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Dell quietly dumps desktop Linux

PC World
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By Ashlee Vance

(IDG) -- Dell Computer has quietly stopped offering the Linux operating system as an option on its desktop and notebook PCs, saying that low demand forced the company to pull the software from its online stores.

Although Dell has seen strong sales of Linux on workstations and servers, this year it has sold few desktops and laptops loaded with Linux, company spokesperson Sarah Lavender says. The Austin, Texas-based vendor dropped Linux from its PCs and notebooks about six weeks ago but did not announce the move publicly, she says.

Dell had championed the open source operating system through investments in companies such as Red Hat and Linux desktop software maker Eazel, which has since gone out of business.

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Founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell gave a speech at the LinuxWorld conference last year in San Jose, California, where he remarked that "the only thing growing faster than Linux is Linux on Dell."

Linux still appears to be offered as an option to users who try to buy, for example, a Dell Dimension desktop at the company's Web site. A link appears saying, "Buy a system with Red Hat Linux," but users who click on the link are taken to a page that displays an error message. The link has not worked since June 22 at least. In addition, users who inquire about the operating system at Dell's sales support line are told Linux is no longer on option.

"We don't do Linux," says a Dell sales representative contacted Wednesday. "That area of the Web site was collecting dust, so we stopped offering it a while ago."

Customers who want to buy 50 or more PCs can have them installed with Linux if they go through a custom ordering process that is separate from Dell's online store and catalogs, Lavender says.

Dell had hoped that more of its server customers buying Linux would also purchase desktops running the operating system.

"We anticipated a little more spillover in demand from the people buying servers," Lavender says. "Our customers did not seem to want it, though; the numbers didn't add up."

Linux advocates have long hoped their operating system of choice would gain ground on the desktop against Microsoft's Windows OS. This vision, however, began to fade when Eazel went out of business earlier this year, and now one of the world's largest PC sellers and biggest Linux champions is scaling back support.





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