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Dell To Offer Ubuntu Laptops Again 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the dude-you're-gettin'-a-tux dept.
An anonymous reader writes "TechCrunch reports that Dell will be officially re-entering the Linux laptop market. Beginning this fall, it will sell a 'developer edition' of one of its Ultrabooks that comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu 12.04. Dell first started offering computers with Linux installed in 2007, but they dropped the products in 2010. This spring, a skunkworks effort called Project Sputnik was announced, and now, after the completion of a short beta test, the Ubuntu laptops have been given a green light for commercial sale. Canonical has been working alongside Dell to help make this happen."
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Dell To Offer Ubuntu Laptops Again

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:58PM (#40688337)

    ...to buy one, wipe off that buggy, proprietary OS and install Debian on it.

    • Re:Can't wait.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:09PM (#40688479)

      ... because you can't do that now with a windows-based dell machine?

      yes yes, I know, it's fashionable to hate ubuntu. Because if there's one thing that unites hardcore linux fanboys, it's hating any other distro except their own. Sometimes I wonder if they hate other distros more than they hate MS.

      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:17PM (#40688577)

        Linux is so divided over each distro that I sometimes wonder if MS doesn't have agent provocateurs stirring the pot just to keep the community divided (and forever ineffectual). But then, like my grandma always used to say "Kid, never attribute to conspiracy what can be attributed to sheer blind fanboism."

      • by tuppe666 (904118)

        yes yes, I know, it's fashionable to hate ubuntu. Because if there's one thing that unites hardcore linux fanboys, it's hating any other distro except their own. Sometimes I wonder if they hate other distros more than they hate MS.

        Ubuntu still is very popular, and for good reason. Its very good, because a lot of work is done on it and it is based on Debian unstable, which in itself is pretty good, unsurprisingly this means immature technology gets rolled out [pulseaudio, Intel drivers] for the sake of features over stability. Some users prefer the stability move to Debian, Some users get bitten by bugs/regressions from running more unstable options. Overall though most benefit from the new features because even unstable...is pretty s

        • Re:Can't wait.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @03:31PM (#40689395)

          Yes it is popular, and that's part of the reason so many of the linux faithful hate it. Despite whatever many linux users claim about how it's the true best choice and everybody should use it, a good number of them like it specifically because it gives them computer hipster status. Ubuntu's popularity is a bad thing to them. if "the masses" use something, it -must- be bad, since the masses are idiots.

          that said, rational discussion follows:

          Having used both cinnamon (about a month) and unity (going on 3 months now I believe), I'll go out on the limb here and mention I actually prefer unity. for all the complaints i hear of "tablet interface", I swear I wonder if people don't realize you can resize the unity bar and unity icons. my unity bar and icons are only slightly larger than the windows 7 taskbar on the computer next to this one. Also, considering that on modern displays, horizontal screen space abounds and it is vertical screen space that is at a premium, I don't mind the taskbar on the left at all. I dig it actually.

          I'm not saying I don't have any problems with unity, but 12.04's version at least (never tried any of the previous versions) isn't bad. I also applaud canonical for producing the first linux interface i've used that really feels as polished and modern as the competiting interfaces from apple and MS. sure maybe it's got a little knock on it here and there, but at least they're trying. good ole gnome 2 is rock solid and reliable but god is it boring and sterile. it feels like state-of-the-art circa 2001. unity has some character at least.

          cinnamon is an interesting gnome3/gnome2 hybrid, but it was buggy as all fuck when last i used it in mint lisa. maybe it's better in the new mint? haven't tried mint again since I went to ubuntu 12.04.

          • Yes it is popular, and that's part of the reason so many of the linux faithful hate it. Despite whatever many linux users claim about how it's the true best choice and everybody should use it, a good number of them like it specifically because it gives them computer hipster status. Ubuntu's popularity is a bad thing to them. if "the masses" use something, it -must- be bad, since the masses are idiots.

            I love Xubuntu in spite of losing all my geek cred by using anything related to Ubuntu. I still use *BSD for servers and routers, so it's not like I'm a sellout, but I'd rather have a slightly unstable laptop/desktop than go to the effort of using a higher-cred distro that is similarly-unstable. Huge bonus points for being realistically-usable by people without special training.

            I, for one, welcome a future where MS Windows is just an option among many.

          • by tuppe666 (904118)

            I've always been fascinated by the term hipster. Ignoring the usual fashion change that associated with white yoof. Its the whole liking ironically thing. Which as far as I can see is simply coping with being ashamed of liking best of low art [pop] culture of prior generation or non mainstream. The only ironic thing is its stuff I just like. I don't need to justify myself to society at large.

            The bottom line is Linux is pretty good, and your talk of "hipsters"; "hate"; "fanboys" is ridiculous.

            As for your res

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Good luck getting your $0 reimbursement check from Canonical. You think it's difficult to get in touch with a US company... try a South African one!

    • Re:Can't wait.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Patch86 (1465427) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @03:12PM (#40689227)

      You joke, but the big benefit of computers sold with Linux pre-loaded (any Linux- even crap) is that there's a good chance that it'll be 100% Linux-compatible hardware. Makes life far easier when installing your actual distro of choice.

  • Last time I bought a Dell laptop, it was because I needed a high end laptop workstation, and it had to run Linux. I ended up buying a Windows one and putting ubuntu on it because ubuntu had restricted linux to only the really low end laptops.

    At least they've got an ultrabook this time.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @01:59PM (#40688351) Homepage

    Is this announcement definitely from Dell, or is it more bullshit from Canonical? Canonical has previously announced various machines as coming with their Linux preloaded. Canonical claimed that for an EeePC model. [slashdot.org] Didn't happen.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:01PM (#40688375)

    Last time I looked at one of these Linux laptops, the price was higher than the $350 Windows laptop I saw at staples. Therefore it saved me money to buy the Windows version, download Lubuntu, and install a dual boot, rather than support Dell Linux offering.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      And Staples saved themselves having any support for Linux, testing for Linux, returns because the buyer didn't really want Linux or it didn't work out for them. And if you say geeks support themselves I think you'll find that switches quickly when they've paid for a Linux laptop, they'll be expecting that it works far more smoothly than a DIY install that may or may not run well on that model. If it did, great for you. Linux is niche. Niche usually means expensive to stock, expensive to test, expensive to s

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Last time I looked at one of these Linux laptops, the price was higher than the $350 Windows laptop I saw at staples. Therefore it saved me money to buy the Windows version, download Lubuntu, and install a dual boot, rather than support Dell Linux offering.

      All that crapware that comes with your new PC pays for the Windows license AND a bit of the hardware. Software vendors basically beg, plead and bargain their way onto the default image with an OEM, and the OEM gets paid a per-unit fee for doing it.

      Heck, M

      • Software vendors basically beg, plead and bargain their way onto the default image with an OEM

        I rather suspect there is a lot less begging and pleading and a lot more forking over cash.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Last time I looked at one of these Linux laptops, the price was higher than the $350 Windows laptop I saw at staples.

      Product that sits on the shelves costs money. Successfully marketing the "Other OS" has always been a problem --- even Walmart couldn't crack that one. Dual inventory and support structures cost money. After-market sales in the Windows market are golden. The return is always better on the mass market product.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Last time I looked at one of these Linux laptops, the price was higher than the $350 Windows laptop I saw at staples.

      That's because the OEM makes a profit from the folks willing to pay to have their crapware preinstalled (Norton, AOL, Yahoo, whoever). It actually is cheaper for the OEM to pay ten bucks for the Windows license and make another $100 from the crapware firms. Windows users don't know any better, because all their computers come with crapware, but Linux users would scream bloody murder (I would,

  • by toygeek (473120) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:01PM (#40688389) Homepage Journal

    Now I can get a cheaper laptop and put on my pirated Windows 7 Ultimate! w00t!!!!!

    (because *nobody* pirates the home edition)

  • Really? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SomePgmr (2021234) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:01PM (#40688393) Homepage

    I've always reserved "skunkworks project" for what I thought were interesting, kinda secret, complicated pursuits.

    You know, like the exact opposite of dell slapping ubuntu on a laptop and selling it on their website. ;)

    • I noticed that too. I also got a kick out of something called "skunkworks" kicking out something called "Sputnik".
    • I've never heard that term applied to anything besides airplanes developed at the lockheed martin facilities. But wiki tells me it "describes a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects."

      Or else maybe lockheed martin researchers got tired of making the next stealth plane and decided to go in a different direction.
      • by SomePgmr (2021234)

        Yeah Lockheed is what everyone knows the name from, but it's been used elsewhere for a long time since. Their Skunk Works (tm) still exists and they've made attempts to protect the name and logo.

  • by melted (227442) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:02PM (#40688395) Homepage

    Looks like it's time to negotiate OEM Windows pricing with Microsoft. Out comes the old pal, Linux, and stays there right up until Microsoft complies with Dell's demands. This is getting tiresome. It's the third or fourth time they've done this, there's no element of surprise to anyone but people with Alzheimers.

    • by slazzy (864185) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:06PM (#40688439) Homepage
      Normally OEM licences are often on a 5 year term, so this would make sense timing wise.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>It's the third or fourth time they've done this,

      Don't you mean second? You can draw a line with two points, but you can't establish a pattern. You can't claim this is Dell's modus operandi with only 2 samples.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        No. He means 3rd or 4th.

        I can certainly remember 3 iterations including this one. If you just fell off the turnip truck just yesterday, then that's just you.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Yep. Dell kept doing the same thing for years with AMD, threatening to start selling AMD-based systems to keep Intel motivated to give them sweetheart deals.

      By the time Intel got tired of the tactic, the Core 2 had been released anyway so AMD was no longer the best. Kind of how Ubuntu's interface is no longer as-good-or-better than Windows' now that it's saddled with Unity.

      • by Lennie (16154)

        At least with Ubuntu it is easy to install any Linux DE you want it, but with Windows 8 you can't remove it.

    • by tuppe666 (904118)

      Looks like it's time to negotiate OEM Windows pricing with Microsoft. Out comes the old pal, Linux, and stays there right up until Microsoft complies with Dell's demands. This is getting tiresome. It's the third or fourth time they've done this, there's no element of surprise to anyone but people with Alzheimers.

      Then I think they are doing it for the wrong reasons. They have with the launch of surface been sent a clear signal, "You are our bitch, It is our OS", we will take all the high end early adopter money, and we will keep all of your margins.

      Dell needs to get going with a strategy that involves Coreboot; Libreoffice; dual boot android; full refund for windows + free penguin plush + credits; Chrome for Ubuntu Store; massive investing in Open source OS [hell their own closed source] and putting their skin all o

  • by davidwr (791652)

    $write you "Dude, you're getting a Dell"

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      I wonder whatever happened to the "Dude, you're getting a Dell" kid. I'm betting drug addiction and eventual homelessness. Even as I write this, I bet he's somewhere selling his blood for crack. Kinda warms my heart.

      • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:36PM (#40688853)

        On February 9, 2003, Curtis was caught attempting to buy a bag of marijuana on Manhattan's Lower East Side.[2] Curtis was arrested and charged with criminal possession of marijuana. Due to recognizability of Curtis, word of the arrest spread quickly through the media. A chain email of the story even cropped up as it was forwarded around the internet using the iconic parodied phrase "Dude, you're getting a cell!"

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Curtis_(actor) [wikipedia.org]

  • by hweimer (709734) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:04PM (#40688411) Homepage

    Even now, there are some notebooks [dell.com] available on their website, and you can probably get even more options when you ask them on the phone.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:07PM (#40688457) Homepage
    dell gives linux laptops another chance, implying they were never a viable idea from the get-go. Personally? Fuck Dell. id rather take my business to system76 or penguin computing, or even los alamos if i had the cash. these are places where linux on the desktop is something thats existed and will continue to exist as long as your favourite linux is produced, so you dont need to worry about getting redmonds buy-in on how powerful your linux desktop is allowed to be, or at what pricepoint its required to be set.

    TL;DR: stop buying linux from people who pander to the community for extra scratch in the fourth quarter earnings report.
  • I was actually very interested in a XPS 13 Ultrabook. It had good reviews, a decent price and Linux would work on it. My only problem was that it supported a max for 4GB of memory. If it had at least supported 8GBs, I would probably own one right now.

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:13PM (#40688539)

    I want a good laptop. Wake me up with Lenovo sells ThinkPads without Windows.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:16PM (#40688569)
    Hmmm typical Dell customers + Linux OS + Dell's legendary support quality = fantastic idea! I'm sure they won't have any problems with people calling in, asking how to do basically everything.
  • I currently have a MacBook Air, which is a nice piece of hardware, but I've yet to stamp out all issues (hangs on external display, random suspend borks, etc) running Ubuntu. If they deliver a laptop of similar quality with everything working nicely, I will buy it.

  • It's still a Dell. (Score:2, Informative)

    by NalosLayor (958307)
    I'll be honest, I haven't given a Dell laptop a serious look in years, but I handled tons of them through the late 2000's and the build quality was so poor that I really don't even look at their equipment anymore when picking a laptop for myself or someone else. I don't know if they've changed recently, but I haven't heard anyone make that claim. It doesn't matter to me what OS ships with the hardware if the hardware itself is flimsy. A laptop that won't bend, crack or break at the hinges within a few weeks
    • by gman003 (1693318)

      I'm posting this mainly because you mentioned Asus, and I've sworn an oath of vengeance against them.

      Asus sucks. It seems to have started sucking recently, last year or two. But they suck.

      Dell laptops crack within weeks. My Asus laptop fried itself within hours. And then took over a month to repair. And when I finally did get it back, it was in a cheap cardboard box instead of the original packaging they had insisted I use, and the power cable they had also insisted I return was half-missing as well. And th

      • No doubt that ASUS has no reputation for good customer service -- but I've been fortunate enough to not have to deal with them, yet. That said, Dell's consumer level CS is incredibly bad too. Their business class CS, however, was, as of last year, still really solid. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Dell server, or even a desktop for employees, but I wouldn't touch their laptops with a ten foot pole. After all, the best warranty is the one you never use.
        • by Errtu76 (776778)

          You're so right. The company I work for allows you to buy a Dell laptop for a certain budget. I can't choose anything else, even if I wanted to. So my new laptop was a Precision M4500 which has Windows pre-installed. I changed Windows to Linux and all was well. Until after a few weeks the battery would no longer charge. Fine, small problem and one call to CS ensured a new battery was shipped the next day. Then a few weeks later the keyboard malfunctioned. Okay, that was replaced as well. And then the charge

    • I actually bought a Dell back in 2000. First computer I bought for myself using my own money. It was a 2700$ Dell Dimension 4200. Had a PIII 800 in it. Seems expensive now, and the video card was rubbish (TNT32), but it was rock solid.

      Literately the thing is so heavy and over engineered, I would take odds of it smashing other PC's to splinters and being just fine if you used it like a physically PC smashing device. It also came with a piddly PSU (by today's standards), I think it might have been 230W, but y

      • by bosef1 (208943)

        You experience with Dell's graphics cards was similar to mine: about two years ago I needed to buy a new laptop, and I wanted something that might run Civ 5. The reports indicated the processor requirements weren't bad, but you needed at least a mid-range graphics card. Dell had their consumer / business line at $300-400, but had the cheapest integrated graphics possible; or their Alienware line that started about $1200 if I remember correctly. I wound up getting a refurbed Asus laptop for $750 from Newe

    • by cusco (717999)
      I'm exceedingly hard on hardware, and yet the Dell laptop that I'm working on has survived being dropped off a ladder, off desks, used in high-temp locations, left in the sun in the closed car in summer, had coffee slopped over it a couple of times, and has generally survived pretty well. The case looks a bit rough, as one would expect after three years, but it hasn't fallen apart yet. By and large I'm fairly impressed.

      Having said that, the first one that I had, back about 2006, wasn't worth the powder
      • by adolf (21054)

        I'm still flogging a Dell Inspiron 9000d laptop. It's been through one display, one power supply, and one hard drive, all of which Dell shipped to me "free" under the terms of the only super-duper extended warranty I've ever bought (which did pay for itself). I also fed it a new battery a couple of years ago (the old one lasted forever, and didn't owe me anything).

        It's 8 or 9 years old, by this point. Runs Windows 7 along with whatever else I throw at it with ease. I see no need to replace it.

        It's been

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:36PM (#40688839) Homepage Journal

    As a user of Dell for Linux before the N Series came out and as a person that still uses an N series laptop and Ubuntu, I can tell you my next laptop, even if the are partnering with Ubuntu, will not be from Dell. Over the years I've felt pretty screwed over as a Linux user and the last re neg of their commitments to Linux users has convinced me to no longer be their customer. My next laptop purchase in on the horizon, and it will be from a vendor like System 76 or someone else that seems committed. Who knows when Dell will decide to defecate on the Linux community again.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:47PM (#40688957)
    Windows 8 is also launching the same time as this change. We've never seen them in the same room together. Coincidence? I think not!
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @03:16PM (#40689257) Homepage

    I was going to order a Dell with Ubuntu, but the price was almost the same!

    Instead I buy lightly used IBM and Lenovo laptops and add Ubuntu. They rock.

    Be nice if I could find Linux drivers for the fingerprint reader and my camera is kind of dark, but other than those minor niggles, they're great Ubuntu boxes.

  • I know it's natural to think of Linux as a developer's operating system, but if I had to develop software using the Unity interface, I would promptly fall on a sword. It would have been nice if they went with Linux Mint, but then they wouldn't get official support from Canonical. Oh well, at least it should guarantee a laptop complete with Linux-friendly hardware (not that Linux has too much trouble with modern hardware anyway) and then the user can install their favorite distro.
  • This is likely in response to Microsoft's announcement/memo to PC distributors that they are basically getting into the hardware business.

    Dell: "Yeah, well we'll just use Linux then!" *pouty lip*

  • by DaveInAustin (549058) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @04:11PM (#40689839) Homepage
    I purchased a dell laptop (m1530) with Ubuntu several years ago, with extended tech support. I had a harder time getting it to run properly than any other laptop in the last few years. Whenever I tried calling the tech-support, I had to transfer several times because they couldn't be bothered creating prompts for it in their phone support menus. I was actually told by their tech-support that my laptop stopped working because I did updates. With 12.04 I was finally able to get the sound working. Their website used to say "the most important thing you need to know about linux is that you don't get Windows". Look at their ubuntu website now [dell.com]. It has a underpowered laptop with a 15 month-old version of Ubuntu that you can't customize at all.
  • Dell start selling PC's [sic] with Linux [slashdot.org] (although in 2001 Dell Drop[ped] Linux on Desktops and Laptops [slashdot.org]); also, AFAIK you have always (well, since at least the late 90s) been able to order PowerEdge machines from Dell with Linux pre-loaded (Red Hat Enterprise, natch), and Dell has been pretty good about supporting Linux on their servers (see, e.g., the Dell Linux Engineering Web [dell.com]).

  • I thought they had strategized the paradigm to move everything to tabletspace vitally interlinked to all social media all the time. Laptops are so 3 minutes ago.

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