How High Is the

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-02-23 Print this article Print

High End?"> Meanwhile, Dell customers can purchase its OptiPlex n series, which allow Linux or another operating system to be installed by their buyers, or use its custom software configuration service, which would afford them the opportunity to add Linux from the factory for an additional charge. OK, point made. But how high-end are these machines really? The high-end Precision 670n with no modifications comes with a single Intel 2.8GHz 64-bit Xeon processor, 512MBs of DDR2 SDRAM (Double Data Rate Two Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory), a keyboard, mechanical mouse, a 48x CD-ROM, a 160GB SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), 7200-RPM hard drive, and a 64MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro NVS 280 graphics card.
Meanwhile, these systems are being sold directly by Dell as part of its small business offerings, in addition to being offered to other customers, including its large and medium business accounts.
And theres support. With it comes Dells 3-Year On-site Economy Plan for support. This plan includes 24x7 phone technical support, online technical support, and if needed following phone-based troubleshooting, next business day on-site service. Arguably, choosing one of these machines presents the easiest route to buying a Linux desktop from Dell. Although, to purchase one, a customer will have to pay more than a standard OptiPlex desktop, which starts at about $400. As for the operating system, customers get RHEL WS 4 for the Intel EM64T architecture with one year of RHN (Red Hat Network) support. To read a review of RHEL 4, click here. This desktop distribution usually lists for $179 a copy for the basic edition. Besides having access to RHN for patches and updates, it comes with a year of online installation and basic configuration support and 30-days of installation and configuration phone support. Dell will also, upon request, install the 32-bit version of RHEL WS on these systems. RHEL WS also comes with the 2.6.9 Linux kernel, the office suite, the Firefox Web browser, and several e-mail clients, including Evolution. The desktop interface is based on GNOME Linux desktop, but KDE is available as an option. Dells Web site is still somewhat confusing in the way it outlines exactly what Dells Linux support has to offer. A close look reveals that "Dell offers customers the choice of Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS or FreeDOS on select Dell Precision workstation systems." In detail, the Dell Web site states, "Dell factory installed versions of Red Hat Linux provide customers with a tested, optimized, certified and supported platform on which to run their professional workstation applications." You cannot, however, buy one of these systems and switch out RHEL and expect to get any support. "With the exception of reinstalled original Dell versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS for Precision workstations, Dell does not provide technical assistance for customer installed Linux operating systems." Next Page: No focus on mass market.

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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