Dell to sell PCs with Linux

The PC maker will install Linux on select PCs in a deal that could mark a broad new stage for the upstart operating system.

Dell Computer will install Linux technology on select PCs in a deal that could mark a broad new stage for the upstart operating system.

Dell will announce in the coming weeks that it will bundle Red Hat's version of Linux on certain types of OptiPlex PCs for the corporate market, sources close to the company said. The operating system itself comes free, but Dell will charge a $99 installation fee.

Next week, Dell is expected to announce that it will preinstall Red Hat's system on some lower-powered servers.

Although the details of the OptiPlex transaction are not all clear, the deal could be a watershed for the operating system. No major PC manufacturer has agreed to incorporate the software onto a PC before a sale. These companies have only recently agreed to certify and support Linux on their servers and workstations, and only after the fact.

By creating and selling Linux versions of its popular desktop PCs, Dell will likely be removing at least some of the major impediments standing in the way of casual adoption of Linux in the corporate world. Users essentially won't have to conduct their own experiments to see what works best with Linux; they can instead buy the expertise with the box.

It is not known whether these OptiPlex system will come with both the Red Hat operating system and a Windows OS.

A longtime Microsoft loyalist, Dell is quickly becoming one of the prime supporters of Linux among PC makers.

The company today announced that it has started to pre-install Linux on select versions of its Precision workstations. These computers do not ship with versions of the Windows operating system, which represents a break with tradition. To date, virtually every Dell workstation has left the factory with a preinstalled copy of Windows NT, 98, or 95.

On Monday, Dell is expected to announce that it will begin to sell 1300 and 2300 PowerEdge servers that are certified to run the Linux OS.

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