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Windows vs. Ubuntu — Dell's Verdict 718

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-never-knew-it-was-so-simple dept.
Barence writes "Remember how Dell put up a website declaring Ubuntu was safer than Windows, only to later change its mind? Well, the company has gotten right back into the Windows vs. Ubuntu debate with a highly sophisticated website arguing the pros and cons of each OS. People should choose Windows, argues Dell, if: they are already using Windows, are familiar with Windows, or are new to computers. People should choose Ubuntu if they're interested in open-source programming. Brilliant."
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Windows vs. Ubuntu — Dell's Verdict

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  • by nyctopterus (717502) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:41PM (#32954000) Homepage

    I'm a Mac user, but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend Ubuntu to someone new to using computers. It really is as simple to use as Windows, and repositories are huge win for usability and security.

    • Yeah, I think there are a couple Linux distributions that really are "ready" and will actually provide a better experience for normal stuff (e.g. web browsing, email, word processing). A bunch of free apps, kept up to date through a single updater, all free.

      However, I've still had some problems with hardware support in a couple cases (each Ubuntu release seems to fix some problems and introduce others) and you're still missing some commercial packages that might be vital for a lot of users (e.g. Photoshop

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NNKK (218503)

        However, I've still had some problems with hardware support in a couple cases (each Ubuntu release seems to fix some problems and introduce others)

        At this point, Linux hardware problems are not significantly different from Windows hardware problems (e.g. a fresh install of Linux on any given PC is at least as likely to run fine as Windows, probably more likely since more up-to-date drivers are included), but they're harder to fix when they do occur due to lack of direct manufacturer support.

        In Windows it's usually "go download the driver from the manufacturer's site", in Linux that's less likely to be an option, and if it is, the installation process

      • I agree with you. I would try to find out what someone wanted to do with their computer before recommending anything. But I thing Ubuntu has got killer features for the novice wanting to do internet-centric stuff.

        Novices probably don't need Photoshop, Krita seemed pretty good to me when I played around with it.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:40PM (#32954970) Journal

      If you look at it functionally, the iTunes app store is little more than a repo, and Linux has repos to beat all. I'm so horribly spoiled by tools like yum that I'm personally very remiss to EVER leave what's available at a click...

      Most of good salesmanship in business is in positioning - how you compare your products to others out there can leave a very strong impression as it lets potential users immediately grasp many of the capabilities (and limitations) of your product immediately without them actually having to learn what those capabilities are.

      Now that Apple has everybody understanding what a repo is, we should just rename repos to "App Stores" (or whatever Apple hasn't trademarked) so that people immediately get just how easy and capable it is to use. More so, because Linux' "app stores" are open-ended - anybody can add whatever App Repos they want!

      The only thing I'd (STRONGLY!) suggest is some way to filter out all the libraries and stuff that only developers care about so that end users can avoid getting confused by 7,000 libraries that they wouldn't understand anyway. My thoughts are that packages need to describe themselves as two-stage categories: EG: Libraries, ProgrammingTools, Applications and divide each of these categories further, EG: Libraries/Graphics, Applications/Office, Applications/Games, etc. with a default of "Applications" showing.

      Lastly, building in a SIMPLE payment tool so that applications can be purchased (and licenses tracked) with yum/apt...

      Put all this together, and suddenly Linux has an EXCELLENT commercial alternative to the Apple "App Store".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm a Mac user, but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend Ubuntu to someone new to using computers.

      Do you imply the scenario of a newly bought PC with Linux preinstalled? Because aside from that, recommending Linux to someone runs a fairly significant risk of them finding out that some piece of hardware is not supported, or supported poorly (usually it's either WiFi or sound, though more recent kernels have caused some havoc with wired networking).

      This can be accounted for by checking hardware compatibility lists, of course, but then you have to forget about buying Best Buy junk, and willing to spend tim

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@NOSpam.smokingcube.be> on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:41PM (#32954004) Homepage

    If you don't change your mind we'll stop providing you with cheap licenses and Gold Partner status and cut off your MSDN subscription. I worked for a couple of Gold Partners and it's the same everywhere, Microsoft uses it's monopoly status and high prices to force people into compliance.

    Ubuntu is good enough for most people especially when pre-installed on a computer. Unless you're just plain stupid you will be able to work with it and do whatever you need to do. Sadly Windows is so ingrained in users that are resistant to change that it's hard to change platforms for a lot of people.

    • by Kepesk (1093871) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:01PM (#32954324) Homepage
      Agreed. And I'm amused by the fact that Dell's #1 reason people would want to use Ubuntu is that they do not plan to use Windows. Really informative guys. Great job. If they were really interested in marketing Ubuntu, they might have displayed at least one actual reason they might want to get it that didn't involve terms like 'open-source programming' which most people don't understand.
    • Puffing smoke (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)

      If you don't change your mind we'll stop providing you with cheap licenses and Gold Partner status and cut off your MSDN subscription

      Talk like this wastes time.

      Walmart carried the flag for OEM Linux in big box retail for the better part of a decade.

      It could not solve the problem of marketing Linux to the masses. It could not consistently undercut OEM Windows on price - and in the end it could not justify maintaining a dual inventory and support structure for a product line whose sales barely showed a pulse

  • if (os!=windows)

    os=ubuntu;

    • by Jailbrekr (73837)

      #!/bin/sh
      os=`uname`
      if [ "$os" = "Linux ]; then
          echo "Use Linux"
      else
          echo "Use cygwin"
      fi

  • by philipborlin (629841) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:42PM (#32954024) Journal
    I love the way the Windows screen shot shows the control panel as if Windows' strong point is configurability. Contrast that with the Ubuntu screen shot which shows installed games as if Ubuntu's strength is its games.
  • by danieltdp (1287734) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:45PM (#32954054)

    Really. It hurts Linux when people log in and ask for MS Word. It is important to be sure your customer is getting what he wants.

    The only part that is gonna get flamed is the last bit on Windows Section: "use windows if you are new to using computers". They should have left this bit out of both sides, IMO. Windows is good to newbies because they can get help more easily from friends, but it is not easier to use than Ubuntu. Just the idea of the software center like ubuntu's goes miles ahead for those who are new to computers

    • "It doesn't hurt Linux when people log in and ask for MS Word and get Open Office"
      Oblig. FTFY
      Really, it doesn't. The people that can tell the difference can figure it out.
      • I am not sure if I agree with you. It is important that the users understand they are not using MS Word. I love OpenOffice and use it even on Windows, but it is not the same thing. IMO, the typical Dell user would freak out about it.
      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:07PM (#32954430) Homepage Journal

        Nope your wrong.
        I use Open Office but it really isn't all that much like the current version of Word.
        Calc has real issues compared to Excel.
        For the Price OO is really very good but it isn't Office.
        Also some people don't want to have to "figure it out" they just want to get the job done.
        So, no you are wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ultranova (717540)

      The only part that is gonna get flamed is the last bit on Windows Section: "use windows if you are new to using computers". They should have left this bit out of both sides, IMO.

      Yeah. If you're new to computers (who is, these days?), you should use a command line. Seriously, you should. There's no more intuitive way to use a computer than typing in commands as text and having it respond in kind, expect perhaps speech recognition. Compared to that a graphical user interface is far harder to use.

      When I used

  • New to computers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gorzek (647352) <gorzek AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:45PM (#32954058) Homepage Journal

    I would argue with the "new to using computers" bullet. If you're new to computing, exactly why would it be easier to learn Windows than Ubuntu? Both have their arcane peculiarities and unique paradigms you'd have to get accustomed to.

    Hell, if you are totally new to computers and have no interest in learning much of anything about how they work, I'd suggest getting a Mac. Then you need never worry yourself about the internals, it "just works," as they say.

    I say this as someone who doesn't use a Mac. Apple built their reputation on being idiot-proof, and as far as I can tell, they live up.

    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:57PM (#32954268)

      If you're new to using computers, chances are you don't have a lot of highly technical friends -- but they'll probably have some familiarity with Windows, so you can ask them for help. The new user is more likely to go to the store and buy Encarta on CD, and when they take it home and it doesn't work in Linux, then they're going to be confused and/or pissed off. There is more to "using a computer" than hitting keys and clicking mice, and that's something that often gets lost in these discussions. When your issue is wifi compatability, how are you going to debug your issue without familiarity with A) web search, and B) at least some idea of what question you need to be searching for to get relevant information. The barrier to entry is a lot lower for J Random User who just uses Windows like "everyone else" than the guy who wants to be different for some, probably misguided, reason.

    • by papasui (567265) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:00PM (#32954308) Homepage
      Point #1 The thing about using linux (even kidified linux), is that it's going to be harder to find the answer to how you do something that's not obvious to a novice user. It's pretty easy to find someone that can walk you through a couple basic things on Windows because they poses the lion's share of the market. You might get lucky and find someone familiar with linux but there's a lot fewer of them out there. Point #2 With a Windows system you can go to Wal-mart and buy a copy of most current software titles. Linux not so much, sure there's resipositories which applications that do about the same thing as some Windows counter-part but when someone says you need 'Microsoft Word' to a new person they may not associate 'Open Office' as being the same sort of program. I'm not saying a new user couldn't be sucessful with Linux but they certainly would have some challenges ahead of them.
      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:27PM (#32955740) Homepage Journal

        Point #1 The thing about using linux (even kidified linux), is that it's going to be harder to find the answer to how you do something that's not obvious to a novice user.

        You've GOT to be kidding. Where do you get answers to Windows problems?? Every time I go to Windows help I get "help" from the marketing department. If a new user is running Linux, they've got somebody who knows the OS that installed it for them; no novice is going to install any OS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Hell, if you are totally new to computers and have no interest in learning much of anything about how they work, I'd suggest getting a Mac. Then you need never worry yourself about the internals, it "just works," as they say.

      Somehow I'm not surprised that Dell doesn't offer that advice.

    • A vast majority of the software programs you pick up in Staples, Best Buy, etc are going to be made for Windows. Once hardware gets a bit faster and makes virtualization relatively transparent, this will cease to matter. You'll just optionally buy Windows software support for another $150.

      I'm hoping for some badass sandboxing. Imagine automatically launching an entire OS for untrusted operations, like web browsing, or having a few virtual machines running concurrently to provide different levels of access t

    • by Kijori (897770) <`ward.jake' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:44PM (#32955046)

      I would argue with the "new to using computers" bullet. If you're new to computing, exactly why would it be easier to learn Windows than Ubuntu? Both have their arcane peculiarities and unique paradigms you'd have to get accustomed to.

      There are three reasons that jump out at me as an Ubuntu user since 2006.

      Firstly, Ubuntu users are generally assumed to be computer-literate and to have deliberately chosen Ubuntu, which implies that they know the ins and outs of Linux distributions and technologies. This leads to help files that are unintelligible to anyone who doesn't know a thing about Linux - amarok is "a qt media player for KDE", for example, and if you want to install a new chess program you can choose between "X11" and "Gnome" versions. (what?) Similarly, help files and forums have people running shell commands and editing configuration files - that's just voodoo to a totally new computer user, and if nothing else ingraining a "just run whatever the forum tells you as administrator" mindset is not good. All of this is ok if the users are knowledgeable - but these ones aren't.

      Secondly, people who don't know a lot about computers are the ones that really need shrinkwrap software to work for them. They're the ones who, not realising that there's a significant difference (a computer's a computer, right?) will be disappointed when nothing happens when they put the disc in.

      Thirdly, if you've never used a computer before then you're going to have some problems. When you ring up tech support for the program you bought, or ask your friend or colleague for help, you don't want the answer to be "what's Ubuntu?". Everyone knows someone who is familiar with Windows, and most towns have an evening class to teach totally new users. Not many people who've never used a computer before know any Linux geeks.

      • Re:New to computers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:01PM (#32955350)

        I'm a pretty tech savvy user and even I had trouble with Linux when I converted one of my machines over to Ubuntu a while back (I finally just gave up). The documentation is absolutely horrid. Without a good understanding of how Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular does things, it seems like a real chore to do even the simplest thing (I never could get it to recognize dual monitors or get the right screen resolution). And one of the worst things for me was dealing with all the distros and UI's out there and even trying to decide if a given piece of Linux software would work for me. I'm still not clear on some of it. Will KDE software run on gnome? Will gnome software run on KDE? Is the difference just cosmetic? Will a given piece of software run on all distros, or only some? Is the installation different for each distro?

        I get headaches even remembering it.

  • by Hamsterdan (815291) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:49PM (#32954122)

    For most users *any* platform will do. Be it, Windows, Linux or OS X.

    Most users will use the computer for Facebook, Twitter, MSN messenger and such. Unless you are a gamer or absolutely need to run a Windows-Only application, ANY OS will be able to get the job done, Windows being the less secure of them for non-techies.

  • BTW, which version of UNR is shown at Dell's site? It deosn't seem like 10.4. I mean, is it UNR right?
  • I don't know how to link it to Antennagate, but the connection's there, I'm sure.
  • On the positive side (Score:4, Informative)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:54PM (#32954202)
    At least Ubuntu gets mentioned and it's not only the classic "Dell recommends Microsoft Windows operating system".
  • ...we require hundreds of hours of training (supposedly anyway) to operate a motor vehicle but we require nothing to operate a computer? (Yes I know a computer can't usually kill someone when misused but it still can ruin someone's life.)

    AFAIK there should be a training requirement for operating anything other than a kiosk-mode system. _Especially_ basic security.

    On some level though that's being handled by learning to use computers in the school system so a large amount of this stuff will fall off when
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zironic (1112127)

      Why the heck would they have Macintosh there? They don't sell Macintosh. They do sell computers that run Windows and Ubuntu though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *

      > AFAIK there should be a training requirement for operating anything other than a kiosk-mode system. _Especially_ basic security.

      Not really, this thinking is a result of internalizing the "Microsoft Lie" that all computers (by definition) must be as unreliable and insecure as Windows. Which is forgivable since they have spend Sagans of dollars in subtle campaigns to make this assumption almost universal. But it is indeed a lie. However it is the single most important key to their success. So long as

  • Is it just me, or did anyone else get the impression that Dell did Ubuntu a disservice by showing it's screenshot as a smaller image.

    Seriously, check it out:
    http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/windows_or_ubuntu?c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&s=dhs [dell.com]

    Ubuntu's image is 288x162. Windows is 271x204. A bit narrower, but a lot taller.

    It makes Ubuntu look like the smaller "beginner" or "toy" choice, which is wholly inaccurate IMHO.

    Their reasons are valid: if you're tied to existing Windows apps

  • PIA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:56PM (#32954232) Journal
    Ubuntu 10 has been a PIA for me. As an experienced administrator I am largely OS agnostic. I learned to program on Solaris and VAXVMS, I owned a Clamshell through college, and in the business world have been working with MS. However like many I am heavy on the Windows side.

    Ubuntu 9 was fine, but it was missing a couple libraries that were dependencies for Fuse 2.8. Not to mention that SMB is broke in 10, the GUI is just awful because it doesn't allow for easy 'run as root'. Want to edit smb.conf, you are SOL unless you go through CLI or create a custom link to your favorite editor. I have no problem going CLI only either, except that in Ubuntu 10 everything has been moved into a slew of *.d directories. As a newbie to 10, where the hell is anything you are looking for? You use the find command and good ol ubuntu leaves out crucial syntax points in their man pages...Often my biggest issue in Ubuntu is not so much that I dont know what I want to do, but rather, I cant find what I want to do. I ahve pretty advanced knowledge of firewalls and routers but WTF do you do when you cannot find the conf file or force it to reload?

    For now I think I am going to be sticking with redhat derivatives...seems to be more support there.

    If ubuntu wants to win over more windows folk, they really really need to fix that dammed GUI, or at the least work on encouraging the community to be more active. I have 3 separate threads asking for help on either iSCSI, SMB, or NFS. Only got 2 hits and they only posted twice before going MIA. You would think that Ubuntu would be better at supporting communication between windows and Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Facegarden (967477)

      ... the GUI is just awful because it doesn't allow for easy 'run as root'. Want to edit smb.conf, you are SOL unless you go through CLI or create a custom link to your favorite editor....>

      Well, I learned that you can use the CLI and type 'sudo nautilus' to browse directories as root, and then you can still click on things to edit them.

      That said, it was a PITA to learn that, and it would be *way* easier if the editor either had a "save as root" option, or the user-level file browser had a right click "open as root" option.

      If that were the case, the file browser should tell you about that when you try to save a read only copy of a file.

      Honestly though, they should just do it like windows. Let

  • The tragedy is that if you try to "Shop for Ubuntu laptops" from the Dell Ubuntu [dell.co.uk] page that the example from the TFA is linked to - every single option is Microsoft Windows!!! There are NO Ubuntu products for sale! You can't even deselect the operating system.

    I bought Dell Nseries laptops for my business in the UK 2 years ago when they were on sale at Dell, mostly XPS M1330N and 1525N - we have no upgrade option at all and cannot replace with Dell. Everytime I ring a Dell account manager, they just say "W

  • A $200 - £100 computer (with linux or windows) is the future! Can windows maintain its profits at these margins, if not Linux wins the end.
  • by Eil (82413)

    Just wanted to point out to everyone that there is a handy-dandy animatey feedback link on the page as well. :)

  • Install Ubuntu *and* Windows. Dual boot or use virtualization software. If you value freedom above most other things, as I do, then use Linux whenever possible, and 'Doze whenever you have to. Otherwise, use either, or both, whichever one best meets your needs at the time.
  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:01PM (#32954328) Homepage
    The extent of the instructions I give guests is, "This is not Windows, it's Linux, but it works pretty much the same. Here's the Firefox icon up here." Family and friends ranging in age from 10 to 70 have used it with no problems. Those who need to are able to work on business documents that they brought on a USB drive and can print to the inkjet and laser printers on our home office network just fine.

    I think I detect a little arm twisting on the part of MS here, but nobody is surprised at that.

    When Dell came out with their pre-installed Ubuntu machines a few years back, I bought an E520N the day they became available so as to vote with my wallet that this was a very good idea for Dell.
  • Thank you (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:11PM (#32954462)
    I tried linux distros various times in the past, each time I gave up after a day to a week when drivers and programs wouldn't install, package managers wouldn't work, and I ended up spending more time trying to fix my computer than getting things done.

    Yesterday I installed Ubuntu. I can't install the language patch (click on it in Opera, garbage on my screen. right click and save as, now I have it saved but how to install it??) I can't use bittorrent, (can't install wine because I don't know how to install a package handler because of the above problem)

    That said, I find Ubintu easier to understand, more intuitive, and friendlier overall than Windows XP. I've used Windows since version 3.11 and never could positively compare Linux to Windows until today. I will now recommend Ubuntu to anyone who asks and I want to thank the linux community for making this OS possible.

    tldr: Thank you.
    • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:37PM (#32955908) Journal

      I can't install the language patch (click on it in Opera, garbage on my screen. right click and save as, now I have it saved but how to install it??)

      Um, double-click it? I assume it's a .deb file that you've downloaded, anyway, because if it's something else, then it is not what you need.

      Though why not install it through the package manager in the first place? Applications -> Ubuntu Software Center, then use the built-in search to find what you want.

      Here [psychocats.net] is a more detailed treatment of Ubuntu software installation options, though most likely the Software Center will cover all your practical needs.

      I can't use bittorrent

      If you're using the most recent Ubuntu, you should have a BitTorrent client installed out of the box. It's called "Transmission", look it up in Applications -> Networking.

      an't install wine because I don't know how to install a package handler because of the above problem

      Again, you do it through the package manager.

  • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:21PM (#32954602)

    On his blog, Ken Rockwell decried the lack of serious photographic hobbyists who actually take pictures. Most of them just buy equipment and geek out over it. He referred to photography as just something that, to paraphrase, "guys do on their computers in between porn sessions."

    True that.

    How many guys go looking for porn from time to time? A *very* high percentage. And does the search for porn lead to the dangerous back alleys of the 'net? Yep. The relatively lower number of viruses and other malware targeted at all flavors of Linux is a *major* selling point.

    If I were setting up a computer for someone who even occasionally looks for porn online, I'd choose Ubuntu over Windows in a heartbeat.

    Now, seriously, what percentage of the population do you think falls into that "occasionally looks for porn" demographic? Linux should have at least that big a market share.

  • by XB-70 (812342) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:10PM (#32955470)
    As a former sysadmin for 12 yrs, I have to divide what I understand about what's best from the realities of the real world.

    You and I both know that Ubuntu is a far superior operating system on so many levels. It's more secure, it's way faster, it runs on more platforms, you can modify it entirely to your liking, it comes with 'real' software, it's free and it's evolving 2x per year.

    For the average user, however, the reality is that many are petrified of their computers. All they know is that it's really bad to screw up and that they will never figure out how to make them run right if they do. They never open manuals or read help files. That is the reality out there - lets' get used to it.

    With that said, Lucid Lynx is, arguably, the most user-friendly operating system I have ever used. Coupled with incredible speed, lighting installation and simple interface, it truly stands out for its polish. There's more: getting apps, for the 'newbie' is just a click, a search and a one-click install. Try doing that with a licenced Microsoft Product. You'll be futzing with licence keys and compatibility issues for hours.

    Obviously, Linux Mint and others are very polished too, while also taking a run at combining proprietary software with non-proprietary software.

    In short, Dell's right: if you're new to computing, install Ubuntu. If you have legacy MS apps, bend over!!

  • by Killer Eye (3711) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:12PM (#32959934)

    Recommending that people "new to computers" use Windows is the worst advice imaginable. We've given Microsoft over 20 horrible years, and they have managed to make computing almost boring in that time. It is well past time to hand the torch somewhere else...ANYWHERE else. The last thing we need is another generation who thinks Windows is what it means to "use a computer".

    Even in 1990, the power and potential of machines was staggering. And I'm sorry, but Microsoft has done NOTHING with that potential. Software is still overly-expensive, locked-in, ugly, and crashing, and impressively it seems that basic tasks are even slower today than on machines of the 80s. It really wouldn't have taken much effort to bring the world way forward, to make PCs absolutely marvelous devices. Instead of realizing the potential, these incredibly sophisticated machines still have pretty basic uses, and I find that sad.

    We need another generation, the people "new to computers", to use something new. Let them tinker without the chains of some stupid monopoly, and build a better machine.

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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