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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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BeardsmoreA (951706) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:09AM (#24114851) Homepage
    You thought wrong.
  • Re:Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GundamFan (848341) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:17AM (#24114925)

    Non-techies are in general scared of downloading programs from the internet.

    In my experience if software is available in a package with a reasonable price tag people feel better about using it. It may be worth $20 to someone to not have to download and burn the software, the package may also contain information on how to find support.

  • 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 fgaliegue (1137441) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:17AM (#24114935)

    I wouldn't interpret it that way:

    >How did this development fly under the radar for over two months without anybody noticing?

    1. People browsing BestBuy on their Ubuntu-"enhanced" Firefox already have it installed.
    2. Previous (7.x) Ubuntu users have already been offered an upgrade to 8.x already, via the update manager.
    3. Ubuntu users already seem content with what they have and don't see any interest of upgrading, if they haven't done so already, see point 2.
    4. It's not like Ubuntu has launched a mass ad campaign about their product, and told everyone "hey, get it on BestBuy!".
    5. [pure personal intuition] Nowadays, mouth-to-mouth is still the best way to spread Ubuntu, or any Linux distro, and hey, the initial mouths know where to get it, and that won't be Best Buy. And that relates to your comment.

  • 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 russ1337 (938915) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:20AM (#24114977)
    The store version makes a better Christmas present than a downloaded-sharpie version.
  • 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.
  • Re:Great news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gparent (1242548) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:25AM (#24115039)
    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:Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:27AM (#24115057) Homepage Journal

    wtf? I thought you weren't allowed to actually "sell" Ubuntu for money? (Besides, of course, ordering the cd from Ubuntu for like $1)

    Break out the beer folks, this one's gotta be good.

    Absolutely nothing in the GPL states that you couldn't sell it (as long as you include the source code).

    But are they?

  • 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 Maarek (213279) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:39AM (#24115177)

    There are people out there that do not trust the sites and would rather BUY the CD and use that. It's a feeling of ownership and that they've earned the product. It's what's been drilled into their heads over the years that nothing is 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?

  • A curious market (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:42AM (#24115235) Journal

    Let's assume most people in BestBuy that have computers already have Windows. How are they going to use Ubuntu exactly? Last time I checked, most Linux distros can use free space to sit alongside Windows or blitz it completely and sit on top. Most machines don't have any free space....

    This isn't a troll, I'll be real interested how many people accidentally pick the latter option without realising the consequences.
    This should fly with geeks, but if too many joe sixpacks end up bombing their partitions accidentally, it could backfire?

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:43AM (#24115265) Homepage Journal

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

  • by Roy Hobbs (1267752) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:47AM (#24115319)
    Keeping the offering under the radar was to Best Buy's advantage. They most likely used a little effort to keep it quiet. If everyone was aware that they were selling someone you could download for free, or even order a free CD of, there would be no benefit to selling it in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:47AM (#24115325)

    I seriously doubt it comes with technical support (especially phone). Most likely the "Long term support" that is included is just long term updates (which are freely available). They may include X number of web/email tickets or something (X being a very low number), but support is very expensive to run, and they aren't going to provide much of it for $20.

  • 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 You ain't seen me! (1237346) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @08:57AM (#24115479)

    Who buys stuff they don't need?

    Well I guess someone must be buying it or Best Buy woudn't be selling it.
    Being from the UK where I've only heard or Best Buy on /. I presume they are a company whose main interest is making a profit.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:06AM (#24115629)
    Or a silkscreened shipit version and $20.
  • by Gewalt (1200451) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:10AM (#24115699)
    Dude, its been cheaper to buy a whole new printer for the ink cartridge for like 15 years.
  • by howdoesth (1132949) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:20AM (#24115891)
    Doesn't take many sales of something you can get for free to turn a profit, though.
  • by Z-MaxX (712880) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:21AM (#24115907) Journal

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

    In what way is CD playback not free?

  • 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 Oktober Sunset (838224) <sdpage103@[ ]oo.co.uk ['yah' in gap]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:33AM (#24116123)

    What do you people do to your computers?

    Use them.

  • by charliebear (887653) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:35AM (#24116155)
    What average consumer ever paid for Windows? For the vast majority of people it is preinstalled on a new pc.
  • by Finn61 (893421) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:49AM (#24116409) Homepage

    What do you people do to your computers?

    Use them. What do you do with yours?

  • by xgr3gx (1068984) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:58AM (#24116563) Homepage Journal
    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 YetAnotherProgrammer (1075287) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#24116681)
    Packaging cost, labor, taxes? I'm sure a pretty box and instructions are far from cheap, even if the instructions are insert cd, reboot, enjoy. It is not like you are purchasing cd that someone burned the image and wrote on it with a sharpie. So yes it does take a lot to get a return on investment.
  • Re:Becase (Score:3, Insightful)

    by damnbunni (1215350) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:05AM (#24116693) Journal

    And some of us just have no place else to shop if we need to go to an actual store instead of ordering online.

    Since CompUSA closed down, the nearest 'computer store' to me is a four hour drive. Each way.

    (Uphill. In the snow! And we liked it!)

  • by Rub1cnt (1159069) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:14AM (#24116871)
    umm...you do realize we're talking about Best Buy and the Freak Squad...right? This is a company that to this day will sell you a 30.00 US package when you buy an Xbox360 to "check your games for backward compatability". (when all they do is print out a list and download a 2MB iso image, something you can get for FREE from XBL.)
  • 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.

  • 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 EXTomar (78739) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:44AM (#24118619)

    Telling people to "Go download and install Ubuntu" is like telling someone to go dig a well: Its not hard where more or less the explanation is no more complex than "just do it" but it is still dirty and may be dangerous. Although easy for some to figure out how to download and burn the latest and greatest Ubuntu, it isn't so trivial for others. And for neophytes, some of the steps seem "dangerous" because they are fairly unfamiliar to someone who spends most of their time surfing the web.

    Or to think about it another way: Trying to explain to someone the steps on how to download and burn and reboot and all of the pre-install stuff they need to know is a bit much when they can get all of that if I buy them a disk with a manual in a box instead. There is also the odd quirk that people will believe "dead tree print" more than a "web page" even if it is the exact same text.

  • by story645 (1278106) * <story645@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:28PM (#24119349) Journal

    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.

    Then why isn't Alice buying a bulk package of edubuntu from canonical's store? Or getting plain old edubuntu shipped from canonical? It comes in pretty professional packaging, and the web page is really solid from a marketing/presentation standpoint. I get your argument, just really don't think Alice is the right user.

  • by osu-neko (2604) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:46PM (#24119639)

    This reminds me of a friend of mine who always criticizes the prices of things he sees in restaurants. His big thing is how cheap all the materials are in a soda fountain. Setting aside initial cost for the machine and regular maintenance costs (which he always forgets for things), no matter what he's evaluating, he always leaves off the single most important cost: the cost of paying someone else to do all this for you. His cost evaluations always seem to assume the cook and the waitress are working for free. Not to mention the accountant, and apparently he thinks the landlord loans the land to the restaurant for free too. There's also licenses and taxes and probably a dozen other costs I don't even know about. And the business owner isn't apparently entitled to earn a little money, either.

    If you can get these things for free, and are willing to do the work yourself, then fine, do so and don't pay Best Buy to do it for you. Best Buy, OTOH, shouldn't be expected to do it for you for free when it costs them money to do it.

  • Re:Best Buy review (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:47PM (#24119657)

    I have written a shell script to create 'Home' and 'Pro' versions of Ubuntu. It's essentially a list of apt-get commands to add and remove software.

    You must also have the Ubuntu 'popcon' software installed to use my 'Home' edition script.
    This is because it works by finding the apps you use most, and then uninstalls them.

  • by BradMajors (995624) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:32PM (#24121419)

    There are lots of other companies which sell the CD including Canonical itself:

    http://www.amazon.com/Canonical-Ubuntu-8-04-DVD/dp/B0019KKM4O/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=software&qid=1215628185&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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