No Focus on Mass

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

Market"> Dell also seems to not be pushing its Linux workstations to the mass market. Besides offering the machines without any fanfare, the companys Web site notes, "Linux is an excellent migration platform for customers with business critical software previously restricted to proprietary UNIX platforms." While Dell public relations may claim that these RHEL systems dont represent a change and that Dell has offered Linux on its workstations since 1999, at least one user disagrees.
Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw, a Linux and open-source legal news sites, said, "I did a story in 2004 about my struggle to buy a Dell with Linux preinstalled. I failed."
This "is a change, if they really mean that Red Hat Linux is factory installed and that they mean by that it arrives at your house with Red Hat on the computer already. I havent investigated yet to see if that is what now happens for real. If they havent changed their policy from 2004, they certainly need to." A system integrator specialist with a global outsourcing firm, also, agreed that Dell could be taking a new approach. From where he sits, though, it doesnt go far enough. "It is a big deal in the sense that they are selling workstations with a supported version of Linux. But it would be an even bigger deal if they were selling the cheapo PCs with a desktop Linux," he said. "It also totally befuddles me that they havent made an announcement to the effect that they are offering these machines." Dan Kusnetzky, former IDC VP for system software, and now marketing VP of Open-Xchange Inc., an open-source, groupware and e-mail company, also sees Dell changing course. "Dell has an off-again, on-again affair with Linux. Dells business focus is on high-volume customers, so its early Linux desktop experiments quietly disappeared in 2001. Nevertheless, Dell has always been willing to pre-load Linux on desktops to large-volume customers who asked for it, but Dell never advertised this. That Dell is now publicly making Linux available to one-off customers directly by its Web site is a major change," said Kusnetzky. The big question is how much things will change from here. From this perch, the love affair may be back on—at least for a while. Now if Dell would only stop threading the needle between workstations and desktops. Then it might be on to something. 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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