After running Ubuntu for almost a year now on my Dell Inspirion 6000 I wish it were available as an OEM on Dell laptops and apparently so do many other keyboard junkies.
Dell's customer collaboration site IdeaStorm demonstrates a clear demand for Dell laptops and systems to come with pre-installed Linux. This site was launched just 11 days ago. Dell launched the site, "to gauge which ideas are most important and most relevant to you. And we'll share those ideas throughout our organization to trigger new thoughts about how we evolve as a company." Looks like they want to know what we're thinking and we're thinking Linux and FOSS in a big way.
The top eight posts with some five times the ranking points of the nearest non FOSS post promote a desire for Linux, Open Office, Firefox, a Linux Laptop and no operating system install and Linux drivers. It seems the public has spoken to DEll and apparently they are listening.
"It’s exciting to see the IdeaStorm community’s interest in open source solutions like Linux and OpenOffice. Your feedback has been all about flexibility and we have seen a consistent request to provide platforms that allow people to install their operating system of choice. We are listening, and as a result, we are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. This is another step towards ensuring that our customers have a good experience with Linux on our systems." So says the Ideastorm site.
I'm hoping they soon give the option on all their laptops of a variety of Linux distributions? Given the pressure on Ideastorm, they must be thinking about it.
They have a FreeDos option series of laptops they call open-source n Series notebooks , but FreeDos is not exactly looking forward, but seems to me to be looking backward (compatabilitywise I guess). I suppose they must have some wicked agreement with Microsoft which might cause some grief if they start to distribute Linux. But all the same you can easily install a Linux Dist. on one of these systems.
According to Matt Domsch, Dell's Linux Software Architect, "For the last several weeks, we’ve been working to bring Latitude notebooks to the n-Series lineup.... Dell's Latitude notebook line now joins our n-series Dimension and OptiPlex desktops and workstations is now available, complete with FreeDOS on CD in the box—ready for you to install the Linux distribution of your choice. As with other n-Series products, Dell hasn't tested any particular Linux distribution and doesn't offer software support for running Linux on these, so we encourage you to join our Linux mailing lists and to use the one of your chosen distribution for community-based support."
I tried customizing a couple of the Latitude Laptops on the Dell E-commerce site to see if by some miracle I could get a Linux distribution on it instead of that behemoth; but alas you just can't, not yet anyway.