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Lies, Damn Lies, and Retail Linux

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Lenovo caused a small furor when it announced that it was no longer selling Linux on Thinkpads to us unwashed masses. Though it was news to me that they had ever started- I've been visiting lenovo.com on a regular basis since they made their first timid announcement back in January that they were selling SUSE Linux on Thinkpads. Remember Dell's first few insincere forays into the Linux desktop market, where you had to have the cunning and skills of a Yeti hunter to find Linux boxes on Dell.com? Lenovo was even worse- I never did find their alleged Linux offerings.

The weird part is why do they even bother with the song and dance? As Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols said:

"This is a major disappointment to desktop Linux users. ThinkPads have long been popular with Linux users."

Even so, nobody cares if Lenovo, or any other vendor, doesn't want the hassle of desktop Linux. It's a hard market to serve- sales are onesies and twosies, retail customers are not accustomed to being fleeced the way business customers are and won't overpay, and the main competitors are the free-beer distributions.

In the same article, SJVN quotes a Lenovo representative:

"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 lenovo.com 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, non-business customers not ordering mass quantities are uninvited. Call me an over-literal nitpicky geek, but that sure sounds like a change in commitment to me.

I'd say Lenovo's initial retail Linux offering was half-hearted at best. More like one-eight-hearted. It never had a chance. Would a little honesty be too much to ask? Don't put on the dog and pony show- if you don't want to sell retail Linux, then don't. What's the point? Do they think we're going to be all happy with hot air and insincerity?

Meanwhile, we unwashed masses have a number of excellent independent Linux vendors to do business with. Forget about these wimpy Tier 1 titans of computing- give your hard-earned dollars to the people who give full value, like System76, ZaReason, Penguin Computing, Emperor Linux, and all the other independents who, despite not being corporate titans, know how to tell the truth.


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