Acer is planning to sell Linux-based PCs to the UK market, the company told ZDNet.co.uk.
On Thursday Acer contacted ZDNet.co.uk with the following statement: "At this moment in time Acer UK does not have a PC available with Linux pre-loaded, but we are looking at introducing one in the future."
This appears to represent a reversal of Acer's previous statements on the matter, which suggested that the manufacturer had no plans to sell PCs here with a pre-installed open-source operating system.
On Tuesday ZDNet.co.uk reported that a laptop — the Aspire 5710Z — was being advertised in Singapore with Ubuntu, a Linux distribution, as its operating system. The advertisement represented a break with tradition, as PCs are almost universally sold with Windows pre-installed. An Acer spokesperson had said there was no demand in the UK market for Linux-based PCs, so that option would not be made available to customers here.
The situation is further complicated by the claim, made by a salesperson at the Singaporean retailer which advertised the Linux-based laptop, that Acer had shipped the Aspire 5710Z with no installed operating system — thus making it a so-called "naked PC".
"It was done by us," said the Memory World salesperson on Thursday. Explaining that the 5710Z was a "budget" model (priced at 999 Singaporean dollars, or £325) and therefore not suited to the resource-intensive Windows Vista, the salesperson went on to say that Memory World chose to install Ubuntu because it "is quite good compared to XP". In contrast with Acer's assertion that it does offer an Ubuntu pre-installation to retailers at the factory level, the salesperson added that Acer had shipped the laptops to Memory World "without anything; without any software loaded".
Further reports have suggested that the same Aspire model is being sold by other Singaporean retailers, but with a different Linux distribution — Linpus — installed instead of Ubuntu. To add to the confusion, those reports also quote a Memory World salesperson as claiming that the notebooks did come from Acer with a Linux OS — just not Ubuntu.
There have been many calls recently for so-called "naked PCs" to be made available to buyers, as Linux users often resent having to pay for a copy of Windows which they will not use.