Dell is adding Ubuntu 7.10, also known as Gutsy Gibbon, to its consumer Linux lineup in the U.S. The company has also expanded its Linux offerings abroad.
First, the Ubuntu 7.10 announcement. Dell on its blog Tuesday said that Ubuntu 7.0 will be preinstalled on the Inspiron 530 and Inspiron 1420. Ubuntu 7.10 will also be available on the Inspiron 530 in England, France and Germany.
The experience we wanted is simple — when you put a movie in, it plays. It is easy enough for a child and an example of the steps we are taking to make Ubuntu as enjoyable as possible.
It's a bit comical that auto-DVD playback is a big deal, but that's where we stand with desktop Linux. Applications that we're all used to just aren't quite there yet. However, that is changing rapidly. As it does the fear about jumping to desktop Linux will erode.
This takeaway was clear at IBM's shindig yesterday. IBM is seeing employees convert to desktop Linux (Red Hat's version), but the big hurdle is the set of applications. When applications that run on Windows run the same way on desktop Linux conversion will be easy. In IBM's case Lotus Notes 8 had to offer the same experience on Windows and Linux to pave the way to switch.
Ubuntu is in a similar situation--once media features are easy ala built-in DVD playback--it may find some momentum. And with a refresh every six months the gap can close quickly. Gutsy Gibbon on Dell already has 3-D visual effects, a better desktop search engine, pre-installed Flash and recovery options.
But we aren't there yet. This comment from Dell is telling:
Dell is working on bringing Ubuntu to more markets over time. In the meantime, tell your friends in the existing markets to buy a system now. The more we sell, the sooner we can expand the program.
Translation: Dell hasn't sold enough to make it an option everywhere. It's a chicken and egg argument. If those demand stars line up desktop Linux will be ready for prime time. Personally, I see a virtuous cycle beginning with desktop Linux, but the timing is open to debate.