LinuxWorld: Partnership Love Is In The Air

Lenovo dominated headlines with its announcement yesterday that it will soon begin selling ThinkPads preloaded with Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. Slated for availability in the fourth quarter, the Linux laptops will make Lenovo the second major PC vendor to offer Linux as a preloaded Windows alternative available to individual buyers, following the path Dell blazed in May with its decision to offer machines loaded with the Ubuntu Linux operating system.

Lenovo's Novell deal sprang from the increased customer demand it sees for laptops running an open-source stack, especially in the education and government sectors, according to Lenovo executive Sam Dusi, the company's vice president of product marketing for notebooks.

Determined not to be upstaged, Dell said it has expanded its Linux distribution outside the U.S., offering preloaded Ubuntu machines in Europe and laying down plans to sell Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on consumer notebooks and desktops in China.

Linux fans are very vocal about their desire for more preloaded distribution options, Dell CTO Kevin Kettler said in a Tuesday afternoon keynote at LinuxWorld.

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"By far the biggest thing we heard with IdeaStorm was preinstalling Linux on our consumer boxes," Kettler said, referring to the consumer feedback Web site Dell launched in February. "We responded to that by adding Ubuntu to our consumer line."

Novell also struck a deal with IBM this week, announcing plans to bundle IBM's open-source, entry-level WebSphere Application Server Community Edition with its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. IBM hopes the alliance will woo customers away from Red Hat's rival JBoss application server.

But Red Hat countered with its own application server bundling deal: It's deepening its ties with Dell and announcing the first official package deal for PowerEdge systems preloaded with the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, which includes JBoss's application server, Seam and Hibernate. Customers will also have the option of buying an integrated stack of Dell hardware with the Red Hat Application Stack, which adds Red Hat Enterprise Linux to the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform bundle.

Of course, no mass-marriage extravaganza would be complete without at least one party bolting before making it to the alter. Rumors swirled about a possible pending desktop Linux alliance for Hewlett-Packard, the industry's top PC seller, but HP stayed quiet, abstaining from LinuxWorld's partnering frenzy. Linux columnist Steven Vaughan Nichols remarked on its absence while kicking off the show's Desktop Linux session track, calling HP the vendor he thought would be announcing desktop Linux at the show and was disappointed to see absent. Still, he expects HP to have its own distribution deal imminently.

As a consolation prize, HP threw the LinuxWorld crowd some code, releasing as open source its Parallel Compositing Library visualization software. It's not rice, but it'll do.