RealTime IT News

Dell Expands Open Source PC Line

PC manufacturer Dell launched a mid-range PC for consumers aimed at the open source community, officials announced Tuesday.

The Dell Dimension E510n desktop is an Intel Pentium 4-based PC with a base configuration featuring 512MB of RAM, a 128MB ATI Radeon video card, a 80GB SATA hard drive, a Sound Blaster Live sound card and a one-year warranty.

The n Series of Dell desktops is marketed to the open source community, although, in reality, it's just a system that doesn't come pre-loaded with an operating system (OS). However, the manufacturer includes a copy of FreeDOS, a free OS licensed under the GPL .

It lets users who favor an open source OS buy a computer without having to subsequently wipe the installed operating system (almost always Windows) from their new PC. Dell doesn't favor one open source OS, like Debian GNU/Linux or FreeBSD, over another on its Dimension line outside its inclusion of FreeDOS.

According to Dell officials, the E510n is geared toward the tech-savvy consumer who wants a balance of value and performance. The base configuration, which can be upgraded with optional bells and whistles, runs $849.

"It's a bit more powerful than the existing Dimension 3000n or [Dimension] 2400n, which are more basic productivity/entry level systems," said Liem Nguyen, a Dell spokeswoman.

According to Nguyen, the Dimension E510n is comparable to the Dimension 5150n, the fourth PC in the Dimension n Series line and geared mainly toward small business customers.

Though Dell maintains a close partnership with Microsoft and its Windows operating system, the company has carved out a small niche in its PC line for alternative systems.

The n Series, those systems without Windows pre-installed, has models in the Dimension (entry-level), OptiPlex (business-class) and Precision (workstations) product lines at Dell.

The three Precision models come with Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS (RHEL) pre-installed. The entry-level OptiPlex 170Ln is similar to the Dimension n Series PCs, with no pre-installed OS and a copy of FreeDOS included.