Dell “Announces” Models Available With Linux

According to this post (courtesy of digg.com), Dell has initially selected 3 models of desktop PCs to be configurable with Linux. While some might complain that this is a small number to begin with, I think it’s simply a sign that they’re testing the waters. These machines span a decent portion of Dells range of desktop offerings, and those who were seeking desktops (and not laptops) should be just fine. Linux on laptops isn’t perfect anyways. Heck, even the systems shipped pre-installed with Linux from System 76 that are laptops have issues in this area (See Darter comments here).Now, all of this is well and good, but I’m going to make another prediction regarding what’s going to happen next Thursday after the announcement of these systems. I think they’ll be pretty well received on the whole, and dell will probably sell at least as many machines as they’re estimating (~1% of all sales, 20,000 units/yr). My prediction is that, at least initially, these machines will not be as cheap as Windows Vista Home Basic equipped machines of the same hardware configuration, and that there will be an initial uproar over this. My reasoning is as follows: Dell bundles lots of crap with their machines, and gets discounted versions of Windows from Microsoft. At the end of the day, your basic copy of Windows and maybe some of the hardware is likely subsidized by the pre-installed junkware trial software that comes with each machine.Dell, I’m sure, has either contracted with Canonical or set up in-house staff to support this new software configuration, and that’s going to cost money. That cost will be passed along to the customer. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I expect that the cheapest way to get Linux on a Dell (unsupported) will be to buy a Vista Home Basic PC and then wipe and install Windows.In both the long and short term, it will be interesting to follow the support profile provided for these boxes.  It should be very interesting to see what portion of the purchasers are enthusiasts, and what portion buy one so that they can have a stable, virus-free PC for accessing the web.  Since most Linux support, so far, has been through a sales and support staff with more training than the average Windows support personnel, I wonder where Dell’s Linux support folks will fall.  Will they know Linux, or use a flowchart.Only time will tell.

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