Today Lenovo makes available for order something we announced several months ago – Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED). I think someone in the technology press summed it up best when he said "finally." I think the wait was worth it. Since I've been one of the people publicly putting together the words "Lenovo" and "Linux" lately, I got an advance copy to try out and play around with. As is now my usual MO, I've installed it inside a virtual machine. However, since the version Novell supplied was a VMware virtual machine, I started by installing the VMware player to make it work. (I don't want to hijack my own post by talking about virtual machines again, but to those readers who commented that I needed to try out VMware, you were absolutely right. If there's interest, I'll do a subsequent post on the topic.) Unlike when I installed Ubuntu, I didn't have any initial problems getting up and running. It just worked. The shell looked very familiar to what I am used to in Windows. The Computer button in the lower left hand corner works very similarly to the Start menu in Windows. I'm sure someone out there will tell me that this is because one version has the KDE environment and the other has Gnome, (or something like that). I'm still feeling my way through this, so regardless of which shell is running on top of it all, I was much more comfortable with SLED than I was with Ubuntu. Performance is fast, even in a virtual machine. I'm sure that the native version would be even faster. Since Lenovo is not providing much customization on this iteration, I did miss a few features, most significantly, the scroll button on my TrackPoint. Also amusing is that the Windows key on my keyboard also brought up the Computer (Start) menu in Linux. The environment felt so familiar that I decided to go ahead and write this blog post in the included OpenOffice.org Writer within SLED. However, when it came time to post, I did move it over to Microsoft Word 2007, my preferred way to post these blog posts due to its integration with WordPress. Frustration abounded though when I could not drag and drop my newly created file onto my Windows desktop. I guess it is too much to ask for drag and drop between Linux and Windows, but it sure would be nice. Setting up a common "shared" folder between Linux and Windows just isn't as elegant. I played around with other preinstalled programs and my only real issue was that couldn't get audio to work. I know this isn't a problem on the hardware we are shipping with SLED preloaded, and in fairness to the Novell and ThinkPad teams, this machine technically isn't a supported configuration. For those who want to learn all of the configuration details or to order a model, here's a link to our site. I don't know final pricing – that's on the web page, but remember that you shouldn't expect that you should take the retail price of Windows and subtract it from the list price of a similarly configured Windows model. Part of what you are paying for is getting full support directly from Lenovo. That isn't free for us. Plus, Microsoft does not charge us retail prices to load Windows on our machines anyway. Over the next few weeks I'm going to be playing more with this distribution. I instinctively like it.