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Dell Does Linux

As of 5 pm (Eastern Time), you'll be able to order two new Dell desktop systems and one Dell laptop configuration with Ubuntu Linux 7.04 installed instead of Windows. Dell product manager Lionel Menchaca has the details in his post on Dell's corporate blog this morning. (A posting earlier in the week has more technical details about these new configurations.)

This is a fairly amazing event. I can't remember any big-name vendor of Windows machines ever offering individual consumers the option of buying its hardware with the free, open-source Linux operating system preinstalled.

Two quick thoughts about the news:

* Microsoft has lost its power to intimidate everybody else in the PC industry. Remember when this company would threaten to yank a computer manufacturer's Windows license if it had the temerity to remove desktop shortcuts to Internet Explorer? Now think about how that version of Microsoft would have reacted to Dell's latest move.

* Good things happen when companies make it easy for their customers to suggest ideas and are prepared to act on them. Dell's IdeaStorm Web site allowed Linux users to document their long-standing wishes; it's to Dell's credit that it's making this major revision to its consumer product line in response. Now let's see how the company responds to other popular IdeaStorm suggestions, like making Firefox the default Web browser or letting customers opt out of having their new Dell machine loaded up with the usual trialware junk.

I plan on trying out one of Dell's Linux models in the next month or so. Do you plan on buying one yourself? (I'm especially interested in hearing from people who haven't put Linux on one of their own personal computers before.)

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 24, 2007; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Computers  
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