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It's the year of Linux on the... ThinkPad as Lenovo extends out-of-the-box Ubuntu support to nearly 30 machines

PCs for suited penguins

Lenovo is expanding pre-installed Linux support to more of its machines in a bid to court the sizable developer pond.

Available globally, punters will be able to order roughly 30 different models of PCs across the ThinkStation and ThinkPad lines that come with Ubuntu pre-installed.

All devices will come with the latest LTS version of Ubuntu – version 20.04 – with the exception of the semi-rugged ThinkPad L Series 2-in-1, which will use version 18:04. The first trickle of machines are available today, with the rollout expected to continue through 2021.

The release sees Lenovo join a small group of specialist vendors – notably including Dell – in selling computers directly to the open-source crowd. Previously, Loenovo had offered pre-loaded Ubuntu PCs to larger enterprise customers prepared to submit a customised bid. The move also puts Lenovo up against specialist Linux vendors like System76 and Entroware.

Lenovo pitched the move as circumventing any potential hardware compatibility headaches as a result of escaping Microsoft's clutches. While that's true, Lenovo has traditionally had a good reputation for out-of-the-box driver support with most major Linux distributions.

"Our goal is to remove the complexity," said Igor Bergman, PCSD Software & Cloud veep at Lenovo. "This is why we have taken this next step to offer Linux-ready devices right out of the box."

Predictably, the move was applauded by Ubuntu developer Canonical, with the firm's engineering veep, Dean Henrichsmeyer, cheering Lenovo's "commitment to open source and the Linux community".

"With data scientists and developers increasingly needing Linux for emerging workloads, this collaboration enables enterprises to equip their employees with the assurance of long-term stability, added security and simplified IT management," Henrichsmeyer said.

It's not immediately known whether Lenovo will offer a discount to its future Linux customers. Windows licences, after all, represent a not-insignificant chunk of any PC's retail price. We've asked, and will update the story if we hear back. ®

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