Dell Ubuntu Linux has arrived

Late yesterday Dell opened the floodgates of its grand consumer Linux experiment by offering three systems with Ubuntu Desktop Edition version 7.04 pre-installed. The cheapest systems are a $599 including a 17" flat panel display on the desktop, or 15" wide screen on the laptop. Here's a look at the detailed configurations of each one, plus info on the revamped options they provide for do-it-yourselfers that want to install their own OS.

Late yesterday Dell opened the floodgates of its grand consumer Linux experiment by offering three systems with Ubuntu Desktop Edition version 7.04 pre-installed. They are available for purchase now:

E520 N

The Dimension E520 N starts at $599 ($749 - $150 promotional discount), and includes an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (E4300), 1GB of 667MHz memory, a 17" E177FP analog flat panel, Intel integrated graphics 950, 48X CD-RW/DVD Combo drive, and a 250GB SATA drive (7200rpm).

E1505 N

The Inspiron E1505 N also starts at $599 ($799 - $200 promotional discount), and features an Intel Pentium dual-core processor (T2080), 512MB of 533MHz shared memory, a 15" wide screen XGA display, Intel integrated graphics 950, 24X CD Burner/DVD Combo drive, and a 80GB SATA drive (5400rpm).

XPS 410 N

Finally, the XPS 410 N starts at $849 (no discount), and includes an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (E4300), 1GB of 667MHz memory, a 19" Ultrasharp SP1908FP Digital Flat Panel, 256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache, 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write, Dell AS501 10W Flat Panel Attached Spkrs, and a fast (3Gb/s) 250GB SATA drive (7200rpm).
All three systems can be customized of course, and Dell has a habit of changing prices on a daily (or hourly) basis, so your actual price can vary a lot. As of this writing, the preliminary ship date is listed as 6/4/2007 for the E520 N, 6/7/2007 for the E1505 N, and 6/20/2007 for the XPS 410 N. According to the web site, Dell provides hardware support only. Software support is available through Canonical and Linux Community. 30 days of "Starter support" costs $65, 1 year of "Basic support" costs $125, and 1 year of "Standard support" costs $275. The company also revamped its "no operating system" line of computers for do-it-yourselfers. Confusingly, they call this the "n Series" (note the lowercase n):

  • The Dimension n Series E520 starts at $679 ($829 - $150 promotional discount), including an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (E4300), 1GB of 667MHz memory, a 19" Ultrasharp SE198WFP Widescreen flat panel, 256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache, 48X CD-RW/DVD Combo drive, and a 160GB SATA drive (7200rpm).
  • The Dimension n Series E521 starts at $649 ($799 - $150 promotional discount), and sports an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+, 1GB of 667MHz memory, a 19" Ultrasharp SE198WFP Widescreen flat panel, 256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache, 16x DVD+/-RW Drive, and a 250GB SATA drive (7200rpm).
  • The Dimension n Series C521 also starts at $649 ($799 - $150 promotional discount), and comes with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+, 1GB of 667MHz memory, 19" SP1908FP Silver Flat Panel Monitor, 128MB ATI Radeon X1300, 16x DVD+/-RW Drive, and a 250GB SATA drive (7200rpm).
The little "n" series offers no advantage over the big "N" series aside from the option to use AMD processors. It's not clear why Dell is going to the trouble, other than the fact that they've always had a little "n" series for their business customers. Dell would be better off scrapping the little "n" computers and concentrating on the big "N" Ubuntu offerings. After all, it's easy enough for a knowledgeable user to wipe Ubuntu Linux from the system if they wanted some other version of Linux or perhaps Solaris or FreeBSD. Solaris, while it hasn't gotten all the press that GNU/Linux has gotten in the last few years, is just as cheap and is backed by a major company (Sun) with decades of operating system experience. If Dell was going to keep the "n" series why couldn't they name the Ubuntu series something different, like the "L" series? Does N stand for liNux? It doesn't make any sense. Anyway, there you have it, the long awaited Ubuntu liNux systems from Dell.