Canonical makes China push with Dell partnership

Google might be grabbing a few headlines with its small-scale move into retail, but Canonical - the big corporate behind popular open source Linux distribution Ubuntu - is going one better, with a Chinese launch in partnership with Dell.

Unlike Google's small-scale sequestering of selected PC World stores to flog Chromebooks, Canonical's deal is rather more impressive: some 220 retail stores in China will feature Dell laptops running the Ubuntu Linux distribution.

As part of the deal, the stores will features co-branded marketing material - much like in Google's attempt - and will be supported by a dedicated Ubuntu retail team.

"For the consumer, Ubuntu is now an easy choice, with a clean, crisp elegant interface, an exceptional browsing experience and a fully-integrated software center for great applications and games - both free and paid for," Canonical's Mark Murphy explained of the deal. "It also includes leading services such as the Ubuntu music store and the Ubuntu One cloud storage service built-in.

"With an actively growing base of over 20 million users this represents another significant endorsement from one of the world’s major PC vendors."

This isn't Canonical's first brush with Dell: previously, the company made Ubuntu available on its 'Mini' netbooks and selected desktops and laptops, and more recently certified the server edition for use on enterprise-grade hardware.

Since then, Dell has backed away from Ubuntu support in the west - likely out of a fear that it will jeopardise its relationship with Microsoft, which supplies the licences for the vast majority of its products.

Dell has yet to confirm whether the deal will extend to other countries in the future.