PC maker Dell said Thursday it will start taking orders for notebooks and desktops today that are pre-loaded with Ubuntu 7.04, at starting street prices between $599 and $849.
The Round Rock, Texas-based company said it was responding to customer feedback on its Ideastorm web site, and it becomes the first Tier 1 PC maker to offer factory-loaded Linux as a standard SKU, at a sub-$1,000 price point, in its product lineup.
"With no software licensing costs associated with Ubuntu, the base price for each system is competitively priced and fully configured. Hardware support is available through normal Dell support channels, along with the Basic software support on a variety of dedicated Web sites and Linux forums," Dell said in a prepared statement issued Thursday.
The available systems will include an Inspiron E1505n notebook, a Dimension E520n desktop, and an XPS 410n notebook -- the higher priced of the three systems.
Rivals including Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif., and Lenovo, Raleigh, N.C., offer support and custom-ordered systems with Linux, while other companies including Sun Microsystems, Mountain View, Calif., and IBM, Armonk, N.Y., offer higher-end workstations that are pre-loaded with Linux distributions. Linux as a mainstream PC operating system has been slower to the general marketplace but has seen some pockets of strength including in the K-12 education space.
Earlier this week, officials in the San Diego Unified School District said they would work with reseller Arey Jones and Lenovo, for example, on a deployment of notebooks with Novell's SLED 10 operating system; Indiana education officials last year awarded contracts to system builders, including ACE Computers of Arlington Heights, Ill., to provide PCs with Linux.
In an interview last week with CRN, Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell said the company's decision to begin offering Linux-based desktop solutions was in following with feedback it received from the marketplace. "What we're doing very much here is listening to what our users tell us," Dell said. "If we see demand there, we're going to go and do our best to respond to it."