HP to support Mandrake Linux on desktops

France's MandrakeSoft has teamed up with Hewlett-Packard in the open source camp's latest foray into the desktop PC market. The agreement, announced on Tuesday ahead of the LinuxWorld Expo, will see HP build and promote Mandrake Linux-based desktop PCs for European and North American businesses.
Linux is based on an open source license that prevents any one company from owning the software, and competes against Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system, which is kept under tight proprietary control. So far, however, Linux has mainly succeeded in the server market, where ease-of-use is less important than reliability and performance.

The HP deal aims to address some of the problems that have prevented desktop users from adopting Linux, such as the lack of technical support.

Mandrake Linux will be certified on all of HP's business PCs, and will be offered in a premium package that includes telephone, on-site and remote support. MandrakeSoft is to provide technical support for HP's teams, according to the companies. The PCs will also be available without support.

"This alliance is a testament to HP's strong commitment in Linux market," said Eric Rueda, software marketing manager of HP Business Desktops division, in a statement.

Other companies have tried selling Linux on desktops in the past. Dell stopped offering Red Hat Linux on its desktop and notebook PCs last autumn, citing lack of demand, but says there is more potential for the software on servers and workstations.