On February 16, Dell launched IdeaStorm
, a Digg-like site for promoting new ideas for the PC company. Outpacing the second-place idea by almost 100% in vote-getting, "Pre-Installed Linux | Ubuntu | Fedora | OpenSUSE | Multi-Boot
" quickly surfaced to the top (followed by "Stripped down, fast Linux Box" in third and "No OS Preloaded" in fifth).
On February 23, Dell announced Linux systems
for sale on its site. While they are definitely there, we defy you to find them from Dell's homepage. Though listed as being under "Small Business" (when you link there directly from the PR), clicking on Desktops or Notebooks from the Small Business page only gives you systems "Available with Windows Vista or Windows XP". A search for "Linux" while in the Home & Home Business part of the site turns up printers instead.
Dell is non-committal
about which Linux distro is will provide, saying it doesn't want to alienate any group of Linux aficionados. Seemingly contradictory to this statement, the Precision line products are currently all locked into RedHat, while the Notebooks and Optiplexes are all locked into FreeDOS.
For images, view on front page
Information Week notes (in the above link) that Dell has sought "certification of its Optiplex desktops, Latitude notebooks, and Precision workstations for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10." It is similarly interesting to note that Novell is the company with which Microsoft has recently formed cozy relations
What does this all mean? Giving Dell the benefit of the doubt, it looks like they are genuinely taking steps to provide greater options to the consumer when it comes to operating systems. However, the position has not gone unnoticed by Microsoft, in which e-mails were circulating as early as 2002
suggesting the company "whack" Dell for its interest in open source. Is the Novell move an act of appeasement towards Redmond, or simply another distro that Dell is looking into? Time will tell.