Going forward, Lenovo has committed to full support for Linux operating systems across its entire line of ThinkPad and ThinkStation workstation systems. These are not standard consumer laptops and desktops, but their professional systems targeting engineers, software developers, researchers, and other users with serious demands.
Lenovo says that this particular sector of users are increasingly opting to use Linux rather than Windows on their workstations, and so they want to do a better job of supporting Linux on their workstations. In the past, they have had a program certifying certain hardware configurations of certain models for Linux, but this is a big step up in support, with Lenovo committing to certifying every single ThinkPad and ThinkStation in their lineup for Linux going forward.
The certification process is pretty comprehensive. All certified models will be thoroughly tested with both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu LTS, so users can pick either of these distributions of Linux for their system:
“To ensure an effortless Linux experience, Lenovo workstations will work intuitively with the host Linux OS and offer full end-to-end support – from security patches and updates to better secure and verify hardware drivers, firmware and bios optimizations. What’s more, Lenovo will also upstream device drivers directly to the Linux kernel, to help maintain stability and compatibility throughout the life of the workstation.”
Upstreaming the device drivers directly to the Linux kernel is particularly welcome. Individual components in each of these workstations make be found in other machines, and by feeding their work back into the Linux Kernel, Lenovo will not only be improving how Linux based operating systems perform on their machines, but also any others using the same components.
Lenovo workstations preloaded with these Linux based operating systems will begin shipping this month, as they gradually add the option for their entire lineup of workstation desktops and laptops, and they’ll be starting with the ThinkPad P Series.
Microsoft Windows is obviously still dominating the computer operating system space, with Apple’s MacOS firmly in second place, but for Lenovo to step up their level of Linux support like this is great news for fans of open source computing, or for particular users that rely on tools and functionality that is more robust on Linux than alternative operating systems.
By picking out specific Linux distributions that can be thoroughly tested and certified can help remove some of the headaches of incompatible drivers and unsupported hardware, perhaps removing or at least lessening the barrier for using Linux in certain professional contexts. As Lenovo put it:
“By certifying our entire portfolio of ThinkStation and ThinkPad P Series workstations, we are prioritizing the needs of specialized end-users and helping to ensure our workstations will deliver the best possible out-of-the-box Linux experience – increasing the flexibility of users across all industries.”
Hopefully, this move proves to be a success, and there is indeed a greater demand for Linux certified computers in the professional space. Who knows, perhaps this could be something that eventually filters down to Lenovo’s consumer devices. Certainly, I think there would be some interest in them doing a Linux variant of their Yoga line of laptops.