Dell hopes to earn good will with Linux PC

Dell's new Linux PCs could earn positive market buzz even if they sell slowly, an analyst suggests

Dell may have won applause from customers Tuesday by announcing it will sell commercial PCs running the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, but if the experience of competitors is a guide, it faces challenges translating the move into financial success.

Dell competitors including Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo Group already sell Linux-powered PCs on some customized machines. But retail demand for the open-source OS is a fraction of the market for Microsoft's Windows, vendors say.

"HP has not yet seen strong demand for a standard, preloaded Linux PC offering in North America," said Tiffany Smith, a spokeswoman for HP's personal systems group.

HP currently uses Windows Vista as the factory standard OS on its U.S. consumer desktops and notebooks. Retail users can easily install alternative systems, since the majority of HP commercial systems are certified to run Linux, she said.

With enough customer demand, HP will begin to install Linux as a standard setting. But so far, the company has seen that demand only in specialized niches -- HP ships Linux on certain entry-level consumer PCs in developing countries, and offers it as an option for U.S. enterprise customers designing customized business desktops, notebooks and workstations.

Likewise, Lenovo offers dozens of models that are certified to run Linux if customers choose to install it.

But the company installs Linux on only a select few products, such as the ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation it launched in August for industrial-strength applications like computer-aided design. That PC uses the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 OS and Intel Corp.'s Centrino Duo notebook platform.

"Lenovo has seen some demand for Linux notebooks," said Ray Gorman, a company spokesman. "What changes is the popularity in varying distributors. We have seen desire in the market move among Red Hat, Novell Suse, TurboLinux and some newer versions such as Ubuntu."

Even if Dell gains only a sliver of new sales, the company is likely to earn a lot of good will from its move, according to a market analyst.

"They're probably not going to sell billions of these things. It's not going to be 50 percent of their revenue, it's probably going to be 2 percent," said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates. "But what they do get is market buzz, which is something they definitely need right now. And they show market leadership; they get the message out that 'We listen to our customers' needs.' And that is a good thing for them, given the tough time Dell's been having."

In recent quarters, Dell has slipped behind HP into second place for global PC market share, and the company remains the target of an accounting investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Ames

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?