Does Linux make sense for Dell or open-source fans?

It’s only been a day since Dell announced that they’ll begin shipping Linux-sporting machines to customers of all stripes but given that the company won’t unveil it’s Linux plan for a few weeks, it’s time to start speculating. The folks at Ars Technica have long insisted that pre-installing Linux on a wide variety of systems doesn’t make much sense for Dell, at least for a business standpoint. “My guess is that Dell will either go with a token Latitude offering, or go all out by offering a limited selection of Dimension and Inspiron systems with optional third-party commercial support and a limited selection of distributions,” Ars‘s Ryan Paul writes. “In order to make Linux preinstallation worth more to end users than a simple compatibility guarantee, Dell will have to sell those Linux systems at a lower price than the equivalent Windows systems, which Dell doesn’t do with its current Linux lineup.” This seems to be the linchpin–if Dell doesn’t relieve Linux fans of having to pay the “Microsoft tax,” their Linux move will be seen as largely pointless. Linux enthusiasts are awfully fond of customization and chance are, they’ll just wipe the drive when they receive the machine anyhow. If Dell does indeed offer a discount on Linux systems, it could go a long way in building customer goodwill, though it wouldn’t make much business sense. However, bettering the company’s standing in the eye of the customer just might be more important, given Dell’s recent woes.

For more speculation:
– see this Ars Technica article

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