“People are always asking us to support Linux on the desktop, but the question is: ‘Which Linux are you talking about’?”
These were the comments made by Dell chairman Michael Dell in a 2006 interview with DesktopLinux.com.
Apparently, Mr. Dell has finally answered his own question as Canonical officially announced that Dell has chosen Ubuntu to be the version for Dell’s Linux-loaded laptops and desktops.
The announcement comes after weeks of speculation regarding which distribution Dell would choose after the company confirmed plans to begin selling pre-loaded Linux machines when overwhelming community response on their IdeaStorm feedback website called for Dell to implement a Linux-based product.
In March of this year, Dell announced via its Direct2Dell corporate blog that they would indeed sell Linux machines.
Today, Canonical confirmed that it would be Ubuntu that would be sold on Dell’s new Linux product line.
“Dell will be announcing a partnership with Canonical to ship pre-loaded Linux models with Ubuntu,” stated Jane Silber, Canonical’s Chief Operating Officer. “They’ll be selling these models from their Web site with Ubuntu pre-installed. Canonical in turn will be working with Dell to certify those models to insure that all components are fully functional and will also provide support that will be sold through the Dell Web site.”
Silber could not comment on the specific models Dell will be shipping with Ubuntu, but did confirm that it would be on desktops and laptops, not server models.
The question of which version of Ubuntu will be pre-loaded by Dell came up with 7.04, “Feisty Fawn” as the answer, even though there was some speculation that Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, with its longer-term support, might be the chosen version. Silber was quick to emphasize that 6.06 LTS has a longer maintenance lifespan, but the commercial support plans offered by Canonical (and soon, by Dell) are the same for every version, thus freeing Dell consumers to get the latest and greatest version of Ubuntu.
Certification by Ubuntu for these Dell machines should provide those consumers with fully-functioning Ubuntu PCs right out of the box.
“We’re working very closely with the Dell engineering team and they are working closely with us, in terms of… working with those specific models and ensure that all components of that system work properly,” Silber explained. “As a consumer, you can confidently buy from that Web site, know that its certified by Canonical, that Ubuntu will run on that without driver issues.”
Silber did not want to speak for Dell on why they chose Ubuntu over other distributions, though certainly was willing to stand by Ubuntu’s feature set and popularity as a desktop distribution as a very possible reason. It was also not clear who actually approached whom the idea to load up Ubuntu. Silber indicated that there are always talks going on with hardware and software vendors and Canonical; this partnership was simply an evolution of one of those ongoing conversations.
Regardless of this deal’s origins, Canonical’s staff is pretty excited, seeing this as a validation not only for their own distribution, but for desktop Linux as a whole.
“I think it’s the first time a major tier-one vendor is pre-installing and shipping consumer models on this scale,” Silber stated.