Linux slips off Dell's PCs

Dell Computer ceases shipping Linux on its desktop and notebook PCs
Written by John G.Spooner, Contributor

Citing slow demand for the operating system on client PCs over the last several quarters, a Dell spokesman said the PC maker chose to stop preinstalling RedHat Linux on desktop and notebook models.

The move was not unexpected. Dell executives have suggested that the operating system has more potential for workstations and servers. The desktop decision was largely a financial one, influenced by the slow PC market, said Dell spokesman David Graves.

Dell has not bid goodbye to the operating system altogether. The Texas-based PC maker continues to offer workstation and server models with RedHat preinstalled. The company recently began installing the latest version of RedHat, version 7.1. In addition, Dell will likely continue to offer RedHat Linux to larger customers who wish to custom-configure desktop PCs or notebooks with the operating system.

Despite an initial splash last year, and efforts by groups such as Gnome to build graphical user interfaces to run on top of Linux, it has been difficult for the operating system to get a foot in the door of the desktop market, said RedHat spokesperson Melissa London.

"With Linux, the productivity suites just aren't there," London said. As a result, she added, "you're fighting a pretty big uphill battle" to establish the operating system on the desktop.

"Not that we're not trying, but obviously the biggest growth is on the server," she said.

Other PC makers, such as IBM, continue to offer Linux preloaded on certain models such as the ThinkPad notebooks. However, they report that the majority of business is on the server side.

Dell says it will keep an eye on demand for Linux on the desktop.

"If things change, and there's an upswing in demand on the client side, we're open to going back to it," Graves said. Linux "has been very successful on the server side."

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