25 March 2004 Hewlett-Packard (HP) has become the latest systems vendor to come out in support of Linux-based desktop computers, following hard on the heels of similar announcements by IBM and Sun Microsystems.
HP said it will supply Linux PCs and laptop computers based on Novell’s SuSE Linux Professional program to large companies later in 2004. The arrangement builds on a previous deal between the technology companies, under which HP supplies SuSE Linux-based servers to businesses.
The arrangement was unveiled by HP and Novell at the latter’s user conference in the US. “HP can now offer one consistent platform to an enterprise,” said Martin Fink, HP’s vice president for Linux. “Customers will be able to deal with just one set of help desks and one set of training materials to deploy Linux from the desktop to the data centre.”
He said that demand for open source desktops was growing, citing analyst predictions that Linux desktops are growing by more than 25% a year. “We want to be part of that growth rate. HP will try to grow [its desktop Linux business] at least as fast as that.”
He added: “[Customers] are looking for a client alternative [to Windows]. That’s where the interest is right now in the large corporate customers.”
As part of the agreement, SuSE Linux will become HP’s standard Linux distribution worldwide. Both HP and Novell will provide support and testing services for the desktop.
HP has not yet decided whether Linux will come pre-installed on the computers, or whether users will have to upload it. “We still need to figure out the specific delivery vehicle. All the options are open,” said Fink.
HP stressed that its deepening ties with Novell did not mean that it has turned its back on Red Hat, the world’s biggest Linux distributor. HP will continue to partner with Red Hat, especially in the server market, “where Red Hat plays a critical role,” said Fink.
He went on to say that another key HP partnership – the one it has with Microsoft – would also not be affected. “Does Microsoft like the fact that we do Linux stuff? Absolutely not. But they understand that we deliver Linux,” he said.