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Dell adds Ubuntu 8.04 to expanded Linux desktop line-up


As promised, Dell is bringing the latest Ubuntu Linux, Ubuntu 8.04, to its line-up of Linux-powered consumer desktops and laptops.

Starting on Friday, July 18th, 2008, Dell started offering Ubuntu 8.04 on its XPS M1330N and Inspiron 1525N laptops and its Inspiron 530N desktop.

That’s just the beginning though. Dell will also shortly be offering Ubuntu on its forthcoming UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) line, the Dell E series. According to a blog posting by Daniel Judd, Dell product group manager, Dell will also be offering its XPS M1530n and Studio 15n with Linux in early August.

The XPS M1330N is a full-powered business laptop. It comes with a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 with a 667Mhz FSB (Front Side Bus) as its heart. It has 2GBs of dual-channel SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory). For storage, it includes a 160GB SATA (Serial ATA) drive and an 8x DVD+/-RW slot-load drive.

This laptop also includes a full array of ports including a pair of USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, Firewire, HDMI, and VGA ports. By default it uses the Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100 and 13.3” display for graphics and comes with a 2Megapixel Webcam. It also incorporates Intel 802.11a/g Wi-Fi. Last, but an interesting new addition for a Linux laptop, it includes a biometric fingerprint reader for security. The list price for this work laptop is $949.

The Inspiron 1525N is more of SOHO (small office/home office) or personal laptop. It uses the less powerful Intel 1.73GHz T2370 Dual Core processor and one GB of SDRAM. However, since Ubuntu requires only a fraction of the system resources of XP or Vista, this is much more than enough processor horsepower and RAM for an excellent desktop experience.

This system also comes with a 120 GB SATA hard-drive and a CD/DVD RW drive. For graphics it also uses the Intel GMA 3100 and a glossy 15.5” display. It includes the usual array of ports and 802.11a/g Wi-Fi. It doesn’t include a Webcam or, needless to say, a fingerprint reader. This laptop currently runs at $549.

The bargain PC is the desktop system. The Inspiron 530N is mini-tower form factor PC. It’s powered by an Intel 1.6GHz E2140 Pentium dual-core processor with an 800MHz FSB and 1MB of Level 2 cache. It can be upgraded to an Intel 1.8GHz E4300 Core 2 Duo Processor with an 800MHz FSB and a 2MB L2 cache. Its default storage device is a 160GB SATA hard drive. On the high end, users can upgrade to a 320GB SATA drive. All the drive options run at 7,200 rpm.

For an optical drive, the desktop comes with a 16x CD/DVD-RW combo drive, but users also have the option of a single 16x DVD+/-RW drive or a dual-optical-drive configuration. To connect with networks, it comes with a gigabyte Ethernet port.

The 530N comes with a gigabyte of single-channel DDR2 (double data rate) SDRAM at 667MHz. For graphics, the 530N comes with a 19 inch widescreen digital flat panel monitor. This is illuminated by the familiar Intel 1300 GMA. Unlike the laptops, which except for the 1525N’s choice of colors, have limited options, users have many customization choices for the 530N. The base system price starts at $499.

The system also comes with a Dell USB keyboard and Dell optical USB mouse. After plugging these in, the user will still have eight USB 2.0 ports. A 13-in-1 Media Card Reader and a 3.5-inch floppy drive are also available as options.

While the details aren’t available yet for the XPS M1530n and Studio 15n, based on the existing Windows systems, we have a good idea what will be in these high-powered laptops.

We can be almost certain that the XPS M1530n will use the 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 processor with 2GBs of RAM. It will also include a 160GB SATA hard drive and a slot-loaded CD/DVD-RW drive. The Windows systems use the 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS for the graphics for its 15.4” display. Dell has supported NVIDA on previous Ubuntu systems so it’s reasonable to expect that it will do so again on this laptop. You can expect to pay about a grand for this system.

The Studio 15n will use a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 and come with 2GBs of RAM. It will also have at least a 160GB SATA hard drive. Besides offering the Intel X3100 GMA for its 15.4” display, it will also offer the option of the 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 for graphics. Its price will be somewhere around $700.

According to a blog by Anne Camden, a Dell spokesperson ,, Dell didn’t just throw Ubuntu 8.04 on its PCs. The company also “spent months in development and testing to deliver more peripheral support – like ATI Video Graphics, Dell Wireless, Fingerprint Readers, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), Bluetooth and MP3/WMA/WMV” media support. Dell had already added DVD playback capability to its Ubuntu-Linux lines in December 2007.

Taking all these offerings as a whole, it’s clear that Dell, which was the first major PC vendor to commit to desktop Linux, is intent on keeping the its desktop Linux lead.