Will Ubuntu PCs in Retail Succeed Where Mail Order Failed?

In recent weeks Canonical has announced major initiatives to sell Ubuntu PCs in Asia and Europe, just like it tried — and mostly failed — to do five years ago in the United States. But will things be different this time? Here are some thoughts.

Five years ago, when Dell began shipping laptops and desktops in the United States with Ubuntu pre-installed, there were lots of reasons to believe Linux just might take off among the masses. Dell not only offered Ubuntu but actually promoted it for a while. The introduction of Windows Vista around the same time left many consumers eager to consider alternatives to the Microsoft universe.

But fast forward to the present and times have changed. Dell has all but abandoned its commitment to Ubuntu in the United States; meanwhile, although Canonical has been pushing Ubuntu for enterprise desktops, the only vendors currently shipping Linux PCs to individual American consumers are the small (but formidable) outfits of ZaReason and System76.

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