It's getting easier to find OEM-installed and -supported Linux computers
Beginning today, Lenovo is offering a greatly expanded selection of OEM Linux PCs to the general public. Earlier this year, Lenovo began offering Fedora Linux pre-installed on laptop systems including Thinkpad P1 Gen 2, Thinkpad P53, and Thinkpad X1 Gen 8. Today’s announcement makes Ubuntu Linux available on a considerably broader swath of both desktop and laptop PCs.
The devices themselves—and their Ubuntu certifications—aren’t new, but the public accessibility is. Previously, these systems were only available to enterprise customers via custom bid, but the 27 new models—mostly featuring Ubuntu 20.04, except for the L series laptops featuring Ubuntu 18.04—will now be available for retail purchase through Lenovo.com. Just beware of the footnote warning that some models may be limited to specific markets, and the rollout is to occur in phases—at press time, we’re still only seeing the Carbon X1 available with OEM Linux in Lenovo’s US store.
Although it has been simple for individual customers “in the know” about enterprise-only model certifications to buy those machines with Windows and install Ubuntu themselves, the new OEM program removes roadblocks in both knowing which systems to buy and getting factory support on them once installed.
Igor Bergman, Lenovo’s VP of PCSD Software and Cloud, said the goal of the certification and pre-installation program is “to remove the complexity, and provide the Linux community with the premium experience that [Lenovo’s] customers know us for.” Canonical VP of Engineering Dean Henrichsmeyer added, “this collaboration [offers] assurance of long-term stability, added security, and simplified IT management.”
Lenovo will be offering a full range of support including both Web- and phone-based assistance with any platform issues associated with the Ubuntu pre-installed systems.
Lenovo is joining Dell in the “OEM Linux Laptop” club
Several Thinkpad models will join the Dell XPS 13 DE in Linux-land this year
It looks like Lenovo may upstage Dell as the big name in OEM Linux laptops—not counting specialty retailers like System76, of course. Red Hat and Lenovo are announcing pre-installed and factory-supported Fedora Workstation on several models of ThinkPad laptops at Red Hat Summit this week.
Dell’s Linux support has generally been limited to one or two very specific laptops—first, the old Atom-powered netbooks and, more recently, the XPS 13 Developer Edition line. Lenovo is planning a significantly broader Linux footprint in its lineup.
Fedora Workstation will be a selectable option during purchase for the Thinkpad P1 Gen2, Thinkpad P53, and Thinkpad X1 Gen8 laptops—and Lenovo may offer even broader model support in the future. Lenovo Senior Linux Developer Mark Pearson, who will be the featured guest in the May 2020 Fedora Council Video Meeting, expresses the company’s stance on forthcoming integration:
Lenovo is excited to become a part of the Fedora community. We want to ensure an optimal Linux experience on our products. We are committed to working with and learning from the open source community.
I’m happy to see that Lenovo is taking this step to offer pre-installed Linux support. Although I personally am a die-hard Ubuntu user, it’s also nice to see that Lenovo went with a different distro—while many in our community bemoan “fragmentation,” I personally believe that diversity is one of the Linux community’s greatest strengths.
Lenovo has committed to making the pre-installed experience functional only using software from the main Fedora repositories—no third-party repos will be necessary, and by default no proprietary drivers will be installed. Even if Fedora isn’t your personal distro of choice, an OEM Fedora Workstation Thinkpad will almost certainly be an excellent choice for most distros you might choose to replace it with.
Unfortunately, the upcoming Yoga Slim 7—powered with a Ryzen 7 4800U or Ryzen 5 4600U Zen laptop CPU—isn’t on Lenovo’s initial list of supported models. I’m still itching to get my hands on one for review—the dual-GPU Zephyrus G14 didn’t fare too well with Ubuntu, but I’m still hopeful that the more simply designed Slim 7 will do better