HP Releases Linux Based Notebook — But Who Will Buy It?

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This week is the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.  Meaning, a large number of geeks obsessed with a particular operating system are concentrated in a city known for its free-loving ways.  HP has decided to stir up this rabble of geeks by at the show unveiling its first Linux OS optional configuration notebook, the Compaq nx5000.  This is HP’s first U.S. notebook to offer Linux pre-installed.

HP’s vice president of Linux, Martin Fink, gave a keynote address at the show this week in which he endorsed Linux and the dedication HP has to pushing and helping this OS to grow.  The version of Linux to be offered on the nx5000 is Novell’s Suse Linux 9.1 and the notebook will also come loaded with Sun’s OpenOffice productivity suite.

The price of the nx5000 with Linux loaded on it starts at $1140 if you configure the notebook with an Intel Celeron processor.  It has a 15-inch screen and offers between 30GB and 60GB of storage.

Linux has proven popular as an operating system for servers, but not so much for desktops.  Although this is certainly changing.  Research company IDC predicts that by 2006 6 percent of the desktops sold in the world will have Linux installed as the OS.  IDC also says that Linux leap frogged over Apple last year as being the #2 OS installed on desktop machines.  So for those keeping tabs, the top operating systems for desktops are:

  1. Windows
  2. Linux
  3. Apple OS

And the top operating systems for notebooks are:

  1. Windows
  2. Apple OS
  3. Linux

Linux has struggled to gain ground in the notebook market, IBM released their A20 and T20 series with Linux as an optional OS, but eventually withdrew that offering.  Only small vendors such as Elitegroup and Tadpole have offerend Linux on laptops in the U.S. prior to this HP release.  So maybe Linux will gain ground, but in all likelihood the mass market of notebook buyers will stick with what they know and are familiar with — Windows or Apple, even if they know they could save $100 by going with Linux.  So I predict the only people that will buy this notebook are true Linux lovers and power users, not the average person looking to save a buck by buying a cheaper operating system.  Buying a notebook for the average consumer can be a real hassle as we all know, why configure it with an OS you know nothing about and make the experience of using it a hassle too?

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