While we’re still waiting for Dell to roll-out its Inspiron 910 mini-notebook, Dell had just announced, on August 27th, that it is now selling two more desktops and two more laptops that will come pre-installed with Ubuntu 8.04.
These low-priced systems consist of the two pre-configured laptops—the Vostro A840 and A860—and two pre-configured desktops—the Vostro A100 and A180. Unfortunately, for North American buyers, only the Vostro A860 notebook with its 15.6″ display will be available to North American desktop Linux customers. The Vostro A860 will also be Dell’s first globally available Ubuntu-powered PC. Earlier Dell computers with Ubuntu, like the XPS M1530n and Inspiron E1505n were only available in the U.S. or in other limited regions.
Both of the new Dell lines are meant for small business users. And, in particular, they’re meant for what John Hull, Dell’s manager of Linux engineering, calls “greenfields.” Greenfields are countries that, until recently, haven’t had many PCs. Dell, along with other PC vendors like HP and Lenovo, believes that greenfield nations, which haven’t been locked into Microsoft’s Windows monopoly, are an ideal Linux desktop audience.
In a Dell channel blog posting, Steve Felice, Dell’s senior-VP for Dell Asia-Pacific and Japan, “The two new Vostro laptops and two desktop models are being introduced in countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America over the next several weeks.”
Felice went on to explain why Dell is introducing these PCs to the greenfield nations. “With today’s products we’re bringing great, new mobile technology to customers in the world’s emerging countries. Those customers tell us that the cost of technology, especially mobile technology, is too high. They want affordable systems that are high-quality and highly reliable. They want technology that’s easy to deploy and maintain. They want great service, and support that’s easy to get and pay for. We’ve designed these new Vostro products to meet those needs.”
Part of that low-cost, high-quality package is Ubuntu While Dell is also offering Windows Vista Home Basic, even fervent Microsoft die-hards are hard-pressed to find anything good to say about this ugly step-sister of the Vista family.
The Dell Vostro A860 laptop, which is the model that everyone will be able to buy, has a widescreen LCD with anti-glare coating. Users can choose between from several different different Intel processors ranging from a Celeron to Core 2 Duo processor. It also includes an integrated Ethernet port, modem and 802.11g Wi-Fi connectivity with optional Bluetooth capabilities. The 860 will come with 1GB of RAM, up to a 160GB hard-drive, and a choice between a 24x DVD/CD-RW combo drive or an 8x DVD+/-RW optical drive with double-layer DVD+/-R write capability.
The Dell Vostro A840 is a 14.1-inch version of the A860 laptop with an anti-glare WXGA widescreen LCD and a 120GB hard-drive. It will have a cheaper price-point, but is otherwise expected to be the same as the A860.
On the desktop, Dell will be offering the Dell Vostro A180. The system also offers a choice of CPUs ranging from the Intel Celeron to Pentium dual core processors. It also comes with 1GB of memory, a small number of the usual USB, audio, and Ethernet ports, a 8x DVD+/-RW optical drive and a 160GB hard drive.
Finally, the entry-level Dell Vostro A100 is an entry-level desktop designed for basic business productivity. Curiously, for a mini-tower desktop PC, the A100 uses Intel’s Atom processor, which is typically seen on mini-notebooks and UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs). Another point of interest is that the Vostro A100 doesn’t have a Windows option. It’s Dell first PC where Linux is the only operating system choice.
The A100 also has the usual assortment of ports, a 16x DVD optical drive, an 80GB hard drive, and up to one gigabyte of RAM. It truly is an ‘entry-level’ PC. Ubuntu, however, works quite reasonably on smaller, less-powerful systems so it should still prove attractive to buyers.
Dell has not announced pricing for these systems yet. They will be released on a staggered schedule throughout their markets. By early November, all these computers will be available. The Vostro A860 should be available to U.S. customers by mid-September. In an unusual move for Dell, long-time champion of direct-sales, all these systems will be made available via resellers.