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Is Intel's "Centrino" Techno-Latin for "No Linux?" Michael's Minute

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Michael's Minute: Is Intel's "Centrino"
Techno-Latin for "No Linux?"

The Canadian launch of LindowsOS computers in retail stores went off without a hitch! We even got some great news coverage. I personally visited The Brick in Calgary and quizzed the salesman about the demo unit on the showroom floor for about 10 minutes before I let on who I was. He did a great job. It's great seeing Linux-based computers sandwiched between IBM and Compaq computers on store shelves in North America. Lets hope the US catches up to their Northernly sister sooner rather than later!

Click to enlarge picture

Now onto a different topic.

It's no mystery that Microsoft is doing everything in their power to thwart desktop Linux, because it's a direct hit on their revenues and profitability. They know that affordable Linux-based software will cause them to adjust their pricing to compete and they're doing everything in their power to delay the inevitable. But the other half of the "Wintel" dynasty (Intel) is a going through a major internal struggle about how strongly to back desktop Linux. Fully embracing it risks upsetting Microsoft and potentially losing their support for Intel's 64bit chip and other key projects. However, if Intel ignores it, they open the door for the other two chip companies (VIA and AMD) to fill the void and ride the desktop Linux wave to greater marketshare at Intel's expense.

Picture courtesy of
Jeff Christensen

Many inside Intel want to fully back consumer Linux products. Intel engineers are active contributors to Linux software development and do an excellent job of ensuring that the latest chips and motherboards have solid Linux support. They've sent many products to our certification labs as part of that process and we're grateful for their support. However, when it comes to packaging those components into complete computers and announcing their availability, strong resistance emerges. It's a classic "engineering vs. marketing" business struggle. The technology-minded folks see a growing trend that is imperative for them to support in order to stay fully relevent in all areas of the PC business. While the marketing-minded individuals are more worried about the risk of upsetting Microsoft.

Let me illustrate the internal struggle happening within Intel with some actual examples. Intel does a traveling roadshow where they, along with about a dozen other companies, visit US cities and talk to computer manufacturers about their product line. When our salespeople have attended similar Intel events wearing shirts, they are consistently beseiged with Intel customers asking us why we are not at the event exhibiting. For sure, there is solid interest in Linux desktop products from Intel customers and we would like to be exhibiting. We asked to participate in an upcoming roadshow. The initial reaction to our request to be a participant was, "Great. We'd love to have you participate because we're getting increasing interest in Linux desktop machines." But once the request is vetted through the marketing side of Intel we are told we cannot participate even though we are willing to pay the required fees and they have told us there is room. Perhaps it is because Microsoft is also a major sponsor of this event. The exact reason is unclear at this time, but Intel computer builders won't get a chance to hear about desktop Linux products.

A similar incident happened with the Desktop Linux Summit held a month ago. Engineers within Intel were excited about attending and were even slated to participate as speakers. At the last moment though, Intel marketing people stepped in and blocked their participation citing "branding restrictions." I'm still not sure what that means exactly, but it was their justification for their change of heart. More than 550 attendees missed an opportunity to hear about how well Intel and desktop Linux work together today and consequently are looking increasingly to alternative chip choices for their PC needs, such as VIA was in attendance.

Most worrisome is Intel's lack of Linux support for their new Centrino chipset which they've called their "most important announcement since the Pentium." Intel says that 300 million dollars will go into advertising this new product for mobile computing, but Intel isn't making the small investment to provide Linux drivers. When you see that "Centrino" sticker on the computer, you can substitute "Microsoft Windows XP." As a cost saver perhaps we can expect to see "XPino" stickers in the future further solidifying the Wintel partnership. Lets hope this isn't a signal that future Intel products will be void of Linux support as well.

It's clear that those beholden to Microsoft within Intel are winning the battle against supporting desktop Linux. Consequently, Intel has no strategy for the biggest development in the PC business in 15 years. That's bad for customers looking for Intel powered Linux desktops and laptops running Linux. At the same time, it's an opening for chipmakers like VIA and AMD to make sure that those looking for desktop Linux products have a nice selection to choose from.

-- Michael

Please visit to answers questions you may have about LindowsOS or

Bringing Choice to Your Computer!

About, Inc. is a consumer company that brings choice to computer users., Inc. was started by Michael Robertson, founder and former CEO of LindowsOS is a modern, affordable and easy-to-use operating system that allows users access to hundreds of applications via the Click-N-Run (TM) Warehouse. All applications in the Click-N-Run Warehouse ( are licensed on a lifetime, per-person or family basis and can be downloaded, installed and run with just one-mouse click. LindowsOS is presently available on LindowsOS Certified Computers ( including a $799 laptop ( being offered from Builder partners LindowsOS can be ordered on CD and/or downloaded at offers a safe computing environment for family’s and businesses, learn more by visiting

LindowsOS and are trademarks of, Inc. Linux® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft® Windows operating system is a registered trademark or service mark of the Microsoft Corporation.


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