Hewlett-Packard has ended a long running bout of speculation by officially announcing that it will be selling Linux-based PCs.  The news comes from Australia’s APC magazine — HP will be offering their dx2250 desktop machine with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Desktop — the catch?  It’s only available in Australia thus far.

Nevertheless this shows that Dell is not the only PC manufacturer who recognises the benefits of offering machines with one flavour or another of Linux preinstalled rather than Microsoft Windows.  Dell started not long ago to offer some of its machines with Linux preinstalled; it actually gives the choice of either Red Hat Enterprice WS 4 or Ubuntu 7.04.

Hewlett-Packard has long been a supporter of Linux on the server side and put a considerable amount of resource in to driver development.  If HP decides to offer desktop Linux as an OS option on its machines globally, then I would think it could only mean good things for Linux users and the open source community.

As I have said before I don’t believe Linux is yet capable of presenting itself as a viable alternative to Windows for the majority of desktop users.  Regardless, it’s still good to see manufacturers giving people a choice.