The world's third largest PC maker will be preloading Linux (of the SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 variety) on its Thinkpad T series notebooks, according to information from both companies. On its face the move looks like a challenge to Dell's Ubuntu offering -- and maybe it is, in part.
But more than that, it seems to be an indication that the time for desktop Linux is now. As analyst and IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle noted earlier today:
The opportunity for Linux has never been greater. Windows XP is aging and Windows Vista demand appears to be declining, largely in the face of a lack of demand generation marketing from Microsoft. Whatever the cause, the combination is creating an opportunity for displacement that is unprecedented in my time covering Windows.
Enderle ponders whether Dell has set up Ubuntu to become the standard for Linux on the enterprise desktop. But -- going back to the Dell vs. Lenovo/Ubuntu vs. SuSE question -- if this piece from The Money Times is accurate and Lenovo does plan to offer SuSE Linux on desktops as well as laptops, I have to wonder whether SuSE would in fact be the better standard.
SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop was, as its name suggests, built specifically for the enterprise environment. From what I've read, Ubuntu was not.
Perhaps more importantly, one of the key questions surrounding Dell's Ubuntu offering is whether Canonical -- the commercial venture behind the Linux distro -- can scale its support system to handle a large number of end users that aren't already Linux literate. Novell, on the other hand, has experience deploying SuSE Linux in the enterprise, as well as experience supporting those deployments.
Not that I have 20-plus years of experience covering the tech market. It's just a little more to think about...