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The Real Lenovo Laptops - Blank Disk, No Linux 57

wehe writes "A post from two weeks ago mentioned Lenovo Preloading SUSE Linux on ThinkPad notebooks. But in an interview with LinuxPlanet, Rajat Aggarwal, Lenovo's worldwide product manager for ThinkPad T Series, said that Lenovo will sell the new T60p laptop both on its Web site and through its direct and indirect sales channels. 'But we are not pre-loading it with Linux,' he told LinuxPlanet. Still, Lenovo will be breaking new ground with the level of support given to Linux by a major laptop manufacturer, according to the worldwide product manager."
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The Real Lenovo Laptops - Blank Disk, No Linux

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  • support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:47AM (#15934153) Journal
    i wonder if this is a liability/ support issue

    if they give out a linux disc they would be responsable for elinux tech support, which is not something i would want to do over the phone that's for sure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 )
      If their bugaboo is support, they should pay the few dollars for a distro where support is already provided, like Linspire, and install that instead. I'm sure the Linspire folks would LOVE to further their foothold and would lower their prices to Lenovo for the privilege.
      • by MrHanky ( 141717 )
        Are you seriously suggesting that Linspire has better support than Novell/Suse?
        • I believe he/she is just saying that when you buy Linspire, you get support. If you give away OpenSuSE, you don't. Of course, I'm sure Novell will sell you a copy of SLED.
    • by rbochan ( 827946 )
      From TFA:
      Yet users wanting to operate Linux on the laptop will also need to purchase SLED software licensing from Novell, either via Novell's Web site or a reseller

      So... for a starting price of $3,099 USD, you get a laptop with a blank hard drive, and have to purchase SUSE on your own separately. Nice.

      • by rbochan ( 827946 )
        FYI... according to the Lenovo website, the T60p currently prices out at $1,919.00.. with WinXP Pro pre-installed.
        • Well, that certainly puts XP in its place.

          I mean this quite clearly shows that putting XP on a formerly nice laptop subtracts 1180 USD from the value of said laptop.

          I wonder if this is really the message that MS want's people to get. ... the more cynical of us would probably just say that Lenovo is doing this to be able to point to the failed experiment and say "see noone wants Linux on a thinkpad", now piss off you Linux running Thinkpad customers, you don't exist!.
          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
            Perhaps it has something to do with the fawning dotage demostrated by Ballmer for the President of China. Image, the CEO of one of the most capitalistic companies fawning on the leader of one the last communist countries in existence and this while simultaenuosly deriding Linux for being communist.

            So either Ballmer is a closet communist or he considers the Leader of communist china to be the number one capitalist on the face this planet.

    • by epp_b ( 944299 )
      if they give out a linux disc they would be responsable for elinux tech support, which is not something i would want to do over the phone that's for sure.
      Good point, can you imagine trying to answer, over the phone, a question like "Where's this shell that I'm supposed to bash?"
      • Although humorous, that's probably exactly what they a trying to aviod. By making the consumer do the install, it is pretty much saying that we only want to sell linux-laptops to people and companies familier with linux or familier enough to know they aren't installing windows.

        This alone is probably going to save tons of calls pertaining to "why won't this program run, it works on my dell at home". I understand this was a big issue with the walmart linux boxes.
        • "By making the consumer do the install, it is pretty much saying that we only want to sell linux-laptops to people and companies familier with linux or familier enough to know they aren't installing windows."

          They should do the same for Windows for ALL computers. If you can't install it, you can't use it. At least this way we'd have a fighting chance that users would have a modicum of knowledge.

  • Drivers! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enoxice ( 993945 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:48AM (#15934164) Journal
    "Moreover, all Linux drivers needed for the T60p will be downloadable directly from Lenovo's Web site. "

    Awesome. My school is giving these laptops to students this coming year. Assuming Ubuntu doesn't have my drivers ready for me at that point, I'm glad the OEM has my back.

    But I am curious: will Lenovo only support SuSE? Or will the support extend to basic question about any distro? I mean, it's kinda strange to support one OS that your laptops DON'T ship with, but not another one....
    • Is the laptop give-out paid for with tuition or taxes?
      • by Enoxice ( 993945 ) []

        It's part of the 24k-ish tuition. Computer/Engineering students get the T60p's and architecture students get slightly-dated G4 powerbooks.
    • Well, you can't support all five hundred distributions of Linux, or even all twenty or fifty mainstream distributions. You pick one for whatever reason--probably because they include proprietary drivers and have a professional appearance and good reputation. Then you support them and let other distributions port your driver packages.

      While you could certainly use autopackage and such to prepare support for most distributions, you'd have to test each one. If the community will do the testing and preparation f
    • I've got to hand it to Suse. I have a Thinkpad R32 (yeah, I know it's old) running 10.1 at home and for the first time running a major distro, all the things like 3D graphics acceleration, Thinkpad buttons, ACPI features like Suspend to RAM and disk all worked right after installation. As good as Unbuntu, Slackware, and Fedora are, I still had to do some additional tweaking to get everying to work. I'm not saying Suse is that much better. I just wanted to say that it's nice to see a major distro support
    • If the drivers are precompiled binaries, it could be a problem. If they're source, or a partial-open-source with a stub (like NVidia's) it should work on most distros without issue. I've seen a couple drivers that were initially released just for RedHat/SuSe/etc and not Debian, but I was able to make them work for Debian without too much problem.
    • Perhaps your last question is why they will not be preloading laptops. Too many distros to deal with. Better to let the user make up his mind.

      As for supporting only one distro, given that there can be major differences between distros, they probably decided to just pick one.
    • To quote another poster "If the drivers are precompiled binaries, it could be a problem."

      In this case, how much do you trust Lenovo not to give you drivers that aren't full of security flaws?
  • by omeg ( 907329 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:49AM (#15934172)
    They're obviously promoting piracy by not preinstalling Windows XP(TM) on their laptops! Time to pay them a visit...
    • Homer (To Bill Gates): I reluctantly accept your offer.
      Bill Gates: Well everyone always does. Buy 'em out, boys.

      Bill Gates' companions begin to trash the "office".

      Homer: Hey, what the hell is going on?
      Bill Gates: Oh, I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sjwest ( 948274 )
      Well looking at there site now, it appears you have to order the microsoft tax in the england site of theres.

      It seems that microsoft will get money anyhow for doing absolutey nothing. While it might be early days. Im sure a performance like Dells 'no windows os' pc will expected from our friends the chinese.
  • Round and round. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blixel ( 158224 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:49AM (#15934173)
    According to this link [], "I recently wrote that Lenovo was the first of the major hardware vendors to seriously pre-install Linux -- SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, to be exact. And, they have.

    At LinuxWorld, however, some of them were doing their darnest to spin that "no, no, they're not really pre-installing it. They're only sort of supporting it." You could almost see the terror in some of their eyes that Microsoft was going to come along and then stagger them with outrageous new rates for XP and, someday, Vista.

    Get over it guys. You do pre-install, you do support it, and it's time to stop pretending that you only sort of support it. Yes, to get it pre-installed you do need to buy more than a "onesie or twosie" as one Lenovo staffer put it to me. Other Lenovo employees, however, confided that Lenovo can certainly install SLED rather than sending a system with a blank hard drive, a copy of SLED on a DVD, and a promise that all the devices will work correctly. And, that Lenovo would be willing to do so even for its smallest customers."
  • Good for them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:00AM (#15934236) Journal
    Actually, I wish that everybody shipped laptops like this. I have a Windows laptop from Compaq. First thing I did when I got it was to wipe the disk, and reinstall Windows. I would be even less comfortable with a Linux system that someone else set up for me.

    I wonder if there are some licensing issues (agreements with Microsoft) that have made them do this, or whether it's customers like me.
    • I wonder if there are some licensing issues (agreements with Microsoft) that have made them do this, or whether it's customers like me.

      The OEM system install has been the gold standard for non-technical end users (aka mass market sales) for over twenty-five years. The Windows install for fourteen years. Live with it.

    • by madsen ( 17668 )
      I just bought an Acer Aspire T136 which had Linux (the Linpus distro) almost installed on it.
      When I first booted the machine I was presented with a login promt in text mode. I googled and found an FAQ answer for this, actually it was the only Linpus FAQ on acers support site. Having managed to get an actual prompt I looked for a way to get X started. Well, there was no X.

      Why preinstall something in such a state that it is basically unusable. If a newbie get their hands on such a beast you can be sure that

  • Thinkpad & Ubuntu (Score:5, Informative)

    by Neuropol ( 665537 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:05AM (#15934272) Homepage
    After using Ubuntu on my various Thinkpad models for a few months now, I am realizing that there is a compatibility layer there that I've yet to see with any other distro on a Thinkpad. I've had VERY good luck with autodetection and autoconfiguration of a lot of hardware with Ubuntu. I've been endlessly impressed.

    In a perfect world, I would look forward to seeing a CD Wallet of Linux distros that came witrh your new Thinkpad. A person could have thier choice. They could mutli-boot, with everything from Ubuntu down to, of course, Windows.

    I have one unanswered question about the biometrics, though, and it's support under Linux. Does any one have any experience with this finger print reader found on the T43?
  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:46AM (#15935107)
    I recently checked to see if anything new was happening around Microsofts FlexGo( MS-OLPC ) and found out that Lenovo is onboard FlexGo. And after reading how in 2000/2001 HP had to drop 2 Linux based products because they'd lose Microsoft marketing dollars on other products because of this... it's not surprising Lenovo is not pre-installing Linux. Atleast they say they'll provide support.

    Thanks Ashcroft/Bush/DOJ for leveling the playing field.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:03PM (#15935279)
    I have yet to read anywhere online about a similar incident, so I thought I'd post it here.

    Last week I got my new T60P Thinkpad in, and started my normal gentoo install procedure. Unfortunately the latest minimal CD didn't have a working ethernet driver, so I resorted to the LiveCD. I popped it in, and it successfully booted into Gnome without error. Everything, that I checked at least, seemed to be working as normal as far as net access and peripherals. I hop over to console 1 and start in on the harddrive. Delete Windows, keep the Thinkpad Rescue partition, set up an XFS partition, download the stage3, unpack, everything is looking good. Chroot, download the latest kernel from, and go ahead and do my emerge --sync. This is where things go blamo....

    As this is at work, I had other things to do, and I didn't bother to switch to console 2 during the emerge --sync. I've left consoles up on the screen before that were running sync, so I thought nothing of it. I would soon find out that this was a big mistake.

    I get back to the laptop, and the screen is visually hung on pulsating text that would normally be scrolling on the left side as the portage tree is written. I attempt to switch to console 2, which it does, but that screen is completely black with no console. Try other consoles, same thing. Try console 1, no change. Still all black. Caps lock and num-lock work, but the video isn't having any of it. I hard power down.

    Upon powering back up, things get really interesting. There is not post screen or image that comes up. There is however, vertical color lines which begin to appear, first on the right side of the screen then, on the left. The fade of the screen goes from black, some color, then eventually to all white. It appears the screen diffuses from black to white, then back to black, then to white. and so on... Kinda disturbing to see new hardware do this.

    After powering down and scratching my head, my coworker and I, decide to hook it up to an external monitor. Well, what appears on the monitor is something that looks like Donkey Kong gone wrong on an old Atari. Imagine a stepped pattern of horizontally decreasing levels, left to right, but evenly spaced vertically. Like Donkey Kong, except no Ape (?) barrels or damsel in distress.

    So my coworker and I start discussing what might have gone wrong. Since console1 was scrolling pretty fast, we can only guess that there was a problem with the console framebuffer and the hardware, which resulted in something getting fried. Yes, some magic smoke was let out somewhere. We thought it might be the LCD display, but the output of the external monitor ruled that out, and really pointed to video hardware.

    The replacement should be in sometime soon, but its rather shocking to see something that new crap out the way it did, especially with the spec's on that machine.

    Anyone have any ideas on what caused the hardware failure? Driver bug causing overheating? Console buffer memory maxout (256Mb onboard Video)??

    Theories welcome!
    • Computers and electronics tend to die in infancy and not in old age. Installing Gentoo is basically a stress-test for a system, especially if you are compiling all the software. I'm guessing something died, since software usually does not kill hardware in this day and age.
  • People usually install their own distro anyways. So long as there is a number of distros that are officially supported, all is well.
  • by CyberLord Seven ( 525173 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:00PM (#15935696)
    Computer World had an article this week, written by Eric Lai. The title is "Linuxworld: SUSE Linux-equipped ThinkPads target chip designers". The date of the article is August 15, 2006.

    In the article it specifically states: The two companies emphasized that the laptops are not targeted at consumers or even Linux diehards, who can buy the T60p but would still have to install SUSE or another Linux variant by themselves.

    Later it states: Intel served as the primary beta tester for the SUSE-equipped notebooks and is expected to eventually buy "thousands" of the laptops, according to Bill lori(sic), worldwide manager for ThinkPads at Lenovo.

    Later, the article states: But with Lenovo, enterprise customers give their configuration preferences and other software requirements to Novell, which will build a custom version of SLED 10 for them adn send it to Lenovo, which then installs it onto the laptops. Lenovo will also install other applications, including EDA or CAD application, and ensure that they don't break any drivers or crash the operating system, lori(sic) said.

    The high price for these laptops is to pay for all of this customisation. Not so expensive when you consider what you're getting. Also, a nice move on Intel's part to distance themselves from Microsoft.

  • Is there any discount involved in getting the blank HD version? If not, don't bother -- you're paying the MS tax anyway, you may as well get an MS license. You might even try EULA tricks to see if you can get a refund.

    If there is such a discount, I applaud Lenovo for this choice -- I would rather see them preload it, but personally, I buy all my desktops with a blank HD anyway, and there's no way I'm letting anyone else install my Linux. And it's a way to not pay the MS tax on a laptop, which is pretty r
    • I'm unimpressed (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
      At least that I can tell (correct me if I'm wrong) as a regular end-user, who's only looking to purchase a single unit, you can't even get the bare hard drive model. It seems like on their website, that it only comes with Windows XP.

      It's only people looking to buy in quantity (although they say small accounts are acceptable, I think they mean "no individuals") who can get the ones designed to use Linux, with a bare HD and assumedly some small discount for not taking the MSFT license.

      All in all, pretty crapp
      • by Wiseleo ( 15092 )
        There is no such thing as a Microsoft site license.

        The machines were licensed at OEM level first, and then at the corporate level. As long as the original OEM sticker is intact, the license stays with the machine.

        I sell volume licensing every day.
        • The machine I bought from Retrobox (HP xw5000, which aside from doubling as a space heater, I highly recommend) does not have a Windows sticker on it. It has a suspiciously sticky place on the top-left corner of the right side of the chassis, where one might have been at some point affixed, but it's been removed.

          The machines come without any Windows license at all, and they're pretty up-front about this.

          Whether this is to protect the identity of the companies that they came from, or have something to do wit

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