Dell PCs to Ship with Ubuntu 'Feisty Fawn'

Lora Bentley

Dell made waves in the tech media when it announced recently that it would be including pre-loaded Linux on certain PC and laptop offerings -- and this after declaring that it wasn't yet ready to do so. One of the computer maker's hang-ups the first time customers requested pre-loaded Linux was that it would be too difficult to support all of the Linux distros and impossible to choose one that would make all of the customers happy.


It seems the powers-that-be at Dell have changed their minds again. Ubuntu's new "Feisty Fawn" is the operating system of choice, according to ZDNet. Customers will also have the option of purchasing support from Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu distribution. Financial details of the agreement have yet to be disclosed.


So far, the news has raised two huge questions: Will this take off? And will Canonical be able to pull off the support that this kind of deal will require? On the first, the ZDNet writer seems skeptical. Despite the success of Linux on the server, the OS has never gained much traction on the desktop. He also notes, however, that Dell doesn't usually do something unless it's pretty certain to result in a good return. So the fact that Dell is the vendor tackling it should mean something. Reader comments on the issue represent a variety of views.


The 451 Group's Nick Selby raises the second question (or set of questions) in today's blog post:

We believe that the market is there and ready for the offering. This success of this deal, then, will hinge on two key aspects. First is Canonical's ability to scale its end-user tech support. Second is how Canonical will react when customers, for the first time since the launch of Ubuntu, are pissed off at it.

In a very thorough piece, he explains why such support will be a challenge. He points out that Canonical is used to supporting those who know enough about open source and/or Linux in particular to have done their homework and managed to install Ubuntu before looking to the company for help with whatever the problem might be. Now, not only will the number of end users increase significantly, but they will also be users who expect their systems to run right out of the box. That's what they paid for, after all. And they won't necessarily be able to provide as much helpful information as Canonical's support techs are accustomed to receiving.


It's not that the company can't do it. As Selby says, the standard is simply much higher.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 8, 2007 3:32 AM Bre Esc Bre Esc  says:
The question isn't what will happen with Ubuntu,but how MS react to this major shift from one of their strongest supporters and is this Linux's first real push for our Desktops? Reply
May 9, 2007 1:08 AM Denise Chumley Denise Chumley  says:
It's a shame Dell has chosen Feisty Fawn rather than Dapper Drake - ie 6-06 LTS (long term support).As a complete linux novice I had 6-06 LTS installed and it worked perfectly. When I updated to Edgy Eft I had loads of problems that I could not solve. Since returning to Dapper I've been very satisfied, and actually begun the process of learning Linux. I don't know what is in the E and F versions of Ubuntu, and I suppose Linux afficionados don't care, but for newbies I would have thought the LTS version the vest one to install. Reply
May 9, 2007 8:20 AM Francisco Augusto Francisco Augusto  says:
UAU, the battle last start now. major pc company put Linux with an option. Reply
May 11, 2007 10:04 AM Crackers_L Crackers_L  says:
I agree that Feisty Fawn may not have been the best choice, but on the other hand it will FORCE people to actually learn their operating system. As a phone tech for microsoft's Vista, I know first hand that people DO NOT learn to actually use their OS, they expect the OS to do everything for them. This could breed a whole new generation of end users. I'm personally happy with the choice, but I do thing that it will take a couple of years to catch on, due to compatability, software vendors and hardware manufacturers are going to need to enter into a whole new relm of developement, but I personally think the industry is ready for the chance, I just hope end users are preparing themselves. Reply

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