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Dell users may soon have the choice of having Linux pre-installed on their machines, according to a statement on the technology company's website.

The PC maker launched its feedback website, Dell Idea Storm, in mid-February, and was inundated with requests for the Linux operating system and productivity software suite OpenOffice to be included on all Dell computers. Users are requesting the top three free Linux versions for free pre-installation.

"Quality free and open source software drastically lowers the cost of new PCs, and helps prevent software piracy," the suggestion on the Idea Storm website said. "For example, OpenOffice.org, the Microsoft Office alternative, can shave hundreds of dollars off the price of a new PC."

Dell currently offers some Linux options, but the open source system was not available across the full Dell range. The company's nSeries machines are available without an operating system, but only to US customers. Windows systems and software are currently the standard option for Dell machines.

"It's exciting to see the Idea Storm community's interest in open source solutions like Linux and OpenOffice. Your feedback has been all about flexibility and we have seen a consistent request to provide platforms that allow people to install their operating system of choice," the company said in its statement.

"We are listening, and as a result, we are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. This is another step towards ensuring that our customers have a good experience with Linux on our systems."

Dell is one of the top PC makers in the world, currently second in the world laptop leagues behind HP. According to figures released in January, the company had 17.5 per cent of the market in the third quarter of 2006, showing growth of 16 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

However, the company has been hit by a number of setbacks in recent months, including the now infamous battery recall, and legal action in Canada over allegations that its notebooks suffer from design faults that could lead to premature failure of the motherboard due to overheating.

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