Linux gets a lift

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Linux

The desktop Linux market got a big boost earlier this month at LinuxWorld, where Lenovo unveiled plans to soon begin selling ThinkPads preloaded with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. The deal makes Novell the second major vendor to support Linux on its consumer PCs, following the trail Dell blazed in May with its decision to offer machines loaded with Ubuntu Linux.

The effects of the groundbreaking moves are more symbolic than tangible: Solution providers say the path to a broader customer embrace of desktop Linux remains strewn with obstacles. But by committing to bundle, sell and support systems without Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows, Dell and Lenovo have cracked the door open a bit further for the challengers to Microsoft's desktop dominance.

Lenovo will begin shipping SLED ThinkPads in the fourth quarter, offering them to both bulk corporate buyers and individual consumers. Meanwhile, Dell recently unveiled plans to expand its worldwide Linux desktop push by making preloaded Ubuntu machines in Europe. It also intends to sell SLED on PCs and laptops in China. Desktop Linux has been something of a white whale for open-source software and its evangelists, with every year for the past decade being declared at some point to be "the year of the Linux desktop."

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