Dell Rolls Out Ubuntu-Powered Computers

On May 24, Dell officially unveiled its three consumer systems–the XPS 410n and Dimension E520n desktops and the Inspiron E1505n notebook–that come with the Ubuntu 7.04 Linux distribution factory-installed.

The three systems will be made available in the United States after 4 p.m. CDT on May 24 at the Dell Linux site. These systems are meant to target Linux enthusiasts.

The release of these Ubuntu-powered systems is the direct result of the outpouring of customer demand at Dell’s IdeaStorm site, the company’s Web site for fielding customers’ suggestions to improve products, services and operations.

Altogether, about 30,000 IdeaStorm community members suggested that Dell offer systems with pre-installed Linux. In a follow-up survey, more than 100,000 participated to help determine customer preferences, including which Linux distribution Dell should offer initially. Ubuntu, the popular community Linux, was the clear choice, according to sources within Dell, of Round Rock, Texas.

“The interest and enthusiasm from customers who challenged us to deliver a consumer Linux solution have been matched within Dell and Canonical, the sponsor of Ubuntu, by a team of dedicated professionals who made this happen in a phenomenally short period of time,” said Neil Hand, vice president of Dell Consumer Product Group, in a statement. “It’s fantastic to be able to offer what many Linux enthusiasts want, great Dell products with popular open-source software for work and play.”

With no software licensing costs associated with Ubuntu, the base price for each system is competitively priced and fully configured. Hardware support is available through normal Dell support channels, along with basic software support on a variety of
dedicated Web sites and Linux forums.

If Ubuntu community software support is not to a customer’s liking, customers can also choose service upgrades from Canonical, including 30-day Get Started, One-year Basic and One-Year Standard. More information on support is available at Canonical’s support site.

Dell is offering hardware options on each system that have the most mature and stable Linux driver support. These hardware options have been thoroughly tested and certified by Canonical. For hardware options not offered with this release, Dell is working with the
vendors of those devices to improve the maturity and stability of their associated Linux drivers, and it expects to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time.

In March, Matt Domsch, Dell’s Linux software architect, announced that Dell was encouraging its component vendors to release open-source drivers for its forthcoming Linux-powered PC lines.

Dell also announced that it is creating a Dell Community Linux Forum. The forum is meant to provide an easily accessible resource and collaborative environment that enables customers to interact with other Linux enthusiasts, ask questions, share experiences and learn.

Dell is partnering with Microsoft and Novell to provide greater interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux. Click here to read more.

John Hull, Dell’s manager of Linux OS technologies, had previously announced that Dell will be setting up a wiki on the Dell Community Linux site. This site will provide “technical details of the supported systems, information on the device drivers used for system peripherals, details of our Ubuntu factory-installation, and information on the problems we found during our testing, with their fixes/workarounds,” said Hull. The wiki is not yet open.

Customers can customize and purchase Dell’s Ubuntu systems at the Dell open system site. The Inspiron E1505n laptop pricing starts at $599. The entry-level price for the Dimension E520n desktop is also $599. The XPS 410n will list for $849. The desktop models come with monitors. The E520n package will include a 17-inch flat-panel display, while the XPS 410n includes a 19-inch flat-panel display.

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