Dell to sell Linux Computers in Europe

Aug 07, 2007

Computer manufacturer Dell is extending its Linux offer to Germany, France and Great Britain with an Inspiron notebook and an Inspiron PC.

The two Linux machines, which have been available in the USA for quite some time now, run Ubuntu (7.04). Dell is targeting the consumer market with the Inspiron 6400n notebook and the PC 530n desktop. The notebook is available for 450 euros, and the PC, including a 19" TFT display, starts at 550 euros. Dell charges 78 euros for mailing the machine to your home.

In an interview with Linux Magazine Online, Markus Schütz, Reviews Manager Dell EMEA stated that the Linux machines will be about 30 euros cheaper than their Windows Vista counterparts. However, he went on to say that it was difficult to compare prices like this because Dell had opted for tried and trusted components in its Linux machines, such as the 915 chipset and integrated graphics by Intel. Schütz said that the machines' features would be fully supported. Linux users will be aware of issues with card readers and web cams in particular, but Schütz says that their fears are unfounded. The card reader in the notebook works, and the Inspiron does not have a webcam. However, developers were still finishing off work on the drivers for the analog soft modem

Dell promises that both machines will be available as of Wednesday, although deliveries will not start until the end of August. Schütz explained the wait with Dell's "safe launch policy"; the first few hundred machines go straight from production to testing in this phase, but normal lead times should apply as of the end of August.

Dell and Canonical will be sharing support, with Dell handling the hardware side, and Canonical offering a starter package, a basic package and a standard package for the software and operating system. The Canonical website has details of support offers. Customers can purchase Canonical support offers directly on the Dell website along with the hardware. "We just pass this offer on to our customers" Schütz explains; the prices are identical with those offered by Canonical. Dell also points customers to various web-based help forums.

When Dell started offering Linux machines in the USA, customers did not have the option of combining Linux with discounts and special offers. Dell will be looking to avoid this in the three European countries where Linux machines will be on sale. For special offers such as double memory for free, bigger hard disks, or discounts on delivery costs, Dell will be offering the same conditions for Linux machines. However, it is unlikely that Dell will be offering give-aways where driver issues are to be expected, for example, with free webcams.

Thus far, Dell has only offered Precision workstations with Red Hat Linux to business customers on the European market, but Optiplex series desktops and Latitude notebooks are also certified for Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, says Dell. The fact that Dell is extending its Linux portfolio in Europe is a reaction to positive feedback from the United States, says Schütz. Schütz is sure that the portfolio of Linux machines will continue to grow in future. Competitor Lenovo has also announced laptops with preinstalled Linux at Linux World in San Francisco as we reported previously.

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