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Dell Serious About Ubuntu: Launches First Consumer Linux PCs

Round Rock (TX) - Dell today flipped the switched and is now officially offering consumer desktop and notebook PCs with Ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed. Two notebooks and one desktop join two desktop systems in Dell’s open-source product portfolio.

There is no denying that Linux has recently gained traction in the consumer space and Microsoft may have to look a little more seriously at competing with Linux distributions on different levels. Most recently, for example, Intel has basically thrown out Windows Vista as the dominant platform for its Atom Centrino MID platform, recommending and showcasing MIDs generally with Ubuntu as the operating system.

Dell’s announcement today certainly will not make a dent into the market dominance of Windows on desktop and notebook computers, but we take not that Dell is responding to customer demand, which apparently is enough to offer Linux on consumer computers. Is Ubuntu in a position to achieve what Xandros promised about seven years ago - to provide a Linux alternative to Windows? We leave that up to you to decide.

Choices among Dell’s Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) PCs are limited, but if you want such a PC, you can order one now without having to go through the process of installing it yourself. The two available notebooks are the XPS 1330 and the Inspiron 1525 for $949 and $549, respectively. Both PCs are equipped similarly to their Windows Vista versions (the Ubuntu XPS 1330 comes with a Core 2 Duo T5550 CPU instead of a T5750, the Inspiron 1525 with a T2370 instead of a T2390 CPU as well as only 1 GB of main memory instead of 2 GB), but priced at $50 less than the Windows models - thanks to a $50 and a $25 rebate.

If you are wondering why the Ubuntu PCs are not cheaper than the Windows Vista PCs, keep in mind that such Linux PCs have been much more expensive in the past - due to the customization work that is necessary to take PCs off the production line and install Linux.

There is also an Ubuntu desktop PC - the Inspiron 530N, which is priced at $449 and $50 below a 530s Vista model with exactly the same hardware. A FreeDOS version of the PC is offered with an E4600 Intel chip for $539.

Dell said that it will expand its Ubuntu offering in early August with the XPS M1530n and Studio 15n.