HP releases its first mass-market Linux PC

Ending months of rumors, Hewlett-Packard appears to have released its first mass-market PC with pre-installed Linux. Specifically, the company will soon be selling RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) Desktop 5 on its HP dx2250 PC to Australian customers.

HP, long a staunch Linux supporter both on the desktop and the server, had never offered a pre-loaded desktop Linux. There have, however, been many rumors in recent months that HP was on the verge of announcing a business Linux desktop with SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10 SP 1, Ubuntu 7.04, or RHEL Desktop 5, or its delayed desktop Linux brother, Red Hat Global Desktop.

Like SLED, RHEL Desktop 5 is a business Linux desktop. In Australia, HP will be selling it on pre-loaded on the HP Compaq dx2250 desktop computer.

This PC is a low-end business PC. It comes powered by any of a variety of AMD processors. These range from the 1.60 GHz AMD Sempron 3000+ processor to the speedy 2.8 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 5600+ processor. The dx2250 can hold up to 2GB of RAM. For storage, it maxes out with a 250 GB hard drive. It comes with a variety of optical drive options, ranging from ordinary CDs to a DVD+/-RW LightScribe, Double Layer/Dual Format drive.

At this time, it is not clear exactly what options HP will be offering with the RHEL-based system. Previously, HP had offered this desktop computer with a choice of Vista Business, XP, and FreeDOS. In the latter case, this was almost always replaced by users with a Linux distribution.

RHEL 5 Desktop uses the Gnome 2.16 desktop. For applications, it comes with OpenOffice 2.04, the Evolution 2.8 email and groupware client, and Firefox 2.0x.

According to a report in APC Magazine, an Australian technology publication that broke the story, Max McLaren, Red Hat’s general manager in Australia and New Zealand, took a jab at Vista in the announcement, saying, “With the cost of proprietary systems continuing to rise, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Desktop minimizes acquisition and ongoing deployment costs, leaving more money and resources for other high-value projects and tasks.”

In a statement, Rob Kingston group manager of HP Australia’s Personal Systems Group said, “HP is pleased to be working with Red Hat to bring a powerful new Linux desktop solution to SMBs in Australia, Local businesses are constantly demanding enhancements to the price-performance delivered by their desktop PC. By working with Red Hat, HP now delivers the business-class technology of the HP dx2250 combined with an open and low-cost operating system to support the commercial objectives of small and medium businesses.”

A RHEL equipped dx2250 price will start at $600 Australian dollars. That’s approximately $489 U.S. dollars. Red Hat will also be offering Level One, Level Two and Level Three technical support for this system. With this move, HP joins Lenovo and Dell as major PC OEMs that are now offering pre-loaded desktop Linux to at least some of its customers.


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