Ubuntu is extremely popular on the desktop, but its made comparatively little progress on servers. Thats about to change. Dell is expected to announce in the first quarter of 2008 that it has certified Ubuntu Linux for its server lines.
In an interview with Rick Becker, Dell Product Groups vice president of solutions, Becker said that Dell is currently in the process of certifying Ubuntu for all its server lines. “But we are still several months away from announcing a certification. Id say itll be announced in Q1 next year.”
Dell, however, is already selling pre-loaded Ubuntu on its servers. “At the moment, if a Dell customer asks us to pre-load Ubuntu on a server, well do it for them. We do the same for Red Hat and SUSE. Our open-source support group will work with them as best they can, but most developers who ask for Linux probably know more than we do about Ubuntu. In fact, we may ask them for advice,” said Becker.
For now, Dell will direct customers who get pre-installed Ubuntu Linux on its servers to Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, and the Ubuntu community for support. “With Linux, its not like you can just pick up the phone [and get support], as you know. We cant go too deeply into Ubuntu support at this time. Well pre-load and resell it, and support the hardware with our Dell support folks. Well refer people to the Ubuntu community if we need to,” said Becker.
After all, explained Becker, “Were not into operating systems much. Well let the other companies handle those. Were much more into providing the hardware and the management software, as well as optimizing how it runs on our servers, finding bugs, making sure the drivers work well, etc.”
Just a day earlier, Dell had announced that it had formally certified Suns Solaris on its servers. By March of next year, Dell, once an almost 100 percent Windows Server shop, will be offering pre-installed RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), Solaris and Ubuntu Server to customers across its standalone, rack and blade server lines by the spring of 2008.
Gerry Carr, marketing manager for Canonical, said he was unable to comment directly on Dells decision since “although it is our software, these are entirely Dell internal matters so we cannot comment on them. As a good partner, until and unless we are given specific permission to talk about any initiative, then we have to defer to Dell.”
There is, however, no secret that Canonical has been working to get Ubuntu on the server and Dells servers in specific. Carr and other Canonical executives are on record as saying that Canonical has been working on persuading server OEMs, and Dell in particular, of the advantages of offering Ubuntu on their servers since this summer.