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May 25, 2007

Dell does Ubuntu and seeks Wal-Mart shoppers

As had been promised, Dell today announced three computers with the Ubuntu 7.04 Linux distribution preloaded. There was a bigger surprise, however, in the other announcement that Dell would start selling exclusive models of their PCs at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club retail stores in the USA and Canada. 

First, the Linux announcement:

It’s finally here. Later today, Dell will offer U.S customers three different systems with Ubuntu 7.04 installed: the XPS 410n and Dimension E520n desktops and the Inspiron E1505n notebook. These systems will be are now available at by 4pm CST today. Starting price for the E520n desktop and the E1505n notebook is $599; the XPS 410n starts at $899 $849. Note from Lionel:  My apologies, but I had included an incorrect starting price for the XPS 410n. It will be $849.

There are more details on support and drivers by following the link and for a quick rundown on the three systems see the summary at DesktopLinux. Only the desktop systems have comparable Windows models and yes, the Linux versions are cheaper, something that wasn’t necessarily inherent. In fact, the E520n at $599 is a full $200 cheaper than the comparable Windows model.

Bottom line: It’s not clear to me that Linux aficionados really need preconfigured systems, but it is certainly a convenience, particularly in the area of driver support.  Who knows, maybe it will bring in more desktop Linux users?

As for the Wal-Mart announcement, details are sparse other than there will be “two new desktop models, each offered in a package bundle under $700″ and:

Available only at all 3,400 U.S. Wal-Mart stores and Wal-Mart Puerto Rico stores will be an exclusive Dell Dimension™ Mulitmedia Desktop Computer.  A second exclusive model will be available in 3,000 Wal-Mart stores, also in June. (More about these models built exclusively to be sold at Wal-Mart will be announced soon.)  Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart Canada also will carry different, exclusive models in their stores.

The “exclusive model” business is a common retail ploy that allows retailers to always claim the lowest price on the particular models they offer. Aside from that, it will be interesting to see the details of exactly what kind of deals Wal-Mart provides. The motivation for Dell in all this is declining sales through their traditional direct sales and they also intend to offer systems through additional retailers.

Bottom line: I much prefer Internet computer shopping to visiting a retail store and I doubt that Wal-Mart will enhance the already dismal retail computer shopping experience, but there may be some bargains to be had there if you carefully research what is being offered.

Posted at 8:09 am. Filed under Brands, Canonical, Companies, Dell, Desktop PC, Laptop, Linux, Notebook, Operating Systems, Ubuntu, Wal-Mart

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