HP Opens Up Open Source for Small Businesses

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 11, 2008

HP has been quirky over the years when it comes to open source. It has been, traditionally, a company that supports open source -- especially in larger enterprises. While large businesses are a major focus for HP -- and it has supported open source in other ways -- a "smaller business" line of open source products has been a long time coming.

HP is approaching this market with both fists flying. Wednesday, it announced two new open source products, geared to small businesses and educational institutions.

HP plans on including its Mozilla Firefox for HP Virtual Solution on more of its business class desktop PCs (to a total of seven models between the HP Compaq dc/dx lines in the US, eight models worldwide).

The "Firefox for HP Virtual Solution" seems it would have the most value in small businesses with limited IT support. It uses Symantec's SVS virtualization tools to run Firefox (and all related web activity) in a virtualized environment. Essentially, anything done on the web (including installing downloaded applications) that isn't saved to the desktop or "My Documents" folder runs in this virtual environment, and this environment can be reset without losing user profiles.

The significance of this, of course, is that HP uses Firefox to this end. Did the open code make this an easier undertaking? Likely. Did HP need to use Firefox (or any open browser)? Probably not. Will offering this on more small business desktops encourage more people to use Firefox? It would seem so, at least in the work environment.

Come December 15th, HP will also offer Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on its HP Compaq dc5850 model. The base SLED-equipped model will cost $519, and features the usual open source suspects for the small business setting -- OpenOffice, and mail clients such as Evolution. Additionally, HP and Novell are developing a repository for applications specific to educational settings. Many of the applications will be centered on students, but HP and Novell plan on incorporating school administration and instruction applications as well.