mini-pci).

    The biggest thing now is to keep in mind which video and audio chipsets are going to be compatible, which is easier to do in the design stage than the support stage later on.

    I love my T series thinkpad, and as long as future designs take those chipset issues into consideration, then I'll stick with the thinkpad for a long, long time.
  • ... as long as they provide all the necessary information to Open Source developers. Ah yes, and they should also stop using components made by companies who don't provide information.
  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rutledjw ( 447990 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:18PM (#3737710) Homepage
    IBM may be removing active support, but if they use Linux-compatible HW &| release driver specs, that's almost as good! Isn't it? Obviously having active support is great, but I'll take what I can get. Granted, I'm biased. I have a 570 that runs great with both Slack and Mandrake. Sound and the whole nine yards.

    In this day and age of cost-cutting it really isn't a suprise. Only geeks (like those found here) are going to use *nix on a laptop anyway and most of us can handle our own installs and tweaking.

    The only place I can see this biting IBM in the @ss is in the case of Europe where we have France giving a major contract out to Mandrake [] and the stories about Linux PCs selling in Scandinavia []. Even though Walmart is going to start selling Linux loaded PCs soon []. Despite the Walmart decision, I don't think we'll have the same enthusiasm (as we're seeing in Europe) in the US for a while.

    Hope I'm wrong... Either way, unless these kinds of efforts continue to grow, IBM probably made a good BUSINESS decision, even though I (we?) may not like it.

    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JCCyC ( 179760 )
      IBM may be removing active support, but if they use Linux-compatible HW &| release driver specs, that's almost as good! Isn't it?

      Yes... unless the reason was Microsoft went there and said, "either you stop this Linux nonsense or we rescind your OEM contract and your laptops suddenly cost $150 more".

      Of course, IBM's response could be just dropping the laptop businnes altogether, as some people have speculated here already.
    • I don't have any trouble doing my own installs. I do it all the time anyway.

      I do have a problem paying money for Windows. I'd prefer to pay more for a Laptop that didn't have windows than the pay less for one that did (within reasonable limits).

      But I'm not forced to that choice, because I can buy elsewhere.

  • I thought that the newer versions of Linux had awesome hardware support "better than Windows XP" I've heard. Why, then, is it so hard to get Linux running on a ThinkPad which, as I understand, has fairly standard hardware? I thought the days of spending days trying to get Linux running on common hardware were over! (this is not intended as a troll, I'm genuininely interested. Is it because Linux hardware detection isn't quite there yet, or is it because IBM is using weird hardware, or is it something else altogether?)
  • Yes, and very heavy too ;)
  • what does this mean? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:30PM (#3737806)
    I got a Thinkpad 600E off eBay earlier this year and put Debian Potato on it. It has been rock solid. I suspend and unsuspend multiple times daily and pretty much never reboot except to play some games in Winderz once every few weeks. And I am one of the fabled "desktop users" whose existence everyone on this site questions, who only runs programs written by other people and couldn't write anything useful in C to save his life.

    If IBM's "dropping Linux" means you won't be able to get this kind of performance on future machines, then I will cry. But if it only means you can't buy a Thinkpad pre-loaded with Red Hat, I ask, what Linux user would want someone else to choose a distro for him (or her) and install it instead of being able to configure his/her own OS from the ground up? In short, does IBM's announcement really matter in any sense but the symbolic?
    • I don't care if some one else chooses a distro for me,
      sure I'll reinstall whatever I like.

      I want a Linux pre-loaded laptop because:

      - I don't want to pay the MS tax(I don't like to be forced to buy
      something I don't want)
      - I will know for sure that all the hardware is supported

      I'm looking for a nice pre-installed laptop, I really love ThinkPads,
      but seems that I'll have to buy something else...

      Is any big brand still offering preinstalled linux laptops?


      P.S.: For all of you who says that Linux in the desktop make no sense,
      all the desktops in my company run Linux, everything works fine, I can
      do all my sysadmin work from home with SSH, and I don't need to worry
      about people running into viruses and installing loads of trash.

      Even my boss is happier because people don't waste so much time with
      ICQ and MSM... (of course they could use Jabber, or some clone, but
      they haven't figured that out yet ;))

      Not to mention the money saved in licenses and that we don't need to
      worry about the BSA any more...
  • For the rich guys [] and for the poor guys []. As a bonus, you don't have to hang your in shame saying you run a "Unix-like" operating system. With these, you get the real thing...
  • But then again IBM Thinkpads have a long history of being the choice for people who wanted a solid Linux or FreeBSD laptop. I'd -still- buy a ThinkPad, I just hope you can buy them sans OS now or something?

    They are freakin' rock solid.

  • so what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yanyan ( 302849 )
    I don't think it's such a big deal that IBM is dropping their laptop Linux support, so long as IBM doesn't do anything that would prevent Linux from running reliably on their laptops, i.e., hiding hardware details that are critical to stable operation. I've been running Slackware with stock kernels on a T20 (with a "Designed for Windows 98/2000" sticker on it) for about 8 months now with no problems whatsoever. Zero crashes. Even if IBM drops this support, i think users would still be able to get Linux to run on their IBM laptops because that is their OS of choice.

    Still, it would be nicer to have some kind of "official" support from IBM to give additional incentive to those considering Linux on laptops. More incentive == more users.
  • A ThinkPad Linux portable was on my purchase list up until about a minute ago. Now I happen to think they should have strengthened the marketing and sales for Linux on the ThinkPad rather than sacked the key people. There must have been some interesting internal politics behind this one. So, thanks for the warning.

    But what other line of portables can measure up to the ThinkPad? I've been using those for the last several years, and kept buying them, although with Windows NT & 2k, always looking forward to the day I could make the switch to Linux.

    Recommendations for Linux portables?

  • ... by reading this article []. IBM isn't "dropping support for Linux on ThinkPads," it's just axing jobs all over.

    Now, my requirements for a laptop are: three mouse buttons, no Windows keys, black, fast, good display, trackpoint. I don't think anything else than an IBM ThinkPad qualifies.

  • I really hate newish x86 notebooks with their buggy, baddly performing i8xx chipsets.

    I have moved to a Mac iBook after 12 years of x86 PC's and I am very happy to have done so.

    Mac OSX is awesome, OpenBSD works well and although I have'nt tried them on ppc yet, Debian, Mandrake, Yellowdog, etc are options too.

    Though after almost 5 years with Debian and OpenBSD on x86, I am happy to stay with OpenBSD servers and OSX desktops.

  • Stop crying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by essdodson ( 466448 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @02:58PM (#3738016) Homepage
    I still don't understand why everyone here bitches and moans whenever a hardware vendor drops Linux from their lineup on certain items. Linux is not and will not (atleast anytime soon) be the choice of the road wariors who buy laptops by the truck loads. Its really quite easy to see that certain operating systems are better for some tasks than others, Linux is not ready for desktop market.

    Step back and look at it before writing this off as a troll. You're a geek, you're one of the few. Most people who buy laptops buy them because they're on the move, running between business meetings and such. They've not got the time to deal with learning Linux or other OSS OSes.

    Stick to what you do best, keep those servers churning while letting the desktop slip; its not your strong market.

  • I didn't like the older thinkpads (think Pentium days) mainly because of the fact that you had to have either the CD-ROM or floppy disc drive, never both. Another thing that bugged me was the "burly" keyboard. Sure it was solid, but it sucked to type on.

    Have either of these issues changed much with the newer thinkpads?
  • From all the installations of Linux I've experirienced, with a little bit of configuration it will run on anything. Does any have an experiences of recent Linux distros not working? (I mean REALLY not working, not testimonials from people who don't RTFM)
    • >From all the installations of Linux I've
      >experirienced, with a little bit of
      >configuration it will run on anything.

      There is plenty of hardware out there that won't
      work under Linux with any amount of "configuration."

      For most of this stuff, there are people ready and willing to create drivers but the specs are not available to them.

      Even some IBM Thinkpads are part of the problem, with their MWave devices, etc. I imagine they got themselves into an untenable position in the support department by claiming to embrace linux and then shipping machines that will *never* work under linux.

  • Linux Laptop options (Score:3, Informative)

    by X-Nc ( 34250 ) <.nilrin. .at.> on Thursday June 20, 2002 @03:20PM (#3738208) Homepage Journal
    QLITech [] has some very nice laptops that can be preinstalled with a boatload of distros. If you're thinking of getting a laptop you should look at these as well as the "regular suspects".
  • Laptops Versus OSS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ashcrow ( 469400 )
    It seems like most companies don't support Linux because of the 'driver problem.' Really it just boils down to laptop manufacturers not wanting to give out specifications or open the drivers up so non Windows drivers can be made.

    Luckily, it seems that apple has a pretty good track record when it comes to laptop drivers and specs. Unfortunatly, their products cost a bit more.
  • Want an open-source friendly latptop OS with guaranteed hardware compatibility? Those Powerbooks ain't cheap, but they do kick ass....
  • by Redline ( 933 )
    Who cares? Linux has never been officially supported on my laptop, a Powerbook G3. But Mandrake 8 still runs better on it than the OS with which the laptop came.

    If you need an officially supported Linux laptop, there are places to get one [].
  • Linux on Macs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kitzilla ( 266382 )
    So screw IBM. Linux runs nicely on an iBook. They're cheaper than Thinkpads, and damn near indestructable. Or pony up some more bux for a Powerbook.

    You could, of course, simply defect to OS X--but I assume you want to stay with a standard Linux distro. Mandrake, Yellow Dog, and Gentoo all run on PPC. I'm sure there are others.
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 )
    Makes you wonder what kind of backend agreements are being made. Think about it... IBM continues to push Linux on the servers but drops all attempts to push Linux on any desktops in an effort to show good faith on projects with which it has obligations to Microsoft on. Just a though. >
  • We don't really need IBM to expressly support Linux, we just need them to refrain from using components like winmodems, sound, video, and bus drivers that don't have open specs (and consequently have no linux serviceability).

    To me, better than "supported Linux" would be a laptop that actually has all of its components in a workable state.

    If I found out that Thinkpads have winmodems or other components for which drivers do not exist on any system other than windows, I will go with the theory that IBM is giving up in frustration at the support nightmare that ensues when Linux is installed on such a beast.

    I would really like to see a compatability list of all the notebooks on the market. Do any of them have complete hardware compatability with linux?

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