Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Pre-loaded, supported HP laptops are now available with SuSE 9.1 Professional.

In a keynote speech given today at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, Martin Fink, Vice President of Linux for Hewlett-Packard, announced a laptop computer that the company is selling pre-loaded with SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional. The order form on HP's on-line store already lists Linux as an OS choice for the system.

Buying a laptop to run Linux without paying for an unused copy of Microsoft Windows long has been a point of pride for Linux fans, with some users even taking vendors to court to get a refund for the unwanted pre-installed OS.

Holding up a Linux laptop in its box, Fink said, "I do have to warn you that this product is not licensed to run Windows", a statement that drew applause from keynote audience members.

Although only one model now is offered, in an interview last week, Fink said that more models may become available, depending on how this one does. At the keynote speech, he demonstrated a Tablet PC running Linux, which is usable with handwriting recognition but is not yet a shipping product.

In choosing which laptop to ship first, Fink said, "We picked one which we thought was a reasonably good fit, with more pixels on screen." Linux versions are priced the same as those with Microsoft Windows XP Home installed and $50 less than systems equipped with the Professional version of the Microsoft product.

The nx5000 is a mid-size business notebook PC with a base weight of 5.75 pounds and a base price of $1,199. HP claims a full work day of battery life when two batteries are installed. Display choices are XGA (1024 x 768) or SXGA+ (1400 x 1050), for an additional $75. The video chipset is Intel Extreme Graphics2. The keyboard is comfortable, with good-sized Esc and special character keys for programmers, and the pointing device is a touch pad. Maximum RAM is 2GB. Available processors are Intel Celeron and Pentium M, and hard drive choices are 40GB or 60GB at 4,200 or 5,400RPM. Built-in 802.11a, b and g networking is available, and there's a standard 10/100 Ethernet and 56K modem. A MultiBay accommodates your choice of CD and/or DVD reader or burner, a floppy drive or second battery. There's an SD slot, optional Bluetooth, FireWire, and S-video out, all with drivers and support.

HP's market studies show that 93% of all companies use or plan to use Linux, Fink said. "The market momentum is shifting to Linux, largely at the expense of Solaris", he said last week. In the keynote, he added, "This is the year that Linux overtakes the Mac on the desktop, and maybe my laptop will help accelerate that." 5,000 server and 10,000 desktops and other devices inside HP are running Linux, he said.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) and open source largely are incompatible because of the DMCA, Fink said, and he wants to come up with an open standard way of "solving the DRM/open source paradox". Currently, there is no solution, he said. Fink also had strong words for IT executives thinking of creating a new open-source software license. "Stop. Please don't. Call me", he said. He said that he approves three to five open-source projects every week at HP, that the company deals with everything from enterprise IT to cameras and printers, and he has never had to approve a new license. "Let's stop creating new licenses", he said.

Would-be Linux laptop users have long faced a chicken-and-egg problem. Because there have been no preloaded major-vendor laptops since IBM briefly offered its ThinkPad T22 with Caldera's distribution in 2001, nobody has been able to buy them, so the vendors don't know how big the market is. Now HP is throwing a full-grown chicken at the problem, and what happens next is up to the sales figures. Last week, Fink said, "If you want more of this, you need to go buy one."

Meanwhile, other vendors at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo also showed off Linux laptops. Both LinuxCertified and Pogo Linux showed off AMD64-based laptops on the tradeshow floor.

Don Marti is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

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Linux laptop reference

Anonymous's picture

This is completely false

mistik1's picture

I just purchased a HP zv5000z not one month ago and as a 10 year linux user I of course asked for it not to contain windowsXP(tm), however they told me this was not posible.
There was also no mention that linux was an available OS even though I asked.
Stop lying to us HP!!!

Then Don't buy from HP

Anonymous's picture

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

Nice try , but a fake to my opinion....whenever you try to follow any of those offers you end up on a Windows OS PC.
Will this "not yet available Notebook" ever be available?

Talking about Linux on Laptops , i just tried to get Mandrake 10 on my Toshiba P25-S609 , without success.If you have some advise ,pls send me a email at rmatheis2@web.de .
thx
Reinhard

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

I have installed Fedora1, Fedora2 and FreeBSD wih success. Actually I currently used Fedora2 for everything, except when I used the TV Tuner. I have not found a way to used it of as yet

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

Thanks a lot HP... This is a good job... But...

I don't want Suse or Redhat or Mandrake or etc...

I want a clean notebook, therefore I can install whichever operating system!!!

HP and all vendors must support Windows and Linux (and *bsd) in the same way.

I want pay for services not for another black box!!!

Sorry for my poor english...

Hey HP Your configuration page STILL sinks

Anonymous's picture

I still can't seem to get a Linux machine for the $1,199 price.

http://h71016.www7.hp.com/dstore/MiddleFrame.asp?
page=config&ProductLineId=430&FamilyId=1776&BaseId
=11024&oi=E9CED&BEID=19701&SBLID=&AirTime=False

HP is a scam artist. BAIT and SWITCH !!

Don't buy from HP

Anonymous's picture

Re: Hey HP Your configuration page STILL sinks

Anonymous's picture

I disagree. If you go to this link (I did it at 11:30am on 8/6/2004);
http://h71016.www7.hp.com/dstore/MiddleFrame.asp?page=
config&ProductLineId=430&FamilyId=1776&BaseId=11024&oi=
E9CED&BEID=19701&SBLID=&AirTime=False

Now, select SUSE, then pick every option to reduce price. For example, SUSE, Intel Celeron 1.3GHz, XGA display, 40GB 4200 HD, 256MB RAM, 24X CDROM, 6-cell battery, no wireless, no other options.

You'll end up with a price of $1140, which is less than $1199 (last time I checked). You can even bump the HD to the 60GB 4200RPM model (or any other option less than $59) and still be less than $1199.

Beware of the Leopard

Anonymous's picture

What most of the world is still going to get is the same Windows-only selection through resellers. Meanwhile, with the lukewarm hardware support, it'd probably be more interesting to buy from one of the companies who try to support Linux properly on big name laptops - perhaps they'll rebadge this HP laptop and actually bother to provide drivers for the WLAN card.

Expect a "we're discontinuing Linux support for laptops due to lack of demand" announcement from HP later on, possibly combined with a statement that Linux doesn't support enough laptop hardware. Guess what, HP? It's your job as a manufacturer to pull your finger out and either do some work to support it or to coerce the chipset people to write the code.

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

Did anyone actually find the link to the HP Linux-configured Laptop configuration/pricing/Click-to-Customize pager? All I see are Windows Laptops from the link in Don's article. (You can't even de-select Xp Professional on the Customization page.)

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

MarcN's picture

I agree it is a little hard to find, but...

Go to the link in the article, the click on 'Configure and Buy'.
Scroll to the bottom and choose the
'Configurable- HP Compaq Business Notebook nx5000'.
(http://h71016.www7.hp.com/dstore/MiddleFrame.asp?page=
config&ProductLineId=430&FamilyId=1776&BaseId=11024&oi=
E9CED&BEID=19701&SBLID=&AirTime=False)

Then change the OS from Windows XP to SuSE Linux HP edition (knocks $50 off the price)

-marc

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

You can't even de-select Xp Professional on the Customization page

Suck doesn't it. I think this is (illegally) being influenced by Microsoft.

email Harry Saal at http://thetc.org/
(you won't be the first)

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

Linux option is missing from the .au version of the nx5000. At least it doesn't appear on the .au HP website...

So far, looks like politics

Anonymous's picture

When you go to the order page you first see a recommendation for Windows. Then you start seeing all the pieces that are not supported under Linux. It sure makes me think that the Linux folks in HP don't rate as high as the hardware folks.

On a positive note, this is likely to force other big vendors to work for a better position. I think the race is on. Will HP get serious or will IBM beat them to really supporting Linux on a laptop? A third alternative might be a player with a smaller laptop share recognizing this is their chance to jump ahead.

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

When HP convinces Broadcom to release Linux drivers or HP removes the BIOS whitelist that's preventing me from replacing that $#%@! Broadcom card, and they release an Athlon 64 notebook with 64-bit Linux and a high-end nVidia graphics card (fire the moron who spec'd a 440 Go for the zv5000z), I might care.

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

I am tired of vendors loudly claiming to sell a linux laptop and then mumbling that the wi-fi card, the DVD-burner and various other elements do not work under linux...

Great, HP are selling a laptop that does not come bundled with Microsoft Windows. But until they configure the distro to support each and every component of the machine under linux then it is not a linux laptop. And if that means replacing components with proprietory closed source drivers with more expensive components then please do it.

Each new major distro release gets easier and easier to install. Just about anyone can boot a machine with a Suse 9.1 disk in the drive, follow the onscreen prompts and less than an hour later have an attractive Windows XP-themed KDE desktop on their screen. But getting ACPI and the peripheral devices working is the real struggle and this is where the distributor who is in a privileged position should be doing the work.

Rushing to market with an unfinished product is not going to win any converts to linux - quite the opposite.

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

Rushing to market with an unfinished product is not going to win any converts to linux - quite the opposite.

In my opinion the major suppliers are dragging their feet with linux.
All people want is a reasonably priced machine where all of the drivers work.
The actual using linux isn't any harder than Windows. The machine maintenance is easier with linux.

Re: Breaking the Laptop Barrier

Anonymous's picture

Everything on this one is supported, including suspend.

I hope this one is not a scam.

Anonymous's picture

I think is is great that a major manufacturer is claiming to support end user linux
I just hope that HP is not just using this as a "token" gesture.
My experience with getting information about HP's Mandrake Linux desktops in the past was horrible.
The "Linux Option" always seems to disappear at their website when you got to the configuration page. The only option is Windows XP. It is like a bait and switch.

When you called HP you would get strange evasive answers like "Linux?" or "We don't offer Linux."

??? Do what ??

After arguing with them and convincing them that HP is supposed to be selling Linux then your phone call gets redirected several times. Out of frustration and waste of time you hang up. The version of Mandrake "offered" was an older one.

It is like HP really didn't want to sell linux at all.

So, HP, please don't give us the bait and switch.

To put it politely. Hey HP, please clean up your %#&*ing act.

Re: I hope this one is not a scam.

Anonymous's picture

Holding up a Linux laptop in its box, Fink said, "I do have to warn you that this product is not licensed to run Windows", a statement that drew applause from keynote audience members.

Yet on the linked page in the article...

HP recommends Microsoft

Re: I hope this one is not a scam.

Anonymous's picture

If you buy it with Linux, you don't get a Windows license.

HP doesn't "recomend" Windows for laptops -- that's the standard copy that they have to put in to get MSFT co-op marketing money.

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