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Lenovo certifies all desktop and mobile workstations for Linux – and will even upstream driver updates

Could this make 2020 the mythical year of the penguin on the desktop?

Lenovo has decided to certify all of its workstations for Linux.

“Our entire portfolio of ThinkStation and ThinkPad P Series workstations will now be certified via both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu LTS – a long-term, enterprise-stability variant of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution,” said a Tuesday statement from GM and executive director of the company’s workstation and client AI group Rob Herman.

Lenovo is serious about this: the company says its workstations will “offer full end-to-end support – from security patches and updates to better secure and verify hardware drivers, firmware and bios optimizations.” Lenovo will also upstream device drivers into the Linux kernel.

The company’s rationale for the move is that Linux workstations are favourites of a sizable population of power users, especially developers and data scientists. Lenovo wants to relieve their employers of the chore of installing and maintaining Linux on the mildly-exotic hardware such users require. But it’s also tipped a hat to Linux enthusiasts with “a pilot program with a preloaded Fedora image on our ThinkPad P53 and P1 Gen 2 systems; providing the latest pure open source platform for this community-based distribution.” Note, however, that the new arrangements are only for Lenovo workstations. ThinkPads, Yogas and other models will still almost certainly run Linux, but don't get extra love from Lenovo.

Lenovo’s offering isn’t unique: Dell offers supported RHEL and Ubuntu on its XPS13 and Precision mobile workstations, plus the Precision tower workstations. HP Inc also supports Linux on its Z-series mobile and desktop workstations and claims it was first to do so. Lenovo seems to think it might have them outflanked by supporting all possible configurations of its P-series laptops (The Register counts nine machines in that range) and the seven P-series workstations.

Whether Lenovo's Linux love is more ardent than its rivals is surely a less-important question than whether its fulsome embrace of the OS means 2020 can now be considered to have become The Year Of Linux On The Desktop. Community lore asserts that this mythical and magical year will always be next year. But with the big three PC-makers all now declaring penguin passion, and "The Year of Zoom" a rather bleak reminder of other complications in 2020, this could be as good a year as any to declare the Penguin has landed. ®

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