opinion While Dell is yet to make an announcement for Australia, the PC maker's UK office has declared: "Dell Answers Customer Calls For Linux In Europe". Unless of course you live in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey ...
There's been a lot of noise about desktop Linux in the past few weeks. First, retailers in Singapore began selling the Acer Aspire 5710Z with the Ubuntu distribution pre-installed, then Acer told ZDNet Australia's sister site ZDNet UK it wouldn't follow suit in the UK due to lack of demand. It U-turned a few days later, when a spokesperson said: "At this moment in time Acer UK does not have a PC available with Linux pre-installed, but we are looking at introducing one in the future".
A local spokesperson for Acer said it had no commitments to pre-install Linux at this stage. Toshiba and industry analysts also agreed there was a lack of demand for Linux on business desktops Down Under.
Then, on Thursday, Red Hat announced it would be delaying its Linux desktop distribution, Global Desktop, until September so it could investigate adding additional support for video formats.
On the tail of this news came Lenovo's declaration to pre-install SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 from Novell on select ThinkPads in Australia from this summer, making it the first major manufacturer to supply a Linux desktop to the Australian market.
Meanwhile Dell -- the first major manufacturer to offer Linux as a pre-installed option at purchase -- is mum on it's plans to offer Ubuntu Down Under, or in any other country besides the US, UK, France and Germany.
Yet, a simple browse through comments on the Dell Web site including its Direct2Dell blog show that customers in Australia, Europe and other regions are crying out for desktop Linux.
And on Dell's Ideastorm Web site, a staggering 41,210 users agreed with the thread, "Sell Linux PCs Worldwide -- not only the United States".
On another thread, 6,410 users agreed with the statement, "Make Dell Ubuntu PCs available to businesses and non-profits".
Meanwhile, the announcement on Direct2Dell sparked comments from all over Europe and the world, including customers from Spain, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, former Soviet republics, Ireland, Israel and even a North American country: Canada.
Hats off to QuÃ©bÃ©cois, who had this to say:
Hi, I'm writing this from a "little" country just across US north border named Canada, don't know if you ever heard of it. Well, here we are seriously asking ourselves if there has not been some mistake somewhere, like forgetting some countries in your list. We are surprised and disappointed ...
Perhaps before Dell worries about supporting open-source alternatives to Windows, it should start with the basics -- open-source alternatives to Internet Explorer? On an Ideastorm thread, user qgonjon said he couldn't order an Inspiron 1420N with Ubuntu because the site was incompatible with his current set-up -- Firefox and Linux!
What seems clear is that, in Australia Ubuntu and Dell is not a question of "if" but "when". Of all manufacturers, it should be one of the first out of the gate given the ease at which customers can customise and build PCs to order on its Web site. With companies such as Lenovo and Acer snapping at its heels we hope Dell will make an announcement sooner rather than later.