HP has launched its first pre-installed Linux notebook PC at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, labelling the release a "coming of age" for desktop Linux.
The HP Compaq nx5000 business notebook comes with Novell's SuSE Linux operating system and OpenOffice software installed. It will be priced at $1,140 (£624).
It features a Pentium-M processor, a rewriteable CD drive, DVD player, plus wireless and Bluetooth mobile connectivity.
Jeffrey Wade, HP worldwide marketing communications manager, told vnunet.com that the launch of the nx5000 notebook was in response to growing customer demand for commoditised Linux products.
"All the work that Novell has done to make Linux complete on the desktop has helped us to look at standardised offerings," he said.
"This is a real coming of age, where we've had four and a half years' experience deploying Linux on the servers. So now we're ready for the Linux desktop.
"This notebook may be the solution for call centres that use a lot of web-based applications, for example."
Demand for such a product would be most likely to come from organisations with legacy Unix-based IT environments, according to Gary Barnett, research director at analyst firm Ovum.
"We reckon that Linux is displacing Unix-based systems like HP-UX, Solaris and AIX at a rate that is twice or three times as fast as Windows," he said.
"If you already have in-house administration skills in these operating systems then there will be a relatively low amount of retraining involved in moving to Linux compared to the same move from Windows."
Barnett added that the advent of a standard Linux desktop meant the operating system had moved away from its roots among open source devotees and developers to become a viable enterprise-scale alternative.
The analyst suggested that the launch of the nx5000 indicates that "2004 is the year in which the suits have taken over Linux from the sandal wearers".
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