According to the March 29th Red Herring article, Dell has plans to again offer a Linux PC to the consumer market. According to the article this is in part due to the “100,000 or so customers who requested it on a Dell web site.” It would seem that this is also due in part to Dell’s slipping market share and the fact that non-techie’s are beginning to install and use Linux OSs. Offering their PCs pre-loaded with open-source OS and applications will drive the cost of the PC down and potentially allow it to increase its number of units sold.
Long-term, if this move is successful it could also enable Linux to be seen as an alternative to Windows and OS X. Given Dell’s relatively large support organization they can, for a fee, provide the average user with Linux support.
As the article points out, Dell has offered a consumer Linux PC previously, but this time the conditions appear to be favorable – the various Linux OSs are more stable and feature rich, a larger portion of their consumers are asking for Linux, and Dell needs to replace the consumers that the lost to other pc vendors in its core market.