Dell: Wait and see for Linux PCs in AP

Australian spokesperson says the issue is more "complicated" in the region, with different languages and the need for appropriate customer support.

Asia-Pacific customers wanting to get their hands on Dell PCs, pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux, will have to wait.

Dell announced last week that three models--E520n desktop, E1505n notebook and XPS 410n--would go on sale at www.dell.com/open. However, spokesperson for Dell Australia Paul McKeon told ZDNet Australia on Tuesday that no decision had been made on their availability locally.

McKeon said obviously Dell Australia would be watching what happens in the United States, and the local office is keen to make Linux machines available.

"It's something we'd definitely like to do...we have a sizeable Linux community in Australia particularly in Canberra and Adelaide."

While not forthcoming with a timeframe for the introduction of Linux-loaded PCs, he did offer some reasons for the delay.

"It's quite complicated in the Asia-Pacific region, for example, there are a number of different languages," McKeon said.

Another challenge is support. Currently Dell only supports one operating system--Microsoft's Windows--for consumers. It does, however, offer Linux support in the enterprise space. According to McKeon, Dell Australia wants to be able to offer the right level of service when Linux PCs are launched on the local market.

Meanwhile, McKeon was coy about Dell's new global strategy, which involves the sale of PCs in retail outlets. Dell has already signed a deal with retail giant Wal-Mart to sell Dimension e521 desktops in 3,000 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, according to a recent report in CRN.

McKeon admitted there were no plans for Australia as yet, but confirmed it was a global strategy.

"We've nothing additional to announce now for Australia or New Zealand ... this news is consistent with what Michael [Dell] has been saying recently about 'direct' not being a religion, and his taking a fresh look at the business," he said.

"So while the vast majority of our consumers will still continue to buy direct from us, they are also asking for additional ways to purchase our products, and so we're testing new ways of reaching them."