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Linux Business Businesses

Helping Dell To Help Open Source 177

Posted by kdawson
from the skunkworks dept.
Glyn Moody writes "Dell's IdeaStorm is turning into a fiasco — for Dell, and for open source as well. Instead of just shouting at the company to sell pre-installed GNU/Linux systems, how about helping them find a way to do it? Here's a suggestion that I've posted on the IdeaStorm site: that Dell set up an independent business unit for GNU/Linux systems, just like The Innovator's Dilemma tells us to do when faced with a disruptive technology."
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Helping Dell To Help Open Source

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  • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @05:59PM (#18255452)
    The Linux community may say that, but what use is preinstalled Linux to a Linux user?
    By the time you are able to use Linux, you've surmounted the (many) inconvenient barriers to entry, already know how to install it to your preferences, and know how to pick hardware.
    Entry-level users need massive handholding, something that does not make sense for Dell to offer.
    Instead, just ask for the FreeDOS option. Your box will boot to "something" for test purposes, then you can nuke it and load your OS of choice.
  • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @06:00PM (#18255470)
    For the majority of their systems (unless you want to buy their one or two models that come with FreeDOS), you're still paying for Windows.
  • Why Again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by endianx (1006895) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @06:01PM (#18255476)
    Why do we want Linux on Dells again?

    Linux is downloadable and easy to install. Or if bandwidth is a problem, you can get it on CDs for just the cost of shipping. So it seems to me all we really need is an option to buy a Dell without a pre-installed OS.

    I have heard people say they want this for hardware compatibility reasons. Like if Linux came on a Dell, then all the hardware would be compatible. It seems to me though, the solution is not for Dell to use parts that Linux supports, but for Linux to support the parts that Dell is using (to any reasonable extend).

    So the only reason you are left with for wanting Linux on Dells is so that the average consumer will see that they have alternatives to Windows. There will come a time where you will want your average computer user using Linux, but this is not that time. It isn't ready yet. For most things, something like Ubuntu works fine, but your average person isn't going to know what to do if their wireless card isn't working, or if they don't have support for MP3s, etc. Editing a bunch of configuration files and such is not an option. They want to click a few things and have everything work.

    Linux is catching up to Windows and Microsoft is doing everything they can to sabotage themselves. Don't be impatient. If people try it now and have a horrible experience with it, it could be years (if at all) before they try it again.
  • Re:Why Again? (Score:2, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @06:13PM (#18255586) Homepage Journal
    Normal people will actually consider buying a Dell with Linux preinstalled if they have some kind of guarentee that they will be able to use their computer to do what they want to do. aka, play movies, read email, browse the web and edit documents/spreadsheets. The Linux desktop is almost there, but preinstalled is a requirement.
       
  • I think people also keep forgetting that Dell's FreeDOS option doesn't mean they preinstall FreeDOS. They send a FreeDOS install CD. The system is blank and cannot boot as shipped. The only thing installed is the Dell diagnostic system, the rest of the hard drive is empty space.
  • by ctr2sprt (574731) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @06:21PM (#18255680)

    You might have better luck looking at server motherboards. I know that most Supermicros show POST codes so if the machine keeps hanging mid-POST you can look up what it was testing and fix it. Tyan's motherboards have the same feature, I think. IBM's servers have Light Path Diagnostics (LPD) which is the same thing but includes lights inside the chassis for when you don't even get video. So if you've got a bad stick of RAM, you can pop the case and a LED will be lit next to the faulted DIMM.

    Of course, you can't buy just an IBM motherboard, but you can buy Supermicro and Tyan motherboards. With PCI-E catching on in the server market, you should even be able to put in a real video card and use it as a desktop. Just be prepared to spend $250 for the motherboard alone.

  • by skoaldipper (752281) <skoalstr8 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#18255782)

    You don't persuade a business to do something by begging them to sell you something. You persuade them by buying that something from someone else who is quite happy to sell you that something.
    Absolutely! But there is something to be said about shouting louder than all the others when it comes to marketing - Dell has a megaphone here. I think Dell is already _persuaded_ though by their interest in rolling out a linux desktop:

    Persuasion through HP purchases [businessweek.com]:

    Unlike Dell, which depends largely on the desktop and corporate markets for sales, HP is cashing in on high-growth areas, including emerging markets, the consumer area, and laptops.
    Emerging markets? See below.

    Tangible side benefits [earthweb.com] from HP linux rollout:

    In fiscal 2006, $25 million in hardware sales in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) were directly related to HP's Debian support.[...]HP support is set for the Debian Sarge release, which debuted in June 2005. Wade noted that HP is working toward certifying its hardware against the upcoming Debian Etch release, which is set for a 2007 rollout.
    Dell may have a megaphone for all us linux users to rally around, but HP already has a small mob gathering around theirs.
  • by mackyrae (999347) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @07:44PM (#18256728) Homepage
    Er, what? Installing is the hardest part of Linux. If that's done by Dell, anyone can use it. Heck, my mom says Linux is easier than Windows.
  • by Bungie (192858) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @08:10PM (#18256972)
    Dell already has a Diagnostic CD, though it doesn't boot linux. It runs tests on all of their hardware through a GUI interface. Usually you can boot to it from the resource CD or the utility parition on their systems.
  • Re:"shouting" (Score:4, Informative)

    by dan828 (753380) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @08:37PM (#18257230)
    And it looks like that they are already selling workstations with Linux pre-installed:

    http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx /precn_n?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd [dell.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @08:40PM (#18257258)
    I suspect if you look more closely you will find that dell's low end offerings vary over much shorter timescales than their higher end offerings. this flexibilty enables them to acheive keen prices but counts against using linux there precisely because it is a moving target.

    low end is not necessarily equal to older

    conversely you pay more for a higher end offering that is guaranteed to be stable over time, and this is also where it is easier for them to support linux, and they already do.

    The problem of getting linux pre-installed on those low-end offerings is precisely that of beng able to support nearly anything at very short notice, which would mean (for dell) foregoing some supply options or pressuring their suppliers to provide that support (and these two are likely not entirely exclusive). rest assured that dell *will* do this, if the numbers are compelling, but until then I think we'll have to be content with a slow trickle-down progression from the high-end rather than expecting someone to wave a magic wand.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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