Dell Computer has quietly stopped offering the Linux operating system as an option on its desktop and laptop PCs, saying low demand forced the Linux-advocate to pull the software from its online stores.
Dell has championed the open-source operating system through investments in companies such as Red Hat and Linux desktop software maker Eazel, which has since gone out of business. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell gave a speech at the LinuxWorld conference last year in San Jose, California, where he remarked that "the only thing growing faster than Linux is Linux on Dell."
While the company has seen strong sales of Linux on workstations and servers, it has sold few desktops and laptops this year loaded with Linux, Dell spokeswoman Sarah Lavender said. The vendor dropped Linux from its PCs and laptops about six weeks ago but did not announce the move publicly, she said.
Linux is still offered as an option to users who try to buy, for example, a Dell Dimension desktop from the company's Web site. A link appears saying, "Buy a system with Red Hat Linux," but users who click on the link are taken to a page displaying an error message. The link has not worked since at least June 22. In addition, users who inquire about the operating system on Dell's sales support line are told Linux is no longer an option.
"We don't do Linux," said a Dell sales representative. "That area of the Web site was collecting dust, so we stopped offering it a while ago."
Customers who want to buy 50 or more PCs can have Linux installed if they go through a custom ordering process that is separate from Dell's online store and catalogues, Lavender said.
Dell had hoped more of its server customers buying Linux would also purchase desktops running the operating system.
"We anticipated a little more spillover in demand from people buying servers," Lavender said. "Our customers did not seem to want it though, the numbers didn't add up."