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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 khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:25PM (#18147812)
    As long as "Linux" has the drivers for the hardware. That's all that matters.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AoT (107216)
      Bah, they're going through Novell.

      Clearly the Novell Microsoft team up is having some affect on industry.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:20PM (#18148280)
        Dell is paying consumers to use Windows! The exact same Dell Latitude D520 Notebook costs $48 MORE if it comes with no operating system than if it comes with Windows. Here are the specs and links to Dell's online shop:

        Processor: Intel® Core(TM) 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz) 2M L2 Cache, 667Mhz Dual Core
        LCD Panel: 14.1 inch XGA LCD Panel
        Memory: 512MB, DDR2-533 SDRAM
        Hard drive: 60GB 5400RPM
        Modular Bay Optical: 8X DVD
        Wi-Fi Wireless Card: Dell Wireless(TM) 1390 802.11g Mini Card
        All other options: set to "none".

        The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747.

        So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned! That's hardy Linux friendly or even consumer friendly. It's downright rotten, and I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't going to end up in an anti-trust lawsuit against Dell and Microsoft.
        • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:31PM (#18148344)
          "The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747.

          So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned! That's hardy Linux friendly or even consumer friendly. It's downright rotten,"

          All major brand-name computers come with a ton of crapware pre-installed. Why do you think they do that? Because they get PAID to put in there. When you eliminate Windows, you also eliminate the extra revenue from pre-installed crapware.

          • by Sillygates (967271) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:13PM (#18148614) Homepage Journal
            I guess they'll just have to port all the crapware to linux too!
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Clearly we need to *demand* crapware for Linux then! :D
          • by rwyoder (759998) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:25PM (#18148680)

            The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747. So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned!
            So Dell is saying that the presence of Windows degrades the value of a computer? I can't argue with that.
            • by JoshJ (1009085) on Monday February 26, 2007 @12:25AM (#18149026) Journal
              Congratulations, sir. You've just shown to me just how important the frame of mind is. I'm taking a lesson from this, one almost worthy of the Tao of Computing.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              "So Dell is saying that the presence of Windows degrades the value of a computer? I can't argue with that."

              Hehe.

              Seriously though, I wonder if they mark it up because of percieved tech support problems down the road. I know Windows has its share of BS, but I cannot imagine having Linux-trained support staff ready to answer questions about .CONF files etc.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by 1u3hr (530656)
                Seriously though, I wonder if they mark it up because of percieved tech support problems down the road.

                The comparison wasn't with Linux installed, but nothing. If you install Linux yourself, you won;t get ANY support at all, so that's not the issue.

                Even so, why should Linux tech support cost them more? It's all outsourced anyway to people who read through checklists like robots. They can just as easily tell you to reboot and reinstall your Linux system as they do your Windows.

          • by westlake (615356)
            "The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747.
            So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned! That's hardy Linux friendly or even consumer friendly. It's downright rotten,"

            What it means --- and all that it means --- is that the mass-market laptop running Windows sells in big numbers and the bare bones laptop sans Windows sells in small numbers.

            Which is why OEM Linux di

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by johnw (3725)

            All major brand-name computers come with a ton of crapware pre-installed.
            The best performance enhancement you can achieve for a new XP-based computer is to remove all the Norton AV and related Norton stuff. Boot up and shut down time improve by a factor of at least 4. Install a decent AV program like AVG instead.
    • by topical_surfactant (906185) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:29PM (#18147854)
      Exactly! If I can purchase a laptop from a company knowing it will all just work out of the box in Linux, they will have my business almost immediately.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        A distribution might stop it from "just working" or working out of the box. It has happened in the past and will probably happen in the future. I'm going to guss that as long as everyone knows it is the distribution's fault and nothing inherent with the computer or design it would still be fine.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Shatrat (855151)
        You can already do this from places like System 76 [system76.com]
        Sure, it's not a huge company like Dell, but they have support and warranties and after having dealt with the Dell's belonging to my family members, I can't imagine the support being any less useful than Dell.
        • Thanks for the link! My company has ordered equipment from places like eracks [eracks.com], but I wasn't impressed. System 76 seems a bit more polished. Does anyone have other recommendations?
    • by vhogemann (797994)
      Well,

      Dell can just build 100% Intel boxes, CPU, GPU, NetWorking etc... And they'll just work with the majority of the distros out there, and using opensource drivers.

      I'm hoping that this will put some pressure on AMD/ATI and nVidia to release opensource drivers to their products.
    • by troll -1 (956834) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:08PM (#18148584)
      As long as "Linux" has the drivers for the hardware. That's all that matters.

      It's my understanding that the dilema for Linux is that device manufactures are reluctant to have their hardware designs exposed in Linux code, therefore they usually don't give out their specs to Linux developers.

      Even if OEMs were willing to offer the same non-disclosure agreements to Linux developers as they offer to Windows developers, with the understanding that these developers distribute binary-only drivers, you'd still have the problem that Linus and the core kernel developers have said many times they're never going to go out of their way to support backward compatibility of binary drivers. Any such support would inhibit the free development of the kernel.

      But apps in Linux depend not only on your kernel version but many other things: what desktop you're using (some apps compile differently for gnome than they do for kde), what libs you have, not only if you have gtk, but what version.

      All this is great for a hacker like me. But the problem for Dell will be in choosing from the gazillions of combinations that make GNU/Linux what it is.

      I say, good luck to them. But it's not going to be easy if your customers just expect everything to be like it is in a Windows world.
  • If dell keeps this up for any amount of time, we could see a large upswing in the usage of linux on the desktop. Here's to this being more than a pipe dream.
    • Re:For real? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:46PM (#18148006) Journal
      Now only if there will be enough people actualy requesting it to make then want to keep offering it.

      It would be a real slap in the face for Michael Dell if after all the support for linux installed computers was shown on the ideas website, and the company taking steps to do so, and then find out there isn't really a demand for them.

      Let's hope there are enough customers doing more then saying they are interested to keep this going.
      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:15PM (#18148230)

        It would be a real slap in the face for Michael Dell if after all the support for linux installed computers was shown on the ideas website, and the company taking steps to do so, and then find out there isn't really a demand for them.

        #1. The "support" has to include ALL the hardware on the box.

        #2. The boxes have to be the most popular boxes Dell sells already.

        #3. The price cannot be higher than the equivalent Windows box.

        We've already seen "support" which doesn't include everything in the box, which only includes boxes that most people wouldn't buy in the first place and which, for some reason, cost MORE than buying the same box with Windows.

        That's just a ploy to "show" that "no one" really wants Linux on the desktop. Fuck Dell. We've heard it before. If they're really serious this time, it's up to them to demonstrate that.
        • by Afecks (899057)
          You're kidding right? Dell support is laughable. If you call them you better be ready to tell them what the problem is, how to fix it, the part number and the extension of the warehouse that has said part number in stock.

          The only reason they aren't drowning in support calls already (which is debatable) is because Windows has excellent hardware support and most families have a computer person they turn to before waiting a half hour on hold.

          I feel sorry any first-time Linux users that get burned by Dell and l
        • by schwaang (667808)

          #3. The price cannot be higher than the equivalent Windows box.

          Yes. Ideally, I should be able to toggle the Dell order-customization wizard between Windows and Linux with exactly the same hardware and see the price drop before my eyes.

          But failing that, it would be great to have a mostly-similar hardware but completely supported-on-Linux box at several different price points. Last time I checked that was true for the $700 range, but not the $500 deals from Dell we're used to. (Could just be that the Vista

          • by sumdumass (711423)
            What if the price differnce is spent in making sure the linux works on everything? I mean Dell forks a Distro, setd up maintainers, brands it themselves and you have the option of Dell linux or MS windows for the same price?

            This scenario might require you to grab a driver from the Dell linux and make something work with your favorite distro. Would something like this be acceptable? What if they can only get a binary driver that happens to be propriatary?
            • by schwaang (667808) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:32PM (#18148718)

              What if the price differnce is spent in making sure the linux works on everything? I mean Dell forks a Distro, setd up maintainers, brands it themselves and you have the option of Dell linux or MS windows for the same price?

              From a recent post by a Dell guy on the Fedora Advisory Board list [redhat.com], I get the impression that Dell isn't in a hurry to fork a distro even just for re-branding. And that's juuuust fine by me. I don't care what distro they offer, so long as the hardware can be made to work with any Linux distro.

              If that means a Dell repo with some proprietary drivers, that's fine with me (for now). I wouldn't want Dell to offer ATI or nvidia hardware only for Windows configurations.
        • by AusIV (950840)

          #1. The "support" has to include ALL the hardware on the box.

          #2. The boxes have to be the most popular boxes Dell sells already.

          #3. The price cannot be higher than the equivalent Windows box.

          Point one and point two have the potential of being mutually exclusive. Sure, we don't want Dell to say "Look, we have a box over here that has Linux on it. We support Linux. If you want Linux, this is the only box for you." But at the same time, building a Linux supported box is largely about choosing hardware, w

        • by StikyPad (445176)
          #1. The "support" has to include ALL the hardware on the box.

          Why wouldn't it?

          #2. The boxes have to be the most popular boxes Dell sells already.

          As far as I can tell, "our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations," means that will be the case. AFAIK, "corportate" machines are their most popular products.

          #3. The price cannot be higher than the equivalent Windows box.

          That's an unreasonable expectation. Since Linux is a niche market at this point, it doesn't enjoy any of the same
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by shaitand (626655)
            '#1. The "support" has to include ALL the hardware on the box.

            Why wouldn't it?'

            It is not unusual to see a supposedly linux compatable system with an unsupported sound card or winmodem. Or a desktop with sata1, sata2, and ide where the sata or sata2 controllers aren't supported. I would take this a step further, it isn't enough for all the hardware to be supported, all the functionality supported for that hardware on the windows system but be supported under Linux as well.

            'The problem is that many (but certi
      • by westlake (615356)
        It would be a real slap in the face for Michael Dell if after all the support for linux installed computers was shown on the ideas website, and the company taking steps to do so, and then find out there isn't really a demand for them.

        Who said anything about consumer sales?

        Dell is interested in certifying Linux for its corporate clients. The purchase order for 500 units, the custom factory install.

  • by cyberkahn (398201) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:27PM (#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?
    • by Soko (17987) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:34PM (#18147906) Homepage
      Ubuntu makes very good sense for Dell to distribute, especially since they've licensed Click'n'Run [slashdot.org] from Linspire. Should make the average user's life easier when they want to listen to /watch their media files, besides Ubuntu being a great desktop distro.

      Kudos to Dell - let's hope they're willing and able to do this right.

      Soko
    • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:42PM (#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.
      • You can order some pc's with WindowsXP if you call them or from their website. I know many laptops that come with Vista you can order WindowsXP restore disks.

        You are right to avoid Vista if you run any security software or anything graphically intensive.
      • by MP3Chuck (652277)
        Dell's Latitude and Precision lines still have XP available on them. You might have to go in via the "Medium & Large Business" link, but from there it's all the same.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        So, give mainstream America another two years to catch up to where I am, and your dreams of Microsoft falling may be realized.

        Is that before or after America takes the prize for thinnest and healthiest population? In order to catch up, I think it's a prerequisite that they're moving in the same direction...
      • by ankarbass (882629)
        I got modded flamebait the last time I said something like this, but, if you're really used to windows and aren't annoyed by it then linux will probably annoy you. You should stick with windows XP on your laptop until you know that you would rather have linux. Ubuntu is easy to install, you can do it yourself and Ubunut will even send you a disk to do it with. I would suggest getting a new computer with XP, migrating all of your data to it from your old computer, then installing Ubuntu on your old machine.
  • Yeah, right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:28PM (#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.

    • by AoT (107216)
      Um, they're talking to Novell.

      Novell and MicroSoft, ring a bell?

      Microsoft will probably support this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by grcumb (781340)

        Um, they're talking to Novell.

        Novell and MicroSoft, ring a bell?

        Microsoft will probably support this.

        Have your forgotten your history?

        Or when you say, 'Microsoft will probably support this,' do you actually mean 'Microsoft will take this opportunity to ass-rape Novell exactly the same way they did to IBM, Stacker, Lotus, WordPerfect and Novell[*]: Put them in a position where they rely on Microsoft's good graces, then cut their throats.'

        Because if that's what you meant, I couldn't agree more. 8^)

        [*] Novell? Yeah, Novell. This is the second time the corporation has made a formal alliance with Micros

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dclozier (1002772)
      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?
    • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NovaSupreme (996633) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:44PM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by muszek (882567)
        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).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Neil Watson (60859)
        IP lawsuits and deceptive marketing assure us that there is no free market in at least the western world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by peterbiltman (1059884)
      Did you ever think the reason they discountinued it was there was no demand?
      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        Did you ever think the reason they discountinued it was there was no demand?

        Your explanation is simple but won't sit well here. "But the survey has lots of demand for Linux!".

        What most people are missing is, that shouting in a web form and demanding Linux is easy and free. Putting your money down and buying those machines is not that easy.

        The supporters of Linux are very vocal for sure, but most of them sport beige boxes bought from some completely different vendor, or they keep buying Windows laptops, sinc
    • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:51PM (#18148052)
      Part of why the Windows desktops are cheaper is because of the insane amount of crap sponsored to be put on there. A bit like advertisements keeping certain things free (for better or worse). So of course if they go and sell a machine without those (not many crapware marketing in the *nix world), they have to make up the difference somehow, either by raising the price, either on only putting it on high profit margin desktops. Sucks, but thats how it works.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MBCook (132727)
        Yes, but it's all about profit margin, right? Well Linux is free. There Dell just saved $50 a pop (guess). Linux doesn't need anti-virus, so that'll save you another $20. Doesn't need anti-spyware, that's $20. It includes things like firewalls, CD-burning software, and numerous other things. There may be fewer vendors paying to get on the box, but there are also fewer things Dell has to fork out over. My guess is they could price the same and make MORE profit on the Linux box (not including labor difference
        • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shados (741919) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:33PM (#18148356)
          No, thats the thing. The anti-spywares, anti-viruses, etc...Dell don't pay for that. They MAKE money on it: the users don't even WANT it, if they could keep the same profit margin without putting it on, they would, as they'd sell more. For all practical purpose, putting Windows on the box actually ends up with a negative price tag , something that right now, even "free" linux can't beat.
      • I need volunteers for a new project called "Grapplets"

        I envisage a 700MB package containing dock "Grapplets", or GNU Crapplets, for things like connecting to AOL, etc. the first priority is a special replacement for the panel on your desktop of choice (of course it will have to work equally well with Gnome, KDE, XFCE) that displays special sponsored messages about the latest benefits of some peice of proprietary software.

        It will need a bitwise virus scanning daemon, that, using the highest priority and la

    • by thammoud (193905)
      So Dell, Wal Mart and HP are all conspiring with MS to kill Linux? Bull.

      If there was a good demand, these vendors will jump on the bandwagon. These are some of the greediest companies known to man. They will jump at any opportunity to make a buck. The sad truth is that Linux on the desktop sucks (Go ahead flame me) and lacks a standard. Until gnome, kde stop bickering and I can reliabley cut and paste between my Linux apps, we will never have a viable alternative to Windows or the Johnny come lately Mac.
    • Linux has often been an OS for the discerning and technically capable crowd. I really don't have a problem with it being sold under their business line-up. I think you must also understand that the user base of Linux as a desktop OS has often been found to be under 1%. That's not a very much, and I think bolsters the fact that there's not much market for it. I think you should be very careful to try not to foist Linux onto computer vendors because you want them to promote it - it's not Dell's job to cat
    • Seems like a smart business plan. It worked for the electric car......wait a minute....
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:29PM (#18147860) Homepage Journal
    http://www.emperorlinux.com/mfgr/dell/ [emperorlinux.com]
    Several other good manufacturers, to boot.
    Rock solid, hard drive laid out to your taste, including dual boot configurations with that lesser operating system.
    My biggest quibble is they don't Gentoo, but if you're batty enough to run that (like me) you probably know what to do. ;)
  • Crapplets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:31PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gradedcheese (173758)
      Right. Dell PC prices are highly subsidized by the sheer amount of crap that they pre-load. However in Linux it can be the same as the current situation: open the box and unpack the new PC, format the hard disk, and re-install the OS...

      Personally, I just care that they'll have to use Linux-supported hardware (Intel wireless + video and so on). If one distribution runs, I can assume that my favorite one will work as well. As a ThinkPad user, I am upset about Lenovo's handling of the ThinkPad line, so thi
      • I will buy a Dell for my next laptop, if it comes preloaded with a decent Linux distro and without a bunch of crap. (I will not pay for the crap.)

        I'll even buy it if it isn't a distro I like.

        However' if you really want to blow us away, Dell, give us a few of the configurable install options available via the website -- preferably without Flash or excessive JavaScript required. Maybe a web-based debian-installer? Because I'd like to be able to choose filesystem, partitioning scheme, and base distro (maybe fr
        • by Toby_Tyke (797359)
          I will buy a Dell for my next laptop, if it comes preloaded with a decent Linux distro and without a bunch of crap. (I will not pay for the crap.)

          You never pay for the crap. Rather, the crap pays for (part of) your laptop.

          Most of those "craplets" like anti virus trials and ISP sign up programs are there because Dell was paid to put them there. There was a story on Ars Technica a few weeks ago (sorry, don't have the link) where a CEO from one of the big vendors was doing a Q&A session. Someone aske
    • by xenocide2 (231786)
      If its any consolation, #4 is no extra crap installed.
    • by c_fel (927677)
      Yeah, but for everybody here, the first thing to do with a new shiny Dell will be to wipe out the pre-installed OS and install your favorite distribution. So at least for us, there's no concern about the distribution and softwares Dell installs by default. All we want to have is a 100% certified Linux-compatible laptop.

      Anyway Linux is so easy to install these days...
    • Crapplets? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467)
      Using an OEM OS install in this day and age is just plain stupid. Not only do they all sell access to their image, they don't tell you who they sold it to, or under what terms. Running thier OS is like downloading software from random internet sites.

      The OS and crapplets they install shouldn't matter, because the first thing you should do is wipe the drive and install your OS from the original media that came from the OS provider, not the PC OEM.

      Personally, if they ship this they'll be selling me at leas

  • They can start .. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:43PM (#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!
  • 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 @09:49PM (#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 @09:52PM (#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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MBCook (132727)

      That's true, but as others have pointed out when you get right down to it, Linux is Linux is Linux because it's all about the kernel. As long as they use parts that have drivers in the kernel provide the drivers, you're golden. Same with other little utilities to modify things. They'll all run on Linux, it doesn't matter if the user is using KDE or GNOME. To a certain degree there are only 4 or so distros out there: Red-Hat based, Debian Based, Slackware Based, and Other. Dell can offer any flavor they want

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheoCryst (975577)
      This deal is not designed to make anything better for tech junkies who already have a favorite distro and are comfortable with compiling their own kernel. The whole point of this is to make Linux more accessible for Joe Average, who uses whatever is included on his computer and is terrified to change it. By giving him a (hopefully cheaper) option to buy his laptop with Linux preinstalled, you've just converted someone who would never willing install Linux on his Windows box. This is the market segment that
      • by eck011219 (851729)
        MOD PARENT UP.

        Good points all around. I hope Dell sees it that way -- I have my doubts about the corporate model here, but I'd love to see it go well. What it needs is VERY dedicated support, though -- the minute buyers have to go digging for drivers, all is lost.

        And because of that, I agree that Ubuntu is the way to go. I'd even go so far as to say that Kubuntu would be even better. It's not without fault, but it certainly does offer a foolproof Linux option (for the most part).

        T
  • RHEL on Precision workstations. I noticed them on the Dell site several weeks ago.

    And we had a story a couple of months back about getting Linux on their "E" series systems (IIRC).
  • I don't care what distribution they settle on, as long as they don't rely on proprietary drivers. From my POV if it is running some kind of mainstream Linux distro, the odds that my preferred distro will work are very much higher.
  • That is what is I call leadership. This guy is about as different from other CEOs as Steve jobs was from all of his predecessors; they were loved by wall street, but hated by the customers.
  • Sure but does it run Linux? ............ oh.
  • The original article said: "We don't want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another."

    I appreciate that thinking, so if they choose Novell SuSE LInux I think they'd alienate almost all Linux users.

  • Now I can order Linux, and install windows 98 to stick it to the man.
  • Dell BIOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:09PM (#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.
  • Dell has too many empty promises and component lock-in (eg, no AMD offerings until recently (especially after that big Opteron blitz has past) no real linux boxes even though there were previous accounements, etc). And then the CEO admitting they were using the cheapest hardware they could find to cut costs. Sorry guys, too inconsistent on multiple levels and takes too long to "build" systems. I've seen companies cancel Dell orders and buy other brands just to get stuff sooner. Build to order is great (a
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:38AM (#18150024) Homepage

    Try configuring a Dell D520 with Windows [dell.com] and a Dell 520 without Windows. [dell.com] Select the same hardware options on both. (Note that the default for the non-Windows machine is a 40GB hard drive and a CD drive only, but the default for the Windows machine is a 60GB hard drive and a DVD drive. Adjust options to match.)

    With Microsoft: $699. Without Microsoft: $747.

    And Dell won't even install Linux. They give you FreeDOS.

  • by HuskyDog (143220) on Monday February 26, 2007 @06:58AM (#18151006) Homepage
    I just bought an OS free laptop in the UK from Transtec [transtec.co.uk]. I could have had it with SuSE pre-installed for a bit extra. The default hardware spec is different for the OS free machines, but if you configure them to be the same as the Windows ones then they are cheaper (i.e. there is no negative Windows cost as others have reported). Although Transtec mostly supply business customers, they will sell to individuals. I am happy with the machine and it is now running Gentoo just fine.

    There are very few UK companies who will see you a Linux or OS free laptop. One of the others told me that they get theirs from Lenovo, but can only occasionally get one without an OS. In other cases they remove Windows and try to claim back the cost from their wholesaler. Occasionally, this works. So, in most cases money is still going to Microsoft. I don't like this idea, so I was pleased when Transtec told me that their OS free machines have never had any OS installed and so none of my money would go to Redmond. This might be a point worth checking if you are looking for a linux laptop.

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