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Dell Rolls Out Linux Initiatives

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For the past month, fans of the open source Linux operating system have been holding on to hope that Dell was serious about its intentions of packaging the OS with new systems and providing user support. Today, Linux enthusiasts received the happy news they have all been waiting for.

Shoppers looking to purchase Dell PCs and notebooks will now have a choice between Windows Vista and Linux-based operating systems for their new machines. The announcement comes after a month of speculation that originated when Dell launched its IdeaStorm website, a suggestion platform that was immediately overrun with pleas for pre-bundled Linux-based alternatives to Windows.

On its official website, Dell today confirmed it’s intentions to provide Linux distributions as alternatives for individual customers:

Dell has heard you and we will expand our Linux support beyond our existing servers and Precision workstation line. Our first step in this effort is offering Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems.

We will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes detailed information on which systems we will offer, our testing and certification efforts, and the Linux distribution(s) that will be available. The countdown begins today.

In the Direct2Dell blog, Matt Domsch goes into greater detail about the challenges that will face the company in providing pro-Linux users with the features they want. Driver support is the overwhelming concern among users looking to purchase systems pre-bundled with a Linux-based OS:

At least half of the comments effectively said "we want Free Software, GPL-licensed drivers which are maintained in kernel.org, for all hardware in Dell systems." This request is not new to us—it’s been our standard operating procedure for the last 8 years on PowerEdge servers, which today have no closed-source drivers necessary.

For new Linux desktops and notebooks, we’ll use drivers already in the mainline kernel.org kernels for as many components as possible. In these cases, the drivers will be included in your distribution of choice. This includes storage, wired networking, power management, USB, and more.

Dell is the most utilized PC and notebook manufacturer in the United States. In the past, personal machines only came pre-packed with Windows, an arrangement that greatly helped Microsoft’s bottom line, to be sure.

Late last year, however, Microsoft delayed the consumer launch of it’s latest OS offering, Windows Vista, until after the Christmas season – a move that didn’t sit well with Dell, who was counting on a year-end launch to coincide with holiday sales.

So, one has to wonder if the adoption of Linux-based alternatives is Dell’s subtle way of getting back at Microsoft. 

Dell Rolls Out Linux Initiatives
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