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HP expands Linux PC line to Asia

The computers, which are geared toward business buyers, will run Turbolinux's software, a version of the open-source operating system based on Novell's SuSE Linux.

Hewlett-Packard has begun selling Linux PCs in 12 Asian countries.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company plans to tout the Asian Linux machines Tuesday, the same day that the first Open Source Business Conference begins

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in San Francisco. The systems, which are geared toward business buyers, will run a version of Turbolinux's operating system called Turbolinux 10 Desktop (10D), HP said in a statement.

HP's desktop models, the dx2000 and cd5000, were announced--barely--last week. In that news release, HP avoided touting the Linux option, saying that the systems were available with Microsoft Windows "or alternative operating systems." In interviews, though, HP said the models came with MandrakeSoft's version of Linux.

IBM, one of the loudest Linux backers when it comes to high-powered server computers, is beginning to dip its toes into Linux for the desktop. Sun Microsystems is the loudest desktop Linux backer, though the company doesn't sell the actual PCs on which its Java Desktop System product runs.

However, HP has something IBM and Sun lack: It sells more PCs than any other company. HP's Linux PCs indicate the company's judgment that the open-source operating system is a serious enough business prospect to stand alongside Windows, which dominates the market.

The new Asian machines are available immediately in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, HP said.

Although Turbolinux was a prominent member of the now-defunct UnitedLinux partnership, it sold only server products from the alliance. And though Turbolinux will continue working with Novell's SuSE Linux for its higher-end products, "the greatest majority of our sales came from, and still come from, our existing Turbolinux-based products," spokesman Michael Jennings said.