HP unveils its first Linux laptop

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday began shipping its first ever notebook computer to come pre-installed with the Linux operating system.

The Compaq nx5000 was unveiled at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo here in San Francisco during a keynote by HP Vice President of Linux, Martin Fink.

"This is the year that Linux overtakes the Mac on the desktop, and maybe my laptop will help accelerate that," Fink said.

In fact, industry research firm IDC believes that this has already happened. "Linux captured the number two spot as desktop operating system in 2003," said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky in a recent interview.

Though Linux has proved popular as a server operating system, it has had less success on the desktop. In late 2000, IBM began offering Linux preinstalled on its A20 and T20 notebooks, but it eventually withdrew the Linux offering.

By 2007, the Framingham, Massachusetts research firm estimates that Linux will have 6 percent of the desktop market in terms of units, Kusnetzky said.

Starting at US$1,140, the nx5000 ships with either Intel Corp.'s Celeron or Pentium processors, a 15-inch screen, and between 30G bytes and 60G bytes of storage. The Linux version ships with Novell's Suse Linux 9.1 and the OpenOffice productivity suite. The product can also be purchased with Windows XP, according to HP's Web site. Sales so far are limited to US customers. There is no plan to release the laptop in Australia.

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