I have known for more years than I care to think about that HP has been almost ready to release a pre-configured Linux desktop system. But, then, they wouldn't pull the trigger.
Now, they have. At long, long, one more time with feeling, last, HP is shipping Novell's SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10 SP2 on a business desktop: the HP Compaq dc5850
The problem was HP was a house divided when it came to shipping a Linux desktop. A lot of HP, mostly on the engineering side, wanted to do it. A lot of other HP staffers, mostly management, wanted nothing do with it.
It's not that HP didn't get that their customers wanted Linux. They already knew that. HP had actually been shipping Linux on servers for ages. Next to IBM, when it comes to servers, HP is the most significant supporter Linux has. I mean, besides supporting the big names of Linux, like Red Hat and Novell SUSE, HP actually supports more obscure Linux distributions such as Asianux, Mandriva, and even the ultimate community Linux distribution: Debian.
But, when it came to the desktop, HP always got cold feet.
Oh, you could order Linux on a desktop, like the HP/Compaq nc6120 business notebook. And, if you wanted computers by the semi-trailer load, HP would install whatever you wanted on them. But, if you wanted 'ready-to-wear' desktop Linux you were out of luck.
Recently, however, the pro-Linux desktop forces started winning. First, HP released the HP 2133 Mini-Note with SLED. Now, starting on December 15th, you'll be able a full desktop system preloaded with SLED and ready to go starting at $519.
With this move, HP finally followed Dell, which was the first major OEM to make desktop Linux available as a pre-load, Lenovo and Asus into the desktop Linux revolution. In fact, with HP coming aboard, the first stage of the Linux rebellion is done.
Today, for the first time ever, all the major PC vendors are shipping at least one system with pre-loaded desktop Linux. It's a big day for desktop Linux users, maybe the biggest day ever.