Dell Ubuntu

I was just catching up on some news over at, and noticed that there is a report that Dell will be making the Ubuntu Operating System available on Thursday (May 24, 2007). Initially they will be throwing in three different models with only one of them being a laptop:

  • Laptop: The Inspiron E1505 is one of Dell’s most notable consumer notebooks. As of right now they have several pre-configured models running Vista that range from $700 to $1100.
  • Desktop: The Dimension E520 is the budget desktop which is currently starting at $369 (without a monitor).
  • Desktop: The XPS 410 is the nicer desktop and has pre-configured models ranging from $900 to $2470.

The site also quoted a Dell employee as saying “We expect these systems to be less than 1% of our OS mix for the entire year which is ~20,000 systems annually.” So it is obvious that Dell doesn’t have outrageous expectations for the operating system, but at least they are giving it a shot.

The Direct2Dell blog also made an announcement today giving some information on what can be expected with the Ubuntu that is shipping with the computers. According to the post, it is just going to be the default Ubuntu installation (no additional software, etc…), and they’re going to use open source drivers as much as possible. If there aren’t any open source drivers available, such as for Intel wireless cards and Conexant modems, they are going to use closed source drivers.

Even though every hardware option won’t be available for those machines, there is some good news in that regard. Dell says that they are working with vendors of those devices to improve the Linux drivers, which should broaden the range of hardware support over time. This is really awesome because it could give device manufacturers the push that they need to develop good Linux drivers.

And as Pieter pointed out in our forum, Ubuntu doesn’t support some media formats out-of-the-box due to some patent laws. These formats include MP3, DVD, Flash, Quicktime, WMA, and WMV. Being able to play these formats is a simple process if you’re using Ubuntu 7.04 (which is what Dell is going to ship).

Now the only thing left for me to see is how Dell will present the Ubuntu option on their configuration page. Will they include it with the selection of Windows operating systems, or are they going to create a completely separate page for those people who want to purchase a computer running Ubuntu? I have a feeling they won’t put it in with Windows because of the “accidental” purchases consumers could potentially make.