Dell Says There Are Too Darned Many Linuxes, Too

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-10-03
This is annoying.

No sooner, no sooner I tell you, do I write a column about there being too darn many Linux distributions, then Michael Dell of Dell says, in a NYC press conference, to Jacqueline Emigh of Linux Today, that, in looking into offering pre-installed Linux, there are "literally hundreds of distributions" of Linux—and, that these distributions were "alienated" from each other.

Im not sure exactly what he meant by alienated. But, I am sure that its not good. "Instead, we have the n Series," Michael Dell told Linux Today.

There are actually a lot of boxes in the n Series line, but what he was talking about was the same line of Dell Precision Workstations that Dell has offered for years.

These systems are, like the name says, workstations. They are powerful, they are fast, and they are not cheap. In short, theyre the same old kind of high-end engineering/CAD workstations that Linux and Unix have long lived on.

Curiously enough, they all come with Red Hat Enterprise Workstation as their operating system. Dell has personally invested almost $100 million into Red Hat.

But when push comes to shove, he still thinks there are too many, conflicting Linuxes out there for his company to invest in Linux. Argh! Dont get me wrong. Im glad Dells n Series is there. But, boy, would it kill a first-tier PC vendor to offer an affordable Linux system? A Linux for everyone?

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Yes, I know you can get Linspire from Linspire systems. The company goes to a lot of trouble to certify hardware for its distribution. Still, at the end of the day, there are no first-tier, and darn few second-tier, vendors that offer Linspire or any other kind of Linux pre-installed on their PCs. Thanks to Michael Dell, we now know that I wasnt just yakking to hear myself talk. The big computer vendors, and one presumes their customers, still think theres too much "alienation" in Linux for them to invest in it for personal desktops.

And this, mind you, from a man with a personal stake in Red Hat and who already ships Red Hat Linux on his companys high-end boxes! Clearly, we, as Linux supporters, still have a lot to do to get the word out there that mainline desktop Linux is here to stay and it works great. The job is not yet done.

Oh, and could we please, please focus on working on the mainstream Linux distributions instead of "My Very Own Linux Distribution Inc."?

Thank you. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at

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