Dell will officially launch its first three consumer PCs running the Ubuntu 7.04 Linux operating system on Thursday, two desktops and an Inspiron E1505n laptop.
The new models give buyers a third choice when shopping for a PC at Dell: a machine with Windows installed, a machine with no operating system, on which they can install one of their choice, and now a machine with Ubuntu Linux already installed. Other PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo Group also sell PCs that run Linux, but mainly on customised machines, because retail demand for the open-source operating system is tiny compared to that for Windows.
The PCs will be available from Dell's web site. The laptop starts at $599 (£300), while the two desktops, the Dimension E520 and XPS 410n, start from $599 (£300) and $849 (£425) each, respectively. A comparable XPS 410 with Windows Vista Premium costs $899 (£450).
Dell announced what type of Linux it would use in the PCs, Ubuntu 7.04, earlier this month. It's the same operating system Michael Dell, the chairman and chief executive of the company, uses on his Dell Precision M90 laptop at home.
Dell is targeting the Linux enthusiast market with the PCs, and said the choice of systems is a response to customer feedback collected from a web site set up to solicit customer suggestions. Over 100,000 people participated in surveys about the systems and what kind of Linux to install in the machines, Dell said.
The three PCs all use Intel Core 2 Duo microprocessors. The two desktops contain 1GB of RAM and 250GB of hard disk space, while the laptop includes 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard disk drive.
Users will be able to choose from several hardware options on their Ubuntu PCs from Dell. The options offered contain the most mature and stable Linux driver support, and Dell plans to work with vendors to ensure more devices include Linux driver support in the future, it said.
Dell is offering hardware support for the PCs through its existing channels, with basic software help from several dedicated web sites and Linux forums. Canonical is offering software service upgrades from the web site: www.ubuntu.com.
The company also created the Dell Linux Forum for users to find resources, troubleshoot, discuss issues and share experiences about the new PCs.