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A History of Blurb, Rumours, Vaporware, False Alarms and a Little Truth Concerning Linux Laptops

"While proof of Linux's vitality is still found more often by the number of servers and workstations the open-source operating system is running, just put Linux on a laptop and the whole Linux community applauds." [LinuxJournal]

See also Where are the Linux laptops? in Linux Weekly News - LWN.



ASUSTek and ECS

March 2004: From  DIGITIMES: "Taiwan's notebook makers, including Asustek Computer and Elitegroup Computer Systems - ECS , have started marketing low-cost Linux-based notebooks in the US market [...] [they] will also promote their value notebooks in China, where the Chinese government is encouraging the adoption of Linux-based PCs .."

Until the middle of 2004 ASUS provided laptops and notebook without a pre-installed Microsoft operating system, therefore they were wellknown by Linux users.

DELL

Spring 2000: In the beginning of 2000 DELL has announced "...the Latitude CPX and the Inspiron 7500, come with Red Hat Linux 6.1 and are certified by Linuxcare ". This project seems silently gone and also their Linux laptops offer [archived link]. But they offered Linux solutions [archived link] on [..] Latitude (tm) and Inspiron (tm) notebooks via DELL's Custom Factory Install service.

In Spring 2004 DELL started their own Linux portal. Though at least with laptops they seem to provide almost only links to community sites.

September 2005: Mandriva ... today announces the availability of a Dell Laptop pre-loaded With Mandriva Linux..."

InfoWorld: DELL Laptops and Mandriva Update: "This is really nothing new. Dell installs any distro or software that a customer requires through our CFI (Custom Factory Integration) program. This is usually for larger customers with very specific needs rather than your typical consumer. In this case, Dell won a bid with the French Ministry of Education. Based on the needs of the end-user, Dell opted to leverage its CFI capabilities to offer French students the 'n-series' Latitude 110L notebook with Mandriva Linux pre-installed. [So] the Latitude 110Ln with the Mandriva OS is limited to a French Ministry of Education program available only to students. When Mandriva saw this they quickly put out a press release without Dell's authorization or knowledge which made it appear as if Dell was pre-installing their OS on Dell systems [in general] rather than the more accurate CFI story."

LinuxToday: More Linux Laptops? Distributions are too "Alienated," Says DELL CEO: Now that a laptop with pre-installed Mandrake Linux is available in France, will Dell follow up with Linux laptops in the US or other nations?

Elitegroup Computer Systems - ECS

January 2004: In INFOWORLD announced: "Taiwanese hardware maker ECS is shipping 300,000 low-cost laptops to the U.S. bundled with Lindows..."

Fujitsu-Siemens

Summer 2003: At least in Germany Fujitsu-Siemens has offered their laptops with Linux. Actually these laptops where offered to students only. They came without pre-installed operating system. The package contained a Novell/SuSE evaluation CD to provide Linux, nothing else, no installation manual, no other documentation, no dedicated drivers!

Hewlett-Packard - HP

May 2003: There were many rumours about Hewlett-Packard - HP laptops pre-equipped with Linux offered in Thailand.

A few weeks later Alex Gruzen, senior vice president and general manager of the mobile computing group at Hewlett-Packard - HP stated in an interview with ZDNET: Linux is also back on the drawing boards. Thailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry earlier stated that HP would market Linux notebooks in Thailand starting at $450. The notice proved premature. "We had a team ready to install their version of Linux, but in the end we just didn't close it," he said. "The deal was never finalised."

August 2004: SlashDot: "MSNBC is [1]currently running a story on the front page reviewing the new HP Linux laptops. In a story titled 'H-P's first Linux laptop a winner', the article provides a brief look at the accomplishments and some of the shortcomings of the nx5000; a new inexpensive HP business laptop that comes with SUSE installed. The author seems extremely happy about how everything just works out of the box and mentions the significance of the product. Could HP+SUSE go the way of Apple+BSD and become an option for those that want friendly non-windows laptop? Releasing an easy to use Linux system is a good first step."

March 2006: TECTONIC: "HP South Africa has confirmed the release of it's Linspire-based notebook range ..."

IBM

June 2002: Keith Frechette the lead developer of IBM's Linux ThinkPad support project declared that "after 3 years, Lenovo (former IBM) has decided to no longer fund that project, and as of Monday, June 24th 2002, I will be layed-off from IBM as part of IBM's recent Server Group "resource action."" COMPLETE STORY

August 2006: Lenovo Preloading SUSE Linux on ThinkPad: "An anonymous reader writes "For years, the holy grail of the Linux desktop has been to get a major computer vendor to commit to preloading a Linux desktop. It's finally happened! Lenovo has made a deal with Novell to preload SUSE Linux 10 on its ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation. Ironically, in June, Lenovo was in hot-water with Linux fans because an executive had said that the company would no longer support Linux on its ThinkPad line. But the company did a quick about-turn..."

August 2006: LinuxPlanet The Real Lenovo Laptop Deal: WThe new "Linux-enabled" Lenovo laptop launched this week at LinuxWorld will not actually come "pre-loaded" with Novell SUSE Linux, a high-ranking Lenovo official said today, contradicting some industry reports stating otherwise.

NEC

August 2004: LinuxDevices: "NEC is the latest vendor to announce a laptop with a built-in embedded Linux based media player option. The NEC Versa S3000 will use InterVideo's InstantOn technology to enable users to listen to music, watch DVDs, and more without having to wait for Windows to load."

TadPole

January 2004: Notebook manufacturer Tadpole offers their Talin notebooks with Linux pre-installed. These are their first x86 based notebooks, besides their well known SPARC based notebooks.

Toshiba

July 2004: LinuxDevices: "Toshiba launched a laptop that is widely rumored to offer the choice of booting Windows Media Center Edition 2004, for full PC capabilities, or a quick-starting embedded Linux environment, for instant-on, appliance-like TV tuner, DVD player, CD player, and remote control capabilities. Although Toshiba would not comment on the pre-boot media environment used in the Qosmio, it appears to be similar to an off-the-shelf pre-boot Linux-based media player environment from InterVideo, which claims to be marketing its solution to Asian laptop makers."

Vobis

September 2002: Pro-Linux: "Computer vendor Vobis offers a Linux laptop (ECS DeskNote A900), which is optimized

Wortmann

Summer 2001: The German notebook distributor Wortmann offered the model Terra-Aura A74 LD with pre-installed Linux. This offer seems to be silently gone, at least I couldn't find any hints about Linux on there webpage. For details about the machine see the article in Linux-Magazin 01/2001 (in German).

Opinions About Manufacturer Support For Linux Laptops and Notebooks

Some opinions, "Why Linux-loaded laptops have sold poorly" at NewsForge by Robin "Roblimo' Miller: "Dell tried to sell laptops with Linux pre-installed for a while, then quit the effort, citing "poor customer demand" as the reason. IBM has now stopped offering Linux support for Thinkpads. The reason these companies have failed so miserably to sell Linux-running laptops is that they haven't sold what Linux users want. A smart laptop distributor or manufacturer that took some time to understand "Linux consumers" could find a fertile laptop market among us.

LinuxJournal: Driving to Laptopia by Doc Searls: The first part of Doc's adventures with a new IBM ThinkPad: what needs to be addressed before Linux laptops can make it in the real user world.

Components and Accessories

The situation with manufacturer support for Linux is even worse for some parts of mobile hardware. Since you cannot change this parts this is a very bad situation.

Internal Modems

Internal modems are wellknown for missing drivers or drivers which are available as binaries only. For details see LinModems.org and the modems in Linux laptops survey.

CPUs

Just recently Intel has announced not to support Linux on their Centrino CPUs, see THE REGISTER "Intel is going through a major internal struggle over desktop Linux, and the pro-Microsoft marketing droids are currently winning, according to Lindows.com CEO Michael Robertson..."
According to CNET NEWS this seems to change now: "Intel is working on Linux support for Centrino, its package of chips for mobile computers with wireless networking abilities, but the company hasn't yet decided how or when to release it..." See also the compatibility survey by Intel [archived link] itself and the Linux on Centrino(TM) laptops survey.

Graphics Chips

Linux support for graphics chipsets depends heavily on the availability of technical specifications. But often these are not available. In former years often some graphics chips were not supported or only after a long waiting, e.g. the NeoMagic chipsets. Though this situation has become better now, there are still some caveats. Often not every feature of a graphics chip is supported (e.g. acceleration) or the driver is available as a binary only (e.g. NVIDIA). For the shared memory chips from SiS Thomas Winischhofer reports that the manufacturer claims to provide Linux support but in fact does not.

External Drives

Some laptops (especially sub-notebooks) come with a external CD/DVD or floppy drive either as FireWire or USB device. Sometimes it is not possible to install Linux from such a drive. You have to use sophisticated installation methods as described in the Linux-Mobile-Guide.

PDAs, Mobile (Cell) Phones, ..

A story from IDG News Service suggesting that Motorola may be backing away from letting programmers develop native-Linux apps for their recently announced A760 smart phone because "Linux is not secure enough" has caused quite a stir.

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© Werner Heuser 1997-2014 · http://tuxmobil.org/linux_laptop_manufacturer_blurb.html · last change Mon Aug 31 2009