It seems that Dell is still trying to figure out what customers want when it comes to Linux. Not content with IdeaStorm, Dell now has a survey where those who want to see Linux on Dell PCs can have their say. But from where I'm sitting, Dell still doesn't get it.
The comments that I read over on IdeaStorm relating to the "Linux on a Dell" lead me to the conclusion that what people (Dell customers, potential customers, the wider Linux community) want is not to be able to buy a Dell with a Linux distro already on it, but to be able to buy a Dell which they can then install Linux onto. In other words, it's having Linux-friendly hardware and drivers which is important.
This makes sense. One of the strong points of Linux is choice (some would say that too much choice when it comes to distros is also a major weakness) and being able to pick and choose a distro after buying a PC would be the ideal scenario. But this means that Dell has to get its act together with regards to drivers - in particular graphics card, modem and WiFi drivers.
It's odd to see a huge corporation like Dell taking this large-scale committee approach to making a decision like this. Maybe someone in the PR department thinks that this is what open source is all about. It seems to me that what Dell is trying to do is to please everyone (or at least give that impression) but I can't see how they're not going to end up annoying a lot of people. There's no way that we're going to see multiple Linux distros being offered across the Dell range so whatever happens is going to be a compromise.
Another issue is cost and whether any of this is going to be financially successful for Dell. Personally I'm skeptical that Dell will see any real cash from dabbling with Linux in the near future at any rate, and if this experiment causes the company to hemorrhage money, the plug will get pulled in double-quick time.
Still, if you're interested in having your say, the survey can be found here. It's open from March 13th to March 23rd.