HP Sneaks Linux Onto New Laptops

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Except for Dell, the major PC vendors are reluctant to admit they actually sell and support Linux. For instance, HP, supports Linux quite well on its servers, but is very reluctant about supporting it on its desktops. Or, it seems they have trouble even admitting that they're now shipping DeviceVM's instant-on Splashtop Linux on their new notebook lines.

HP had started quietly shipping Splashtop on its new business laptop, the HP ProBook 5310m. Curiously, enough, HP is also continuing to ship its Windows/Outlook based QuickLook as well on the ProBook. Why you'd want to bother with that since Splashtop could support the full-featured Evolution e-mail client and, even as it is, you can use Gmail or any other Web-based mail system with QuickWeb is beyond me. I can only guess that HP wants to stay on Microsoft good side.

After all, that also explains a lot about why HP has been so reluctant to make it easy for would-be buyers to get Novell's SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 11 on HP desktops.

Be that as it may, QuickWeb is also going to be available on HP's high-end consumer notebooks: the Apple MacBook-like ENVY 13 and the ENVY 15 and the not yet shipping Windows 7 HP Mini 110 netbook model.

Buyers who want the Mini 110 should make sure they're buying exactly what they want with this model. HP currently sells a version of the Mini 110 with Ubuntu Linux, which I recommend, and another version with XP. This new edition, which isn't available yet, will come with Windows 7 Starter Edition. While Windows 7 Starter Edition is no longer crippled by a three-application limit, it's still easily the weakest member of the Windows 7 family.

QuickWeb on all these systems is really just a subset of Splashtop. While HP could have offered a full Splashtop Linux desktop, they've elected to only offer the Web interface. Still, it's a good Web browser. Not only does it boot up in 20-seconds or less, it can view and play multimedia files in such common formats, as Adobe Flash, Adobe PDF documents, and MP3 music files.

So, while HP isn't going to let you get the full Splashtop Linux experience, for what it is, it's really quite impressive. I can see many users never actually using the laptops' installed operating system. After all, with just some Linux and most of the Web, what else do you need?

This story, "HP Sneaks Linux Onto New Laptops" was originally published by Computerworld.

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