dell-ubuntu-pcsRumors are swirling that Dell's U.S. Web site has stopped selling Ubuntu-based desktop Linux PCs. Here's what The VAR Guy knows so far, and the potential implications for Canonical and the desktop Linux movement.

Earlier today, one of The VAR Guy's readers stated:
"DELL stopped selling Ubuntu Desktop (530N) computers, July 2009. Where do we get quality Ubuntu Desktops?"
Skeptical, The VAR Guy surfed on over to Dell's online store for Ubuntu-based systems ( Once inside, The VAR Guy noticed that the store no longer listed Ubuntu desktop PCs. Alas, Dell's current Ubuntu system options were limited to:
  • A Mini 10v netbook
  • Inspiron 15n laptop
  • XPS M1330n laptop
Hmmm... Is this a temporary situation at Dell? Or has the PC giant truly decided to stop promoting Ubuntu desktop PCs? The VAR Guy has reached out to Dell and Canonical for comment.

UPDATE, July 23, 8:42 a.m. eastern: ComputerWorld reported on July 9 that Dell was sticking with Ubuntu desktops and simply refreshing the PC line. But as of today, the new offering has yet to debut on Dell's web site.

Two-year Experiment

It has been roughly two years since Dell launched Ubuntu-based PCs. Michael Dell himself tested Ubuntu on his home PC and gave the operating system a thumbs up.

Fast forward two years, and all seemed reasonably well with Dell, Canonical and Ubuntu. During a visit to Dell in June, company insiders told The VAR Guy that Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth and Michael Dell had met recently. The Dell insiders also considered Canonical a strategic partner on the Linux front -- though the Dell sources indicated the PC maker had no plans to offer Ubuntu-based servers.

On the upside, Canonical , according to The New York Times, is climbing toward $30 million in annual revenue. Plus, Canonical is introducing storage and cloud services to drive profits.

But skeptics wonder if Canonical can deliver profits. Also, The VAR Guy has worried that both Google Android and Google Chrome would ultimately overshadow Ubuntu.

The bottom line for this blog entry: Fewer Ubuntu choices from Dell could harm market perception around Canonical. But Ubuntu fanatics shouldn't panic. Smaller, Ubuntu-centric PC makers -- such as System76 and ZaReason -- continue to back Canonical's offerings.

Follow The VAR Guy via RSS; Facebook;; Twitter; and via his Newsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center.