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Shuttleworth Tells Linux Users to Stop Being So Fussy For OEMs 386

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the probably-good-advice-in-general dept.
Anonymous writes "Mark Shuttleworth says Linux users may need to stop being so fussy when putting demands on OEMs for pre-installed Linux PCs. CRN finds a response to Shuttleworth that seems to be both amusing and telling at the same time."
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Shuttleworth Tells Linux Users to Stop Being So Fussy For OEMs

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  • Pre-installed? o.O (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @10:45AM (#18348093)
    Part of the Linux "experience" is installing it. If people can't do that, then they don't need to be using Linux.

    The people begging for pre-installed Linux are probably the same people who would, upon receiving a PC from a vendor with a pre-installed OS, immediately wipe that OS and install it from scratch anyway lest they be left with an OS that has tons of cruft.
  • Re: Shuttleworth who (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:02AM (#18348387) Journal
    Frankly, if they put out good driver support, I think the best move is to gear the pre-installed linux options toward non-savvy users. I'm not going to use a damn out-of-the-box install of fricking WINDOWS, more less an out-of-the-box install of Linux, and I'm less anal than a lot of people around here.

    Let 'em gear the linux installs toward grandmas and newbies, because the rest of us are almost certainly going to be unsatisfied regardless of what they do. Expecting a hardware company to support a hundred different os configurations is absurd.
  • Re:I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asphaltjesus (978804) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:05AM (#18348467)
    1. Business guys like Shuttleworth view success in terms of volume adoption and profitability.

    2. The vast majority of users don't understand that the hardware is separate from the OS. They can't comprehend that another OS will actually run on their hardware. PHB's included.

    Which leads us to the conclusion that resellers like Dell are a gateway to _very_ many end users.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:05AM (#18348487)
    If dell wants to offer RH corporateware desktops, fine. But what I care about is that every component in their machine has open-source driver support. If they would sell bare machines, but certify that every major component is "linux ready" with open-source in-linus'-kernel-tree drivers available, then I'm happy. I'd probably even consider buying from dell - less hassle than building my own these days.
     
  • by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:13AM (#18348633) Journal
    The problem with offering Linux ready machines is that buyers will cry loud if the cost of the system is the same as the one *with* windows included because they will reason on the lines of "WTF Linux is free blah blah".

    I would be very happy to buy a complete desktop PC to Dell, HP or anyone else with whichever Linux distro they choose given that I can personalize the machine (in one or other way what you can do now) before buying it including things like webcam, scanner, printer and other devices that are KNOWN to work with Linux. It is similar to my rant in the MythTV vs Tivo article, I would gladly pay them to offer that. Gosh, they could *even* Include CrossOver office or Cedega as an option (similarly on how they include MsWorks, antivirus and other crap now). I would buy it.

    What I want is a complete solution, for me and for my dad, mom, brother, etc. A solution which is *guaranteed* to work.

    For that, as I stated in another post, Dell would have to create their own Distro, based on Fedora, Ubuntu or any other distro. Why? because that way they will have more "control" over the content. It does not have to be a very different fork, just Ubuntu with some personalized Dell shit and personalized drivers for the offered machines that JUST WORKS. Now THAT would make Apple shiver :)
  • by Ignatius (6850) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:17AM (#18348689)
    Linux customers could care less about the pre-installed distrib, but the do care about 100% Linux compatability of the hardware, which is pretty much the same over all distribs (modulo non-free drivers). After all, even for large roll-outs, "installing" a customized system on identical hardware simply means gunzipping a prepared disk image (which can also include the partition table).

    Therefore the best way to go about it would probably be to merely install a minimum system with a small footprint (1 GB max) but all hardware drivers installed and configuered in order to demonstrate Linux compatibility and to allow to check the hardware. The distrib should not matter in this case. Then, the customer can install his favorite Linux distrib and opt to keep the minimum installation as a rescue system.

    In the case of Dell, this means: Replace the existing FreeDos installation (which you get when you order a Dell w/o OS - at least here in Europe) with a small Linux system, and everyone is happy.
  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PRMan (959735) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:33AM (#18348971)

    I think the true "Fatal Flaw" would be when the average user figures out that their machine won't play MP3s, DVDs, connect to their iPod, etc.

    I hope Dell and other PC builders would consider ways to bring that sort of licensing to the Linux platform, that you could purchase as an option when buying the PC.

  • Re:Hardware support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeZ52 (314911) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:07PM (#18349541)
    One point........Dell, HP, etc. use pretty standard hardware across much of their platform line. They are huge customers of the component manufacturers, many of whom will not open their code to allow developers to write open source drivers. If the PC makers want to sell new machines to me, they should either:
    1.) Only purchase components for which open source drivers are available, or
    2.) Use their purchasing clout to persuade manufacturers to allow developers to write OSS drivers.

    In this scenario, I could purchase a machine either with or without the chosen distro and have some certainty that everything can be made to work when I decide to switch to my favorite flavor of the month.
  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shmlco (594907) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:13PM (#18349667) Homepage
    I think I saw a post around here recently that indicated the average OEM price for Windows paid by Dell or Gateway was on the order of $30/machine. An amount, I might add, that's probably padded somewhat, passed on, and paid by the consumer.

    That being the case, it's not "much" of the cost, and what there is is passed on anyway. So what's Dell's reason again? Especially when the user upgrades to a more expensive version of Windows and Dell makes even more money on the deal.

    Adding a "free" OS means all of that upgrade income goes away, and will either be lost (unlikely), or the machine price padded to make up the difference.

    Further, a company like Dell probably has their drives delivered preimaged so they don't have to do the work. Adding Linux to the mix means an entire new set of drive SKUs has to be ordered and stocked and managed. Not to mention the support issues other people have already indicated.

    So what's Dell's reason again? To accomodate a group of "fussy" Linux types who probably don't want the preinstalled distribution/filesystem/whatever anyway?
  • Ultimate Solution (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:28PM (#18349909)
    O.K here it is people, the solution you've all been waiting for...

    We all know that whatever Dell ships, we're all going to format it and install what we want right? After all if Dell are ever going to ship Linux boxes for less than Windows boxes they're going to need to find someone willing to pay to have crapware installed on those Linux boxes.

    The solution then is to have Dell ship the box with windows and crapware but without charging us for windows. That way we get the cost benefit of crapware without the Microsoft tax. There is already a demo version of Windows server 2003 that would do just fine for this, but a nicely broken XP Home 30 day demo version would do just fine if MS want to come out with one...

    Of course the real solution is not to buy Dells... They're absolute pieces of crap and the amount you save over buying or building a quality system is never worth the headaches... But demo windows with crapware would work for those people honestly too cheap to buy a decent computer.
  • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:55PM (#18350423) Homepage Journal

    He said we are fussy, without making any judgements. And that this fact would make it harder for Dell to satisfy us.

    All anyone cares about is to have hardware with free drivers, from there any distro can be installed. The continued acceptance of M$'s inferior GUI and software for "hardware compatibility" is proof that the vast majority of computer users just want the system to work and will put up with all sorts of security and performance issues to get that level of "convenience". If Dell would select or demand hardware with free drivers, every major gnu/linux distribution would work - that's not hard at all. Picky people are going to reinstall the OS anyway and no one will blame Dell for that.

    The of Mark's criticism that sticks is this:

    If Microsoft reduces the per-PC marketing contribution it makes for a particular reseller, that puts them at a huge financial disadvantage relative to their competitors. This means that one of the biggest issues a computer manufacturer or reseller faces in considering Linux pre-installations is the impact it will have on the Microsoft relationship, and hence bottom line.

    Anti-competitive pressure is what this ever boils down to. It will go away as hardware prices drop below $200 or so, because there's no room for software costs at that price point. That Dell is making noises like this now is good evidence that there's not much room for software costs at the $400 price point. The corporate price point is already there and that's why so many companies are dumping M$. The first vendor to deliver a $200 computer with nothing but free software on it is going to win big time and there's nothing M$ will be able to do about it.

  • Piss off. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stumbles (602007) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:06PM (#18350627)
    Shuttleworth just needs to STFU. Any demands the open source world has asked of the OEMs is mild compared the the DRACONIAN agreements the likes of Dell and others have signed with Microsoft giving Billy Boy essentially a FREE RIDE to DISTRIBUTE his POS software. So Marky, pull your head outa your ass.
  • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:52PM (#18351629)
    All anyone cares about is to have hardware with free drivers, from there any distro can be installed.

    Yeah I agree. I may be fussy about what my computer ends up like, but I can take care of the details. All I need from the likes of Dell is for them to offer something that I know for certain will work with Linux. In that respect I don't think I am fussy at all, and that Shuttleworth is wrong here.

    But you know, there's some in every crowd and if Dell were to offer Linux laptops now without doing a lot more research about what people want, I bet they would get hit hard with complaints from really fussy people who aren't ever satisfied. Especially from ex-Windows "power users" who are also fussy but don't yet know how to solve their own problems in Linux yet. But maybe the coming complaints are inevitable.
  • Re:Hardware support (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:42PM (#18354625)
    You're naive if you think that selling a computer with Linux guarantees that it works well with Linux for your purposes.

    A few years ago I bought a computer with Debian pre-installed. It was set up to my specifications by very competent people who knew Linux well. The computer was fine..until I upgraded Debian and the monitor stopped working. (Those of you who use Red Hat may not realize that this kind of upgrade would normally be expected to succeed without major issues.) I hadn't realized that full support for my really nice monitor required custom patches. To be fair, I'd been told this and was given a CD with the computer that had said patches on it (including source code), but I just sort of assumed at the time that they would get into Linux distributions in time, and when I upgraded everything would be fine. Unfortunately for me, they didn't. And the patches would not work with an updated kernel, and I didn't particularly want to figure out how to make it so. Sorting this out was a real headache.

    The moral being that the fact that someone got Linux working on your hardware doesn't mean that you'll find it smooth sailing.

    Now add to this the fact that OEMs won't blink at putting custom proprietary drivers on the hardware. Then you may find that there is simply no open source software that will make that equipment run, even though you got that equipment with Linux installed! (Which is significantly worse than the situation I was in...)

    So what we want is not hardware shipped with Linux. What we should want is that the hardware installs a given distro out of the box without issues.

    Cheers,
    Ben

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