Practical Technology

for practical people.

Lenovo Exits pre-Installed Linux Desktop Business


Desktop Linux reported that Lenovo seems to have quietly exited the desktop Linux business. Unfortunately for desktop Linux users, that news has turned out to be correct. Lenovo, in a note to Practical Technology, confirmed that it was exiting the pre-installed desktop Linux business.

In an e-mail from Lenovo, Ray Gorman, executive director of Lenovo external communications, tried to put the best spin he could on the decision. “Our commitment to Linux has not changed. What’s changed is that customers will no longer be able to order Lenovo ThinkPads and ThinkCentres with pre-installed Linux via the website. We are still certifying Linux pre-loads, but most of those customers typically order either through their Lenovo Sales team or Lenovo Business Partner.”

In other words, as before and has long been the case with companies like HP, corporate and government customers can order desktop Linux, but individual users will not be able to order it.

This is a major disappointment to desktop Linux users. ThinkPads have long been popular with Linux users. Indeed, there’s long been an excellent site just for ThinkPad Linux users.

Lenovo started hinting that it would ship a ThinkPad with desktop Linux in 2005. In November 2006, the company finally put a toe in the desktop Linux market with the shipping of the ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation with Novell’s SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop).

The Chinese company then began publicly considering bringing out a business laptop with Linux. In August 2007, Lenovo finally indicated that it would ship a business-level ThinkPad with SLED. In the event, it wasn’t until January of 2008 that Lenovo actually shipped Linux-powered ThinkPads: the ThinkPad T61 and R61.

These ThinkPads were well-reviewed and widely-praised by both the media and desktop Linux fans. Despite this, with less than year in the mass-market, Lenovo has decided to pull pre-installed Linux ThinkPads from its virtual store shelves.

Gorman did add that, “We will be delivering new Linux offerings on our new Lenovo servers, and IdeaPad netbook education models, scheduled for release in September and October respectively.” The IdeaPad S9, the model with Linux,, however, will not be available at all to the U.S. market.

Lenovo did not offer any explanation for these moves.