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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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  • No Poll? (Score:3, Funny)

    by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:54PM (#18338381) Journal
    No comments and the poll is already down.
  • Sigh..... isn't always that way?
  • Slashdotted (Score:5, Funny)

    by chrisbtoo (41029) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:55PM (#18338405) Homepage Journal
    Maybe that'll help guide Dell's opinion of whether people want Linux on their PCs.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Now all we need is a Linux poll to find out what they think of Dell users.
    • by div_2n (525075)
      For some reason, I'm reminded of an old Dot-Com era commercial where two guys are sitting in front of a screen showing the number of orders made in real time. The number starts growing out of control and one of the guys says "Lock the door!"
  • Obquote (Score:2, Funny)

    by geeber (520231)
    In response to overwhelming user demand for Linux

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      I do not think that joke means what you think it means.

      (Dell's servers seem pretty overwhelmed at the moment)
    • In response to overwhelming user demand for Linux

      I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      Oh, come on, don't be so cynical. They might be just sweeping up the last few parts of the market now that they've got the mainstream crowd, and I know they ignored requests for more linux for a long time. Still... it does count as a "response" :)

      p.s.: yesh, I know you were probably referring to "overwhelming" ;)

    • Now that you mention it, I'm not sure "obquote" is even a word. What did he think it means?
  • Support? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:03PM (#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?

    • Well, that's a good point-- Dell doesn't really give "Windows support". If something is wrong with Windows, Dell doesn't fix it. However, all their support directions are written as though you're running Windows ("Go to the start menu and click on 'control panel'.")

      If they chose a specific Linux distribution, would it be so strange that they could do the same thing with a specific Linux install? Instead of telling people to go to the "Control Panel", you'd just tell them to go someplace else. Doesn't s

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I think before that question is answered, one would have to ask: what kind of support does Dell offer for Windows? At least with Linux, they can offer to remotely fix machines via ssh, thereby bypassing some user ignorance - not a palatable solution for non-newbies, but I'm sure it would be for newbies, and a support person may very much rather talk to a shell than a end user (regardless of OS).
    • But important, at least for businesses. They test and confirm that all the hardware has drivers that works and that it all works together, they provide a disc (or utility to make a disc) that will rebuild the system to a working state, and they have techs that know how to walk you through that.

      The big one is hardware compatibility testing. All the time you hear of people with Linux hardware problems and the often smarmy response is "Well check to make sure you have compatible hardware first!" as though it w
  • by truckaxle (883149) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:05PM (#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 drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:18PM (#18338727) Homepage Journal
      If it comes preinstalled then you know the hardware is working. You can take a system image (hopefully you will get a disc with one anyway) so if you roach the system you can reload it and see how THEY got everything working. It's very helpful to have it preinstalled even if you're just going to repartition.
      • Not just that (Score:4, Insightful)

        by phorm (591458) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @06:28PM (#18339803) Journal
        But it helps solve the chicken-before-the-egg issues that linux tends to run into. Big manufacturer starts supporting linux, starts using hardware that works in linux (even if it's a particular version of linux). Hardware vendors start getting orders for linux-compatible hardware. Other venders start supporting linux more in their hardware. More drivers, more compatible hardware, and the situation improves overall as the visibility and marketability of the OS increases.

        Is it just me, or doesn't anyone else thing that MS must be rather worried about the fact that a large manufacturer is looking hard at selling a non-MS operating system?
    • by necro81 (917438)
      I have sometimes wondered about the validity of the Microsoft tax, at least as far as windows is concerned. The cost per license to an OEM as large as Dell is probably rather small (certainly compared to the retail price of Windows). By having Windows installed, Dell is able to also bundle all kinds of bloatware that they get paid to include. I'm guessing the two are close to balancing out. Anyone have any numbers?

      Don't get me wrong: I'm not advocating for the presence of either Windows or bloatware
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "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."

      And this is precisely why dell doesn't bother selling linux on their hardware, at least up to this point. Because the linux fanatics are going to build their machines from spare parts and load their favorite distro of the month on an underpowered box just to talk about how technical they are on slashdot forums.

      D
    • by MoogMan (442253)
      While what you say is perfectly valid, you are missing the point. Pre-installation may not be useful to *you*, but it could be useful to many other less technical types.

      An obvious use case, is probably one that most of us here know about. Grannie/Uncle/Friend of a friend asks what the best PC to buy is. We can potentially now say "Buy a Dell with preinstalled {Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE}".
  • My vote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mstahl (701501)

    Wonder how much it will really guide Dell's choices.

    My vote: not that much.

  • Laptops please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:22PM (#18338789)
    My workplace already gets Precision workstations from Dell with RHEL on them. Although to be honest we swapped vendors for the last round because quad Opterons were the better choice at the time. RHEL isn't a particularly good desktop OS for my needs (low popularity, license/reinstall headache) but Ubuntu works well enough on the same hardware.

    What Dell really lacks is laptops with obvious Linux support. It's still a pain in the ass to look through their website and pick up a laptop that you know has working 3D drivers (ATI blows), wireless, and hibernation support. You can go look around for third party reviews and match model numbers but that leaves you looking off site (and evaluating against competitors) and Dell has a huge turnover in model revisions.
  • Why Linux? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:23PM (#18338813) Journal
    What about Emacs?
  • Survey Contents (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon (30274) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:25PM (#18338833)
    The page loaded for me (but wouldn't submit). Here are the questions, for the curious. And yes the first line was really at the top of the page - an unexpected joy of automation :)

    Dell recommends Windows Vista(TM) Business.

    Linux Learnings: We're Listening

    Thanks for visiting the Dell Linux Survey webpage. Please answer the following questions to help us determine how to best prioritize our resources for this effort.
    (Survey will be open March 13-March 23)

    1) Would your Dell system with Linux factory installed be for home or office use?
            Home Use
            Office Use
            Both

    2) Which systems should we prioritize on for Linux factory installation? (Rank Order: 1=highest, 6=lowest)
            Inspiron notebooks
            Dimension desktops
            XPS notebooks
            XPS desktops
            Latitude business notebooks
            OptiPlex business desktops

    3) What types of activities will you perform on your Dell system with Linux factory installed? (Rank order: 1=highest, 9=lowest if not using for specific listed purpose, leave blank)
            Basic productivity
            Email
            Web browsing
            Photo editing and management
            Gaming
            Music
            Video editing
            Software development
            Other:

    4) Which languages should we prioritize on?
            English
            Japanese
            French
            German
            Spanish
            Mandarin
            Other:

    5) For a tested & validated Linux install, what type of software support would you require?
            Existing community support structures for Linux that already exist with Dell participating more
            Email and online support forums through Dell
            Fee-based OS phone support
            Other:

    6) Which Linux distribution should Dell prioritize on?
            Commercial: Novell/SuSE Linux Desktop
            Commercial: Red Hat Enterprise Desktop
            Community Supported: Fedora
            Community Supported: OpenSUSE
            Community Supported: Ubuntu
            Other:

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)

      What types of activities will you perform on your Dell system with Linux factory installed?

      No, no, no.

      I want Linux Operating System installed on my computer, not Linux Factory!

      - RG>
  • by Dr Kool, PhD (173800) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:27PM (#18338853) Homepage Journal
    How are you leave off Debian GNU/Linux from the distribution list. Are you people just a bunch of idiots or what? It's obvious you Dellosers don't even know the history of GNU/Linux because Debian was the FIRST GNU/Linux distribution and continues to be the best GNU/Linux distribution. You'd have to be a complete moron to make a list of GNU/Linux distributions and leave off Debian GNU/Linux. It's obvious that Dell has no interest in supporting REAL free software, only a bunch of fake anti-freedom distros like Red Hat "Linux" (sic).

    Dell you can go to hell, I am never going to buy your products again!!!
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:37PM (#18338997)
      Gee, I wonder why Dell is hesitant to embrace the Linux community?
      • by pembo13 (770295)
        No sense of humor?
        • by MightyYar (622222)
          If he was being ironic, then MAN he made a good impression of a pissed-off Debian nut.

          Egg on my face... :)
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Doug Neal (195160)

            If he was being ironic, then MAN he made a good impression of a pissed-off Debian nut.

            Egg on my face... :)
            If that's a good pissed-off Debian nut impression, I'd love to see his pissed-off FreeBSD nut impression... or even better, Gentoo...
    • That would be what the "other" box on the list of distributions is for... voting for a distribution not on the list, like Debian, Gentoo, etc. As for the "It's obvious you Dellosers don't even know the history of GNU/Linux because Debian was the FIRST GNU/Linux distribution", Wikipedia seems to disagree, with Slackware [wikipedia.org] having been out a month before Debian [wikipedia.org] was even announced.

  • Or, maybe, DragonFlyBSD [dragonflybsd.org]. A complete OS targeting i386 platforms, with fewer GNU-licensing issues to worry about.

    • by swillden (191260) *

      Or, maybe, DragonFlyBSD [dragonflybsd.org]. A complete OS targeting i386 platforms, with fewer GNU-licensing issues to worry about.

      What GNU licensing issues?

      • by mi (197448)

        What GNU licensing issues?

        I'm not biting. Check a few days-worth of earlier SlashDot articles for the GNU-related troubles, that Novell either has already or may have in the future, should FSF turn more zealous.

    • DragonFly???

      Great business decision Dell. :) Pre-install an operating system with barely more users than developers.

      Be realistic.
      • by mi (197448)

        Great business decision Dell. :) Pre-install an operating system with barely more users than developers.

        Dell could hire Matt and own DragonFlyBSD altogether. Like Apple, they'll have an OS of their own. Unlike Apple, they wouldn't need to create a fork of an existing one for that...

        Win-win...

        But if they don't, I'll be happy with Dell systems coming with FreeBSD pre-installed instead.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chandon Seldon (43083)

      No way. Screw this 1970's Unix crap. I want a dual boot Plan 9 / Coyotos system.

  • It doesn't exactly take brain of texas to work out it's servers where Linux already dominates, so if they want market share, they go for... desktop PCs. Brain transplant please - the survey is far from credible...

    Ian W.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MP3Chuck (652277)
      Their servers are already available with Windows, RHEL, SUSE, or without an OS at all.
  • by faloi (738831) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:36PM (#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.
    • Honestly.

      The average user will still leave the default options selected with OEM versions of Vista Home and Office.

      Anyone selecting Linux as an option knows it's 'for nerds' and fraught with danger. Caveat emptor!

      Who's not to say that Dell wouldn't license MP3 codecs, anyway?
  • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:37PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)


      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.

      But Dell is in the position of selecting the best hardware components based on what their users want; if Dell said to Nvidia "we'd like to use your stuff, but it doesn't work for our Linux customers, who now represent 10% of our customer base, so we're going to offer your competitor as well", I'm going to bet that Nvidia sees the light. They simply wouldn't

  • Here's a summary of the computers they list:

    Inspiron
        consumer laptop
    Dimension
        consumer desktop
    XPS
        high-end consumer systems. Also good systems for serious artists.
    support is thin
    Latitude business notebooks
        just what the name says
    OptiPlex business desktops
        just what the name says

    The survey falls under the Dell small business marketing category
  • Am I missing something or isn't Canonical an official company behind Ubuntu? Are they just calling them commercial because they actually charge money for the operating system, or commercial because the guiding company behind it offers commercial support?

  • How about something a bit more obvious...

    How about you guys (Dell) just worry about making sure that your hardware works under Linux. If necessary, distribute patches or drivers as tar.gz files. Don't worry about the OS - leave that to us, the community.

    Why tar.gz files?? Because they are universally compatible with all distributions. They may not have all the nice extras like dependency tracking and all that, but name a distribution that can't deal with a tar.gz file. Besides, I would argue that Del

  • by Crazy like a fox (735019) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @06:08PM (#18339493)
    Hard to take seriously a poll from a company that cannot even implement the submit button correctly on their poll page, using proper HTML, and without the ultimate stupidity of making their submit button tied to Javascript.

  • Dell language (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @07:09PM (#18340333) Homepage

    Dell assumes that customers 1) know the difference between an Inspiron, a Latitude, and and an XPS, and 2) care. Even GM gave up on that nonsense and discontinued the Oldsmobile nameplate.

  • Support wanted (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @07:33PM (#18340673) Homepage
    The support that I want Dell to do is to: help the kernel developers to support their devices/hardware.
    Everything else can be done through normal channels.
  • by bgfay (5362) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @08:21PM (#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.
  • Not voting (Score:5, Funny)

    by retro128 (318602) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @08:53PM (#18341505)
    Dell does not know their customers. I'm not participating in any Linux poll that does not have a CowboyNeal option.

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