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Linux Business

Pre-Installed Linux On Dells Coming 340

Posted by kdawson
from the dude dept.
When Michael Dell took back the reins of he company he founded, one of the first things he did was to launch the feedback site Dell Idea Storm. Following up on the recent Slashdot discussion of the early results of this experiment — an overwhelming expressed desire for pre-loaded LinuxDell reports on what it plans to do with this feedback. Quoting: "[W]e are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. [On the question of which distro to choose:] "[T]here is no single customer preference for a distribution of Linux... We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems. In addition to working with Novell, we are also working with other distributors and evaluating the possibility of additional certifications across our product line."
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Pre-Installed Linux On Dells Coming

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  • by cyberkahn (398201) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:27PM (#18147834) Homepage
    I hope Ubuntu is an option. First, because it's a stable and easy to install distribution and it just works. I have installed it on a number of platforms and have been very pleased. Its package management system is awesome. I don't have the broken dependency issues I use to have with Fedora/Red Hat.

    Second, it has both versions available to the public for free being the Long Term Support release and the more bleeding edge. Unlike Red Hat, Ubuntu is willing to "eat its own dog food." Even on the more bleeding edge releases of Ubuntu I don't get the impression that I am running a broken beta release like I did on Fedora.

    Third, if you want to utilize it within the workplace you can sell it to management that there is official support available via Canonical, although there are other means of support as well. In addition it has already gained commercial acknowledgement through vendors such as Sun, IBM, and MySQL etc.

    Last, but not least because it's completely free Dell can install it on a system and not have to add the associated cost of a license. Perhaps let the user make a donation for each installation of Ubuntu?
  • Yeah, right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:28PM (#18147850) Homepage

    Just watch. They'll put Linux on one overpriced laptop, won't make it cheaper than the version with Windows and Office, and will hide the order page for it. Then they'll claim the market doesn't want Linux.

    Because if they do more than that, Microsoft will cut their discount.

    Dell used to have a Linux laptop. They discontinued it.

    Wal-Mart used to have a Linux laptop. They discontinued it.

    HP used to have a Linux laptop. They discontinued it.

  • Crapplets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:31PM (#18147872) Journal
    I do appreciate Dell doing this. Really, I do.

    But I fear the coming of the Linux Crapplets. I fear what happens when AOL starts placing icons on my Gnome desktop.

    And I pray that Dell does the right thing and drops the crapplets -- insist that they stop paying per machine sold and start just paying for Windows licenses sold, and use the money saved there to avoid preloading random crap other than the OS.
  • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dclozier (1002772) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:39PM (#18147942)
    Microsoft may not care much if it's Suse. They got all of those vouchers from their deal with Novell. Perhaps there is more to Dell's motivation here than meets the eye?
  • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:42PM (#18147976) Journal
    Just yesterday I was looking at getting a new laptop, and was dismayed because everything came with Vista. I am not an early adopter, I'm possibly a luddite compared the /. crowd. However, I've heard more good things about Ubuntu than any other Linux version, I would rather buy a laptop with Ubuntu than Vista. So, give mainstream America another two years to catch up to where I am, and your dreams of Microsoft falling may be realized.
  • They can start .. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:43PM (#18147982) Journal
    .. by listening to their customers who want quality computers that do not break down and also bundle poor support.

    I did a consulting job for help desk at a gaming company and more than always it was odd dell desktops and laptops that had issues or had very bad drivers. Dell loves to modify their video hardware so vanilla nvidia and ati drivers wont work. Sometimes new laptops have drivers from 2005 that wont run many games properly and no recourse to upgrade the drivers.

    Also I have never seen techs load tcp/ip stacks on systems that fail to authenticate to a domain controller. Sound odd? It happens with Dell corporate desktops. At a former college they had a guy whose sole job was to run around with a diskette that had the proprietary tcp/ip stack .dll files for failing Dell pcs. Incredible!
  • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NovaSupreme (996633) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:44PM (#18147988)
    I more than share your concern and am a Linux devout myself. However rather than whining, dont you think we should believe in free-market theory?

    HP/Dell can do whatever they want, MSFT can play its tricks withing legal limits. If linux deserves it and is really needed, someone will start offering it soon.

    IMHO, so far OSS have been bogged down by bad user experience. We are at juncture where its changing. Look at Ubuntu frenzy.

    I wish Vista crams more DRM and they discontinue anything but $500 enterprise ultimate editoon (or whatever its called). And, Dell and HP dont offer any thing in Linux. That way one day when I am looking for new job, I can create Linux-only-Dell :-)

    Bottom line -- we should stop whining and making the user experience better and better.
  • by 1 a bee (817783) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:47PM (#18148012)
    As if anyone needs reminding, the caption in Dell's ideas in action [dell.com] page says "Dell recommends Windows Vista(TM) Business." Will Dell soon be recommending Novell's distro, together with its nonesensical patent-indemnification FUD?
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:49PM (#18148038) Homepage

    We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems.

    Gee. Thanks, Dell! We users wouldn't be able to define the market on our own without your permission.

  • Vanilla "Linux"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eck011219 (851729) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:52PM (#18148060)
    I certainly appreciate the idea here, and hope they're doing this for the right reasons (not some of the cynical-but-possibly-true ideas posted in this thread elsewhere). But I've never known two Linux users who preferred the same setup. Ubuntu here, Redhat there, BeOS, OpenBSD, and so on. I'm a Windows guy for the most part, but have run installations of all of these here and there over the years. I don't quite know how they're going to implement something like this and please much of anyone. With Windows or OSX, you get one default installation and you adjust it cosmetically a little bit (though at the OS level it's pretty much the same). With all the flavors of Linux, you can set it up almost any way you want.

    It's great that the system cost might be lower if the Windows tax isn't applied, but is anyone who prefers Linux really going to use whatever comes installed? Most will wipe it as soon as they get it, just like you would if you ordered a Windows box/laptop. I think what would be nice (though certainly not a productive business model for Dell) would be to step up their options for OS-free machines and then put the energy otherwise spent on Linux installations on creating a repository of drivers for ALL platforms for their hardware. That way you could install whatever the hell you want but have some help with the hardware fun that all Linux users spend so much time on.

    Linux users, for the overwhelmingly large part, seem to me to be roll-your-own types, and fairly advanced in their understanding of stuff like this compared to their Windows (and even OSX) counterparts. So why not work with that instead of making this "Linux alternative" option viable?
  • by Simon80 (874052) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @08:58PM (#18148096)
    more editors than readers. I don't understand how that statement could possibly be interpreted to suggest that Dell's going to start shipping preinstalled Linux OSs, it says nothing of the sort. It looks to me more that they're trying placate everyone by saying they're doing everything they can, as opposed to actually responding to consumer requests. In other words, this headline is blatantly false.
  • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by muszek (882567) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:09PM (#18148182) Homepage
    Keep in mind all that crapware that brings down the price of hardware with Windows pre-installed. I can't see anything like that happening with Linux in a long while... somehow worthless proprietary stuff becomes of use (by reducing the price).
  • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:35PM (#18148362)

    I doubt they're going to preinstall any free distros. I think they will preinstall RHEL WS and SLED. They probably don't want to eat the support costs.

    It would be nice to see Canonical step in to support Ubuntu desktops. I'm assuming here that the RHEL and SLED taxes will replace the MS tax and if Canonical came up with an OEM support package at a fixed cost to Dell, I think it could be very competive and attractive.

    The advantage of offering a distro with the reputation of being "easy" is fairly obvious and with the inclusion of CNR, commercial software could be easily installed. Under the bonnet, there's the Debian heritage of stability (yeah I know Ubuntu is from "unstable", the stable releases are still... stable. :-?) and the niceness of apt.

    Then again, the cynic in me thinks there's a chance Dell will provide broken desktop installs, or at least systems that require more experience on the part of the user, just to shut people up while not effecting the relationship with MS. (I'm not saying RHEL or SLED are inherently complicated or broken BTW, just that MS is pretty intrenched in some circles)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:39PM (#18148396)
    I've got an HP laptop that has an Nvidia video card, a Winmodem and an ENE memory card driver. None of these devices have proper drivers in Linux. If Dell starts selling laptops or even PCs preloaded with Linux, presumably they are going to have a "normal" linux driver for every peripheral device. That can only mean that companies like ENE would have to start providing kernel developers with documentation to write a kernel driver for their device.

    You can't keep a good thing down forever. The masses obviously want Linux on PCs and laptops and it will only be a matter of time before a customer responsive company (Dell or otherwise) answers the call. The fact that Dell advertised for ideas and got such an overwhelming response requesting Linux means it something that can no longer be ignored.
  • Dell BIOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:09PM (#18148590)
    I bought a Dell E521 in October. Installed Ubuntu on it (dual boot). After about five minutes, the mouse would stop working (the E521 uses a USB only mouse). You could re-plug the mouse USB connector and it would start working again - for about five minutes. Tried all sorts of things including a complete re-install. No dice. Checked the Dell and Ubuntu news groups. I was not the only person experiencing this problem and it occurred with several other distributions. Several people had contacted Dell - which provided no help (other than to say they don't support Linux). Several had returned their machines.

    In January, Dell released a new firmware upgrade. The upgrade notes made no mention of the Linux problem but after I re-flashed the firmware, the problem disappeared. So, if Dell starts testing their hardware and BIOS with various Linux distros - that will be a very good thing.
  • by schwaang (667808) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:18PM (#18148642)
    Dell executives have donated $291,470 to Republicans [buyblue.org] and only $40,818 to Democrats.

    Why would I want my pro-Linux dollars shooting me in the foot?
  • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steveoc (2661) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:53PM (#18148848)
    That is an awesome idea, so good in fact, that its bound to be deleted soon.

    I have come to the conclusion that Dell cannot stop lying about the whole thing, so put up this idea an an alternative :

    http://www.dellideastorm.com/article/show/63774/In stall_MORE_Advertising_Wares [dellideastorm.com]
  • Re:Idiotic Move (Score:2, Interesting)

    by castle (6163) * on Monday February 26, 2007 @09:35AM (#18152558) Homepage
    I'd take a Fedora or RedHat installed dell latitude if I could order it. Though, now I realize, you are most likely just trolling.

    The fact that there Dell only sells XP installed laptops is the only reason I wouldn't buy from them directly. Their latitude D620 and their desktop core 2 duo boxes all work well with OpenSuse, even the rotatable LCD panels work. If Dell goes this direction they might gain traction with the portion of the computer industry that isn't keen on being locked into a Microsoft solution, this segment does exist, they end up going to a third party that redoes the install, or do it themselves currently.

    They have a serious problem with complex tiering on their website incidentally, whatever happened to making things easy to purchase and compare. The Linux options for home and small business up to medium sized business laptops were nonexistent, all Vista. Wasn't someone saying a latitude could be purchased with Linux? I jumped at the chance to grab one, and it was not there. Guess they plan on doing this in the future.
  • by init100 (915886) on Monday February 26, 2007 @09:57AM (#18152800)

    The OEM version of Ubuntu should have codecs pre-installed. The operating system can cost $30 instead of free, and this cost can be transparent to the user. If you want Ubuntu to succeed, they can't half-ass "Just Work". The user can't be required to take any extra steps whatsoever to get a working desktop (and codecs is one of the bare necessities of a working desktop).

    It's funny that it is acceptable to install codecs on Windows, but not on Linux. Last time I checked, Windows did not come with MPEG2/DVD support, DivX/XviD support, etc.

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