Ubuntu to be offered by Dell Australia

Ubuntu to be offered by Dell Australia

Summary: Dell today announced its Latitude 2100, a netbook designed specifically for school children. It is also the first Dell product in Australia to offer the Ubuntu operating system.


The Latitude 2100 is the first product in Australia to come with Ubuntu pre-installed.
(Credit: Dell)

Dell today announced its Latitude 2100, a netbook designed specifically for school children. It is also the first Dell product in Australia to offer the Ubuntu operating system pre-installed.

Dell's US operation has been selling Ubuntu-based products since May 2007, but had said previously that its local operation had not seen enough demand to justify the Linux-based OS.

The Latitude 2100, which features a rubberised exterior and an activity light to notify teachers when a student is using the wireless network, is the first product Dell has offered in the country featuring the alternative operating system.

"From our point of view, we're willing to make it available. This platform primarily was designed for the education segment, but in discussions with our customers before launch there's interest outside the education space in this platform, across a broad range of segments from SMB upwards", Jeff Morris, Dell's APJ director of Commercial Client products said.

"In countries like China and India, open-source operating systems are very popular, so that's another driving factor for us to make it available within the Asian region."

The entry-level netbook will cost AU$706 and is equipped with an Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM, an 80GB hard drive, 802.11n wireless, gigabit Ethernet, a three-cell battery and will have Ubuntu pre-installed.

Upgrade options include up to 250GB of hard drive space, solid-state drives, a webcam, a six-cell battery and a single-touch touchscreen, although costs have yet to be confirmed. Windows XP Home and Windows Vista Home Basic versions will also be available.

This is not Dell Australia's first foray into Linux — according to its website, it currently sells products in its business range based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop; however, unlike the US these options are not selectable customisations through its online store.

Topic: Dell

Craig Simms

About Craig Simms

Focusing on PC hardware, accessories and business products, Craig Simms is responsible for identifying new opportunities for the reviews channels on CNET Australia and ZDNet Australia, to better serve the readers. He has written about a vast range of technology since 2001, covering the gamut from print to online, hardware to software, consumer to enthusiast, the gaming world to workstations.

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  • I'll believe it when I see it

    This is not the first time Dell announced an overpriced machine with Linux preinstalled, only to pull it when (despite the high price) customers starting asking for it.
  • Having wireless driver available would be a good start

    Dell's promise is a positive steps, but other, even smaller steps would be good. You don't need Linux pre-installed if you just make sure the major Linux distros have the drivers for your installed devices. Any school kid can download a CD ISO image from www.ubuntu.com, burn it to a CD-R and insert it into a PC and reboot... the Ubuntu install being so easy. The problem arises when the Ubuntu install recognises every single device/component of the Dell, HP, etc EXCEPT the internal wireless card. The laptop manufacturers ought go to Broadcom (www.broadcom.com) and say they want Linux support, or they will need to use some other manufacturer's wireless card. As it stands Broadcom will allow M$ to distribute wireless drivers, but Broadcom refuses to allow Ubuntu and other Linux distros that same right.

    In short, I'd prefer to see Linux drivers for all Dell components IN Ubuntu, rather than just one Dell model made pre-installed with proprietary variant of Ubuntu containing a tiny piece of micro-code that Dell will not ask its supplier to make available generally.

    I've written to complain to Broadcom that their refusal to licence Ubuntu is plain rude to existing customers, especially as people like installing Linux on older hardware... plus it is plain contrary to the stated desires of their major customers, Dell, HP, Acer etc, who all express a commitment to Linux. But Broadcom have so far still refused to licence... claiming they are "thinking about it".

    So, if Dell are serious, it would help if they approached their one intransigent supplier and had some harsh words. Because, as sure as random distributions exist, there will be 1%+ of owners of ALL Dell models who would like to see Linux supported, rather than 100% of just one model.... Besides, under the current model, those Dell customers can't simply load 'de novo' any new version of Ubuntu, as they will need the proprietary drivers originally installed by Dell when knobbling the initial Ubuntu install.

    So, I'm behind you Dell... but walk the talk!
  • Submission to Broadcom re lack of Linux support

    Given I made such an issue of it above, the following is what I sent to Broadcom in Nov08 re their lack of wireless drivers for Linux. (Indeed, it is their insistence that their micro-code cannot be incorporated into open source operating systems). If you'd like to make your own complaint, go to www.broadcom.com and put in a submission under 'Contact Us'.

    [start of submission]
    I'm an influential person in terms of IT purchase decisions, starting with my being a Harvard Consultant to The White House on IT Planning in 1979...

    And I have never come across a more asinine arrangement than that spelt out at http://www.linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/b43 as to how to get a PC with a Broadcom wireless chip to work under Linux.. After many failed attempts, and having had not a single problem in getting auto-recognition of all other hardware in our fleet of HP Pavilion laptops, I am on the verge of insisting that NO further hardware purchases be made from any supplier that includes Broadcom hardware, for its user-unfriendliness.

    If I need to do this I will also post formal objections on various forums to recommend all others steer clear of such unhelpful suppliers.

    Please advise the SIMPLE way to get laptops containing your chips to operate under Ubuntu.
    Graeme Harrison BE(EE-Syd), BSc(CompSc-VUW), MBA(Harvard), FAIM, MIEAust, MIREE, MNIA, MIEEE, MACM, MACS
    [end of submission]
    Their reply was that:
    (a) End-users are NOT their customers;
    (b) Only Dell, HP, Acer etc are their customers; and
    (c) Broadcom does not currently support Linux, but that they are "looking at it".

    So Dell and others claiming support/capability under Linux need to either 'lean' on such component suppliers, or switch to other component suppliers. It seems that Broadcom is the only truly recalcitrant one.

    And I'm not for a second suggesting that Broadcom is not working to what it sees as its own best course of action, but, hypothetically, if you were Microsoft, it would be worth lavishing millions of dollars on a few refusniks on such a board of directors, to prevent all those Dells, HPs, Acers etc in userland from being 'easily switched' to a more robust, free OS.
  • Give it a rest...

    That trumpet Graeme 'Windbag' Harrison blows is getting a good work out. Maybe Broadcom don't see any viable business reason for doing this? But I guess that thought would have trouble getting through the tinfoil hat.. More robust? Give me a break. 'Influential'? Uh-huh - if you count conspiracy theory & non-stop ranting on discussion boards - maybe... Yawn....
  • Hoorah!

    I'm glad they are finally offering the option for those that want freedom from the MS situation.
    The price being the same as a windows machine is another can of worms altogether.
    My inspiron is currently using ubuntu and Vista, although ubuntu 99% of the time. My wifi card has had no issues at all