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Dell may join HP in Linux laptop drive

Demand for the Linux-based "people's notebook" in Thailand is so high that the country's government doesn't think HP can meet demand and is now in talks with Dell, a report says.

Demand for the Linux notebook launched in Thailand last week has been so high that other companies may have to be brought in, according to the daily newspaper Bangkok Post.

Thailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry, which is behind the drive to increase computer ownership, is said to be in talks with Dell Computer and the Association of Thai Computer Manufacturers, among others.

Thailand's information ministry is concerned that Hewlett-Packard, the original contracted maker of the low-cost "people's notebook," may not be able to deliver units fast enough to meet demand, the Bangkok Post said.

HP is producing the low-cost "people's notebook," which is loaded with Linux TLE, the Thai-language version of the Linux operating system, to support a Thai government drive to increase computer ownership, reported the Post earlier this month. The laptop features an 800MHz Intel Celeron processor, 128MB of RAM and a 20GB hard disk, it said.

According to analysts interviewed by CNETAsia, the Thai government expects that around 300,000 notebooks will be sold in the current phase of the program, along with another 700,000 desktop PCs. Local computer makers Belta, SVOA and Computec will make the desktop models.

The government is subsidizing the cost of the hardware, and will also provide service and support for the notebook.

In addition to the bare-bones $450 model currently on sale, the Thai government wants to offer a higher-end version that includes a CD-ROM drive for $595 (25,000 baht), the Post report said.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore.