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Lenovo Removes Linux Option For Home Buyers 380

Posted by timothy
from the and-the-linux-netbook's-non-us-only dept.
billybob2 writes "Lenovo has stopped selling laptops pre-installed with Linux on its web site, only 8 months after starting the trial program. This means that home customers won't be able to buy a Thinkpad without paying the Microsoft tax. Word has it that the decision to pull the plug on Linux came down from the highest levels of the Chinese company's corporate headquarters. For those looking to buy full-sized laptops and desktops with Linux pre-loaded Dell, System76, ZaReason and Everex all still offer such products."
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Lenovo Removes Linux Option For Home Buyers

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  • Well up-theirs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by alexborges (313924) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:38PM (#24967415)

    And im willing to bet that they only do that for their american store, but still sell you preinstalled linux if buying in asia.

    So up theirs. As Ive always said: if it doesnt run linux, it doesnt exist.

  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:38PM (#24967417) Homepage Journal

    I suspect the decision was made because of comparatively small demand.

    Not every disappointment in life is the result of a Grand Microsoft Conspiracy. (grin)

  • The Microsoft tax isn't that big a deal, at least not in the Thinkpad price range. Were their Linux-based laptops any cheaper? I know some other companies that offer Linux don't offer any discount for it.

    A bigger concern is whether they're providing driver support for Linux installation or not.

  • by Lucid 3ntr0py (1348103) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:42PM (#24967471)
    If they had seriously wanted to hit the market they would have rpovided a variety of options. I was going to buy one, but now I think I'll go Dell.
  • by e2d2 (115622) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:43PM (#24967489)

    Yeah All kinds of possibilities can lead to this.

    I think as *nix advocates (at least some of us), we need to realize that it's not all about being altruistic to these guys. It's about money, and if it's doesn't make money then why would they do it? But why speculate on motivations. It's just a fact and we can accept it, make Linux better where we can, and move forward.

  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:43PM (#24967511) Journal
    The Microsoft tax isn't that big a deal, at least not in the Thinkpad price range.

    If it was possible to burn the money in a fire instead of giving it to Microsoft, then format the laptop and put Linux on it, then no, it wouldn't be a big deal. But that's not the case here. Microsoft is actually getting stronger off that tax, and I think we'll all agree, that is a big deal...
  • by CogDissident (951207) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:44PM (#24967517)
    And that is why Linux is a bad idea for them. Every linux nerd that wants a pre install, wants their favorite "flavor" of pre install. And gets pissy when their favorite brand name isn't in first place. And half the time people buy linux machines for their computer-illiterate relatives, making them take up huge amounts of phone-support time.

    Easier to pitch it and say "eh, we have windows. Enjoy."
  • by yukk (638002) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:44PM (#24967519)
    Most likely it was a combination of low volume and pressure from Microsoft. If M/S keeps the pressure on and the sales don't make it worthwhile fighting then they drop the line.
  • by corsec67 (627446) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:45PM (#24967537) Homepage Journal

    http://www.hp.com/sbso/busproducts_notebooks.html [hp.com]

    Many of those laptops that can be configured have "FreeDos" as an option for the OS.
    Sure, that means it doesn't come with an installed Linux distro, but you can get a customized laptop without the MS tax.

  • by amn108 (1231606) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:47PM (#24967573)

    It does not cost them anything to pre-install Linux in the first place, any more than tweaking a copy to run on each model they have, which is not the worlds hardest job. Roll out and copy, that is it. And no need to pay royalties to MS. The decision was probably made as a result of suits taking a meeting with another group of suits that told their "friends" that their product is superior in every way and there is absolutely no reason to even consider Linux. This is the way of recent ISO-votes and it works. All you need is too much power.

    Not every disappointment is a result of a Grand Microsoft Conspiracy, but this one is, and most others that are mentioned in context are too. We are not talking about Mars Polar Lander failure.

  • by Krneki (1192201) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:51PM (#24967611)
    No Linux nerd or any other PC nerd will accept the default installation as a valid option. Power users will remove any crap they put on the hardware and will replace it with a proper installation. Knowing that a notebook supports Linux, whatever distro it is, it's good enough.
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:51PM (#24967615) Journal

    So let me get this straight. There was no MS tax on these, NO one was apparently buying them, so they're dropping the line and we still have to rattle on and on about a MS tax?

    If i buy an apple, how do i get rid of the OSX/Apple tax?

    If I buy a ford, how do i put a Mazda engine it it from the getgo and not pay the Ford tax?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:54PM (#24967649)

    I don't get why Slashdotters assume that it would be cheaper for computer producers and for consumers to install Linux instead of Windows. We also see this in complaints about the Inspiron 900 costing the same with Linux as without it, and there were some huge posts about that. Here's the deal: software development and support costs too. When a manufacturer puts Linux on their devices, they have to first test it, make sure that it works, and iron out the bugs in the parts that won't work. This takes expensive developer time. Once the product is launched, they probably have to deal with 10x more consumer support requests from each user that bought Linux over those that bought Windows, because people simply won't know how to do things. This costs money too. In contrast, if the company went with Windows, they'd have to pay 40 dollars and then a) the software would work out of the box and b) there would be a much smaller flow of support requests, many of which would be handled by Microsoft. That's worth something - perhaps as much as 40 dollars per machine! If you think about it, 40 dollars is maybe 2 hours of a customer support representative's time. What you guys don't get is that preinstalling Windows on PCs is a business decision that is mutually beneficial for the PC manufacturer and Microsoft. It's beneficial for 99% of consumers too of course.

    As long as Linux on the desktop remains a demo scene with ever-changing technology, unstable API, incompatible distros, and idealists that make it difficult for companies to provide binary drivers, things stay that way, and you're going to see PCs preloaded with Windows. If you want Linux to reach end-customers, you need first and foremost to make it one single, stable (as in rarely changing), OS. After that you need to make it usable for people who never open options dialogs and have no clue what a terminal is. After that you need to actually have worthwhile software running on it (Microsoft Office, Flash, Photoshop, a decent media player, etc).

  • by schwaang (667808) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:54PM (#24967659)

    BTW, when will Apple get rid of the Apple Tax? :)

    Maybe when Microsoft starts selling PCs, so that your comparison is really an apples-to-Apples one? ;)

  • Re:It's clear why (Score:1, Insightful)

    by villindesign (1260484) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:59PM (#24967715)
    Lenovo shipped Novell's SLED 10 (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10), but not Ubuntu. Maybe Lenovo selected the wrong distro?
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:04PM (#24967791) Homepage Journal

    "If I buy a ford, how do i put a Mazda engine it it from the getgo and not pay the Ford tax?"
    Ford and Mazda use mostly use the same motors. Ford owns a bit part of Mazda.
    And it really isn't the same thing. X86 has always run many different Operating System. IBM didn't bundle PC-DOS with the PC you had a choice of PC-DOS, CP/M-86 and I think at one point Xenix. PC-DOS is the cheapest so that is what most people bought. So buying a PC is not like buying a car without a motor.
    So you analogy was flawed on many levels.
    It is more like buying a Bass boat without a motor. It should be a common thing and allow you to customize what you spend your money on.
    Imagine if a company made these rules.
    You can only buy this boat with this motor.
    If the boat breaks or is damaged you can not use that motor on any other boat.
    If you repaint or change too much of the boat then your motor will stop working until you call us and beg us for a fix motor code!

  • by Korey Kaczor (1345661) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:07PM (#24967825)
    Just because you don't know how to use linux doesn't mean it is linux that sucks. Ubuntu seems to have a lot of bugs and KDE 4 isn't stable; so maybe blame the distro and desktop environment instead?
  • by snl2587 (1177409) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:09PM (#24967859)

    If i buy an apple, how do i get rid of the OSX/Apple tax? If I buy a ford, how do i put a Mazda engine it it from the getgo and not pay the Ford tax?

    Apple makes the computers. Ford makes the cars. So there really isn't a way to not pay them in some way (unless you stole their products...but that's beside the point)

    Microsoft, on the other hand, does not manufacture the computers. So if I want to buy a computer I shouldn't have to pay them as well if I don't want their product to come with it.

  • by Lobster Quadrille (965591) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:10PM (#24967875)

    Precisely. I bought one of the Lenovo Suse lappys, but never even booted it into Suse. I had an Ubuntu disc sitting on my counter before the UPS guy showed up.

    I bought the Suse one for two reasons- known linux-supported hardware, and not paying MS.

    The laptop, by the way, is fantastic. Durable, high-performance, and with a docking station, replaced both my desktops.

  • Re:Well up-theirs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:13PM (#24967939)

    After 4 months of getting tired of it telling me "Use *our* antivirus of choice!" in windows I just gave up and installed linux.

    Let me be sure I understand this clearly to confirm you aren't trolling.... you were annoyed by Windows Security Center telling you to install Anti-Virus software? You were not able to simply turn this off? Did you believe you MUST have Anti-Virus software to use the computer rather than rely on common sense practices? Something doesn't quite add up here.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:15PM (#24967975)
    Some of us do. Unfortunately, laptops often have strange new combinations of components that are not yet stable in Linux, such as scrollbars, new graphics chipsets, strange RAID controllers, etc., that were only tested with Windows by the manufacturers. Maintaining good quality for such components, and making sure the drivers work well together, takes real effort by competent people. And if you're trying to trim costs, those people may not stick around.
  • by amn108 (1231606) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:16PM (#24968013)

    Actually I did not say that it is a automatic process, where manufacturers just install vanilla Ubuntu. I said it is not the worlds hardest job. And if you count in the savings of royalties they otherwise pay to MS, it is is very cheap to maintain Linux.

    I am well aware Linux does not behave nicely either, given I have a Thinkpad T61, half of which functionality I had to tweak to work properly.

    Still, even in the short run Linux does pay off. Also, people can choose Windows still, nobody forces them to run Linux like they are currently forced to run Windows.

    In Windows even after all the tweaking and custom drivers, stuff breaks and issues arise. And in these cases its all finger pointing.

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:24PM (#24968133)

    The Microsoft tax isn't that big a deal, at least not in the Thinkpad price range.

    If it was possible to burn the money in a fire instead of giving it to Microsoft, then format the laptop and put Linux on it, then no, it wouldn't be a big deal. But that's not the case here. Microsoft is actually getting stronger off that tax, and I think we'll all agree, that is a big deal...

    I know a few really smart, really nice people who work at Microsoft. I don't have a problem with MS making money. I'd much rather have the money go to MS and then get filtered back into the US economy and partially eventually back into my pocket than burned or sent to China where the money doesn't come back this way.

  • Hiding the price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:34PM (#24968271)

    > Is it really that hard for them to make Ubuntu an option in the OS choice box?

    Yes it is. Because above all else, end users MUST NEVER become aware of the amount Windows adds to the sticker price. That is what is behind all of these games. Windows must be an invisible component lest users begin questioning why they must buy Windows and keep on rebuying it with each and every hardware purchase. The entire monopoly depends upon this, thus Microsoft would mercilessly punish any OEM who broke that rule.

  • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:41PM (#24968373) Homepage Journal

    Sure, that means it doesn't come with an installed Linux distro, but you can get a customized laptop without the MS tax.

    If a laptop comes without an installed Linux distro, it also comes without the manufacturer's assurance that there exists a Linux driver for all hardware in the laptop.

  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:50PM (#24968533)
    Ironically, it's also close to the ideals of a free market. There's no friction, no real barrier to entry, and competition is very pure and open. Supply is limitless, thus cost goes to $0, which isn't happening elsewhere in the software industry. In a way, free market economics says that the ease of reproducing software would drive the cost to zero, which has happened in a lot of ways.

    Morally speaking, while most people would argue that there's nothing wrong with charging money for software, almost everyone will agree that the community that's sprung up around open source is very right. It's heart warming, really.
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:52PM (#24968555) Homepage Journal

    Don't feed the trolls please. It wastes everyone's time involved, and only makes them more likely to do it.

    Trolls hate being ignored.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @05:02PM (#24968687) Homepage

    For the typical consumer how has no idea what Linux is, there is little point in a preloaded Linux system. Windows is fine for them, and has more consumer-type software.

    That leaves as the market for these things the people that actually want Linux. But people who know enough about Linux to actually want it probably want a specific distribution. If the preloaded distribution is that one, great!

    But if the one they want is not the preloaded one, then they are going to end up doing their own install anyway. In that case, the only advantage they really get buying one of the preloaded Linux systems is that they know the hardware works with Linux (maybe--some companies that do preloads simply don't support all of their own hardware under Linux).

    But there is also a disadvantage. Windows often comes bundled with third party software, and there also often ads from third parties included in the packaging. The companies that make the bundled software, or that the ads are for, pay the computer companies to be included. The computer company often makes enough money that way to more than pay for the Windows license. Because of this, it is often cheaper for them to sell a given model with Windows than to sell it without Windows.

    If this is the case, the Linux fan who is going to install his own distro over the preloaded one is better off, financially, buying the Windows computer and wiping it.

    Bottom line: the market for whom Linux preloads makes sense is only a small subset of the people that want to run Linux on their new computer. Hence, it is no surprise that manufacturers are not finding it worthwhile.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 11, 2008 @05:25PM (#24969039)

    Sorry, incorrect. Each version of Windows has a whole new learning curve. It's easier to go from Windows to Mandriva (the distro I'm most used to) than from Win 98 to Win XP. KDE isn't really that different from Windows (although Windows is prettier).

    As a CSR and TSA for a large UK technology retailer while at university, I can tell you this is entirely incorrect for the general public. Releasing the linux eeePC in retail stores was the worst thing that ever happened to our call centre.

  • by Darundal (891860) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @06:18PM (#24969909) Journal
    That is because their Linux option was to offer SuSE on their T series laptops. It is now popular to hate SuSE because of the MS deal. I am surprised that there weren't pictures/videos of the SuSE lizard being burned in effigy after the deal.

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