Dell promises Linux on notebooks and desktops

Dell plans to offer Linux on PCs and notebooks in response to customer demand

Thanks to requests by its customers, Dell is going to start offering Linux pre-installed on its PCs and notebooks, the company said Wednesday.

Based on customer feedback Dell began soliciting last month, Dell said that top of mind among customers was that the company should begin offering Linux as an alternative to Windows on its personal computers, according to a posting on a company blog. Dell said it "has heard" what customers said and will act accordingly.

"We will expand our Linux support beyond our existing servers and Precision workstation line," the company said on its IdeaStorm blog. "Our first step in this effort is offering Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems."

The company said it will provide an update in the coming weeks that includes detailed information on which systems it will offer, testing and certification efforts, and the Linux distribution or distributions that will be available.

Dell said earlier this month it had begun polling customers about what changes they want to see from the company. These efforts began soon after founder Michael Dell returned to the company's helm, when customers began to ask Dell to expand their software choices for PCs. Dell has been struggling in a PC market it once dominated, and is hoping that offering Linux on PCs will spur company growth.

On Wednesday, Dell posted the results of a customer Linux poll on the IdeaStorm blog. According to Dell, more than 70 percent of survey respondents said they would use a Dell system with a Linux OS for both home and office use, and said they wanted a choice between both notebook and desktop offerings.

The majority of survey respondents said that existing community-based support forums would meet their technical support needs for a tested and validated Linux OS on a Dell computer and indicated that improved hardware support for Linux machines is as important as the distribution offered, according to Dell.

Dell also said that customers are more concerned about driver compatibility and Linux kernel support than they are about which distribution Dell would choose for its PCs and notebooks.

The company is currently deciding which specific software to use and advised customers to stay tuned. Dell offered more details about how it will offer Linux on PCs on its Direct2Dell blog, which is designed to collect customer feedback.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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