On Dell & Ubuntu

Dell announced today that they will be shipping Ubuntu “Feisty Fawn” as a preloaded operating system on three Dell PCs targeted at the consumer market. As you might expect, I’ve got a few thoughts on this one.

As proponents of open source and Linux, we’re happy to see Linux being preloaded onto consumer desktops. This is just one more proof point in the continued growth of Linux. However, I wouldn’t necessarily refer to the Dell-Ubuntu deal as “major.” Dell is only going to load Ubuntu on three machines targeted at the technical consumer market, and the only support option available will be through online technical self-help forums, which will be monitored by the community. We really view Dell’s announcement today as a loading Linux onto desktops aimed at the technical enthusiast community — the same community of people who voted on Dell’s Ideastorm website.

Novell’s target customers for the Linux desktop are not the same folks who have been voting on Dell Ideastorm. Our target customer is the enterprise business user, and so we’ve focused SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop squarely at the business market. Look at our win at Peugeot, where we sold 20,000 copies of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop for general purpose business use. We wouldn’t have won that deal without delivering the reliability and support that business customers demand.

Novell believes that the Linux desktop is ready for mainstream deployment in the enterprise, and that means you need to have enterprise quality support — something that Ubuntu does not offer. Novell is in serious conversations with several leading hardware OEMs about preloading a Linux desktop that will be targeted at broad enterprise use. When we release SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on a preloaded machine, it will come with the enterprise support that our customers require to run their businesses. Stay tuned for more details.

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