HP and Novell have announced that HP will preload Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise onto its Compaq dc5850 desktop PC. The dc5850 is a small form factor PC specially designed for the SMB market. As reported by The Register, what I found interesting was the fact that HP will not be charging extra for preloading SuSE Linux on the machine. While it might seem counter-intuitive to charge extra for installing what is in effect a free operating system, the fact is that is actually the current practice of most PC vendors, including HP.
What is most telling here is the subtle message that HP is sending by offering a free Linux preload on the dc5850, a machine positioned squarely in the SMB market. At the end of the day, the dc5850 is not just pitched at the business arena, but as a business desktop to be used by SMBs that are so often strapped in terms of IT expertise.
HP is telling you that Linux is indeed ready for the mainstream desktop. From one of the leading technology vendors, this vouch of confidence from HP towards the maturity and usability of the Linux operating system must mean something.
Indeed, if your organization has been seriously considering the idea of switching over to the Linux platform, this move by HP might well be the catalyst that you require to successfully sell the idea to management. And of course, in case anyone still thinks less of Linux due to its open source heritage, a study published by the Linux Foundation did peg the value of the Linux kernel at $1.4 billion, after all.
Obviously, I won't be able to go through the intricacies of a full-fledged appraisal on the suitability of Linux in your organization here. However, consider starting off by converting a limited number of desktops to Linux first as a trial. Of course, you will also probably want to install productivity tools such as OpenOffice 3.0, which was released to rave reviews just a couple of months ago.
Hopefully, after evaluation of your trial group, you will be able to achieve a critical mass required to switch even more desktops over. Let me know how it goes, will you?