Dell to sell Linux PCs

Written by Brett Thomas

February 27, 2007 // 10:50 a.m.

Tags: #dell #ideastorm #laptop #latitude #linux #notebook #os #windows

Who here thinks companies actually listen at all to the consumer surveys? Most of us don't hold even the slightest hope that anyone is actually going to implement our ideas. However, one did - the customer spoke, and Dell listened. And the Texas-based computer manufacturer will start offering Linux PCs soon.

Dell arrived at the conclusion after tallying the results of over 1,800 different submissions for new products or services. The ideas came from Dell's recent "Dell IdeaStorm" site, which was started on February 16th by Michael Dell himself. Barely a week out, the company has already seen one idea floating to the top.

Dell addressed the matter in a post on the site:

"Your feedback has been all about flexibility and we have seen a consistent request to provide platforms that allow people to install their operating system of choice. We are listening, and as a result, we are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. This is another step towards ensuring that our customers have a good experience with Linux on our systems."

Novell is of course partial to its own SUSE Linux distro, and there is no word as to whether or when other distributions will be offered. The company has stated that it is considering it heavily, though - it was clear in the survey that many distros have very loyal user bases. Each one would have to be certified to work with the new systems, though, so if there is a choice it will come after the initial rollout.

Theories are abounding as to why Dell has made the change, most of them far from "listening to consumers." Conspiracy theorists are instead focusing on the fact that Vista is simply too resource-heavy to run on low-power laptops, or that Microsoft isn't being as generous with its incentives anymore.

However, one has to admit that no matter which variant is offered or why, the uptake by a company like Dell to sell Linux as a mainstream product will likely have vast benefits. Open source software has suffered in the past from driver development, which is something that Dell can force companies to speed up on if they want to be included in the next laptop or desktop builds.

Do you have a thought on the switch at Dell? Let us hear about it in our forums.
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