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HP Starts Pushing Desktop Linux

HP Starts Pushing Desktop Linux

HP has supposedly been selling MandrakeSoft Linux on the desktop for a while but it's been so quiet about it that for all intents and purposes it's been a stealth operation.

But now that the desktop Linux hype meter is registering new highs, HP has decided to raise the decibel level.

It says it's got two new Linux desktops for the North American SMB market. One is the first of a new basic 2000 series, the HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000. The company figures the street price of a Celeron model will be $389 to start. The Hyper-Threaded Pentium 4 unita will be pricier.

The other box is a mainstream widget designated the dc5000, another series that will come with HP Lifecycle manageability tools and is priced at $599 for a Celeron chip and $679 for a P4 box.

According to HP's custom, the boxes will be sold with Mandrake Linux, a boon for the French company that just filed its plan to emerge from the Parisian version of Chapter 11 last week. The same PCs can be had with Windows XP, by the way.

An HP Compaq 7000 series, due this summer, will offer customers advanced security, serviceability and manageability features, including HP Lifecycle Solutions to deploy and maintain PCs in corporate networks.

The microtower dx2000 features four DIMM slots to support single- or dual-channel memory configurations and offers quick and easy utilization of external peripherals with eight USB 2.0 ports.

The box can be had at clock rates up to 3GHz, with a maximum 80GB drive, up to one gigabyte of double data rate (DDR) SDRAM and a choice of optical drives.

Though it uses the same processors as the 2000, the dc5000 is intended for more advanced computing, and comes in two designs - a small form factor and a microtower. It can support a 160GB drive and up to 4GB of DDR SDRAM. Both form factors are designed with tool-less access to internal components and drives.

HP seems to think XP will dominate the 5000 platform.

Meanwhile, Mandrake's Chapter 11 exit plan, which the courts have yet to accept, calls for it to repay 4.1 million euros in liabilities over the next nine years and no interest. It says it's committed to repaying 3.3 million euros of the total amount, but that 800,000 euros is conditional on "certain events" that it doesn't describe.

The company says it means the liabilities will be pay off out of revenues and that it won't need to raise additional capital. At last word it had subscriptions from existing investors to pay 2.10 euros apiece for an additional 358,000 shares, giving Mandrake a stronger capital base.

Although the exit plan hasn't been rubberstamped by a court, Mandrake shares are trading again on Marche Libre after a 14-month absence.

The company is working on a new desktop kit based on the 2.6 Linux kernel that will offer a choice of KDE 3.2, Gnome 2.4 or the house-brand MandrakeGalaxy 2 desktop environments as well as OpenOffice 1.1.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at) or paperboy(at), and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
Bruce Mac 04/01/04 12:46:39 PM EST

Not to rain on the parade but with regard to the Asian linux head start advantage... my understanding is that the bulk of linux desktops for China get reloaded with pirated Microsoft product offerings... any comments?

Gilles Bignebat 03/24/04 03:59:20 AM EST

So I've been visiting the HP web site and I saw this:

Consequently, I've just sent this message to the HP'webmaster:
In the table on the URL above, there's a line "Productivity software" with "Microsoft® Works v7.0" for the Windows' configurations rows and anything for the linuxes ones.
What about and all others tools provided? (Just think about KDE packages)
It looks like "Well, Microsoft configuration is more expensive but there are more things" and it's not true!
And I'm not talking about the anti-virus.
So I hope you'll change it to help customers choosing.
Sincerily yours.

Gabriel Voinea 03/22/04 08:44:45 AM EST

I have installed Mandrake 10.0 (based on 2.6.3 kernel) and I like it very much, compared to any Windows.
It's very fast, stable and easy to use.
The hardware is detected very well.
The web and database servers run much faster than on 2.4.x kernels (and faster than any Windows).

Harold 03/18/04 12:40:03 PM EST

I decided to switch my wife's computer away from Windows when the damn thing crashed again - after a period when her complaints about pop-ups and 'out-of-resources' messages were increasing in number. So one day I just installed Mandrake 9.2. I didn't even tell her I was going to do it.

She was a little surprised but took to it like a duck to water. She had never used Linux before and certainly doesn't know anything about shell scripting. But the GUI was intuitive enough for her to get started right away, and she figured out how to do things pretty much by herself.

After a few days I asked her if she wanted me to re-install Windows. "No way!" she said, "Now I see what you've been talking about. It's so much faster! You should have switched me over before."

So her experience is that the KDE desktop is just as intuitive as that other system and it runs faster, shuts out pop ups and never bogs-down. Not ready for the Desktop? Face it, Microsoft isn't ready for the Desktop!

As for myself, I've decided that I will NEVER buy a Microsoft product again. I bought my last system from a vendor who provided a bare-bones box that I could configure as I wanted, and even left off the OS so that I could provide my own. So I'm done paying the Microsoft tax. And guess what? The whole deal cost me a lot less than buying a pre-configured system of the same power.

Mandrake is a great choice for HP because it handles multimedia better than other distros I've tried and because it has great tools (urpmi) for keeping your system up to date.

Other distros are easily and inexpensively installed if users want to try them. Also those who would prefer other desktops can easily switch to them. Having choice is good, and Linux offers plenty of that.

But why shuold HP wait to introduce this in North America? With Linux, aaian users are being given a head start advantage.

Petar 03/17/04 09:41:33 PM EST

@King Joashi
Mandrake less stable than winXP? What a bad, bad joke. I´ve been using Mandrake for a while now, and I have never had a single crash. Right, some apps are not that stable as you would expect them to be on a Linux box, butr that´s the pain of staying on the ¨bleeding edge¨. Any Linux distro is in so many ways better than´ Windoze that it cannot be described in a few words.

Scotty 03/17/04 03:31:55 AM EST

HP - do it!!. If so I may make my next laptop purchase a HP item, but anyway it will definitely NOT A SONY!!

bouville 03/17/04 12:00:11 AM EST

XP more stable than Mandrake?! Your are crazy! I have a dual boot here:
* Mandrake: never, never, never crashed.
* winXP: crashs 3 or 4 times/week.

Mandrake is the BEST distro for newbies and for people that like guis :)

David 03/16/04 05:41:31 PM EST

I've just installed Mandrake 10.0 on my PC (which will be the OS that HP will be using). I like it very much. Mandrake 8.2 was the distribution that introduced me to Linux. It ran perfectly fine for me back then, too. Then, 9.0 came out and I was not impressed. I switched distributions at that time.

But now, I decided to give Mandrake another chance at impressing me. It did. I'm glad to see a major industry player, like HP, take this step towards Linux and open source computing. It will only help us, as PC users and consumers. Even if you don't want to use Linux, it will force MicroCrap to re-evaluate their own contributions to the computing world... benefiting you, their users.

As for myself, I'll never voluntarily use or contribute to another MicroCrap product ever again. With this news from HP, next time I'm out looking for a new PC, I’ll be sure to give them more of my attention. As for Mandrake, I'm glad to have reason to come back to them once again.

Manek Dubash 03/16/04 04:50:37 AM EST

Not a new story. This was last reported in July 2003 here:,39020381,2137022,00.htm

Bill 03/15/04 06:16:40 PM EST

Good luck buying one...atleast at the low price point. Most of the "partners" of HP do not have the model listed and those that do want to see you one at TWICE the price of the cheapest one. My old HP is showing its age and I really want a new system that is Linx compatible "out of the box" by a major retailer other than Dell. 8-(

Edwards 03/15/04 06:09:48 PM EST

Someone stated that Mandrake is pre-installed, but per the HP site XP is pre-installed and there is a CD for Mandrake. Wish they would offer it with only a few more dollars.

geekboy 03/15/04 03:23:26 PM EST

PhillyJeepBoy -- one major advantage to linux over windows is that if you are infected, or you run something malicious, since you "should" be running as a normal user that can't make modifications to the system. Anything that breaks would be easily remedied. If you run windows, you really can do whatever the heck you want to anything on the system. So if I run something that is supposed to "delete the entire HD" under linux, (assuming such a "virus" exists), I'd have to be the superuser to delete everything. Otherwise I'd just lose my home directory. Under windows, game-over man...

PhillyJeepBoy 03/15/04 01:39:44 PM EST

More power to the big OEM's providing an OS alternative and allowing for the "small guys" to get better market exposure! However, my feelings are mixed as to whether it could be mainstream or not. One person commented on switching for sake of avoiding pop-ups and spyware. Just like any other product that has dominated the market, there will be individuals that will try and exploit it. So once any Linux distro becomes mainstream, it too will be exploited and being the Linux novice that I am, couldn't this be a possibility? Don't the various distros, since many are still open source, offer more opportunity for compromise? The number of security alerts I receive between RedHat and Windows XP seem comparable. Am I missing something here? Is there truly an advantage to switching, aside from cost?

Bill Stoner 03/15/04 01:26:34 PM EST

Responding to Art C, and others,
Linux will be a good choice, now, and for the long term. The fact that it is 'open source' and 'international' helps to guarantee the long term survival and availability of the OS. You do not need to have much interaction with windows, though you may have to interface with a windows network...

Most of what you listed as 'required' apps are available right now. not sure about a quicken replacement, but i'd bet one already exists.

Buy an extra hard drive and try downloading one of the freely available distribution linux flavors. You can always reformat the hard drive and give up. You may find your next OS, and open source applications, for almost "free".

Fabs 03/15/04 01:21:55 PM EST

XP more stable than Linux? A friend of mine told me "come and see my new laptop with XP" I went to his workplace, and when he tried to show me the new GUI, it crashed. He is a FreeBSD geek and I'm a FreeBSD/Linux fan. Linux never made me look so badly. Hooray for Mandrake, good luck!

Art Crothers 03/15/04 12:53:48 PM EST

I'm a small business owner with limited computer skills, so my viewpoint is more that of a typical user rather than a computer geek. As a user, I hate hate hate all the time consuming and irreversible problems I have had with Windows, and I would be eager eager eager to switch to Linux if it were:
1. Easy to do
2. Software worked like the programs I now use (Quicken, Word, & Excel)
3. There was absolutely no interaction with Windows

This said, I would not buy any new Linux based computer which used software from a French company, or any other company which was emerging from bankruptcy.

Tarantalato 03/15/04 12:21:30 PM EST

HP: where technologies go to die.

That said, I don't like Mandrake much, either. I mean, their stuff works okay (other than a couple of fried cd drives, which I don't count against them) and it is, in a way, easy to use.

But they're determined to make commercial linux on the desktop look and feel as clunky and amateurish as possible: all the way from their 3rd-grade-girl logo through the spaghetti-codeish entanglement of the default menu setup on their KDE desktop. I think they deserve each other.

MushHead 03/15/04 12:06:57 PM EST

What, no Redhat/Fedora users out there?

Linux is great! However I haven't found a distro click and droolish enough for my clients.

StoneWall Jack 03/15/04 11:12:01 AM EST

In response to Twid. Mandrake may be less user friendly than the MS XP Office Package or the MS 2003 Office Package. But in the long run a Linux user will have an opporunity to make an independent and informed decision on whether or not to upgrade. Versus being forced to upgrade by Redmond, WA.

1ST Brigade

King Joashi 03/15/04 09:22:28 AM EST

I've found Mandrake to have the best visual user configuration programs out there. I do think it's the most user friendly. However, I also think it's less stable than some of the other distributions because of staying on the edge of new software releases. Obviously we don't want a Debian stable for the desktop user, but I think Mandrake is less stable than Windows XP.

The new users won't necessarily care how far the strides GNU/Linux has made, but realize that it's still not as easy to use as Windows and (IMO) not as stable as XP either!

sadenl 03/15/04 09:18:55 AM EST

I just install Lindows on a family member's computer because they were sick of all the pop ups and spyware. Lindows is the real deal as far as ease of use. The whole click and run thing worked out nicely. Indeed, Linux as prgressed very fast.

Knoppix is nice too but it had minor problems.

D'bug 03/15/04 09:05:54 AM EST

I'd love to see Mandrake and HP do well with this. Mac OS X it isn't, but there's no way to get new hardware with that at this price point. Perhaps with the HP-Apple music alliance, HP can persuade Apple to bring iTunes to Linux? Last I heard, some Linux folks like iPods too...

Joe Nayares 03/15/04 04:22:42 AM EST

I went to the H-P site and all their prices are much higher
there is no way they will sell you a system for the price they advertise.

slocate -u 03/15/04 03:21:03 AM EST

I think it's funny that the writer mentioned Mandrake Galaxy 2 was a desktop environment like KDE or Gnome. It's not. It's a unifying theme that has matching elements on both KDE and Gnome so apps from both desktops 'feel at home' in each other. I.e. kde apps look like gnome apps and vice versa.

Nice research. Next time do a little tiny more.

sloan 03/15/04 01:49:14 AM EST

AJN, maybe 'unita' is just a mistype of 'units'....

scragg 03/15/04 01:49:11 AM EST

"S" is next to "A" on the keyboard. Duh

AJN 03/15/04 01:13:48 AM EST

Did the author actually use the word 'unita' as the plural of 'unit'. Please tell me I am missing something.

Ryan G 03/15/04 01:08:16 AM EST

I find it humorous that someone would bring up Word and Quicken. HP is aiming at the corporate desktop, thus the special tracking software they include. Word will be handled by OpenOffice and likely handle what most people use very well. (Special cases at certain corporations will be easily identifiable. Fill in the blank template forms may need some kind of rework as PDFs or the like.)
As for Quicken, this is irrelavent for the corporate desktop except in the accounting department, which is more likely to be running Quickbooks. (For which, I think there's a Wine project derivative if they have to have Quickbooks runnable on Linux.) More likely, they'll be looking at another proprietary *nix based accounting solution (which I know exist as I was approached by an accounting system reseller for my Linux knowledge).
Linux desktops do all the things most corporate desktops need. Word docs, Excel spreadsheets (once you get over using ';' instead of ',' in OpenOffice), PowerPoint presentations, web browsing, and email.
Someone's bound to bring up graphics artists. They aren't going to have standard systems whether it's Windows, Mac, or Linux anyway, so they doesn't count in this situation. (And I've tried Gimp. Photoshop does thump it pretty well, but how many people in a typical office have a $600 graphics program on their system to begin with?)

LD 03/15/04 12:52:12 AM EST

Mandrake is a good choice, easy configuration compared to "other" supposedly polished distro's....

Mike 03/15/04 12:15:07 AM EST

Oh yawn Brian! Who cares.

At least they are going with Linux -- and not a bad one either, especially for desktop. What, pray, constitutes a "real corporate desktop linux" anyway?

Brian, we all see these "my distro's better than yours" arguments every day -- they are really lame and don't contribute one bit to the debate about Linux on aunt Tilly's desktop. At least with HP, aunt Tilly can have a stable, friendly system all pre-installed. If she doesn't like Mandrake, well she can ask her nephew to install something "better"...

Brian 03/12/04 11:09:08 PM EST

Mandrake? What a bad joke. Why didn't they go with a real corporate desktop linux like Xandros Deluxe or Business Edition? With Crossover Office to ease the way, this is a much better distro.

Anthony Ranieri 03/12/04 10:46:04 PM EST

A very good move by HP. Mandrake is a classic for newbies. It will make an easy introduction for the standard Windows user to get a good taste of Linux.

inglorian 03/12/04 12:53:22 PM EST

Now that John & Jane SixPack can buy HP boxes with Mandrake pre-installed, we get to see if Mandrake is really as intuitive and as great a desktop OS as they claim to be...Good luck Mandrakesoft!

layman 03/12/04 12:49:21 PM EST

I don't understand why HP did not go for something along the lines of Lycoris or OEone. A streamlined, consistent Linux OS designed to be used by non-techies.

Rob-fu 03/12/04 12:47:20 PM EST

Mandrake has got to be the easiest distro to install and manage. Everything is autodetected, and setup flies by painlessly (that is, if you are semi-literate). HP is helping Linux get its foot in the door, but the question is whether people will catch on. Using Mandrake to do this will help a lot, IMHO.

Twid 03/12/04 12:45:55 PM EST

I'm not saying that Mandrake isn't good, or that Linux isn't fun to run. But the average consumer is going to be upset when they find that they can't run Microsoft Word or Quicken

PenguinMan 03/12/04 12:42:08 PM EST

For your average desktop user, Mandrake isn't as ideal as LindowsOS

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