As it approaches its one-year anniversary next month of selling laptop and desktop computers pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux, Dell is continuing to expand the fledgling program to new computer models and markets.
In interviews at Dell's Parmer campus north of Austin last week, four Dell representatives said sales of the Linux-loaded machines are encouraging.
Though they declined to give sales figures for the Linux-equipped machines, the Dell officials were adamant in saying that the program wouldn't be continuing or adding new models if the sales figures were not adequate.
"A [sales] number is not going to validate it as much as our actions to date," which include adding new models and configurations, said company spokeswoman Anne Camden. Dell first offered Linux on Dell machines in 1999, when Dell installed Red Hat Linux on a selection of Dell servers, said Matt Domsch, the company's Linux technology strategist in the CTO's office. A short time later, Dell tried selling consumer-focused laptops with Red Hat Linux but the effort was not sustained due to inadequate demand.
Dell has continued to sell enterprise servers with Linux since that 1999 debut, he said. The recent Linux on Dell program for laptops and desktop machines, however, has been gaining momentum, he said. "If the program wasn't successful, we wouldn't be able to continue it," Domsch said.
The Linux on Dell idea was born in February 2007 after CEO Michael Dell debuted a new company-hosted blog called IdeaStorm, where customer could provide ideas and input on prospective new products and services. More than 100,000 people posted comments about wanting to see the company sell computers with Linux preloaded, straight from the factory.
Ten weeks later, in May of last year, Dell announced it would begin selling Linux-loaded machines to consumers and businesses.