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IBM plans Linux ThinkPads for Q3 – Transmeta?

Good news - syncs with Transmeta ThinkPads. Bad news - no drivers for current range?

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IBM is due to put some muscle behind its oft-professed support for Linux and actually do something about it later today. The company is to announce that it will offer Caldera OpenLinux 2.4 on ThinkPads... from Q3.

Clearly we have here another sign of how exceeding slow the mills grind round at Big Blue. It's been possible to run Linux on ThinkPads for yonks, IBM has been committed to preinstalling Linux on ThinkPads for yonks plus n, and the company even managed to screw up by getting ThinkPads accidentally certified compatible with Red Hat a little while back. Accidentally, because nothing had actually changed between the not -certified and certified stages.

IBM's big problems, apart from the company tending to prefer talkware to shipware, have concerned hardware IP. The ThinkPads include DSP-based audio and internal modem, and the bits of IBM who own this IP wouldn't necessarily smile on an open source connection. Last we heard IBM was fixing this, but that was a very long time ago, and the current generation of ThinkPads still can't use the internal modem under Linux, and still has some audio issues.

The decision to ship in Q3, and the choice of Caldera, are both interesting. It's not just a case of what happened to the Red Hat connection - IBM also (more mouthware) committed to supporting multiple versions of Linux a while back. That might still happen, presumably, as local subsidiaries might - as was the stated intent - support the flavours that are most appropriate for their markets.

And why Q3? Well, imagine IBM finally decided the IP problem was more trouble than it was worth, and IBM was also expected (which it is) to unveil a Transmeta-based ThinkPad range later this year. We don't have to imagine very hard at this point, because although Transmeta chips are intended to be Windows-friendly as well, it'd be kind of difficult to officially support Linux while not shipping it with your Transmeta-based machines. A side-effect of IBM deciding to go with a new range for its Linux notebook offering would of course be that the driver issues on the current range would quite probably never get fixed. Tut. ®

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