In February when Dell launched IdeaStorm as forum for customers to contribute ideas for product offerings, they received overwhelming feedback that customers wanted Linux on desktops and notebooks.
As part of an overall effort to update their Linux program, today Dell announced a partnership with Canonical to offer Ubuntu on select consumer desktop and notebook products.
Dell's recent announcement of its intention to ship desktop units pre-loaded with Linux promises major repercussions for the alternate OS and its progress onto the business desktop, according to noted industry analyst Rob Enderle. He says that Dell's success could alter the PC desktop landscape as we know it, while failure could set the progression of Linux onto the desktop back five years or more.
In preinstalling Linux on consumer PCs, Dell's biggest challenge will be finding a full set of open source drivers for the hardware that will run with the new machines, says Dell's software architect on the project.
"Since launching Dell IdeaStorm a little more than a month ago, one idea has risen to and stayed at the top: better support for Linux. We have heard you and appreciate the direct feedback. On March 13, we responded by launching a Linux survey asking for your feedback on what you need for a better Linux experience. Thank you to the more than 100,000 people who took the survey. Here are some of the highlights from the survey:"
Dell recognizes the importance of open source, GPL-licensed drivers which are maintained upstream in kernel.org. They allow users the widest choice of Linux distributions, effectively taking the specific hardware and distribution out of the decision-making process and let you focus on solving your business problems. We will work with our hardware partners to develop, test, and maintain Free drivers, and continue to make progress towards that goal for all drivers.
"Although many people have asked for pre-installed Linux, and Dell seems to have listened, some still think that buying a naked PC won't be easy. But what about stripping it naked after you buy it? I managed to get Windows Vista (and a bit more) refunded from Dell Germany last week."
In an open letter released earlier this week, the OpenOffice.org community invited Michael Dell to work with them to pre-install OpenOffice.org 2 office software on Dell computers. This rather humorous ad campaign could play a roll in why Dell may not accept the invitation.
"Your feedback on Dell IdeaStorm has been astounding. Thank you! We hear your requests for desktops and notebooks with Linux. We’re crafting product offerings in response, but we’d like a little more direct feedback from you: your preferences, your desires. We recognize some people prefer notebooks over desktops, high-end models over value models, your favorite Linux distribution, telephone-based support over community-based support, and so on. We can’t offer everything (all systems, all distributions, all support options), so we’ve crafted a survey (www.dell.com/linuxsurvey) to let you help us prioritize what we should deliver for you."
"Taking a few minutes to complete this survey will help us define our forthcoming Linux-based system offerings. We will close the survey on Friday, March 23. From there, we’ll take some time to analyze your feedback and work to provide the platforms and options you choose."