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Dell Launches Linux Survey

The No. 1 computer maker's certification of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 could mean it's ready to mainstream the open source operating system.

Dell launched a Linux Web survey this week, moving it a bit closer to reintroducing the open-source operating system as a factory-installed option for home or office use.

The survey, which was posted Tuesday and runs through March 23, asks a variety of questions, including which Dell system respondents would like to see with Linux, what kind of computing chores they would use the machine for, what type of software support they would like, and the Linux distribution they favor.

In launching the survey, Matt Domsch, Linux software architect for Dell, said in the company's official blog that Dell has been moved to action by the more than 110,000 requests for Linux computers on the company's online customer sounding board IdeaStorm.

"We hear your requests for desktops and notebooks with Linux," Domsch said. "We're crafting product offerings in response, but we'd like a little more direct feedback from you: your preferences, your desires." After posting the survey, the company received so many responses that the survey server was overloaded, and the system had to be beefed up.

While Domsch's remarks would indicate a Linux desktop is inevitable, a company spokesman on Wednesday refused to say it was a done deal. "We're not announcing anything specific," he said. An update on Dell's Linux plans would be available a couple of weeks after the survey closes.

As an indication that Dell is seriously looking at Linux, the company recently received certification of its Optiplex desktops, Latitude notebooks, and Precision workstations for Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. Certification for the three business product lines means the computers can be bought without an OS and customers can load Suse Linux with confidence that the OS will work.

Dell currently sells Precision workstations with the option of having Red Hat Linux preinstalled. The high-end computers are used to run industrial applications, such as those used by designers in manufacturing, or in the making of animation or movies. Dell has not offered a mainstream computer with Linux since 2001.

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