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Dell Puts Mandriva on Latitude for Students

UPDATED: Dell is offering its low-cost Latitude 110L notebook pre-loaded with the Mandriva operating system, officials at the Parisian Linux distributor announced Friday.

According to the company, the notebook has been certified and will be sold directly by Dell to students starting today. The Mandriva-powered Dell notebook will cost approximately $928, Mandriva officials said, running on an Intel Celeron 1.4GHz processor, with 256MB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive.

Mandriva is the name of the popular Linux distribution that went by the name of Mandrakesoft before trademark concerns and its growing business led the company to make the name change.

According to Mandriva officials, the notebook will come pre-installed with a copy of Mandriva Linux Limited Edition 2005, which can normally be downloaded under a freeware license. Mandriva sells support and added features through its subscription-based Mandriva Club, and users can alternatively order the retail version of the OS from the company for $72.

Francois Bancilhon, Mandriva CEO, said in a statement the Dell partnership demonstrates Mandriva's readiness for the consumer market.

"Addressing the needs of the consumer market is a different challenge, because it is all the more difficult, as you don't have a system [administrator] or professional technician at home", he said in the statement. "Consumer products leave less room for imperfection. This laptop and its distribution direct by such a leading manufacturer as Dell, demonstrate how easy Mandriva Linux is to use. We're looking forward to further collaboration with Dell."

While Mandriva officials said the notebook is available today, there's no mention of the Mandriva-powered Latitude on its Web site. Neither of Dell's student sites -- the K-12 and higher education stores -- mention Mandriva.

The K-12 site doesn't offer the Latitude 110L; on the higher education site, the notebook is available for purchase but only with Microsoft Windows XP pre-installed.

Kadjo N'Doua, a Mandriva spokesperson, said in an e-mail statement the Linux-powered laptop is available on the French Dell site, and company officials are working to expand the offer worldwide.

Officials Dell were unavailable for comment at press time.

This is the second time in as many years that Dell has been connected to reports it was directly selling a consumer Linux OS with its products. Last year Linspire hyped up the fact one of Dell's European resellers was selling desktops pre-installed with its operating system, giving the impression Dell was selling the systems directly from its site.

Dell does sell some factory-installed Linux workstations with its "n Series" of desktops, according to an announcement by officials Friday. The Dell Precision 670n, Precision 470n and 380n will come with Red Hat Enterprise Linux-WS already installed. The OptiPlex 170Ln, Dimension 3000n and Dimension 2400n come with an un-installed copy of the open source FreeDOS operating system in the packaging.

In related news, Dell announced today they led the worldwide market in shipments of x86-based Linux servers, according to figures published in a report by research firm IDC last month.

IDC publishes a Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker and indicated in a public statement that Hewlett-Packard led the Linux server market in terms of revenue.