Dell Offering Linux Desktops with Red Hat Bundle
Imagine, if you will, a one stop Internet site where you could buy Linux and the latest printers, scanners, digital cameras, MP3 players, Pocket PCs, etc. and everything worked together. You would not have to hunt for compatible hardware. The OEM drivers would simply exist in the Linux kernel. Oh, and this one stop shop would sell Intel commodity priced products at low, low prices.
With its Linux desktop offerings Dell has opened the door just slightly to capture some significant market share from an unsuspected source. If you visit the site today, you'll find a Dell PrecisionTM 370n for $709. That's an Intel Pentium 4 processor with SATA drives and a host of other features.
Who knows what went into the thinking of Dell decision makers in offering Linux on desktop? Perhaps customer demand did the trick, though many would doubt it. Many people consider Dell the hardware division of Microsoft, especially after the founder appeared at LinuxWorld as a keynote speaker in August 2000 and then discontinued offering Linux bundled with their products. Many in the open-source community considered Michael's appearance a "trick".
Regardless of Dell's history with Linux and the emotion involved, Linux users buy Dell products en masse especially in the aftermarket. Forums are filled with requests on how to get Dell workstations to work with Linux. In many cases people have to buy separate Network and Video cards because many Dells just don't work with stock Linux distributions.
And while we ponder why Dell has decided to offer Linux bundled workstations, one has to wonder if it has crossed Kevin Rollins' mind that he could finish the job of grabbing the educational market from Apple by offering his whole line of consumer related products under the Linux banner.
With the Red Hat desktop waiting in the wings, the coup de grâce to Apple's computer business would finally occur. In historical terms, Dell could end the swearing from endless numbers of consumers who have put up with second class treatment from the iPOD maker. Then Dell could add several percentage points to its market share, gain the favor of the latest PC craze and put a serious hurt on Sun Microsystems.
Will they do it?
People do not know Dell as a leading edge technology company. They tend to wait until a trend becomes established and then do it cheaper and better. Some people consider Dell as the WalMart of the PC industry because they squeeze every last cent out of their vendors. So, this may be too soon for Dell to offer Linux.
Also, one has to wonder if offering Linux as a total solution would hurt Dell's earnings. Dell executives would have to do some fast talking to get Microsoft to continue offering the company "Marketing Dollars" - those spiffs that help Dell make its numbers and keep its stock high.
One might just ask Dell "when is enough enough?". Once you have a founder with over a billion dollar networth, when does the quest for more money cease in favor of doing one's customers a service? Some people on this planet still believe if you do the right thing, the Universe will take care of you.
If you like Linux and want to see it as an alternative to the Microsoft monopoly, perhaps you might give Dell a call and see if their customer representatives can tell you if their Linux offerings work with their consumer products. Emails might also work.
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