Dell outlined some of the technical details surrounding its use of Ubuntu 7.04 on its desktops.
Judging from Dell's post, the main takeaways appear to be:
- Dell is choosing peripheral options based on what hardware has the most "mature and stable" Linux drivers.
- Dell will use open source drivers where possible. If none are available it'll use closed source options.
- Dell promises it will work with vendors to get better Linux drivers. "While this may not happen overnight, we do expect to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time," says John Hull, manager of Linux OS technologies at Dell.
- Dell won't support audio and video codecs that aren't distributed with Ubuntu already. In other words, all the MPEGs, WMA, WMV, DVD and QuickTime.
My takeaway: This may be too difficult to mainstream desktop Linux unless Dell packages these things in a friendly way. That latter point on media support doesn't sound friendly. I realize that Ubuntu on a Dell is going to appeal to a small subset of folks, but in the long run someone like me will be a target. What would get me to try Ubuntu?
Here's the definition of drivers for me: A lost weekend screwing around with software when I should be outside. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is dead on when he outlines what the Linux community doesn't understand about users (I fully expect them to get it later).
Nevertheless, Dell's Ubuntu move is important. As I noted before and Ryan Paul at Ars Technica said yesterday. Dell's Ubuntu choice is good news for desktop Linux. But semi-mainstream use of Linux on the desktop is going to take some time.