Dell to start offering Linux on new PCs.

First they start offering AMD processors and now Dell says they’re going to start selling consumer PCs with Linux installed:

Based on customer feedback Dell began soliciting last month, Dell said that top of mind among customers was that the company should begin offering Linux as an alternative to Windows on its personal computers, according to a posting on a company blog. Dell said it “has heard” what customers said and will act accordingly.

“We will expand our Linux support beyond our existing servers and Precision workstation line,” the company said on its IdeaStorm blog. “Our first step in this effort is offering Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems.”

It’ll be awhile before they’re available as Dell is going to have a lot of work to do to get themselves ready to support Linux based machines. From drivers to training their support staff it’s no small undertaking. It’ll be interesting to see how well this works out for them.

19 thoughts on “Dell to start offering Linux on new PCs.

  1. Dell said it “has heard” what customers said and will act accordingly.

    They must have gotten a hearing aid. The have been deaf to the consumer demand for the last decade.

  2. They tried this before but MS got in their face about it.  They barely advertised it and it was only a few weeks before it was shoved to the back of their web site and not much longer before it went away completely.

    I suppose they don’t march to Billy’s drums like they used to, so we’ll see, but I’m not going to get excited until they actually mention that they do Linux when you ask them “What do you have?”

    I’ll smear peanut butter on my face and kiss a squirrel if they actually begin reccomending Linux over Windows.

  3. They must have gotten a hearing aid. The have been deaf to the consumer demand for the last decade.

    My thoughts exactly!  I have been saying the same thing about Dell for awhile.

    But this is seriously one of the best things that could happen to Linux.  The driver support for hardware in Linux is really going take off from this.  I see this as just one more step toward M$ eventual demise (well that is if M$ doesn’t have a paradigm shift from their current software model).  And I guess by demise I mean a huge loss in profits over a period of time.

    I’ll smear peanut butter …

    mmmmmm Peanut Butter!

  4. I read an article a few weeks ago that spelled out why Dell might flirt with Linux on Desktops. I don’t remember all the details, but the author made the case that Microsoft used Vista to let Dell have it up its corporate butt (and Dell’s recent losses are attributable to Microsoft’s actions). I don’t see how Dell can make any kind of margin on Linux, but HP seems to be doing okay. In short, it’s likely that Dell isn’t so much intent on listening to customers and turning a profit on Linux, but using desktop Linux as leverage against Microsoft.

    We’ll see.

  5. Hey now, I had a bit on the peanut butter disproving evolution thing myself here.

    Anyway, according to the PC World article this change is in part because Michael Dell has returned to run the company:

    Dell said earlier this month it had begun polling customers about what changes they want to see from the company. These efforts began soon after founder Michael Dell returned to the company’s helm, when customers began to ask Dell to expand their software choices for PCs. Dell has been struggling in a PC market it once dominated, and is hoping that offering Linux on PCs will spur company growth.

    Dell has offered Linux on their server solutions for awhile now and those seem to be doing fairly well.

  6. Les, Dell servers are a low-volume, high-margin business unit distinct from desktops. They can afford to support what the market asks for.

    Different economics apply to desktops. I have worked for Dell in the past and I’m not comfortable divulging what I’ve learned about their interna, but you can find commentary on Google that explains why it would be hard for Dell to meet the kind of margins that make desktop Linux worthwhile, assuming they won’t gush red ink on it.

    I wish I’d bothered to keep that link, but Michael Dell was allegedly forced out of de-facto retirement owing to Dell’s losses attributable to Microsoft. I figure that running a trial on desktop Linux is a gamble. If it works out, it gives Dell leverage against Microsoft. If it works out really well, they may have a sustainable business on their hands. If it doesn’t work out, well, tough luck.

  7. Until Dell executes this there’s always System76 for pre-built Linux computers.

    I see this as just one more step toward M$ eventual demise…

    Is Vista locking hardware, deleting programs and choosing which HD content you can and can’t watch?  This is what I’ve heard.  If that’s true, and people are still willing to use it, then they’ll keep throwing their money at MS no matter what.  If anything should be the last straw, Vista is it.  Linux is almost to the point that the average user could install it—more and more people I know are reporting Ubuntu installs with little or no tweaking.  However, people like my parents will probably never stray from Windows.  I mean, it comes with your computer, why would you want to bother changing it?

    Personally, it looks like XP will be the last Microsoft OS I ever use.  In April (when I get a new computer) I’m switching to Ubuntu, probably Ubuntu Studio.

  8. I am trying out CrossOver and have found that I can run MS Office and WoW on my Ubuntu box. 

    I now have no real need for a Windows box. Now, I just wish that the text in Firefox for Linux didn’t look like crap.

  9. I am trying out CrossOver and have found that I can run MS Office and WoW on my Ubuntu box.

    I now have no real need for a Windows box. Now, I just wish that the text in Firefox for Linux didn’t look like crap.

    That’s part of the problem.  Most Windows users assume Linux and Windows are so different they’ll have to convert all their .doc files .xls files, learn how to do mail differently.  I’ve even had someone ask me “Can I still go to my favorite sites if I use Linx?” I wouldn’t be surprised if some people thought text files and graphics files wont work on Linux if you created them on Windows.  In reality, Ubuntu could probably be set up in a corner somewhere and if configured right no one would know they weren’t using Windows unless they compared the logo’s.  You have to buy different apps, but you would have to do that if you went to a Mac too.

    Apparently it’s much harder to move from Windows to Linux than it is to move from Windows to Mac.  That prevailing “Wisdom” has been around for a long time and sadly, I don’t see it going away anytime soon, dispite the facts.  Linux survives dispite their reputation with the masses, not because of it.

    If Dell is VERY careful, they can make a killing playing both sides against the middle and probably inadvertantly doing their part to bring MS if not down then give them a helping of humility.  If it were any other company, I would say that Vista is the last nail in the coffin for MS, but their customers have a nasty habit of continuing to not only buy Windows, but somehow they end up feeling good about it, never mind the facts.

    But what do I know?  I was convinced no one would be stupid enough to vote for Bush a second time either.

  10. MS Office is the current killer app that makes many offices stay with Windows.  It is entirely possible to run at least most of the MS Office apps under Linux.  It is a shame that MS Office is made by Microsoft.

  11. The problem here is- buy a computer, get windows. Programs therefore cater for windows.  I have quite a few games. Could I run them under Linux? Can I take that chance when I spend £500 on a new PC?

  12. I build my own computers so I don’t have to pay the MS tax unless I actually want to run Windows. I bought a copy of XP for one computer and I got it cheap as an OEM version. 

    I don’t play many games besides WoW and City Life. I had to buy a new video card for my Ubunu box to play WoW on it. I am going to try City Life under Linux tomorrow.

  13. I don’t think Vista will be the nail in Microsoft’s coffin, not by a long shot. Despite it’s problems it’s still a step up from XP in many respects and there’s nothing so wrong with it (e.g. DRM) that Microsoft couldn’t correct it later with a Service Pack if they wanted to.

    The only way Vista would bring down Microsoft is if The Powers That Be decide to ignore their customers should they start leaving for other operating systems in any significant quantity.

  14. I’ve got a Linux gateway, a Mac I use for graphics and web page updates.  I got XP from a Dell laptop many moons ago before they gimped the Product Activation so it could only be used for one computer.  It was XP Pro and it was surprisingly stable for a MS product to the point where I measure ‘uptime’ in weeks, not hours like I did with Win98.  I would consider paying full price for XP Pro if one of the three systems I installed it on needs a do-over.

    However, I wouldn’t touch Vista if someone handed me a free copy and said “I got a product key that’s guaranteed for 30 years.”  I think it’s WAY too early to say Vista has no problems that can’t be patched.  There are SOO many problems right now, the 10% microsoft discount is being undercut by Amazon.com because a lot of people are trying to unload their copys of Vista.  I didn’t see THAT with XP.

  15. I use Vista at work and I can’t stand it.  Whenever I try to do something I get blocked.  And not just by the annoying Allow or Cancel message (which I eventually turned off rendering one of the big security features of Vista useless) but things just don’t work. 

    I couldn’t delete a CAB file even though I was logged in as the only user account on the system and it was an admin account.  I even tried rebooting to make sure there wasn’t anything still using the file.  I had to rename the file and then I could delete it.  Really idiotic.

    Every once in awhile I still get an error message that pops up stating I can’t do what I am trying to do because what I am trying to do requires admin privileges.  That’s weird cause I am logged in as an admin.

    And not only does Vista beat the crap out of my hard drive in the system (which I think is due to having only a gig or ram, so more info is stored in the page file) but it uses a shit ton of ram.

    The one thing I always like about Linux is that it could be installed on a Pentium 2 with 512 of RAM, with no problems.  And it would run hella fast on that system (I’ve tried it with Knoppix).  With Linux you don’t need a brand new system, just spend the amount of money you want to spend and viola!

    The only complaint I still have with Linux is getting games to work.  Some games like WOW and AGE 2 and 3 can run on Linux using Wine which tricks the software into thinking you have a Windows box.  But this system is buggy and not perfect by any means.

    What the Linux world needs is for this Dell and Linux venture to take off.  Not only is this going to improve hardware functionality and support in Linux, but if more and more people use Linux, eventually software writers will catch on.  It really wouldn’t be very difficult for software developers to write apps and games for Linux.

  16. Swordsbane writes:

    However, I wouldn’t touch Vista if someone handed me a free copy and said “I got a product key that’s guaranteed for 30 years.”

    Funny you should say that. See this entry.

  17. The only complaint I still have with Linux is getting games to work.

    Cedega works well with almost all windows games, but not paying for it means knowing how to use a torrent client.

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