The Ubuntu flavor of Linux has received a major endorsement from Dell with its announcement that it will offer the OS as an option for its Alienware X51 gaming rig.
The diminutive PC starts at just $599 for a system with an Intel Core i3-3220 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 645 graphics. (Of course, you can load on the upgraded components for additional cash.) Previously only available as a Windows system, the X51 now can be equipped with Ubuntu Linux 12.04.
For Alienware's gaming clientele, the big draw is Steam for Linux,. The downloaded platform gives Linux gamers access to such titles as Counter-Strike: Source and Kerbal Space Program, and includes Big Picture Mode, which optimizes games if you hook the X51 to your HDTV, though the game list does pale in comparison to what's available for Windows.
Nonetheless, Steam for Linux is a major step forward for gaming on the open-source OS, and now Dell is providing consumers with a desktop with the hardware to play those games and with Ubuntu pre-installed (not that you couldn't download and install Ubuntu on any gaming PC already, but it saves the time and effort of doing it yourself). You will also have access to more games through the Ubuntu Software Centre.
While it's not a huge effort on Alienware's part to add the Ubuntu option to the X51, it's still a bit of a risk to support an OS that isn't nearly as popular as Windows (2 percent of Steam usage in its launch month). (Then again, this might be one of the least risky things going on at Dell at the moment.)
Will the company be rewarded for offering Ubuntu on this gaming desktop? Let us know your opinion in the Talkback section below.