Enterprise Linux Log

Feb 27 2007   6:23PM GMT

Linux on Dell desktops: Too little, too late?


Reacting to the announcement that Dell will probably pre-load Linux on PCs, blogger Thilak asks a question Linux users have asked for over a decade:
“Why pay for Windows when you don’t need it?”

Thilak is a teenage computer enthusiast who already knows the score. He and thousands of others, including myself, have enjoyed hours of bliss removing Windows from a PC and then installing Linux. We know that that process alone presents a major obstacle to any IT manager considering moving to Linux desktops.

Then, of course, comes the decision of what to load on Linux desktops once Microsoft and its bevy of apps are gone. The joy of Microsoft is also its drawback: The choices are made for you.

Dell is already suffering the fate of others who commit to Linux desktops: the freedom to choose compels one to make a choice. While the company has been loading Red Hat Linux on its workstations, indications are that Dell will go with a limited release of Novell’s SUSE Linux on desktop machines. Hmm. Did the Microsoft connection push Dell in that direction?

Once Dell starts preloading Linux, the next logical step is to preload applications. There, things get really tricky. Bloggers are already debating about
whether OpenOffice 2.0 should be Dell’s office suite choice when Web-based apps may do just as well. Others, such as open source evangelist Gary Edwards, as quoted on The 360 blog think that Google should connect its Web apps “with Openoffice.org applications more completely.”

I think the parade has passed by Linux/OpenOffice’s opportunity in business desktop setting Virtual desktops will solve many more problems and make application and platform choices easier. Do you agree? Or, will preloaded Linux on Dell (or other) desktops be a good choice for your business?

3  Comments on this Post

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  • Thilak
    A guy just left a comment over at my post saying that Linux based systems from Dell cost about 50$ more. I'm not sure if this is true or false, but if it were true, I'll buy Windows and then install Linux.
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  • Allan
    Desktop Linux may have missed its opportunity given that much of desktop functionality is rapidly transitioning to the Web. Why spend the effort of building and maintaining a desktop (Linux or Windows) when desktop functionality is available through virtual desktops or Web apps? Why does the talk of virtual desktops stop with the business setting? I think Linux has a great opportunity to create a virtual desktop accessed through a thin-client for consumers and market it to consumers weary of the endless threats of malware, spyware and hacked Windows boxes.
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  • lefty.crupps
    Yes, a Dell without any OS is about $50 more than with preinstalled XP. It is a crock, especially since people want to vote with their wallets, even if they do remove the Microsoft Windows. Desktops will disappear but no time too soon, especially in the home. Selling the option of a preinstalled Linux only makes sense if they have over 90,000 people asking for it. I think Dell is too scared of Microsoft, though, as are most major vendors. The first to break takes a big chance, but has the potential to make major inroads and profits. Any computer company that also provides support, and hasn't already started Linux training for their phone/IT support staff, is screwed. They should have all started that two years ago MINIMUM for when this day would come.
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