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Reg readers take the Dell 'Open-source PC' challenge

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Once upon a time, Michael Dell heard about this thing called Linux. The open-source operating system promised to sweep across PCs all over the world. Ever the low-cost, high-volume guy, Mikey figured he could sell a heck of lot of systems with Linux, and set to work pumping companies such as Red Hat and Eazel with money from Dell's Venture Fund, and even declared that Dell would be the very first major OEM to ship PCs with Linux already installed.

In Redmond, Mikey Dell's plan didn't go over so well. Of all Microsoft's OEMs, Dell was the most favored - because it sold the most boxes. The word came down from the top. Dell would need to put on a tutu and twirl its way back to the all-Windows camp.

"I'm thinking of hitting the OEMs harder than in the past with anti-Linux. ... they should do a delicate dance," Microsoft's OEM enforcer announced.

These days, even without a real Linux on the PC business, Dell still dances more delicately than a ceramic music box ballerina twirling under a Skycar.

Dell wants you to know about something called "Open-Source PCs," which ship with a copy of the widely popular FreeDOS operating system in the packaging material but not installed on the PCs. In theory, this provides an easy path for customers to install any OS they like on the systems.

But this whole public relations exercise in openness began to unravel when we discovered the Windows-less PCs cost more than similar Windows-equipped PCs, and when it's near impossible to purchase an "Open-Source PC," in the first place.

Full Story.

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