HP’s Linux Notebook

The HP Compaq nx5000 is the first laptop PC from a major manufacturer to come preloaded with a Linux distribution. In this case, HP have chosen SuSE Linux as an easy to use desktop operating system alternative to Windows. The laptop is priced at about US$1,140 (€950) – which in turn makes it roughly US$60 (€50) cheaper than the same model with Windows XP installed.

The nx5000 is fully featured and includes a CD burner, DVD player and wireless networking. OpenOffice is included as a replacement for Microsoft’s Office suite.

A sixty dollar saving is hardly likely to tempt a Windows user to try out a new, unproven OS, but having Linux preloaded and preconfigured will please a lot of established users who want a Linux laptop without having to buy a Windows license and do all of the configuration themselves. Laptops are notoriously difficult to run Linux distributions on because of the amount of proprietary hardware and tricky drivers involved. This is obviously not a problem for HP as they’re the hardware maker!

Power management, often an issue with Linux, is fully enabled – and the laptop comes with HP support. Other specifications include a Celeron or Pentium processor, 30 to 60 gb of disk space and a 15” screen.

Linux distributions are now second place behind Windows, with Macintosh a close third for the title of most popular desktop operating system – with more and more manufacturers providing Linux alternatives, the open source OS will increase in popularity over the next few years.

HP on the nx5000

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?