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Linux Business

Best Buy Is Selling Ubuntu 656

Posted by kdawson
from the but-wait-you-also-get dept.
SirLurksAlot writes "It appears that Best Buy is now selling Ubuntu, both through its Web site and in its brick-and-mortar locations. Going by the release on the product page, Ubuntu has actually been available for the low, low price of $19.99 since May 6th of this year. It is being packaged as the 'Complete Edition.' While they don't specify on the site what version is being offered, a quick call to a local store revealed it to be Hardy Heron, the latest Long Term Support version. How did this development fly under the radar for over two months without anybody noticing?"
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Best Buy Is Selling Ubuntu

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  • by Swizec (978239) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:05AM (#24114795) Homepage
    because verily nobody is stupid enough to buy something they can download legally! Right? Right!? I mean come on, people don't even buy stuff they can download illegally anymore ...
    • by Viflux (1173577) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:09AM (#24114839)

      because verily nobody is stupid enough to buy something they can download legally! Right? Right!? I mean come on, people don't even buy stuff they can download illegally anymore ...

      True, except things like this have a habit of gaining legitimacy in the "mainstream" when you're allowed to pay for them. Unfortunately, $20 isn't enough. People will think it's a 2nd rate product since the cost is so much lower than Windows.

      • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:37AM (#24115161) Homepage Journal

        Yes, i know a lot of fairly competent people that have been effected by the marketing strategy of the BSA and RIAA.They now think that anything free is somehow illegal or filled with viruses. For many the entire concept of giving away ones work is completely foreign to them.

        Its also nice to have a nice shiny permanent CD ROM instead of a less then permanent CDR.

        This also helps people that would not have a clue how to download and burn something.

        Does any support come with this?

        • by LVSlushdat (854194) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:48AM (#24115339)

          Given this hypothetical person who has no clue on how to download and burn something... Do you really think he's magically gonna have a clue on how to install Ubuntu?????

          • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:22AM (#24115923) Homepage Journal

            Sure. Insert disk and reboot. Guess on Answering questions and click buttons..

            Or just insert disk and boot.. No install. No questions.

            Get stuck.. call for support.

          • by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:56AM (#24116533)

            Ok, I'm not an MS basher, I use both Linux and Windows and have nice legal copy of Windows for all my computers at home - two XP Pro for me (laptop and desktop), and XP home for the wife and two kids... 5 total. I built all my computers and installed the OSs on them...

            Ubuntu is NO harder, and easier in fact, to install on my laptop and desktop than Windows is. No drivers to install (they're all "magically" on the Ubuntu disc). Adding/removing programs is as easy as... selecting Add/Remove from the main menu, just like Windows.... only there's a whole lot more there.

            So, I don't know where you've been, but Linux installation has come a long way.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by z_gringo (452163)
            I have a friend with a pet monkey who seems to be able to install Ubuntu.
          • by mysticgoat (582871) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:57AM (#24117809) Homepage Journal

            You speak of the wrong demographic.

            User story: Alice has been trying to get Bob, her department head, interested in developing curricula with FOSS tools. Because she knows her students cannot afford to buy the products that Microsoft gives to her school for essentially no cost. A Best Buy copy of Ubuntu fits her strategy since it is professionally packaged by a big box store. She is deliberately buying the packaging, knowing that the contents are free. She will use it as a prop at meetings that discuss FOSS adoption.

            User story: Chris wants his parents to move on from the Windows 98 machine his father bought the year that he retired. He has built up a good looking, plain vanilla DFI white box system that runs Ubuntu, to give them on their 45th anniversary. He buys an Ubuntu disk from Best Buy to add to the package since he knows his parents will be worried if they don't have the ever-important "back up disks" for their new computer. He could burn a copy himself, of course, but he'd rather spend $20 than take the time to compose and print a good looking disk label.

            User story: well, you get the idea. Sometimes the packaging alone is worth the cost of the item.

            Plus, with this move Best Buy has just managed to penetrate a market segment that is otherwise totally oblivious to its existence. Whether by design or by serendipity, Best Buy has just gotten its name out in front of all the geeks who read Slashdot. Good move, Best Buy! I know I will be popping into one of your stores the next time an opportunity to do so comes along, just to see what you are all about.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          True, though at one point I paid for a copy of Mandrake in a store. At the time CD burners were just starting to be available (I think I paid 400 for a 4X) so it was a pain to find someone with the means to copy it for you. Kind of hard to download an OS from a computer without an OS :)

          I seem to recall it came with Open Office and a decent hardcopy manual to help you install. Roughly $30 not bad (though turned out not to be my favorite distro).

        • Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tknd (979052) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:16AM (#24118157)

          Yes, i know a lot of fairly competent people that have been effected by the marketing strategy of the BSA and RIAA.They now think that anything free is somehow illegal or filled with viruses. For many the entire concept of giving away ones work is completely foreign to them.

          I believe one of the failures of opensource or free software in general is the fact that programmer nerds completely ignore the fact that marketing is necessary. You can still pull off a successful marketing campaign with effectively zero dollars. This is what non-profits that operate on donations do to stay in operation. Similar concepts can be applied to free software, but everyone likes to think of marketing as an evil corporate-only tool. It is a tool available to everyone and even an individual with zero budget can still have an effective marketing strategy.

          For the people that still don't get it that means if you want this year to be the year of the linux desktop, you need to understand a few things. One of those things is that the target market for the "linux desktop" are computer users of all ages who don't care about free software principles or even much about software cost. In fact there are tons of ways in which this target market differs. They may not even use 99% of the internet except email, yahoo, and youtube. They may be slow learners. But as you zero on in a more specific target market that is smaller, you will find more effective strategies at marketing towards that group. If you go broad and target everyone, you may have very few effective strategies because a larger group has fewer common traits to zero in on.

          I honestly think linux is a better alternative for businesses rather than a home desktop user. Think about it: if a business switches to a linux desktop the business will finance the training involved in getting users trained as well as distributing (installing) the system for each employee. With a home user you have to do both of those things for them. Therefore an easier way to get awareness is to slip in from the business-use side (don't forget businesses like to pay $ for support) and once a significant number of fortune 500 companies are using linux as a desktop and successfully showing some benefits, you will get your tipping point. Other businesses will likely copy the successful linux deployment. More workers will get trained. More people will get hands on experience with a "linux desktop". That translates into more people ripe and ready to use linux at home.

          Finally free software nerds and companies that want to sell support contracts but keep the software free are doing an amazingly bad job of it. Here's what they do: "we give you the free software and we'll charge you support annually!" So in the consumer's mind they are paying for support for a product that they are getting for free. Meanwhile look at cell phone service providers: "we give you this phone worth $300 for free if you sign a 2 year contract!" In the consumer's mind now they're getting a discount on a product up front and all they have to do is stick with the plan for 2 years. They're still giving the product for free but they're selling millions of service contracts! Markup or put a (fake) value on the software in terms of dollars and rephrase the "selling" line. In fact stop calling your software "free" software because most people don't understand what your definition of "free" means (nor do they care). Call it "open" software but don't define open. Come up with a fancy chart and pricing scheme comparing the up-front cost of vista to the annual support cost of "open software". So for example if you want to charge $20 annually per an individual home user, and vista premium costs $120 retail. You say "If you switch today, for $120, you can buy 6 years of support with open software and at the end of that we'll give you the next version of the OS (worth $100) for free!"

      • by ProppaT (557551) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:40AM (#24115201) Homepage

        I agree 100%. What needs to happen, IMO, if Ubuntu wants to gain any credibility with the mainstream is that a company needs to package it, sell it for a higher price, and include a tech support service line much like MS's. Advertise it as having 2-3 years of technical support but don't make mention that what you're actually paying for is the tech support itself. Seriously, in a business atmosphere you're paying for the tech support more than you're paying for the product.

        Besides, according to all the Linites around here, it's 100x's more stable than Windows, the naming convention of the programs isn't confusing at all, the file system makes perfect sense, and hardware support is a thing of the past. So, this should be money in the bank, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jez9999 (618189)

        In the same way that Walmart customers think all Walmart's products are 2nd rate since the cost is so much lower than elsewhere?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by charliebear (887653)
        What average consumer ever paid for Windows? For the vast majority of people it is preinstalled on a new pc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xgr3gx (1068984)
        The comments people left at on the best buy site are actually pretty good, and many were coming from non-tech people.
        They basically raved about how much they liked Ubuntu, and how you don't need tons of horsepower to run it.
        And nobody said anything stupid like "I couldn't find Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, so I went back to Windows"
        This could be another step for Linux reaching the masses. :)
    • by Christopher_Olah (1317943) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:16AM (#24114923)

      because verily nobody is stupid enough to buy something they can download legally! Right? Right!? I mean come on, people don't even buy stuff they can download illegally anymore ...

      They're not just selling Ubuntu. They're selling Ubuntu with support. The support is what people are paying for.

      • by Madball (1319269) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:29AM (#24115069)

        They're not just selling Ubuntu. They're selling Ubuntu with support. The support is what people are paying for.

        Maybe this is a level, but from all indications this is standard Ubuntu with standard support (i.e. go look it up on the forums).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lucifuge31337 (529072)
        They're selling the LTS edition - meaning it will be supported (by the Ubuntu community) long term. I see nothing that shows Best Buy is selling any kind of support with it. They are celling DVDs/CDs....that's all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Thelasko (1196535)
        Ubuntu may be free, but MP3, CD, WMA, and MPEG playback aren't. The $20 is likely used to appease the "owners" of those formats. This is probably what they mean by "Complete Edition." We have been spoiled by how easy it is to install restricted software in Ubuntu. Some people may care about having all of their software legit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Z-MaxX (712880)

          Ubuntu may be free, but MP3, CD, WMA, and MPEG playback aren't.

          In what way is CD playback not free?

    • by rohan972 (880586) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:19AM (#24114959)
      When I was on dial-up I bought my first copy. About $20 with a book that was very helpful to me.
    • by petecarlson (457202) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:43AM (#24115263) Homepage Journal

      If they were already running Ubuntu or another modern operating system I would agree with you but that's not the case. The target market is people running Win98/Me/Vista. The 98/me folks can't get the piece of crap to burn a CD while the suckers who bought vista can't get networking to work right.

    • "Mommeeeeee! Please buy me Ubuntu! Please, please please?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:07AM (#24114835)

    'Cons: Doesn't come in Ultimate and Premier editions'

    Ha ha.

  • Becase (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:09AM (#24114843)

    Nobody who knows anything about computers shops at Best Buy.

  • Not going to fly... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fprintf (82740) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:09AM (#24114847) Journal

    I used to buy Linux... specifically SuSE 5.x an 6.x editions. I didn't have high speed internet at the time, so it was cheaper to buy the CDs and download any new patches/software via dialup. At the time Linux was both a hobby diversion and the only alternative I could see to putting an OS on my computer since Windows 95/98 was rather expensive to buy.

    While I think BestBuy should be congratulated for putting Ubuntu in stores, even if they are charging $20 for it (wayyyy cheap compared to Windows Vista or XP). I predict it will not go well for them, however, mostly because high speed internet is so widespread and as usual people will buy it and bring it back when they can't run The Sims or whatever Windows game they run.

  • Great news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daryen (1138567) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:09AM (#24114849)
    If you have friends or family with an older PC that aren't very technically skilled, chances are it's a Windows PC and it's infested with malware. More than likely, they have a CD burner but don't know how to use it, or their computer is so slow it won't even burn CDs. Sometimes the PC will be running Windows 98, which is a bit of a security risk these days.

    .
    Why not have them get Ubuntu for $20 at Best Buy? The fact that you can buy it at a brick and mortar store increases it's apparent validity as an operating system, and it has open office and firefox right out of the box, so the functionality they're used to is still there.

    Another point: Why not buy a copy of Ubuntu yourself to drive up support for Linux? If sales analysts see that X number of Ubuntu boxes were sold from Best Buys than it's likely we'll see more and more vendor support for linux coming out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gparent (1242548)
      I don't think buying Ubuntu is supporting Linux at all. It's supporting Best Buy if anything. If I want to support linux by paying I'll just donate on their website.
      • Re:Great news! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RalphSleigh (899929) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:40AM (#24115195) Homepage
        Ubuntu don't need your money, they have millions already. They need someone at best buy to notice demand for it, so best buy continue to put it on shelves, and ask their suppliers for more ubuntu software they can sell you along with the OS. At this stage best buy making $20 on Linux is better than you donating $20 to development.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Guspaz (556486)

      That's great. As long as they don't own a laptop (laptop audio and wireless support is still problematic out-of-the-box), run into any other unsupported software, or need to install anything. Otherwise you'll probably end up setting it up for them.

      I recently switched from Vista to Kubuntu (8.04), and the process was anything but smooth. Getting full audio support working required me to write custom bash scripts to handle volume changes and muting. Wireless is still iffy, as it required ndiswrapper, doesn't

    • The bad news is... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iwein (561027)
      ..we'll still end up giving them free support.
  • Best Buy review (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:11AM (#24114873)

    Customer Rating: 5.0

    Worth every penny and then some 07/08/2008
    By StarReviewer from Moronville, KY Read all my reviews

    Pros: Cheap, includes office software, robust
    Cons: Doesn't come in Ultimate and Premier editions

    "I could go on and on, but Ubuntu Linux is the way to go. I have been using Windows XP for at least 3 years and when Vista was released, I went and upgraded to Vista Ultimate.
    Even though Vista Ultimate has some really good features, I had to purchase Office software separately. Total cost of software: ~$1000.00!
    That is when I said enough is enough I need to look for a new Operating System. A friend of mine pointed me to Best Buy's site and send me a link to Ubuntu. I purchased the OS and also Installation by Geek Squad for only $150.00. Even though I paid $170, I can tell you the included software was worth it. It includes office productivity software similar to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Not only that, updates are free. Which means when they come out with a new version of Ubuntu, I don't have to pay more money - which I gladly will if I had to!
    I would highly recommend this product. My only question is why doesn't it come in different flavors? I would be willing to pay for features like Media Center and stuff like that.
    --Grateful computer user."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Madball (1319269)
      God, I really do wish Ubuntu would come in different flavors! Like cherry, vanilla, and extra-yummy grape.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bugeaterr (836984)

      By StarReviewer from Moronville, KY Read all my reviews

      From Moronville?
      Isn't that just outside of Dumbshitsburg?

  • Value added? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by transporter_ii (986545) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:17AM (#24114929) Homepage

    What I think would be smart is if they added a really good printed manual and/or Ubuntu book with it. I read through the description and couldn't find anything about extra material, but again, I think what they are doing is ok, but for a non-expert, a really nice install guide / intro to Ubuntu would make it look more tempting than say, just downloading an .iso file and burning your own disks.

  • Bottled Water (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jordroth (933827) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:17AM (#24114933) Homepage
    Seeing as how we have been purchasing bottled water (free almost everywhere you go...) for the last decade or so, it shouldn't come as too big a shock......
  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:20AM (#24114983)
    How did this development fly under the radar for over two months without anybody noticing?

    The answer is obvious - real geeks don't shop at Best Buy. We shop at Future Shop. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by debest (471937)

      (for those outside of Canada and didn't get the joke...)

      Future Shop is essentially identical to Best Buy. They sell the same products (audio/video, computers, appliances, music/games), with the same huges floor spaces and the same useless staffs. Same shit, different interior design.

      Future Shop has been around for a couple of decades here, then Best Buy moved in as competition several years ago. Shortly thereafter, Best Buy bought out Future Shop, but didn't merge the operations. In fact, they still "co

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:24AM (#24115021) Journal
    Now if they can start selling computers without the Windows tax, we'd be all set.
    • Now if they can start selling computers without the Windows tax, we'd be all set.

      Many national-brand home PCs come with what amounts to unregistered shareware already installed on the HDD. For example, there might be a Paint Shop Pro trial instead of GIMP, a Norton Antivirus trial instead of ClamWin, etc. There is evidence that such "trialware" subsidizes most if not all of the price of a Windows Home Basic OEM license: see Sony's attempt to charge for "Fresh Start" on its PCs.

  • Hey, I need this! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:31AM (#24115089) Homepage Journal

    This past weekend, I decided to try to rehabilitate an old (1996 BIOS) laptop into an externally facing home web server. Hey, guess what? My hardware doesn't support home-burned CDs! I was just starting to look for a distro available in a pressed CD format. I'm glad to find out I can run down to Best Buy on my way home from work and just pick one up.

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by eclectro (227083) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:33AM (#24115113)

    A linux distro I can pirate.

  • by itamblyn (867415) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:41AM (#24115211) Homepage
    If you have a slow connection or you don't have a burner, you can get a pretty looking CD from Canonical by mail. They don't even charge for shipping. https://shipit.ubuntu.com/ [ubuntu.com]
  • by damburger (981828) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:55AM (#24115439)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_Cola [wikipedia.org] It tastes quite nice, and it isn't made with HFCS like most soft drinks are now. It is a little more expensive though, but its worth it to have my drink match my OS :)
  • oh, gee (Score:4, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:11AM (#24115725)

    How long until people get sued for pirating Ubuntu?

  • Deja vu (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:27AM (#24116023) Homepage Journal

    Waaay back in prehistoric times (mid to late 90s), Comp USA sold Linux in its stores. It had all the main distros (RH, SuSe, Mandrake), and some of the lesser ones (Slackware). After awhile they cut it to the Big 2 (RH, SuSe), and then dropped it completely.

    Frankly, I'm glad to see a B&M store carrying Linux again. It won't make any difference to the /. crowd, but it gives it some extra exposure.

  • by DrugCheese (266151) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:37AM (#24116199)

    Best Buy has been selling Linux distros for close to 10 years. They had SuSE on the shelfs for years and even had DebIan and slackware box/book combos for awhile. Every article talking about this is making it sound like linux is finally making a toehold on the shelf. Maybe this is Ubuntus shelf debut? It is definitely nothing new for linux.

  • by doomicon (5310) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:40AM (#24116257) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of something that happened this very week at work. Local Windows Admin came by my desk and asked me for a copy of Linux, he's never tried it, wants to start learning it and playing around. I give him a copy of my Ubuntu CD and he's off an running.

    He comes to me the next day disappointed. He continues to explain, "This sucks... I installed on my laptop with zero problems. First thing to tackle was an AIM client.. but it was already installed. So then I decided I need VNC for work, but it was already installed to, along with a terminal services client. Finally, I realized I needed a VPN client.. DAMMIT! It was there too! I heard all these stories about tinkering around and getting stuff to work.. I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT! "

    He then asks me if I have another version of "Unix" that is more difficult.

    Linux has come a loooooong way since I was playing with 1.0.xx kernels on Slackware.

  • Compare specs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Temujin_12 (832986) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:12AM (#24118083)
    It's fun to compare specs...

    Ubuntu [bestbuy.com]:
    • PC Processor Speed: 500MHz
    • PC System Memory: 256MB RAM
    • PC Hard Drive Space: 4GB
    • PC Video: 1024 x 768 video card

    Vista Home Premium SP1 [bestbuy.com]:

    • PC Processor Speed: 1GHz
    • PC System Memory: 1GB RAM
    • PC Hard Drive Space: 15GB (40GB total hard drive capacity)
    • PC Video: 128MB graphics memory

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