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Is Ubuntu Linux for You, Too?

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Ubuntu

Those Ubuntu-powered Dell machines are almost here.

When Dell Computer announced it was making the Ubuntu operating system available as a preinstalled option on select Inspiron notebook and Dimension and XPS desktop models in late May, Linux geeks and open-source advocates started hopping with joy. But what's in it for the non-geek computer user? And what is Ubuntu, anyway?

Ubuntu is a free, Linux-based operating system distributed by Canonical. It appeared in October 2004 and has since won over waves of converts, including high-profile geeks like Cory Doctorow. Even Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell runs Ubuntu 7.04, nicknamed "Feisty Fawn," on his personal laptop.

The Dell computers themselves have yet to arrive, but when they do (the rumor mill says they'll ship this week) other banner PC manufacturers like Toshiba are expected to follow suit. You should take this time to familiarize yourself with exactly what's in store if and when you pick up one of these machines.

If you ever need help getting started with the open-source OS, the user community at places like Ubuntu Forums tends to be pretty patient with newbie inquiries. That's important, because Ubuntu will prompt many questions. Here are some examples:

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Dell plans to begin selling desktop PCs in Wal-Mart Stores this weekend, the first move in a major departure from its decades-long sales strategy.

Wal-Mart plans to sell the Dimension E521 in more than 3,000 retail locations in the United States, Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis West, told CNET News.com.

Wal-Mart to begin selling Dell PCs

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