Dell's Linux PCs held back from UK

Dell will not sell Linux PCs in the UK -- at least for the time being.

The PC supplier said on Tuesday it would sell machines with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed later this month. But Dell has said that the systems will be only be sold in the US for now. It refused to reveal any timescale for the sale of such systems in the UK.

In a statement Dell said: "Currently these are only being offered in the US. Dell is still working out details of its global programme." The company refused to put a timescale on when UK users might benefit.

It is not the first time that Dell has offered products to US customers but refused to ship the same product to the UK. It already offers so-called 'naked PCs' -- computers without operating systems -- to customers with a US address. But customers in the UK are unable to order such a system.

Dell's customers have waited a long time for a pre-installed Linux operating system. Over 130,000 users of Dell's IdeaStorm forum have "promoted" a suggestion that the vendor should offer pre-installed Linux as an alternative to Windows. About 60 per cent of respondents to a separate survey by Dell said they would prefer Ubuntu ahead of any other Linux distribution.

It took Dell three months to respond to those users' demands, although it will still not reveal which systems are involved and how much users will have to pay.

Dell offered Linux-based systems starting in 1999, although it withdrew the portfolio after two years. The PC supplier could provide no clear reason why its products should succeed this time. All Dell would say was: "When customers win, Dell wins." The company said it would issue no sales targets for Linux systems.
Support -- also as yet unpriced -- will be provided by Ubuntu's commercial backer Canonical, but Dell will also answer users' queries on the software, the company said.

Separately, Dell hinted that it might extend its use of Ubuntu beyond the desktop and into its server portfolio. Spokesman Kent Cook said: "We're looking at Linux across the breadth of our product line. It takes a bit longer sometimes on that side. Stay tuned."