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Dell Opens a Poll On Linux Options 404

Posted by kdawson
from the you-asked-for-it dept.
narramissic writes "In response to overwhelming user demand for Linux, Dell has posted a survey on a company blog that asks 'PC users to choose between Linux flavors such as Fedora and Ubuntu, and to pick more general choices such as notebooks versus desktops, high-end models versus value models and telephone-based support versus community-based support.' Votes will be collected through March 23, and Dell plans to use the feedback to begin selling Linux-based consumer PCs." The poll is pretty minimal. Wonder how much it will really guide Dell's choices.
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Dell Opens a Poll On Linux Options

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  • Support? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:03PM (#18338529)

    I love Linux and all, but what kind of support would be offered compared to Windows support? I have no experience with Windows support (don't use it), but when I call my ISP and other companies, they ask questions like "What version of Windows are you using?" By being a Linux and Mac guy, I find myself self supported much of the time, which is OK most of the time, but when the internet is down or something that is not OS dependant, I have issues from time to time, and its next to impossible to talk with support people sometimes.

    Now, I'm not talking about me. I've run Linux on a number of Dells (hundreds), but I don't need Linux support, but for "normal" people or whatever, what kind of support will they get?

  • by truckaxle (883149) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:05PM (#18338561) Homepage
    I personally do not want any flavor pre-installed. FreeDos is fine thank you. There are just too many options and partitioning preferences that I would typically reinstall anyways.

    I can install Redhat via a USB drive in 10 minutes so the advantages of pre-installation are minimal.

    What I really care about is not paying the Microsoft tax!
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:08PM (#18338617)
    By offering NONE ... pre-installed ... but offering options on boxes so that they include only 100% Linux-friendly hardware. Which would be tested against the current kernel (and the kernel tested with would be documented).

    AND NOT COSTING MORE THAN AN EQUIVALENT WINDOWS BOX.

    Box A
    Windows config - $500

    Linux config -
    - remove modem (save $5)
    - replace modem w/Linux compatible (kernel 2.6.18) (add $15)

    - remove wireless card (save $10)
    - replace wireless card w/Linux compatible (kernel 2.6.20) (add $25)

    And so on. Support "Linux", not "Red Hat". Ship the hardware and let the buyer get support from the distribution s/he prefers.
  • by faloi (738831) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:36PM (#18338967)
    What's going to happen when Dell releases a flavor that can't play MP3s, or some media files, out of the box? I wonder if the idea of it being Linux is going to be...for lack of a better way of putting it...scary enough to the average user to dissuade them from selecting it as an option even if it saves 'em money.
  • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:37PM (#18339005) Homepage Journal

    As a Linux user, there's really only two things I would like to see from Dell (or any PC manufacturer). One is the option of buying a computer with either a free OS or no OS (some more casual users (the type that Linux needs to be attracting if it wants to grow its user base) might prefer their favorite distro pre-installed, but I'm more likely to want to set everything up myself). Second, I want to know if the hardware will work well with open source drivers.

    The first is tricky for PC manufacturers from a political standpoint; they don't want to offend Microsoft. (I am curious if anyone has a good answer to this: supposing Microsoft were to raise their per-OS lisencing fees as retaliation against a PC manufacturer for selling a non-Microsoft OS, would they get sued for anticompetitive practices, or would they get away with it? Could they retaliate in other, more subtle ways?)

    The second is also tricky because many of the better graphics cards don't have open source drivers. (At least, not drivers that support 3d accelleration, which is usually why people buy high-end graphics cards in the first place.) If Dell were to say "sure, we support Linux, just use the binary-only Nvidia driver", that approach isn't going to make a lot of Linux users happy.

  • Re:Slashdotted (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:16PM (#18339599)
    From their blog [direct2dell.com]:

    We're overwhelmed by your responses, and we know the survey server is overloaded too. We're working on it, and the survey will remain open until March 23, so you'll have plenty of time to make your vote count.
  • by dhasenan (758719) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:16PM (#18339603)
    What's so half-assed? They would have to prioritize functionality to provide and product lines; they're doing that by asking the potential users. They have to pick a distribution; they're doing that by asking the potential users. Should they ask whether to use GNOME or KDE by default? Amarok or XMMS? Xine or gstreamer? LILO or GRUB Legacy or GRUB 2?

    I don't see much more they could have usefully asked. Besides, if you buy your laptop with KDE on it, it's a matter of a few minutes to install GNOME. (And since this is Dell, you can probably expect a set of CDs with at least the most common packages on them. When I purchased Debian CDs once, they came with pretty much the entire repository.)
  • by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:20PM (#18339653) Journal
    Wait, what? [dell.com]
  • Re:Dell? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @07:02PM (#18341015) Homepage

    Most of the companies that specialize in "Linux laptops" that I've ever seen, charge a significant premium.

    Most of the people who say this haven't actually looked at the price situation recently.

    Configure a system from http://www.system76.com/ [system76.com] and an identical one from Dell. Check what the price difference is. My guess is that the couple bucks difference is worth not having to wipe Windows off the system, being *sure* that Linux supports the hardware, and not wondering if you got special discount "Dell hardware" where Dell demanded that reliability or performance be compromised for cost on the Dell system.

  • by bgfay (5362) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @07:21PM (#18341205) Homepage
    I know that this flies in the open source/free software philosophy, but Dell should choose one distribution and stick with it. That way, they can set up specific Dell support groups. They can have a bunch of consumers who have bought the machines as free support in the groups. It will work.

    Why? Because unlike say Apple who could have this work, the system will be much more open. Apple's system should work because people are locked into hardware and software, but everything is closed so it's tough if, for example, iTunes 7.1 keeps the hardware mounted volume controls from working, to get a fix. Everyone just has to wait for Apple to put out 7.1.1. With Dell and (my choice) Ubuntu, the system is open.

    It could work. It could work very well.

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