Rip-off Britain – in which consumers pay over the odds for IT goods including Windows Vista compared to our counterparts in the US and Europe – also applies to Linux systems, it seems.

Last week's LinuxWorld event saw a number of open-source desktop announcements, including Dell announcing it was selling its first Linux-based PCs outside the US, with the Ubuntu-based Inspiron 530n desktop, and the Inspiron 6400n notebook now available in the UK, France and Germany.

The Dell Inspiron 530(n) desktop comes with an Intel Dual Core E2140 (1.6GHz) processor, plus 512MB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and a 19in panel. When the Inspiron 530 desktop is used as the benchmark machine, it seems that UK users are paying more for a Linux-based machine compared to European users.

The UK Inspiron 530n desktop (running Ubuntu) costs £398.99, including VAT.

But the same entry-level Ubuntu Inspiron 530n in Germany is 7.3 percent cheaper (than the UK) at only €548.99 (£371.76). Meanwhile, in France the entry-level Inspiron 530n is 11.4 percent cheaper at just £358.21, and the French machines come with more RAM (512MB) on its Nvidia GeForce 8300GS graphics card, compared to the 124MB that's standard on UK and German machines.

But it is when this same machine is compared to the US that the price difference is the most startling, with the US Ubuntu Inspiron 530n - some 34.5 percent cheaper.

In the UK, a similarly specced to the U.K. version Ubuntu Inspiron 530n costs $599, which translates to just £296.67, making the machine over £100 (and 34.5 percent) less expensive than the U.K. equivalent.

In the US, the Ubuntu Inspiron 530n with a similar spec to the UK version costs $599, which translates to just £296.67, making the machine over £100 (and 34.5 percent) less expensive than the UK equivalent.

Dell could not provide a spokesman for interview with PC Advisor's sister title Techworld, but the PC maker did state that "costs vary from region to region for a variety of factors such as local promotions and local taxes etc." Yet it is worth noting that VAT levels are higher in France and Germany, than that of the UK.

Dell is not the only PC maker to ship PCs running an open-source operating system. Rival Lenovo has said it will start shipping Thinkpads pre-loaded with Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLES10) in the fourth quarter of this year. HP has yet to commit to installing Linux on consumer boxes.

Meanwhile, Dell has also announced that it also intends to factory-install Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktops on its hardware in China, although no further details have yet been provided.

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Save money and beat rip-off Britain