Dick Smith to offer Windows-less laptop today

Dick Smith Electronics will today sell a laptop without an operating system, to test demand from people who wish to install Linux themselves.

Dick Smith Electronics will today sell a laptop without an operating system, to test demand from people who wish to install Linux themselves.

The offer will be made in an email to customers of Dick Smith’s website, but electronics buyer Chris Day says the laptops can also be ordered from its stores.

Computers are usually sold in stores with a bundled operating system, almost universally with a version of Windows. Day says Dick Smith’s experience selling Linux desktop computers last year taught it that Linux users often like to select their preferred distribution and sell it themselves.

If the laptops prove popular Day hopes Dick Smith will start formally advertising in March and also offer desktop PCs without an operating system and a range of Linux distributions on CD.

The laptop features a Transmeta Crusoe processor, 256MB of RAM, DVD-ROM/CD-RW, a 30GB hard drive and a 14.1” screen. It has been tested with the Mandrake and Knoppix distributions.

Dick Smith has seen growing interest in Linux, Day says. He believes some people will buy the computers to install Linux, and others will install a version of Windows that came with an early purchase and put Linux on the older computer.

Computers sold without an operating system typically retail for $100-$200 less than a similar machine with an OS, he says, although he won’t reveal the pricing for the new laptop until today. The cheapest machine on Dick Smith’s website yesterday was an Acer TravelMate, retailing for $1899 including GST.

The company has also seen increased interest in accessories and software for Macintosh computers, Day says.

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