Ubuntu on Dell OEM machines– the inflection point for Linux?

According to this CNet article picked up everywhere today, Dell will be shipping desktops PCs and laptops pre-installed with Ubuntu.

Dell had already broken ranks with PC manufacturers by shipping PCs without an operating system. These systems are not easy to discover on the main website– one has to select the cryptically named “Open source desktops” option under Products menu, which takes the customer to a page describing the n Series. Strangely enough there is nothing open source about the three models offered, because it ships with the largely irrelevant FreeDOS operating system instead of a proper GNU/Linux system installation. Quote:

“With the n Series desktop, customers have the flexibility to install an alternative operating system (such as a version of Linux® ), and help reduce the price of this system. In addition, the n Series desktop comes with a non-formatted hard drive ready for your custom installation. Dell’s n Series desktop ships with a copy of FreeDosTM , an open-source operating system that is ready to install.”

Shipping Ubuntu can finally put some real momentum behind this half-hearted move. Ubuntu is perhaps the most approachable and usable of all Linux distributions, intended to take the complexity out of setting up a new system out of the box. Web page on the desktop edition promises that it “just works”— exactly the type of language software vendors in the past used to appeal to novice users.


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