Even though Dell is only the fifth-largest manufacturer of netbooks in the world, it is widely praised by the Linux community as one of the few vendors who does this whole Linux OEM thing right: a well-supported, default Ubuntu installation, without toy user interfaces or software releases that are two years old. Finch told PCWorld that Dell is about to update their Linux offering to the latest version of Ubuntu somewhere in the coming weeks.
More interesting is that Dell is one of the first major OEMs looking into the possibility of ARM-based netbooks, which we are supposed to call 'smartbooks' to differentiate them from Atom-based netbooks (note the clever almost-anagram in there). "I think it's natural and reasonable for us to begin looking at them as they begin scaling their processors up," Finch told PCWorld. Seeing how relatively well Dell has been handling its Linux netbook offerings (except for not offering them in The Netherlands, sadly), any possible Dell Linux smartbook could be a potential hit.
Smartbooks being ARM-based and all rules out the possibility of them running Windows, which means Linux is the logical alternative. Finch doesn't really see this as a problem, as he explains to PCWorld that close to a third of Dell's netbooks ship with Linux pre-installed, which I have to say, is a pretty hopeful figure. With a statement like this, maybe other manufacturers will get off their lazy bums and implement Ubuntu-proper as well, without custom interfaces or more of that nonsense.
Oh and Dell, I'm still waiting for those Linux-based netbooks to arrive in The Netherlands. I'll take the red one, please.