On the record, a Dell spokesman said he “cant comment on unannounced products,” when asked about Dells forthcoming Ubuntu-powered PCs. Over on Direct2Dell, meanwhile, John Hull, Dells manager of Linux OS technologies, on May 21 published “an overview of what customers can expect from our initial Ubuntu offering.”
Heres what Hull had to say. First, the default software from the Ubuntu media will be installed on the system, including kernel and applications. We already know that Dell will be offering the newest version of the popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu version 7.04.
DesktopLinux believes that Ubuntu will be made available on particular models of the Dimension E520 desktop, Inspirion1505 laptop, and XPS 410 desktop lines starting May 24.
That Dell will be offering Ubuntu on only some systems in each line is supported by Hulls statement that “The peripheral options offered with Ubuntu will be a subset of what is offered with other operating systems. Were offering the hardware options on each system that have the most mature and stable Linux driver support. These hardware options have been thoroughly tested by the Linux team here at Dell.”
When its possible, Hull continued, Dell will “install open source drivers for hardware.” When its not, Dell will use partial open-source or closed source (“restricted” in Ubuntu terms) drivers where there is no equivalent open-source driver. This includes Intel wireless cards and Conexant modems.”
The Inspiron 1505 laptop line comes with the Dell Wireless 1390b/g card, but the Intel PRO/Wireless 3945 internal WiFi card is an option. These WiFi cards work with Linux 2.6.8 and above but require the use of a proprietary firmware image file.
Linuxant, an open source software provider, offers drivers for Conexants “WinModems.” However, to provide high-quality drivers, Linuxant had to sign an agreement with Conexant to license its proprietary core modem technologies.