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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile? 380

Posted by Zonk
from the well-known-disruptory-rays dept.
WolfWings writes "Apparently Dell has decided that Ubuntu-based computers are ineligible for their famed CompleteCare service, or any form of hardware warranty what-so-ever. The news has only recently hit Dell's own IdeaStorm website, via a forum post describing an interaction with the company's customer service. Says the customer, 'I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?' After so recently decided to support Linux on their machines, including limited technical support, Dell seems to be squandering any possible good-will with this decision to leave purchasers of these machines high and dry for hardware warranty coverage." Update: 06/05 23:40 GMT by KD : many readers let us know that Dell has said that the omission of extended warranty and CompleteCare options from the configurator for Ubuntu systems was an "ordering system glitch." It should be fixed by now according to DesktopLinux.com.
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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile?

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  • by Zencyde (850968) <Zencyde@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:44AM (#19396451)
    Windows has support for the Ageia PhysX card. Physics moves a little more smoothly and a brick will dent a Windows box in a more realistic manner than a Linux box. I hope that clears things up. ~Dell Customer Support.
    • I'm the brick guy (Score:5, Informative)

      by AnotherCaptainTux (998873) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:22PM (#19398401)
      This is like my third post ever on slashdot. I read it often, though. I am the guy with the brick quote. Here is the whole story to be fair to Dell. On Friday, my laptop died. It was an Acer. The screen was damaged. Replacement cost of cracked screen is more than halfway to the cost of a new laptop. So I decide I will support the new Ubuntu Dell Laptops. I go online to Dell's Website and go to the Ubuntu page. I choose the E1505n. I upgrade to a GB of Ram, I get the Nvidia 256 MB graphics card, I get the DVD burner optical drive. So far so good. I am happy with the default processor and the screen. Now, another driving factor is that Dell has the nifty cool complete care (tm) plan. With this bad boy, a random brick can fly through the air, hit my laptop, shatter it to threads, and Dell will cover it. Think of it more as an insurance plan than a service plan. I have a friend with 3 kids who has had to take advantage of it not once, but twice. Both times Dell took care of them no questions asked. Now, the first time the Dell laptop had XP on it...the second time..gentoo. Still, no problems here. So, I decide to get it....just in case I get burned twice. On June 2, I get an email telling me my order has been acknowledged and I will get another email shortly giving me a order number (I also paid for next day shipping). Well, the rest of June 2 and all of June 3 goes by. No new email. I check my spam folder...nada...just the usual assortment of male enhancement and refi deals. So on June 4 I call Dell. They can see no order...they can see they debited my account...but no order. Hmmm...confusing. Very sorry, sir. Let me talk to my supervisor, please hold. She has no explanation for the lost order, but she will reprocess the order and I will get my next day shipping for free since I lost time. YAY! But wait! When we "build" my Dell, there is no longer a Complete Care (tm) plan for Ubuntu. She puts me on hold. She find out that my order was bumped out since they changed the policy on offering Complete Care (tm) on Ubuntu Dells. Why? She puts me on hold. Now comes the fun. "Sir, Ubuntu is a third party software and applications come from sources not from Dell." "Vista is a product of Dell?" "No sir, but we have a relationship with MS." "So you do not have a relationship with Canonical, the commercial company that sponsors Ubuntu?" "Hold.........Yes we do, but the software for other things comes from third parties." "So what if I buy a game for a Vista laptop from Best Buy? As that is a third party software..does that invalidate a Complete Care (tm) policy?" "No, sir." "What if I download an update from Microsoft to keep my Vista Current, how does that differ from an update from Ubuntu other than the fact the Ubuntu update actually helps my system?" "I do not know sir. See, sir, Linux comes from all over the place and as such cannot be supported." "I believe Redhat and even Microsoft differ with that opinion. I am not looking for support, that is another option I can click on another screen in your website. I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?" "No Sir." "Talking to your superior will not help my cause, do you have the phone number and email address of an executive do you?" She gave it to me. I wrote an email. I expressed my concerns politely and professionally. The next day-early this morning, I got a reply from a Dell Representative named Todd. Todd wrote,"Mr. Green, Thank you for your note and a chance to solve this issue. I am about to get on an airplane, but will get your issue to our executive resolution team. They should be able to resolve. If you are not satisfied, please do not hesitate to contact me again. Thank you for your business. Todd XXXXX" I will be honest, I thought it was a passing of the hot potato. However, earlier this morning I received a phone call from an executive in the resolution team by the name of Diane. She was very professional. She said she was unaware of the policy change. She discussed the
      • by VWJedi (972839) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:19PM (#19399583)

        Who wrote Dell's order system? It seems like anything that falls outside the realm of a "typical order" just gets kicked out with no notice to the customer.

        A couple years ago, my wife and I ordered new computers for both of us. After a week of nothing, we called to find out the order exceeded some maximum dollar amount so it could not be processed. We had to re-order everything over the phone (listing off all the options while the customer service person keyed it into their system) as two separate orders.

        My first question is why would the online system let me place an order that cannot be completed?

        The second question is, why wouldn't someone contact me if my order is "stuck"?

      • by tknd (979052) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:43PM (#19400013)

        My guess at the whitespace (nothing has been modified except whitespace):

        This is like my third post ever on slashdot. I read it often, though. I am the guy with the brick quote. Here is the whole story to be fair to Dell.

        On Friday, my laptop died. It was an Acer. The screen was damaged. Replacement cost of cracked screen is more than halfway to the cost of a new laptop. So I decide I will support the new Ubuntu Dell Laptops. I go online to Dell's Website and go to the Ubuntu page. I choose the E1505n. I upgrade to a GB of Ram, I get the Nvidia 256 MB graphics card, I get the DVD burner optical drive. So far so good. I am happy with the default processor and the screen.

        Now, another driving factor is that Dell has the nifty cool complete care (tm) plan. With this bad boy, a random brick can fly through the air, hit my laptop, shatter it to threads, and Dell will cover it. Think of it more as an insurance plan than a service plan. I have a friend with 3 kids who has had to take advantage of it not once, but twice. Both times Dell took care of them no questions asked. Now, the first time the Dell laptop had XP on it...the second time..gentoo. Still, no problems here. So, I decide to get it....just in case I get burned twice.

        On June 2, I get an email telling me my order has been acknowledged and I will get another email shortly giving me a order number (I also paid for next day shipping). Well, the rest of June 2 and all of June 3 goes by. No new email. I check my spam folder...nada...just the usual assortment of male enhancement and refi deals.

        So on June 4 I call Dell. They can see no order...they can see they debited my account...but no order. Hmmm...confusing. Very sorry, sir. Let me talk to my supervisor, please hold. She has no explanation for the lost order, but she will reprocess the order and I will get my next day shipping for free since I lost time. YAY! But wait! When we "build" my Dell, there is no longer a Complete Care (tm) plan for Ubuntu. She puts me on hold. She find out that my order was bumped out since they changed the policy on offering Complete Care (tm) on Ubuntu Dells. Why? She puts me on hold.

        Now comes the fun.
        "Sir, Ubuntu is a third party software and applications come from sources not from Dell."
        "Vista is a product of Dell?"
        "No sir, but we have a relationship with MS."
        "So you do not have a relationship with Canonical, the commercial company that sponsors Ubuntu?"
        "Hold.........Yes we do, but the software for other things comes from third parties."
        "So what if I buy a game for a Vista laptop from Best Buy? As that is a third party software..does that invalidate a Complete Care (tm) policy?"
        "No, sir."
        "What if I download an update from Microsoft to keep my Vista Current, how does that differ from an update from Ubuntu other than the fact the Ubuntu update actually helps my system?"
        "I do not know sir. See, sir, Linux comes from all over the place and as such cannot be supported."
        "I believe Redhat and even Microsoft differ with that opinion. I am not looking for support, that is another option I can click on another screen in your website. I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?"
        "No Sir."
        "Talking to your superior will not help my cause, do you have the phone number and email address of an executive do you?"
        She gave it to me. I wrote an email. I expressed my concerns politely and professionally.

        The next day-early this morning, I got a reply from a Dell Representative named Todd. Todd wrote,

        "Mr. Green, Thank you for your note and a chance to solve this issue. I am about to get on an airplane, but will get your issue to our executive resolution team. They should be able to resolve. If you are not satisfied, please do not hesitate to contact me again. Thank you for your business. Todd XXXXX"

        I will be honest, I thought it was a passing of the hot potato.

        However, earlier this m

      • by MarsDude (74832) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:57PM (#19400275) Homepage
        Thanx for clarifying an otherwise unfair (to Dell) article.

        Good thing this isn't a news site otherwise they should've contacted Dell first to get their side of the sto......... Hey ! It says 'news for nerds'!!! ;-)

        To all the people who are starting to shout at Dell in the rest of the thread : First people start bitchin' about Dell nog providing a Linux option.. Then Dell listens and acts in a relatively short time, and has not yet have everything 100% as it should be. And people start bitching here again. Cut 'm some slack will ya people? They are getting there. With a bad attitude, you'll have other companies think again before going the Linux way !

      • Re:I'm the brick guy (Score:4, Informative)

        by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:52PM (#19403997) Journal
        I have a Dell laptop, and I'd like to point out that when you send in a broken laptop to be serviced under their complete care plan, you get to keep the hard drive and battery.

        That means, they never have any idea what OS you're running.

        So, currently, even if the laws of physics do change while running Linux, Dell has no way to know what OS you're currently running.
  • Support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:44AM (#19396461)
    They have a system to diagnose and test hardware defects based on software checks which aren't available under Linux. They need to create a similiar system where each component can be tested using native linux tools.

    Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

    • Re:Support (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:49AM (#19396537) Homepage Journal

      Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

      It would be a triviality to write a shell script that uses Zenity to present dialogs etc and which performs simple fault-finding operations, displays certain system files.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ryan Amos (16972)
        Hell, there are plenty of college-age Linux nerds here in Austin who would likely be willing and able to do this as a project on an unpaid summer internship.
    • by erroneus (253617)
      Yeah, that's what I was going to say. Dell needs to create a diagnostics CD or USB device that should ship with their machines to circumvent any unpredicable circumstances that the user may introduce into the machine. In the end, this can only make troubleshooting by remote parties and support all the more easy. It would save themselves time and ultimately money.

      Get off your asses Dell and be what you once were.
    • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

      by endianx (1006895) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:01AM (#19396827)
      That system sucks anyway. I called them up with some laptop problems. I ran their test. Their test said nothing was wrong, so they told me nothing was wrong. They refused to fix anything. So the only difference between Windows and Linux hardware support is that with Linux, they tell you upfront that they won't fix it.
    • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcgf (688310) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:03AM (#19396859)
      Many (most?) newer models also have a bootable diagnostics program on another partition that can be accessed through the boot menu (F12 on boot).

      We do Dell warranty service where I work and I have to say that they're not very good computers and other than price, I can't see why you would buy one. This Ubuntu ordeal is just more of the same bs customers have to put up with. On the other hand I wish customers would get it through their thick skulls that their data is not covered under warranty.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by infochuck (468115)
        You know, as someone who's been building systems since I was 10, I feel a need to respond to you assertion that Dell systems "are not very good computers" and ask: by what criteria? They've got wonderfully easy-to-work-with toolfree chasis, decent quality parts (including PSU, an area where so many are lacking), the systems are customizable to a limited degree at purchase, pretty upgradble after the purchase (depending on what line), and they are rock-solid in terms of reliability, especially the workstat
    • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

      by forrestt (267374) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:04AM (#19396869) Homepage Journal
      The FOSS community (and I am one of them) have been waiting a LONG time for Dell to start selling Linux native systems. What Dell doesn't realize, is we are more than happy to help write any diagnostic software they need. They just need to learn how to utilize the FOSS community better. . .

      Dell, if you tell us the checks you want to have made, we will write the software for you. If you want our help though, then it needs to be a win-win situation, and you need to support the physical hardware you sell us.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pilbender (925017)
        This captures the essence of how we do things in Open Source. Great post.

        But it doesn't appear to be the problem they are having. It looks like they threw together this Linux stuff fast. Very little planning went into it. They're probably not prepared at this point in terms of infrastructure and training to do hardware support on another OS. Sure a diagnostic program would be helpful, but so would employee training.

        I'm speculating that they might be testing this Linux offering too before they put too m
      • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

        by idesofmarch (730937) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:26AM (#19397185)
        I realize you are very well-intentioned, but Dell is a business, not an open source community. As a business, Dell must honor all promises it makes, or risk lawsuits and bad press. For Dell to hold out a warranty now, as you ask, Dell must have a way to diagnose hardware issues right now. Not later, when maybe someone can get around to writing some code, but right now. At this point, Dell is not prepared to do this. Later, when it gets some better support tools, this may change. Your proposal is akin to "Hey guys, let's all be cool to each other. You give us a little warranty and we try to write some code and it will all be groovy." That's not how business works.
        • by swillden (191260) *

          For Dell to hold out a warranty now, as you ask, Dell must have a way to diagnose hardware issues right now. Not later, when maybe someone can get around to writing some code, but right now. At this point, Dell is not prepared to do this.

          Obviously.

          However, the GPs point still holds. Dell doesn't yet understand the community process. If they did, they would be asking the community to provide the needed software, or, even better, assigning an engineer part time to build it, with an open development model and accepting contributions from interested developers around the world.

          Then, as the necessary software support was in place for remote diagnostics, Dell could begin offering hardware support. I'm optimistic that Dell will get there,

          • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

            by d3am0n (664505) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#19398249)
            Dells already got a full deck of diagnostics for the hardware. The problem is when someone calls in with the equivelant of a windows blue screen, the hardware all checks out, but something is wrong. In this case on a windows machine I'd go ahead and help the customer out with a windows issue until it was fixed. I love ubuntu linux to death but I'm not trained on it and I'd be scrounging around like a noob trying to help people. It's going to take alil while to get all us agents off the phones and trained in a new OS. I'm planning on signing up for the training and moving over to XPS to support the ubuntu machines but it takes time. Everyone that's going to support linux is working on the phones right now, they have to plan for us to take time off the phones while balancing out the call volumes and then go through the growing pains as we start supporting the OS and make lil gaffs etc here and there. Hardware warranty support doesn't mean that we can point blank tell the customers software isn't supported and hang up on them, that'd be bad buisness and a bad customer experience and we're all highly trained that customer satisfaction is what counts above all else at the end of the day.
      • Dell, if you tell us the checks you want to have made, we will write the software for you.

        I highly doubt you or any FOSS community member will be willing to do this (for free) especially when very few has even bought the machines. The Dell Resource CD that comes with every Dell clearly shows what checks are being done. They have been shipping that CD for years with Windows.
    • by kebes (861706)
      If that's the real reason, then does the normal CompleteCare include a clause like "This insurance is only valid if you do not change the Operating System on the computer?" Does it have a clause like "This insurance is only valid if you have Windows installed, and running properly, on the computer?"

      I doubt it does. In fact, TFA claims that someone had a Dell computer with Gentoo installed, and used CompleteCare to get hardware fixed. So why the discrimination when you buy a computer preloaded with Ubuntu?

      Mo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vicegrip (82853)
      I expect there's a number of issues the Dell organization has to resolve.

      Example:
      After working for two years, my sound card on my XPS decided to stop working. Hardware problem or software problem?

      Answer:
      The Dell organization has an extensive structure for dealing with such quandaries. In my case it was simple Windows atrophy. Reinstalling the drivers solved the problem. With the speed with which Linux evolves, I suspect Dell is simply worried they won't be able to keep up with the pace of software changes.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Stewie241 (1035724)
        Well... since they ship Ubuntu... why not just ship it with a LiveCD that covers most of the bases. This way, if people have trouble, all they have to do is boot into the live cd and check if everything works.

        Only thing left to test would be the hard drive, which I'm sure there is stuff available to do.

        Ian
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zuato (1024033)
      Dell used to ship diagnostic bootable CD's for hardware checks. They still offer the iso for download from their support site too, so this is a very poor excuse for not supporting the hardware with the Ubuntu OS. So Dell DOES offer a bootable CD to diagnose the hardware that is OS independent.
    • by ajanp (1083247)
      Well this seems partly at odds with what they just claimed only a few days ago http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/01/18532 2 4 [slashdot.org].

      In response, it has overhauled its management team and focused on improving technical support for customers

      I guess their claims for improving technical support for its customers is limited to Windows machines only. With the job cuts being done to save money (and keep them profitable after facing increased competition from HP and others), I guess they decided that expanding support to computers with Ubuntu installed isn't worth the time and effort (hiring personnel, training, etc).

    • by jimicus (737525)
      Perhaps someone with a stronger grasp of the theory will confirm this, but I would think any reliable form of self-diagnosis is a problem which cannot be solved with a Turing machine.

      In other words, it's physically impossible to produce 100% accurate diagnostics purely in software.
    • by MoxFulder (159829)
      Right.

      I'm gonna hafta say... give Dell a break for now. It's pretty cool that they've gone from the idea of offering Linux pre-installed to actually shipping it in just a couple of months. There are undoubtedly gonna be a few support issues to resolve. Let's see if this gets noticed and fixed before declaring that Dell has "squandered" all the goodwill that their innovative policy has created.

      (Speaking as a guy who just bought his first Dell, and is very happy with it. I bought a Vista system, since I w
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd142 (129673)
      Sorry, but the Dell diagnostics can be run from a boot floppy/usb/cdrom. No need to run them in the installed os.

      Plus complete care shouldn't care. If the problem is that you can't run the diagnostics, run it over with your car. That's covered under complete care and they shouldn't expect you to be able to run diagnostics. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by _KiTA_ (241027)
      Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

      That's easy.

      "Ok Ma'am, what I'd like you to do is type this exactly how I say it, ok? Since we're in the command line, we can't use the mouse, we have to type right on into the screen where the cursor lays.

      What we're going to do is we're going to type in a command that will display all the error messages that have come up since the most recent time you turned on your computer. The Debug Messages file holds all
  • Is there some diagnostic software that Dell uses that doesn't run on Ubuntu? If the magic blue smoke gets out of the CPU, that's easy to diagnose, but perhaps they're concerned about supporting more subtle hardware issues without diagnostic tools?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by i.r.id10t (595143)
      Dunno about the "home user" machines - Dimensions and Inspirons - but the Optiplex and Lattitude series all have a Dell Utility partition that loads Dr Dos (or similar) adn runs diagnostics from that... they should be able to have the same partition setup in *nix...
  • by bdr529 (1063398) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:44AM (#19396469)

    Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile?


    No, but it makes for a nice headline, eh? I think it more likely they believe their users will mis-identify software issues as hardware issues and request replacement hardware. Further, it would also cost them extra to have personell on hand (familiar enough with the OS) to help RESOLVE hardware issues. Either way, it costs them more.

    It's not entirely unreasonable to charge more for a warranty coverage. It *IS* odd not to provide coverage at all, though.

    But not because Dell denies that "The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other". That's just frustrated customer venting...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nametaken (610866)
      Absolutely, and I worry that making a stink like this might actually scare other PC vendors out of offering linux desktops. Don't get me wrong, a person should be entitled to whatever they paid for, but this territory is largely uncharted. It might benefit everyone to be careful with how they handle things.
    • Dell = service (Score:3, Insightful)

      by simong (32944)
      The rejoicing behind Dell's decision to provide machines preloaded with Ubuntu was the assumption that they will also provide software *and* hardware support. It doesn't matter whether everyone who buys a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on is a Linux power user or not, the point of buying Dell is that there's someone on the line if something goes wrong. These machines should have certified to work with Ubuntu, and the support people should be able to resolve common problems, whether hardware or software. What makes
    • Hardware issues..?

      How the hell can you have hardware issues when you make the PCs and put the OS on them yourself? Just add the support for your hardware to Ubuntu/the Linux kernel and ta dar, no more problems.

      I mean Jesus.. how hard is it to only support hardware you know works?
    • No, but it makes for a nice headline, eh? I think it more likely they believe their users will mis-identify software issues as hardware issues and request replacement hardware. Further, it would also cost them extra to have personell on hand (familiar enough with the OS) to help RESOLVE hardware issues. Either way, it costs them more.

      Just a thought, but is this an area that might be keeping Linus back in the consumer market? What has Lindows done about this sort of thing?

  • The Masons! (Score:3, Funny)

    by richdun (672214) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:49AM (#19396547)

    I am looking for protection from bricks.

    In that case, you should buy double protection for Windows machines. I've seen Windows brick far more machines than Linux.

    Of course, we all know who is really behind this aversion to protection from bricks.

    *cue Simpsons-style song and dance*

    • In that case, you should buy double protection for Windows machines. I've seen Windows brick far more machines than Linux.

      i am interested in linux, but i am looking for protection from people throwing chairs. any ideas? xandros maybe?

  • No Techs (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaveWick79 (939388) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:50AM (#19396565)
    The real issue is that Dell doesn't have any techs trained in Linux, and if you sent out a Tech with the average knowledge that the Windows techs have, the end user would probably be more knowledgable than the tech.
    They really have no way to solve software issues, which makes it extremely difficult to determine whether an issue is a hardware or a software problem. So rather than retrain or recruit thousands of onsite techs, and pour millions of dollars into creating new Linux checklists for India, they would just assume offer only limited support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krazdon (1092849)
      This is very likely the real reason why Dell is offering less support for linux than windows. That is, it costs them more. There are several possible reasons to this: 1) There are fewer people trained to troubleshoot linux than there are for windows, so they can demand more money. 2) If the mass consumers this product, they will on average know how to do less with linux than with windows and may need to call support more often. Of course, the true linux geeks would never call Dell for help... For both 1 a
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      that's because most dell techs are NOT dell techs but some lacky from a local IT service company that is a dell partner.

      I have found that lots of Dell techs are only slightly more competent than "geek squad" level of techs. This changes when you go for server support. they actually fly out someone that knows what they are doing for those.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      which makes it extremely difficult to determine whether an issue is a hardware or a software problem.

      I'm sorry, I'm going to have to interrupt you there and shout BOLLOCKS very loudly.

      Solution: Bootable CD with diagnostic tools.

      There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
  • by eln (21727) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:50AM (#19396567) Homepage
    Either:

    1.) Dell does not have the tools or expertise in house to do this yet, but will in the future. So, they got pressured into releasing their Linux PCs before they were ready to support them. Incompetence maybe, but not malice.

    2.) Dell simply put out Linux PCs to shut the geek crowd up and get them to buy Dells. However, they don't really want to support Linux, so they designed the program to fail. This way, when they cancel this offering in a year or two due to poor sales, they can say they tried, but Linux on the desktop just doesn't work.

    I want to believe it's reason 1, but the added fact that Dell doesn't seem to be advertising this thing at all, and the fact that you actually have to jump through some hoops on the website to even see that the option is available, makes me think that reason 2 isn't entirely impossible either.
    • by RiffRafff (234408)
      2.) Dell simply put out Linux PCs to shut the geek crowd up and get them to buy Dells. However, they don't really want to support Linux, so they designed the program to fail. This way, when they cancel this offering in a year or two due to poor sales, they can say they tried, but Linux on the desktop just doesn't work.

      I suspect this is exactly what is happening. Likely some other OEM operating system manufacturer has viewed Linux as a threat to their monopoly, and has exerted some pressure on Dell to shut
    • by Dan Ost (415913)
      They don't really need to advertise...the people who are interested in this sort of thing already know about through such channels as slashdot, digg, heck, i read about it on google news.

      Dell has no illusions about selling Linux installed machines to regular users.
    • by div_2n (525075) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:05PM (#19398041)
      In a recent chat with a rep, I was given this phone number:

      866-622-1947

      When I called it, the person that answered said they were the Dell Linux tech support group. So I think they DO have people in house to support Linux.
  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:50AM (#19396573) Homepage
    they are assuming that linux users might be more likely than most buyers to open up the box, swap cards, add drives/RAM, etc. In the process potentially exposing the machines to "user induced failures" from ESD, dropped screws, damaged parts, etc.

    • The guy was buying a laptop. From experience trying to repair units in the past, there's little in the way of
      things to swap out on one of these things. Some of the higher-end laptops might have interchangeable GPU cards
      but typically, only the CPU (which is NOT recommended for the average user on a laptop- lots of screws and you
      have to tear the silly thing totally apart in most cases...), the RAM (which is user serviceable anyhow...), the
      HD (ditto...), and the CD or DVD drive (which is often user serviceab
    • by supersnail (106701) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:02AM (#19396847)
      Last time I had a problem with my Uninspiron the Dell techie instructed me to open up the
      front remove a few parts and reseat the screen conection.
      When I expressed surprise he said this was Dells standard troubleshhooting procedure.
       
      • I walked an 80-something old grandmother through a motherboard replacement on an old Dimension back when I worked for Dell and it's one of my most pleasant and rewarding memories of being a tech. I use that story to this day in job interviews. My motto was that I'd do ANYTHING so they didn't have to send something.
    • There's far more people running Windows than Linux, and while it's conceivable that a higher percentage of Linux users will tinker, the sheer numbers of Windows users dwarfs that.

      Besides, one could argue that Linux users are more likely to understand ESD and the like, and take proper precautions than some of the unwashed masses of Windows users.
  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:52AM (#19396601)
    Dell asks us what we want. We tell them. They do it. Now we complain.

    Admittedly, there are issues with not having any hardware warranty, but do we need to get so incendiary against someone who is trying to work with us?
    • by the_rajah (749499) * on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:01AM (#19396819) Homepage
      But in this case, probably rightly so. When I bought my E520N on opening day, it said I had a warranty, so I'd expect them to honor it.
    • No, we're not... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997)
      Not providing a hardware warranty that's purchasable otherwise, just because a specific OS is installed
      is most decidedly **NOT** working with us, thank you, very much.

      I could have bought the same laptop he was buying but with Vista instead and burned the install down and been offered the option to buy
      the hardware warranty- and it wouldn't have voided it upon my act. It's someone's bright idea over there at Dell because they probably
      don't have the same testing/burn-in line for the Ubuntu laptops so th
      • So if you buy their Vista laptop and burn the OS and run DOS on it and run into a hardware problem, how is Dell supposed to troubleshoot? Say you have a problem with the network card or CD rom drive, making installing diagnostic software difficult?

        I'm not saying Dell is coming up roses here, but at least give them some time to work out the kinks in their systems.

        People that pre-ordered Dells with Ubuntu are early adopters. And like all early adopters, they are going to hit the snags in the system.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          and run into a hardware problem, how is Dell supposed to troubleshoot?

          By telling you to reboot and hold down ctrl-alt-foo until the machine beeps and boots their troubleshooting utility from their hidden partition. If you wiped out the hidden partition, they'll tell you to restore it from the CD, or better yet, you'd have gotten a bootable CD [dell.com] with it that had the utilities on it.

          It's one thing to tell you that if you made any changes you have voided your warranty, it's another not to give you a warranty i
    • by foxtrot (14140) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:15AM (#19397023)
      Admittedly, there are issues with not having any hardware warranty, but do we need to get so incendiary against someone who is trying to work with us?

      Especially when, this being Slashdot, everything gets overblown.

      These machines come with a hardware warranty.

      They don't come with the ability to purchase an extended warranty.

      Now, this makes some sense. Loading Dells with Linux is a trial thing. This is not something they want to figure out how to support long-term yet; if this doesn't work for them, having four and five year service contracts out there they have to cover is going to make this a very expensive prospect. They're willing to make sure they have Linux expertise around to support these things for their base warranty time, whether or not it turns out they can make a buck selling Linux systems long-term. But it makes sense that they wouldn't want to keep Linux geeks around (which, let's face it, cost more than Windows monkeys) long term if they can't sell these things long-term.

    • by jmorris42 (1458) *
      > Admittedly, there are issues with not having any hardware warranty, but do we need to get so incendiary...

      Yes. It isn't about the specific details, it is the attitude. They aren't treating Linux users like customers expect to be treated.

      Some extra hoops because their support org isn't up to speed is understandable, especially if they are nice about it and explain what is going on. But refusing coverage without a drastic price cut (after sales support is a BIG chunk of the sticker price) just doesn't
    • Ok, I don't need software support. I've been running Linux since '99 or so and I admin it professionally. What I do want is to be able to get hardware support should bits of my laptop break. The Dell situation seems to offer no benefits over my (unsupported) Compaq laptop, and frankly I prefer Compaq hardware. It's not exactly a compelling reason for me to buy a Dell.
  • But almost EVERY computer component I've seen carries at least a 1 year warrantee. If they use Seagate drives (not sure) they have a 5 year warantee. So it's not like they're completely out in the cold. But agree it is more of a nuisance to ship 10 diff pieces to 10 diff people than just sending the puter back to Dell.
    • by jdunn14 (455930)
      Actually, you may be left out in the cold. Dell tends to use some fairly low-grade components to keep costs down. Personally, I wouldn't buy a Dell without the hardware warranty, although with their 1 day support, I've been quite happy with my laptop and business desktops.
  • FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by packetmon (977047) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:55AM (#19396667) Homepage
    This reminds me of an issue I recently had with my ISP... Packet loss @ 12% so I call the provider...

    Cust svce. Can you reboot, etc., etc., etc.
    Me... Sure why not... yadda yadda
    Cust svce. Can you click on the start menu
    Me No. I don't use Windows
    Cust svce. Please hold...
    Cust svce. Are you using OSX?
    Me No. I use Solaris (Sun Desktop [infiltrated.net] on a Dull unInspiron 6000)
    Cust svce. Please hold...
    Cust svce. (supervisor gets on now) Can you please click on the start menu...
    Me No. I told the other person I use Solaris...
    Cust svce. Well we don't support Solaris!

    Solaris nor OSX nor Windows nor BSD had anything to do with their cruddy connectivity. The actual conversation took a little longer than that with more e-stupidity from their customer service and I had to pretty much deal with it to a degree... My options? 1) Find a provider who would support/understand basic networking, etc. 2) Deal with it...

    This is what happened summarily, so I can see why dull would become filled with uber non Windows FUD. Imagine having to explain to Alibaba ... Sorry I meant Charlie in India that his MCSE studies are worthless and they now need to retrain him in Linux... Man that would earn developers a whopping .10 (US) more thus offsetting dull's stock prices a whopping .001 per share. Not in Dull's best interest.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drrck (959788)
      What you want to do in that case is to pretend like you are doing what they are asking. I've done it at work with Dell before many times. I know what a dead hard drive acts like, and a reboot is not going to fix it.

      If you've already know what the problem is you should have an easy time fabricating the results of whatever inane tasks they are required to ask you to perform.
      • by otacon (445694)
        Exactly, I've always just made up my results as if I was on a windows machine, or run the UNIX equivilent to whatever they are having me do. If you just say "I use Solaris", You may think they are thinking "Well this guy obviously knows what he is doing", Usually it's the exact opposite. As stupid as that sounds.
    • Your sarcastic post kinda catches on why I never subscribed to the "certified" career path. Sure you can drop 10 large on a MCSE, but what happens when another OS becomes what your employer wants? Same with Novell, Redhat and other cert courses.

      I'd rather just not be incompetent and fend for myself than brandish meaningless credentials...

      Tom
    • To be fair, there's a limit to what regular customer support can do in any country: they probably follow scripts (there's an ISP support system that works in exactly that way - I can't remember the name but a lot of ISPs use it) and won't do anything off the track. However, once upon a time there was such a thing as second line support, who would be able to analyse your packet loss problems (to an extent - obviously if it was on the inside of your router it would either be your problem or best endeavours, a
      • by pnuema (523776)
        AT&T still has the second line support. You just have to know how to get to it. Here is a conversation I had with them recently:

        Me: I need the IP addresses of your DNS servers.

        Tier 1: You have a dynamic IP address, it will change every time.

        Me: I understand that. I am not insterested in my IP address. I need the IP addresses of your DNS servers.

        Tier 1: Sir, when your modem connects to us, it automatically grants you an IP address.

        (repeat for a few minutes)

        Me: Ma'am, I'm an IT professional. If you

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Actually you need to learn how to lie to tech support.

      All they are going to do is ask you to tell them the ifconfig/ route and possibly ping times. you can do all that from solaris, simply make them feel good by lying.

      I had to do it all the time with comcast, or I would get the "Our service does not work with linux or solaris."

      you have to remember that the tech support people really know nothing at all. they are reading a script and comparing your answers to the on screen multiple choice. if you deviate fr
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nimey (114278)
      So? J. Random CS rep won't be trained on Solaris, because almost nobody uses it and training is expensive. The fault is yours for not translating what they wanted you to do into equivalent Solaris commands.

      They're obviously going to want information like the output of a ping, or your IP address, or your MAC address. If you're too clueless[1] to figure out how to get that information to them, you shouldn't be blaming them.

      [1] From your post, it sounds more like you're an arrogant ass.
  • Some people are contending that the lack of warranty is due to the lack of Ubuntu tools Dell is willing or able to use, however there could be an even bigger motivation behind their choice. Most hardware is sold at or near cost these days with the majority of the profit being due to add-ons and software. Because the Ubuntu boxes generally have far fewer add-ons there is less purchasing power so I can understand Dell wanting to do less in general. One must realize it would require a lot more training and pro
  • There's few Linux support specialists compared to Windows. Hiring enough Linux support staff for a relatively low price will be hard.

    Linux and Unix professionals often earn more.
  • by nmapper (1110717)
    Why doesn't dell just put a bootable diagnostic utility in a small partition on the disk? Seems like a no brainer :)
    • They actually include the rudimentary hardware diagnostic tool in the BIOS, and then when finished it prompts you to run the complete diagnostic tool from a CD.

      They do not provide images of these CDs, you get one when your system arrives, and if you ever lose it Dell charges you for another one if you ever really need it.

      (Incidentally, I've been running Linux on my Dell laptop for several years, and I've had problems sometimes getting them to ship the correct replacement part, but never on the part of anyon
  • by Jimmy King (828214) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:00AM (#19396787) Homepage Journal
    This wouldn't be the first time we've seen a phone rep make an incorrect statement about hardware support/warranty when Linux is installed [slashdot.org].

    For those not going to read the attached article (or who didn't the first time around), in the end the phone rep was mistaken and misunderstood the policy and HP handled the hardware repair under warranty.
  • Having no hardware warranty is different from having no hardware support.

    I would understand completely if Dell did not have staff trained to diagnose hardware failures on Linux. That is support. But if my keyboard doesn't work, and another keyboard does, Dell should accept an RMA on the keyboard. That's a warranty. I picked that example because it is easy, but it applies to anything. If I determine the hard drive is bad, or I take it to a store and they conclude that, then Dell should allow me to RMA t
  • by DoctorDyna (828525) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:06AM (#19396907)
    I look at it like this. Dell released machines loaded with Linux, much to the hurray of most of us. However, thinking from a corporate view, which seems to be shared with most large companies, you are missing one important thing:


    4.) The search for the guilty.


    See, in a corporate world, Windows servers and Windows workstations are used for one simple reason. When something goes wrong, they know who to take to court. They know who to blame. They know who to call on the phone at 3 AM and work all night trying to solve a critical server process that likes to eat memory or crash.


    Now, seeing as how applications exist that can modify hardware (read: brick it) then something tells me that Dell isn't going to warantee a mainboard when they can't call up and say "Hey, that patch you released bricked our onboard sound chip / video / lan / cdrom firmware."


    For those of you interested, the 6 stages of every project are as follows:

    1.) Enthusiasm.

    2.) Disillusionment.

    3.) Panic.

    4.) The Search For The Guilty.

    5.) The Punishment of the Innocent.

    6.) Accolades for the Non-Participants.

    • See, in a corporate world, Windows servers and Windows workstations are used for one simple reason. When something goes wrong, they know who to take to court.

      How are you going to take anyone to court after you agreed to an EULA that absolves them of responsibility?
    • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:03PM (#19401389) Homepage Journal

      See, in a corporate world, Windows servers and Windows workstations are used for one simple reason. When something goes wrong, they know who to take to court. They know who to blame. They know who to call on the phone at 3 AM and work all night trying to solve a critical server process that likes to eat memory or crash.

      If they "know" all that, they're delusional. Can you point out a single case where someone has successfully sued Microsoft because something went wrong? Having someone to call at 3 AM who can and will help you troubleshoot your problems is a good reason, but you don't get it just by buying commercial software, you have to buy a very expensive support contract, something you can just as easily do for Linux software as for Windows software.

      This is an old, old argument in favor of closed-source software, but it doesn't hold any water, and never has.

  • Facts? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dugmartsch (125676)
    Dell is still honoring whatever warranty you bought. They stopped offereing EXTENDED warranties including Complete Care. So what? They probably removed it due to lack of demand. Geeks don't pay for warranties anyway, do they? Why train and staff an Ubuntu tech support queue for the three people who bought an extended ubuntu warranty? Not exactly a sound financial decision. Man this is people getting really worked up for a one liner on idea storm. Wow.

       
  • According to papers the Attorney General filed in court, Dell deprived consumers of the technical support to which they were entitled under their warranty or service contract by:

    • repeatedly failing to provide timely onsite repair to consumers who purchased service contracts promising "onsite" and expedited service;
    • pressuring consumers, including those who purchased service contracts promising "onsite" repair, to remove the external cover of their computer and remove, reinstall, and manipulate hardware components;
    • discouraging consumers from seeking technical support; those who called Dell's toll free number were subjected to long wait times, repeated transfers, and frequent disconnections;
    • using defective "refurbished" parts or computers to repair or replace consumers' equipment.

    source [state.ny.us]

    Two obvious observations [assuming the lawsuit's accurate]:

    1. Damn, now there's a loss.
    2. They rely on abusing users with limited tech knowledge and limited knowledge of their rights. This isn't exactly a group Linux users famously fall in to.
  • that someone buying a dell with linux has much more chance of spilling coffee on the hard-drive than a regular folk

    I think it also has to do with their call support system. Once I broke my laptop screen, it was really broken with pixels leaking everywhere... yet, when I called they made me jump through a lot of hoops to make sure I didn't mess my windows settings... I played along pretending to click. Halas, I guess the procedure makes sense for most of the callers.
  • Sure, we'll let you run Linux, but it's as-is and there's no warranty. If you want support you need to buy Redmond's code. Sorry. Go pimp your ride somewhere else.
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:40PM (#19399935)
    1. Lack of diagnostics. Train your support crew to use two different sets of diag tools costs money.
    2. Yes, linux drivers can crash hardware. I crashed my nikon film scanner using a beta SANE driver. Read the warning; chose to ignore it, drove the scan head off the end of the screw. $2000 broken toy. This was a few years ago, so may not be true anymore.
    3. Dell would prefer to be seen as more friendly towards windows. If they say, in effect, "We support PCs with windows. We'll sell you a PC and even preload a GNU distro, but that's strictly your responsibility", they're keeping a major supplier happy.

    Hey, they're good *business* reasons.
    They may not coincide with your personal ideology, but why should they?
  • by JBatDell (1111903) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:49PM (#19403051)
    Due to an ordering system glitch during the weekend, we inadvertently removed extended warranty and CompleteCare options from our Website. We're working to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible and those options will be reinstated this afternoon. If customers ordered systems when extended warranties weren't available, they will have the option of upgrading at the original price. There will be more details on that program soon. For more details visit http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2007/06/05/ 17450.aspx [direct2dell.com]

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