No Ubuntu Dells for SOUTH AFRICA, yet


Dell last week launched one of their desktops and two of their notebooks with Ubuntu preloaded, causing much excitement among the Linux community. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the launch has been limited to the US so far. Tectonic spoke to Dell's local mobile brand manager to find out when these machines are likely to reach South African shores.

Gavin Slevin, Dell South Africa's mobile brand manager brought some clarity to the issue. He confirmed that the Ubuntu machines are currently only available in the US, saying that Dell was taking a phased approach to the roll out.

The biggest factor in bringing out Ubuntu machines is that of "skilling up" their support staff. "Currently we can't support our customers in the manner to which they have become accustomed," explained Slevin.

So, the big question, when will they be available in SA? Cautiously, Slevin explained that he could not give a timeline, as there was not yet one in place. Pressed for at least a rough guesstimate, Slevin said that if he were to guess they would probably be available by the end of next year.

There is the possibility that if sufficient demand is generated in South Africa for the machines, that this could be sped up. It was precisely because of this reason that this happened in the USA, where 30 000 people requested Linux on Dell's Ideastorm site. A follow up survey saw 100 000 people respond positively to the idea.

Slevin said that with sufficient numbers, he might be able to encourage the company that there is strong local support and a waiting market for pre-installed Ubuntu. If you would like to see Dell bringing preloaded Ubuntu machines to South Africa, please leave a comment below.

Slevin revealed that it is however possible to order a non Microsoft machine from Dell in South Africa and that customers must just advise the sales person that they want to run Linux. Dell will not be able to offer its usual customer support for these machines, but for Linux enthusiasts who are used to sorting out their own problems with the help of the online community, this shouldn't be a problem.