Pre-installing Linux

Mark recently posted about OEM preinstalled Linux. This is a topic I’ve covered on my blog multiple times. The razor thin margins are definitely a big part of the equation, especially when coupled with Microsoft co-marketing dollars. The current OEM market is in a precarious position. Most of their margins are made up of either those Microsoft dollars or money that comes from preinstalled software. Unfortunately, as a recent Dell poll shows, those are precisely the things a lot of people don’t want. So what’s an OEM to do? Supporting Linux from their perspective isn’t as easy as some seem to think it is. What distro(s) do you chose and what level of support do you offer? I think the best toe dip option is going to come from the mix of a “NO OS” option on every model coupled with the option of getting a separate Linux disk. Each model that has a hardware config that will 100% work with open drivers should be marked as such. This initial step would be a huge one, but we’re not there yet. The next step would be the OEM picking a distribution or two (maybe one commercial and one community) that it feels comfortable with and offering those as legitimate preloaded options. That’s when Linux will have arrived in the mainstream. I think we can get there, but it’s not going to be a quick or easy path. Nothing worthwhile ever is though.

–jeremy

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