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ThinkPad For Linux

Good news for engineers looking to end the weight lifting exercise that typically defines the term "mobile workstation."

Lenovo today announced a version of its ThinkPad T60p notebook tailored for Linux users and weighing less than five pounds. Lenovo is specifically supporting Novell's new SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) 10 operating system, although other Linux distributions can be loaded.

The notebook's release comes after a two-year research and development effort between Lenovo, Intel  and Novell .

The goal is to allow electronic engineers engaged in integrated circuit and board level design the necessary support solution for numeric-intensive applications in mobile environments.

"Switching between workstations and a PC or other system is a real problem in environments where engineers are locked to their desks," Bill Lori, Lenovo's worldwide segment manager for ThinkPad T series, told internetnews.com. "We want to bring them a true mobile experience, which has been lacking in the Linux world."

Lenovo has previously certified Linux for its desktop and notebook systems, but now for the first time is offering its Help Desk assistance to Linux customers who buy one of the two ThinkPad T60p Linux Mobile Workstations.

Pricing starts at $3,099 for a 14-inch and $3,199 for a 15-inch screen model, which are both based on Intel's Centrino Duo mobile processor. Lenovo's first ThinkPads with Centrino Duo were released earlier this year.

Robert Frances Group analyst Adam Braunstein said targeting the engineering segment is an effective way for Lenovo to introduce a Linux notebook into its product line.

"This is for the person who wants to do engineering on the fly or move around the site and not have to go back to the office," Braunstein told internetnews.com. "Joe Consumer can buy a much less expensive notebook, but support is the key thing here."

Contrary to some reports, Lenovo is not automatically pre-loading the SLED OS on the ThinkPads, though it will do that for certain enterprise customers.

"We're letting individuals and other customer preload and customize the system the way they want it," said Lori.

Lori said Lenovo will work with larger enterprise customers and engineering departments who have a custom image they want preloaded, but the standard configuration is a blank hard disk. He said a similarly configured ThinkPad with Windows pre-installed would cost $100 more.

Also, Lenovo has ported several of its ThinkVantage technologies to Linux, including Configuration Utility, Power Manager and Access Connections, all available for download at Lenovo's Web site.