Two of the world’s largest Linux distributions, Ubuntu and Fedora, have put out new versions that are drawing some positive feedback. Ubuntu has been hailed as extremely user friendly, even for novice Linux users, and Fedora is said to be extremely configurable, though its flexibility comes at a price.

For most users, though, including millions interested in trying Linux for the first time, Fedora lacks the polish and ready-to-run simplicity of its more popular rival.

Desktop Linux Face-Off: Ubuntu 8.04 vs. Fedora 9 (PC World)

In addition, IBM and Novell have teamed up on a Linux application bundle that they are selling in the UK as a replacement for the ubiquitous Windows+Office business platform. The IBM Open Collaboration Solution runs on top of Suse Linux and is specifically designed to allow businesses to “skip Microsoft products altogether.” One product that could dovetail nicely is the MSI Wind low-power PC. Even if the Wind lacks the power of the Intel quad-core powerhouses, regular business users could replace their bulky, power-hungry machines for low-cost replacements that would easily do the job.

IBM, Novell Offer a Microsoft-Free Desktop to UK Users (

MSI Launches Wind Mini Desktop, Mini Laptop (PC World)

I almost have sugarplums dancing in my head over the possibility of being able to reduce hardware and power costs by moving to a solution like the Wind. The unfortunate part is that any such solution would have to meet the base-level user test, which I have not felt good about with any of the options in the past. I will be testing some of the new Linux distributions, and I truly hope that I feel comfortable running a test like that with one or two of my users. Have you started evaluating or rolling out non-Wintel solutions for the desktop?