Oct 19, 2007 - Desktop Linux: The wide world of pre-installed Ubuntu


  The wide world of pre-installed Ubuntu

October 19, 2007

Thanks to Canonical's System Builder Program, pre-installed Ubuntu Linux PCs are available throughout the world and not just from Dell.

Everyone in the Linux desktop world knows that Dell now offers Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on some of its laptops and desktops. Some also know that Dell will soon be offering the latest Ubuntu, 7.10, on its systems. Dell, however, is far from the only PC builder that offers Ubuntu to its customers.

In March, London-based Canonical, Ubuntu's commercial sponsor, started its Partner Program to drive awareness and adoption of business-ready, open-source server platforms and desktop solutions. Canonical offers five partner tracks. One of them, the System Builder Program, is for dedicated OEMs, white-box builders and system integrators that want to pre-load their computers--desktops, laptops or servers--with Ubuntu.

Maria Bonnefon, Canonical's OEM program manager, explained, "We are mainly looking into replacing FreeDOS with a full operating system [that] is stable, reliable, secure and virtually virus-free. There are no licensing fees, and no additional charges for security or maintenance updates. All these elements mixed together make it so that Ubuntu becomes an ideal solution to serve a demand on desktops, laptops, servers and in even mobile devices. It fills a need for companies who wish to commercialize a complete solution in their PCs without having to make a substantial investment."

With this program, "Canonical has established direct presence in focus countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China and Taiwan. This allows us to do proper follow-through in the channel, with timely support on-site. It also accelerates our response time to our partners, utilizing a local infrastructure and communicating in the local language. It gives us the possibility [of being] close to the partner to really plan and advance hand in hand."

So it is that you can get pre-installed Ubuntu with Canonical support from companies like Excimer and NT Computers in Russia, Navigator in the Ukraine, Inspur in China, and PC House in Sri Lanka.

Canonical also has Ubuntu system builders in English-speaking countries. These include EfficientPC in the United Kingdom and eRacks Open Source Systems and System76 in the United States. Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said other companies that are not official Canonical partners also sell Ubuntu-powered systems.

Canonical offers its partners several services, which include:

· Configuration support for system builders with the option to make additional revenue by reselling Canonical support;
· Specialized training for technical and sales teams;
· Pre-sales support;
· Hardware certification with access to Ubuntu logo use and promotion on Canonical's Web site;
· Strong support in the education sector, with a specific operating system adapted to that market--Edubuntu;
· Operating support for Classmate PC, a project currently being developed jointly with Intel; and
· Customization assistance to completely personalize a solution with applications, logos and sound support, as done for the Ubuntu Mobile core on the Mobile Internet Device.

"We are delighted to see a number of top local OEMs adhering to the program on a global basis," Bonnefon said. "We are very satisfied with the progress made thus far, and believe there is still a long way to go."

In particular, Bonnefon noted, "The number of first-time computer users within emerging markets is huge and acceptance of an operating system that is different more viable. Also, these are users that would be more sensitive to pricing."

Looking ahead, "We believe that we are only at the beginning of an inevitable turn in the way people perceive a Linux OS," she said. And, as for the business side of delivering Ubuntu-powered desktops and laptops, "We will continue to listen closely to the channel, conceive and adapt services per demand, and develop solutions that best fit the needs of our partners," Bonnefon concluded.

—Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols