May 1, 2007 6:07 AM PDT

Dell picks Ubuntu for Linux PCs

Dell is trying a second time to sell personal computers with Linux preinstalled, this time using the up-and-coming Ubuntu version of the open-source operating system.

At the end of May, the No. 2 PC maker will begin selling some consumer-focused laptop and desktop models with Ubuntu's new "Feisty Fawn" version of Linux installed, Dell spokesman Kent Cook said. The company announced the Linux move on Tuesday on its IdeaStorm site, launched in February to gather feedback directly from customers about what they want.

"Today, we are excited to tell you that Dell will begin offering Canonical's latest version, Ubuntu 7.04, as an option on select Dell consumer models in the U.S. in the coming weeks," the company said in its announcement.

Dell also announced that it has improved its Linux forum and has given it prominent placement on its Dell Forums Web page.

When buying the Dell systems, customers will have the option to purchase support from Ubuntu backer Canonical, said Jane Silber, the start-up's director of operations.

Companies have been trying for years to make a go of Linux on PCs--Dell even invested in one company, Eazel--but generally, they've had little success, even though they offered lower prices, polished graphical interfaces and necessary software such as Microsoft Office competitor

"I don't think this is going to be a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park home run," said IDC analyst Al Gillen, who still doesn't see a major Linux draw for most Windows PC users. But the move is notable for the fact that it's Dell making it: "Dell typically doesn't do stuff if they don't think they're going to get enough volume to justify it," Gillen said.

Dell, suffering market share losses to top PC seller Hewlett-Packard, is trying reinvigorate its direct ties with customers, an approach that long has been the company's hallmark. Linux-based PCs was an "overwhelming" request from the IdeaStorm site, Cook said.

"We heard loud and clear from customers that they wanted this," Cook said. And of those who wanted Linux, "80 percent came back and said Ubuntu," Cook said.

Cook wouldn't share pricing details or say how Linux PCs would compare in price with Windows PCs.

Dell began selling Linux PCs in 1999 and added laptops in 2000. But in 2001, Dell reversed course, canceling the Linux PCs because of insufficient demand. Today, Dell certifies Red Hat or Suse Linux for use on some business-oriented PCs, but except when larger customers place custom orders, customers must install the operating system themselves.

This time, things are different, Cook said.

"We think great strides have been made since 2001," Cook said. "Linux has evolved to a point where there is something available for consumers," though Linux PCs will appeal mostly to a Linux enthusiast market that's more limited than that for Windows Vista.

And Dell validated the Linux request through its own research. "There definitely are those who are Linux zealots, but we did some checking as well," he said.

Dell's move isn't likely to dethrone Microsoft any time soon. On servers, the Redmond, Wash.-based company faces several strong operating-system competitors in Linux and Unix, but its dominance in PC sales hasn't been dented.

Of the 160.5 million operating-system licenses shipped in 2006, Windows accounted for 92 percent, compared with 4.1 percent for Mac OS X and 3.8 percent for Linux, Gillen said. "We're not seeing any breakout momentum for Linux on desktop," he said.

A big boost for Linux
But Canonical believes the time is right.

"The market is ready," Silber said. "We think the combination of the timing, the technology and the partner are aligned to make it happen."

Dell's partnership is a significant endorsement for the up-and-coming Linux support seller. Canonical doesn't yet have the widespread hardware and software partnerships possessed by incumbent Linux power Red Hat and Novell's Suse Linux, but it's working to build them.

The company is starting its business by trying to appeal to users of desktop computers. From there, Canonical Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth has said, the company plans to head to the server market, where the real Linux bread and butter can be found.

Cook wouldn't comment on whether Dell plans to offer Ubuntu on its servers as well. "We're looking at Linux across the breadth of our product line. It takes a bit longer sometimes on that side. Stay tuned," he said.

Raven Zachary, an analyst for the market analyst firm The 451 Group, believes that day will arrive.

"I think you will find Dell, over time, also offering Ubuntu across its server product line as Ubuntu grows in popularity in the data center, due in large part to Canonical's 24-7 support offering and the simplicity of managing one distribution from the developer's desktop to the data center," Zachary said.

Customers are reporting use of Ubuntu more than IDC had expected, Gillen said.

"It's showing up as well as any traditional nonpaid Linux distribution is showing up and starting to rival some paid distributions," according to Gillen. "It's not first-tier, but it's pushing the envelope getting into the first tier."

Canonical wouldn't reveal financial terms of the deal.

"It's a very significant deal for us, in terms of evolution of the company," Silber said. "How big a deal depends, to a large extent, on how many machines are sold. We think that'll be a high number."

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With a codename like "Feisty-Fawn", it has to be good...

Realisticly, this at least interests me, since I can't get my distro of
Ubuntu to run worth crap (unless I want to do without WiFi or
Ethernet) on my laptop.

For once, I can say good job to Dell for thinking different....
again.... after failing...
Posted by jelloburn (252 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They Failed for a Reason
Microsoft threatened them...for lack of a better phrase.
Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
Link Flag
choice is what this is all about... I dont use windows or linux (oh
no a mac user) I've never been a big fan of dell but I have to give
credit where its due. Who cares if its suse, unbuntu, or whatever
just being able to choose what you want to use is a huge step
Posted by zuted (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Choice
I'm not a uber Ubuntu fan or anything.. but I think its overall a fair choice for a wide varity of people.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Breakout year for Ubuntu
Two things have really been holding desktop Linux back. One of course is that it's been essentially unavailable pre-loaded onto machines that you can actually buy. So then the customer has to load their own OS. If Windows had to be loaded from scratch by every computer buyer, it would probably be a pretty tough sell.

Secondly, there have been too many competing versions of Linux with no clear desktop leader, no clear choice as an easy to point to alternative. That's simply too confusing to people not already familiar with Linux.

Is Ubuntu really the best version? Well, it may well be, but the truly significant thing is that the Linux community is now starting to unite (for some grudgingly) behind a single distribution, one that is mature and polished enough to be a real desktop alternative. It's that more unified front that may enable Ubuntu to be the breakout Linux success story that's been so long in coming.

Now things are getting interesting.
Posted by ArtInvent (374 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re; Breakout
I think you are right about the installation and the lack of availibility, but I think the biggest hold back has been the GUI.

Most users are "click and drool" and the people working on Gnome and KDE don't want to do the last little bit of polishing, the unromantic stuff that most of them never even think of using.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
A Welcome Development
While a welcome development regarding choice in the marketplace,
let's check back in twelve months and gauge how many of those
who requested Linux put their money where their mouth is, i.e.,
purchasing a Dell pre-installed with Linux for themselves, their
employees or clients. Regardless of the larger implications, Linux
on the desktop needs to compete toe-to-toe with Windows and the
Mac OS on the merits of usability and productivity.
Posted by cgpublic (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Question...
I am a PC person myself but work at a University so I get to see al the new Mac systems and I am VERY impressed. If I had to choose between a Dell PC with Vista or Linux or a MAC I would choose the Mac because Mac can run the Win OS and is inherently a very polished 'nix system.
But since I am one of "those people", you know the ones that build and upgrade their systems I will choose neither for now.
Although we also have Dell OptiPlex as our standard desktop system so it will be interesting to see how many are ordered with the Linux OS option.
I think it is a positive move for Dell but probably too little, too late. They have other problems that need resolving.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
just did
the money and the mouth are coexisting as i fill this out from my current linux (ubuntu) loaded dell latitude 110l. kudos to the fine folks at dell for lending an ear to the people that use 'linux for people'.
Posted by mcphargus (1 comment )
Link Flag
I'm amazed
I never thought it would happen, but there it is. A dell with ubuntu preinstalled. I wish them luck and I hope it works out for them and their customers.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
its about time
I have been waiting for this for sometime. I initially converted because I just love how Linux runs and feels. But I used to have time to build my PC now I don't and would love to buy a PC but till recently you cant do it without having a preloaded windows system. I feel its a waist to have windows and not use it. So until now I still build my own PCs. Also one other thing is laptops. I have bought laptops in the past that were refurbished so I can install Linux. Regardless of what some people who have tried Linux and haven't gotten very far would make others believe. Linux is a great OS. Not saying Windows isn't either but that its far greater to at least have the choice of what I want to install. Its nice to see Linux come into its own. Far greater to let consumers who might have wanted to try it have a chance to buy a preloaded system.
Posted by fredblotnic (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank you Vista
For leading Dell into this direction along with their decision to keep
XP install as an option.

Thank you for OS DRM restrictions
Thank you for being a resource hogging OS
Thank you MS for being MS.

Linux is on the way up
Posted by weegg (849 comments )
Link Flag
I agree with that one
I just purchased a HP Pavilion Notebook and it came packaged with Windows. I must say, all of the warnings and popups out of the box on Vista will just prove annoying to most users who actually have a clue. It'll likely annoy users who dont know what they're doing either. XP compared to Vista, I'd take XP anyday. But to be honest, I wont select either even if I'm forced to use a Windows system. I'd end up selecting a 2003 Server based system so I dont have to be bothered with much in the "pretty" sector and get better stability.

Overall, I'd take Gentoo if available, but I'll use Ubuntu just as well since I like it fair enough for a out of the box distro. I, too, dont have the time to build my own PC anymore. I also refuse to purchase another one loaded with Vista on it at any cost. (Why pay $100 for something I'll get rid of anyways?) The same applies with XP if I can avoid it (lesser of 2 evils?).

I say good job to Ubuntu and their devs for doing a fine job making something that Dell would consider.

Also, I wont likely be putting up money to support this development. As much as I'd like to, I'm one of the many always in the AMD vs Intel bickering. (In my home, I have 2 laptops running Turion 64 X2s [ Room mate and my own ] and also 3 PCs, 2 with Athlon XPs [ 2800 and 3000 ] and one with an Athlon 64 X2 5200) I wont be converting to Intel anytime soon, so until HP offers it with their AMD systems, I'll be buying my next system to replace the 2800 through a NO OS provider at about $1500 for a fantastic setup. (1200 if I build it myself, not too bad of a markup for me)
Posted by pyr02k1 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Dare we ask it?
Posted by wyth (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think Vista Will Make It Just That...
Too expensive, too much DRM, Requires too many resources, etc, etc....

Vista is already selling more Macs, I see that here on Campus. When MS stops Windows XP licenses then I think sales of Linux on the desktop and the Mac will soar.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
Why Ubuntu?
Its great that Dell is finally offering consumers a Linux option but why Ubuntu? I have tried to run Ubuntu several times and always give up in disgust. I switched back to openSuse 10.2 and now all is well on my Linux partition.
Posted by Tiger1964 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell has the muscle to get any distro to work
Dell chose Ubuntu for the same reason they chose Linux period - that's what their customer feedback demanded. If you've had trouble getting Ubuntu to run on a particular box, well, you're not Dell, are you? As a major manufacturer, they have the resources to get any distro they want to run the way they want. They can supply the correct video and WiFi drivers etc. They can get hibernation and sleep to run right. They can make sure every component they put into the computer runs well with Linux. They have the clout to compel suppliers to give them Linux compatible hardware and drivers. They can hire programmers to change the source code if that's necessary to get their machines to work right. And that's why it's so important to have an actual large scale computer vendor pre-load and certify these machines.
Posted by ArtInvent (374 comments )
Link Flag
For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would use Ubuntu. I've never been a really big fan of debian distros which might explain my disdain for Ubuntu (that and the fact that it uses GNOME). I recently purchased an Inspiron 1501 and thought I'd give Ubuntu a try. It wasn't worth the cd I burned it on. Thank God my CentOS 5 dvd was handy.
Posted by mbishop1113 (1 comment )
Link Flag
it works for most other people
it is unfortunate that you experienced those difficulties, however Ubuntu has proven itself so far.
when was the last time you tried it?
give it another try maybe, its really not that hard, it starts off livecd
Posted by Carusk (13 comments )
Link Flag
I Agree, Good Move, Wrong Company...
I agree that it should have been SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. But I would have recommended Novell's offering since they have support available.
This doesn't surprise me at all.

The last 5 Years Dell has made some poor choices and they weren't all Kevin Rollin's either. Michael Dell will have to face the music from this point forward.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
Unite and conquer
I have to agree with that statement!
Posted by ibmorjamn (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A poor metric
"Of the 160.5 million operating-system licenses shipped in 2006, Windows accounted for 92 percent, compared with 4.1 percent for Mac OS X and 3.8 percent for Linux, Gillen said. "We're not seeing any breakout momentum for Linux on desktop," he said."

This is a poor metric considering many distributions don't sell licenses.
Posted by dmaz1287 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah, that's licenses
Now add in all the users without licenses. And then realize that nearly all of these computers had to have their Linux OS installed by either the end user or a site IT guy, essentially none of them were loaded by the mfgr. That's a lot of determined users who had to jump through a lot of hoops and went through a lot of aggro to use this OS.
Posted by ArtInvent (374 comments )
Link Flag
A poor metric, 'sales of 'licenses'!
The 800+ versions of GNU/Linux and *BSD (includes Mac OS X), that are on 200 million + computers that log onto the Internet, are for the major part freely downloaded and the 'license' permitted me to make 2000 copies and distribute them, since 2000.

No one tracks the individual downloads and installs of GNU/Linux and *BSD, as they are not part of some big marketing scheme, but, my research shows the average CDrom of GNU/Linux and *BSD that I dispensed saw ten installs!

Stats might probably be available on the corporate chain store sales of retail boxes of Xandros or FreeBSD, or Red Hat Server.

For each one of those, there are a thousand DLs of GNU/Linux or *BSD from <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

The FUD is simply incredible. Over there a bunch of people hand out 'FREE STUFF', and in the mob chaos, you think somehow you can count the number of copies installed?

So many dealers at the Marketpro shows (Southeast USA), use LiveCDroms of GNU/Linux and *BSD, who have reported to me their hundreds of installs!

How can the press/media retain any credibility or integrity when they spout those unbelievable numbers as in the article, like 3.8% and 4.1%, and 92% for M$?! Vista is an admitted loser! No one with one iota of intelligence wants the DRM and new vulnerabilities of Vista!
Posted by linuxiac (1 comment )
Link Flag
Companies offering desktop Linux
Ubuntu seems to be the most popular choice
among current Linux computer vendors.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
From a 20+ Microsoft Professional Developer
Ubuntu is a serious contender. When you couple its serious challenge with Microsoft's losing of its mind by hammering and harming its developers this is likely to be the real deal. I have been truly and deeply impressed with Ubuntu. I just completed the upgrade from 6.10 to 7.04 (fiesty fawn) and it was flawless. Tools are awesome. My kids picked it up right away. Even Grandma had little trouble. I am developing applications for Windows, Mac, and Linux using one of the development languages and I cannot figure out why I even have Windows machines anymore. I certainly will not be moving to Vista.
Posted by scottnet91 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thats 20+ years of MS development
Not my age.
Posted by scottnet91 (4 comments )
Link Flag
There is at least one reason
That reason is not being able to play current gaming software on linux.Some titles can be played and thanks to id software,cedega and crossover linux but there is still a huge gap.
Posted by ibmorjamn (8 comments )
Link Flag
Not suprised really
I've been running Linux on and off for years now alongside Windows PCs. I've always prefered the Linux systems over the Windows even when there was a 1Gh difference in speed. (Gentoo is my preference, but I like Ubuntu for its ease of use and hardware support)

I think Ubuntu is the smart choice for moving Linux into mainstream production models of any line. It would make it easier on the company building and selling the PCs as well as on the end user. With Ubuntus ease of use, it tends to get more and more people to convert to Linux in that manner. It would be a lot harder without distros like Ubuntu around since many distros require you to configure much of it by hand as you go while Ubuntu may only have a minor handful of things thats it wont do for you. (I've tried and used at least a 15 distros in the past 3 years. Only Gentoo, openSuSE, Knoppix and Ubuntu worked right out of the box minus the wireless. Wireless was only due to a Broadcom driver being needed. The rest of the Distros had problems with sound or graphics more so then anything.)

Go Ubuntu, Knock em dead.
Posted by pyr02k1 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell picks Ubuntu for Linux PC
I think its a fantastic idea what Dell is doing giving Linux a real boost but I think they may have a problem with compatability with most of the systems on Dell products old and new if Ubuntu can make the installation as simple and painless as possible like Windows installation then Microsoft will have a run for its money.
Posted by chrispusey (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Why Dell??
It?s hard not to wonder why every company picks Linux just before they are going to go belly up. Dell is struggling and suddenly decided that Linux will save it, so did Sun and it?s still struggling. Oh well another one for the record books, lets see how long this experiment lasts.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The number two player in the market is going belly up?

I realize you are a blind MS zealot with absolutely no technical or intellectual skills, but please dazzle us with your insider knowledge.

I think it is funny how this makes the MS apologists nervous.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
Link Flag
Belly up
Stop it you are making my belly ache with all the laughing.

Maybe Dell should install OS/2 to save them?

He he he.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
I have two Macs at home in addition to my PCs (one now loaded with Linux). I love Apple but Linux is making a very good impression with me. Right now most of what I need or want to do, I can do in Linux. It is not unconceivable that by the time I'm ready for another computer (2009-2010), I'll go for a Linux box. Both Microsoft and Apple relies on return customers like me. And I think this move will take more of a bite out of Apple than Microsoft.
Posted by Jeremiah256 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not necessarily...
I originally went and got a Mac for my home machine a few years back because of the selection of my otherwise Windows-based favorite 3D/CG apps... in spite of using AC3D to build mesh, and GIMP for postwork... on Linux.

I use both @ home [i]very[/i] easily.

I am about to spring for a dual Core Duo Mac this summer... and given what Apple provides for the pricetag, it's a damned hard deal to beat - even if Dell could build a box with the same specs and park Linux on the critter.

I gotta give props to Dell for doing it though, and I hope they succeed with the average users (web, email, IM, games, etc).

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Feel free to leave
Apple prefers people will at least a moderate grasp of grammar.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
I think this has the potential... hurt MS far more then Apple.

The kinds of people that buy Dells do it for cheap hardware. Unless you are talking about the very highest end Dells, they simply can't compete with Apple.

That crappy $300-500 Dell will run Linux and run it far better then the bloat ware from Redmond.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
Link Flag
Re: How will it affect Apple?
Well, you have to remember that Apple also sells some REALLY nice hardware.

I have yet to see Intel based laptops as nice as my PowerBook.

Yea, it's got the potential to take a bite out of Apple, but I don't think you'll see it happen anytime soon.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
You could be right, maybe, maybe not
I agree it can affect apple more than microsoft, but not on merits of the OS, but more based on market share. All 3 compete against each other. A million people will make a bigger impact on apple marketshare change than it would for microsoft. Will it happen that way? Probably not, but 5% market share is more suseptible to a million people change than 90% market share. On the other side of the coin, there are alot more people to convert from the 90% than the 5%. What's say we flip a coin and then let it play out for real. Then we'll know for sure. I'm cetainly positive we should do that.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
I always saw linux as more of a professional platform. If you know what you're doing linux is fairly easy. I don't see how this will help Dell sell many computers as the vast majority of the population is more familiar with Windows and, to a lesser extent, Macs.
Posted by bkcoke1 (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why Ubuntu?
1. that's what took 80% of the requests at ideaspeader, #2 it also has the most community support out there at this moment then any other distribution.
Posted by bradyme (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In 3 months over 2 million new users from Conical's stats... That's huge
Posted by bradyme (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not today
Would have ordered one today if possible. Will try again next month.

Hope they aren't going to just offer their low end crap. Linux XPS anybody?
Posted by sreynard (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where is Commander Spock?
I expected him to write an "Unbunto uses an IBM OS/2 codebase" by now.
Posted by Orion Blastar (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm sure he'll weigh in soon with his notions of how OS/2 can save the world! :)
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
on holiday?
I presume he's on holiday, waiting for the next AIRBUS or
CONCORDE to take him home
Posted by dirk goedseels (39 comments )
Link Flag
I wonder if it ever occured to Dell...
I wonder if it ever occured to Dell to offer Ubuntu on certain systems set up as dual boot so that their customers could try out a different operating system.

Oh, wait... Probably because Microsoft might get upset and cry about it.
Posted by mattumanu (599 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good and bad idea
It is a good idea because it might entice people over to the light.

On the other hand, 1 tiny problem and they might flee back to winblows. People seem to feel more comfortable dealing with familiar problems. People are used to dealing with spyware, crashes and viruses.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
Link Flag
Woo Hoo
I am the Ubuntu man for North Dakota, and no that is not a part of Canada. THis news has made me one of the happiest people on the planet. Hopefully this will increase the acceptance of Linux in general and decrease the weird looks I get every time I say "Ubuntu"
Posted by Jeremy.sarkilahti (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Somehow, that does bring a smile to my face... picturing you talking to people in the Dakotas about "Ubuntu". I can just imagine the *** expressions! I'll have to slip over into West Virginia sometime soon and do the same.

Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
I get looks, too
At least at my company on Long Island (NY), when I mention Ubuntu, I get weird looks from everyone but the IT guy. He has heard about Ubuntu. I gave him two "LiveCDs" to try at home. I am running 6.10 and 7.04 at my house. I am happy except for wireless, which I can not get to work in either computer. I am tethered to Ethernet for now but I would like to go wireless, if I could figure out the driver solutions.
Posted by Heymull (13 comments )
Link Flag
Why Canonical and not Novell???
The answer is simple Dell is going for what people voted for its a safe move they are in uncharted waters and why Ubuntu well thats based on community support Linux is a community driven! and Novells "Opensuse's" community has been lets say a bit small scale compaired to Ubuntu, jumping into bed with Microsoft didnt really help. However I bet that if novell offered support on ubuntu that would have gotten the contract LOL!
Posted by sprogg2001 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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