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A survey of pre-installed Linux from OEMs


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A survey of pre-installed Linux from OEMs
Topic: Technology 12:16 pm EST, Nov  9, 2004

I called around today to the big OEMs seeing who offered systems with Linux pre-installed.

Gateway only offered SUSE 8, and only on certain servers. The highend systems had SUSE 8 available, but it didn't come pre-installed. You get a blank machine and Linux on CDs. Even rack mounted systems won't come with Linux pre-installed. Lower end servers do have a "No OS" as an option, so you can avoid the Microsoft tax. No 64bit chips or OSes here, even in your rack-mounted servers.

The HP representative seemed thrilled when I asked about Linux. They offer Redhat on their higher end laptops and workstations, though SUSE, Mandrake, and other are certified to work as well (with nifty certification matrixes too). The regular HP people can't help you, you must order through their Small-Medium business group (1-800-888-0292). Sadly no 64bit chips or OSes here.

Dell... Well, the home-office person actually knew what Linux was, but said she thought only the small business group had systems with Linux pre-installed. A transfer later I talked to the small business rep. I said I was interested in quotes on laptops or desktops with Linux pre-installed. Her reply: "OK, I think we can do that... just one thing, whats Linux?" I even had to spell it. She then had to check with Tech support to see if Linux was available, and it is only available on their nSeries of workstations, as Redhat. These are fairly nice machines, with SATA RAID built in for even the lowest model (sub $1000). I guess Dell needs to better train their reps about what they offer, though they do have a nice website about Linux. ( Again no 64bit chips or OSes

The biggest surprise was IBM. They do not offer Linux pre-installed on any of their Laptops or Desktops. They do have documentation on their site about installing Linux on different models of Thinkpads and desktops. IBM certainly made up for the lack of desktops/laptops with their Intellistation workstations. They have 2 lines of 64 bit 1 or 2 way SMP systems. The first line is based on AMD Opteron chips, with 64bit Redhat Linux or 32bit Windows XP available (though lesser models with Intel Xeons are available). The 2nd line is based on IBM's 64bit POWER chips. With hotswapable SCSI drives and other featuress, these are beasts and the high end model starts at $15,0000. Interestingly enough, only AIX is available on these, even though Linux runs fine on IBM's POWER-based servers. Linux is of course an option on all of IBM's eServers.

All in all, I was happy that the OEMs offered Linux. I was a little disappointed about how well the advertised it on their websites however. Another surprised was the lack of lower end systems with Linux pre-installed. Aside from the occasional thin client with a 2.4 kernel, I couldn't find any sub $600 dollar machines running Linux from the major OEMs. Let face it, this is where Mom and Pop shop, and for Linux on the desktop to take off, the major OEMs need to push it more. Finally, IBM is the only choice if you want a 64bit system with Linux.

Gateway Servers with Linux:

HP Workstations and Notebooks with Linux:

Dell nSeries Workstations with Linux:

IBM Intellistation workstations with Linux:

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