Dell Offers Potential Linux Desktop

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-10-04 Print this article Print

Dell's new Dimension offers SOHO customers a PC that comes without a Microsoft operating system, but that's as far as it goes.

It may first appear that Dell is offering small office/home office buyers a Linux-based PC, but what the company is actually offering is simply a PC without a Microsoft operating system. Dell Inc.s new Dimension E510n PC is shipped with an empty hard drive and a copy of the obscure, open-source FreeDOS operating system. FreeDOS is an open-source version of MS-DOS that Dell E510n users can install. The operating system is also freely available at the FreeDOS Web site.
However, although the E510n PC is advertised as "a desktop on which you can run Linux or other open-source operating systems," Dell will not install Linux: FreeDOS is you only choice.
Read more here about Dells new PC launches. In addition, as it says on the products Web site, "Dell does not support non-Dell installed operating systems." So, if you install a Linux and it doesnt work, youll need to look to your Linux distributor for any technical support. The desktops base configuration lists for $849. It comes with a Pentium 4 630 processor, 512MB DDR2 memory, a 128MB ATI Radeon X300SE HyperMemory video card, a 80GB SATA hard drive and one-year limited warranty. As usual, Dell offers a variety of additional configurations on this base package. This isnt the first time that Dell has offered a PC without an installed operating system. In 2002, Dell started offering other nSeries systems without an operating system. Previously, Dell has allowed two of its Linux partners, Mandriva in France and Linspire and its Italian channel sales partner, Questar, in Italy, to offer Linux on Dell hardware. Dell, itself, though, only offers RHEL WS (Red Hat Enterprise Linux WorkStation) on its Precision workstations. While the computer company, based in Round Rock, Texas, has long been a staunch supporter of Linux on the server, it has been much more reluctant to support it on the desktop. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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