by Jacqueline Emigh
In a reversal of its long-time approach to Linux, Dell has now added a desktop PC pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux to its Web site, while halting online sales of Linux-based netbooks and notebook PCs.
Dell started selling the Studio XPS 7100 with Ubuntu on its Web site earlier this week at pricing of $459.99 without monitor. The price includes a one-year basic service plan.
The minitower desktop PC offers a 7,200 RPM 500GB SATA hard drive and 3GBs of Dual Channel DDR3 DDRAM2. Other features include integrated stereo sound and a 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) with double layer write capability. The Linux version is preloaded with Ubuntu Desktop Edition 10.4.
Dell takes sales of Linux mobile PCs offline
Meanwhile, reports have been surfacing in a number of publications that Dell has taken the Ubuntu versions of consumer notebooks and netbooks offline, deciding instead to sell Linux editions of these PCs only over the phone. On Friday, DesktopReview.com searched Dell’s site under the search term “Ubuntu.” The search yielded a list that included the Studio XPS 7100 with Ubuntu, plus the Ubuntu editions of Dell’s Inspiron Mini 9 and Mini 12 netbooks and Inspiron Mini 10 notebook PC.
[Editor’s Note: This is actually untrue, and appears related to changes Dell has made to their website over the past week. Dell’s Ubuntu-powered mobile offerings can be found at their Linux hub where users can freely order them online. Our sincere apologies to Dell for the mix-up.]
However, for the Linux version of each of these mobile PCs, Dell posted a note stating, “The product you are searching for is no longer available.” Apparently, though, users can still purchase the Studio XPS 7100 and some mobile PCs pre-loaded with Linux from Dell over the phone.
Shift in Dell’s Linux strategy
Dell’s approach to Linux seems to have shifted dramatically recently. Dell first started selling PCs pre-loaded with Ubuntu way back in 2007.
Unlike Windows, Ubuntu Linux is a free operating system with no licensing fees attached. On the other hand, printer and other peripheral drivers can be harder to find for Linux. Moreover, some consumers have found Linux operating systems and applications to be more difficult to use.
Some other PC makers, including Asus, have also backed away from earlier use of Linux on mobile PCs.
In addition, Linux is now facing new rivalry on the mobile side from other OS, such as Android, MeeGo, and Chrome OS.
Maybe not entirely coincidentally, in May of this year, Dell announced the Streak tablet, a mobile PC that will run the Android OS.