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Linux Business

Dell Drops Linux on Desktops and Laptops 292

aclute sent in a bit saying that Dell is dropping Linux from desktops and laptops. They cite low demand, and they plan to continue shipping Linux on the server. I've sworn off Dell PCs since their finance dept. tried to screw me over on the laptop I leased for a few years in college (No, we never got that laptop back. Nor can we explain why you have signed confirmation that it was delivered. You owe us a year's worth of late fees). Frankly there are much less expensive places to get a Linux laptop, but those suckers with the 1600x1200 screens and the GeForce 2 video card are still super pimp.
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Dell Drops Linux on Desktops and Laptops

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2001 @11:02AM (#2176120)
    I didn't feel they were serious about GNU/Linux. I think it was more of a market ploy. IBM may not be perfect, but at least they give back to the community in the way of good documentation, supporting their hardware, etc. That's why I bought a Thinkpad. I'd rather do business with someone who thinks my views are valid, and shows me their support with actions, than someone who doesn't believe in the ideals of the Linux world but is willing to make a quick buck off them.

    And how much more effort does it take to pop in a Redhat CD to load a Linux image as opposed to popping in a Windows CD to load a windows image? This is probably because they want to use cheaper hardware... They probably want to use WinModems, WinLCDMonitor, WinSoundcard, Winkeyboard, WinMouse, WinPowerSwitch, and WinPowerCable. That way, they could make a Laptop for $35 and still sell it for $5000! That'll really push up those profit figures (until the warranty repairs start flooding in).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2001 @11:06AM (#2176121)
    Michael Dell blows goats. And he chortles. And GODDAMNIT....I WON'T TOLERATE CHORTLERS!
  • by HeUnique ( 187 ) <(hetz-home) (at) (> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @11:23AM (#2176124) Homepage
    Well, if you looked close enough and compared the prices of a latitude with Linux installed or Windows installed - you would have seen that with Linux it would costs you MORE...

    So if I was in that situation - I would order it with windows, resize the Windows partition to the minimum (you never know when you need it), and install manually Linux - it's not that hard with the Dell notebooks..
  • Bah. Linux is *not* too difficult to install to become mainstream for techies. One simply has to be a bit careful about the hardware they buy. Check the compatibility lists. Search Google (web and Usenet). If you have hardware that doesn't work right with Linux, then of course you're gonna have install trouble. But the info is out there. Use it!

  • The Slashdot description isn't accurate. Dell is only dropping their Linux business desktop and laptop offerings. They are keeping their Linux workstations and servers. This makes sense as they have had little demand for business desktops. People shouldn't expect them to pursue a market which doesn't provide profit.

    I work for a DOE lab where I have been using Dell systems for years and have been VERY happy with their quality and support. I have been putting Linux on Dell systems for years before they sold them pre-configured. Matter of fact, Dell was quietly selling pre-installed Linux on their systems to DOE labs for almost two years before they offered it commercially. In any case, we have our own Red Hat based distro we image our systems with so it doesn't matter to us.

    The only true help Dell has been to us is in writting the drivers for the Adaptec RAID chipsets that they use on (and have imbedded on) some of their servers.

  • First, they did next to no effort to sell computers with preinstalled Linux. Unless you really badly wanted to buy a PC with Linux, you would never notice that this is possible. Second, they did not offer Linux-Mandrake as an option. Ahem... On a desktop, what else would you install? Yeah sure, for a geek debian will do, but a geek will not buy at Dell anyway. At least HP has a clue here...
  • How many people even knew Dell was shipping desktops or laptops with Linux on them? I guess you really have to have your ear to the ground, or you might miss something like this. :)

    As long as they still support Linux on their desktops and laptops, I'm sure this won't be much of an issue.

    Will they ship a laptop or desktop without an OS?

  • I'm using nvidia's drivers on a 1400x1050 inspiron 8000 with GeForce2 go, SuSE 7.2 and it works great, but I had to mess with the modeline settings. email me and I'll send you my XF86Config.

    Caveats: can't restart X without rebooting :(

    Quake3 crashes (I'm not sure why) :(
    (if anyone has had success with quake3 using nvidia's latest drivers on GeForce2 go please let me know)

    Actually I can run X in 3 different ways on this machine, useful in different situations..

    1. native linux with nvidia drivers (fastest)

    2. VMware under w2k with VMware's drivers

    3. Exceed running on w2k talking to linux running under VMware (allows most interaction between w2k & X)

    So, if you have a problem with nvidia's drivers I recommend options 2 or 3. VMware runs linux at about 85% native speed, it works great (you need lots of RAM though). I set up my linux partition to be accessible either under VMWare or running in native mode, so you don't waste any disk space to allow both options.
  • Has anyone here successfully run quake3 under linux with one ?

    I have one, and nvidia's drivers work fine, X runs nice and fast, other 3d apps (OpenInventor etc) run ok, but quake3 crashes X. If I could run quake3 on this puppy, it'll probably waste enough time to stop me accomplishing anything, please help me waste my life ;~/
  • by dilger ( 1646 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:57AM (#2176131) Homepage
    I'm not surprised they gave up.

    I spent a lot of time trying to buy a Linux box from Dell (since I already have some with Windows, I wanted to stick with one vendor). In almost every configuration the boxes were MORE expensive than identical models with Windows. Configuration options were lacking, and the standard hardware (video cards, etc) wasn't anything to write home about.

    So I gave up and bought from someone else.
  • You managed to identically configure machines? Funny. We were trying to spec out some Inspiron 8000's for our company. The least processor you could get with Windows was 900MHz PIII. Only option with RH was 750MHz PIII. Couldn't get the better display, couldn't get.... We concluded it would be easier to just buy the damned thing with Windows and handle our installs ourselves.
  • I myself use Debian, and I love it, but it is a pain to install because it doesn't have any sort of hardware auto-detection. I would bet money that any other modern distribution would auto-detect both your video and sound, and if your modem isn't a win-modem it would nail that too.

    You might try Progeny, if you really want a Debian based distribution, but I would suggest simply installing RedHat.

  • I swear Dell started offering machines with Linux back in 1999.

    For those of us who have been around a while, Dell used to ship their own version of Unix SVR4 back in the early 90's.

    Unix is nothing new to them, they just haven't had much success selling it.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:25AM (#2176135)
    Ok... You are aware that you aren't supposed to stand on laptops in order to reach up on the bookshelf right?

    We once had a user that did that. Stood on his laptop bag in order to reach up on a bookshelf.

    The damage you describe is identical... bad display, busted keyboard.

    Warranties are supposed to cover manufacturing defects. Not user stupidity. :)
  • I think this is not just a very bad idea for Dell because I'm an avid Linux user, but because you have to stick with Linux in the long run. Sure, Linux systems might not be flying off the shelves, but as Linus did with Linux years ago, you have to offer the choice.

    Even if Dell didn't display that it could install Linux in huge red letters on their site, they could still make it an option if the user so requests. That way they can be known for offering the choice and I think that merits respect from a lot of people, including me.

    Scott Miga
  • When you went to their web site, trying to order a Linux machine, you'd find that the older models, not the newest ones, had Linux offered. Worse, they'd offer things like NVidia cards for display adapters for these machines and Matrox G400's for the NT/W98 machines. Matrox had better 2D and working 3D support at the time that those machines were shipping out.

    I don't really think they put any serious effort into this as they claimed (and Michael Dell wanted)- for whatever reason.
  • They're selling piece parts from outfits like Acer, Quanta, etc.

    Find a vendor that's using similar/identical motherboards, etc.- but then, that's the rub, ain't it? Strictly speaking, there's nothing magic about Dell, Compaq, etc. for laptops- they're just known for "better" support (As we know from the "Customer Support HOWNOTTO", that's almost an outright lie- at least unless you're an enterprise level customer...).

    Pick the best priced laptop, with the best overall construction, and the best overall feature design- there's comparable units out there and they don't have to have the exact innards of the Dell models.
  • Are you sure you're not the same?

    - People hiding behind anonyminity just to make personal jabs suck...
  • I think you're imagining things. Dell has never offered Linux on their laptops.

    The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead.

  • Where the hell are you paying $60 for a 3com NIC?! Either you live far from civilization or you're just getting fucked, cuz I see the 3com 905c retail for around $30 everywhere I go in Vegas.

    I wonder if it cost that much more because of that "free" win98 upgrade?
  • I second that, toshiba laptops are gems. I've had dell, and IBM and had problems with both, my toshiba has been quiet and well behaved with NO problems for nearly 9 months now. hmmm maybe a problem will be born soon :)
  • but as a former Dell customer their support sucked. I am not sure who they payed to write the support review for them but the support technicians were clueless in the extreme, and often spent more time checking serial numbers and paperwork to be sure you were entitled to their INEPT support than they did actaully attempting to support you. I think you would have just as much luck calling the psychic friends network as you would with DELL support.
  • I just need a decent sub for M$ Excel :( and that lousy M$ Project....
    I use star office for word pro. and it works great but I still have to reboot to view any sort of multi-sheet or formula driven spread sheet.
    Make the full set of tools available and I'd love to give M$ the long kiss good-bye.
    We use linux for ALOT of server implementations but very few people use it as a sole desktop due to the constant reboot need
  • >What if your boss emails a word or access
    > docuement to you on Saturday and demands to have
    > it finished by monday?

    I'd have one hell of a good laugh on monday when I open the email... Followed by a rundown of my
    very high weekend consulting rates and the procedure to follow if I need to be contacted...

  • I knew [] something this would happen. Y'all can bitch about Dell all you want (no, I didn't know that you could get Red Hat desktops or laptops, either), or about people being able to install it themselves, or whatever, but the fact is that this is a minor PR disaster for Linux and for Open Source.

    I think the worse part is that the comments [] from Dell ("the productivity suites just aren't there"..."the biggest growth is on the server") are totally true. Sure, we all think that KOffice [] and Star Office [] are just grand, but the average consumer sure doesn't think so.

    Hooray to Sun for their recent Gnome recent UI testing [], and kudos to KDE and Jono Bacon [] for their new (less-formalized) UI testing [] via the KDE Usability Project. Let's hope that the result of this is Dell picking up Linux again in six months.

    But in the meantime, let's not fool ourselves: this is bad.

  • I called them and asked for a machine with either Linux or no OS. I was told that neither was an option, nor was there any way for me to not pay for Windows. They did tell me which machines were certified to work with Linux, though. This was at least a month ago. Were they ever selling PC desktops with Linux installed?
  • 90$ for basic Linux support for one-year to three-years that Dell provides is quite reasonable

    They provide Linux support ? This is news to me ! I thought they just dumped a default RH install on the hard drive.

  • by landley ( 9786 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @01:15PM (#2176157) Homepage
    Dell clawed its way to the top past compaq and co. in large part by getting DEEPLY in bed with both Microsoft and Intel. Notice how Dell has been the last holdout to NOT ship AMD processors? Well they have similar commitments to Microsoft.

    Dell also can't get anyone locally to work Linux support for it. They had to outsource all of it. Any Linux-friendly techies got totally burned out at Dell and left circa 1999, and ever since the local Linux crowd has stayed pretty far away from them. (They have a reputation as a bit of a slave driver around here. And we remember the time Bill Gates visited Austin and stayed at Michael Dell's house.) I don't remember who they outsource Linux support to, but if that deal fell through (or the company at the other end went under), they wouldn't have much choice but to pull the plug on Linux support. They CAN'T support it internally.


  • I have bought a couple of Dell laptops to run Linux over the last few months. They are truly wonderful machines, fast, reasonably rugged, breathtaking 1600x1200 screens.

    I chose to get Windows ME instead of Dell's configuration of Linux, for two main reasons.

    1) Configuration of linux is important, and not something that I'd give responsibility for to somebody else. Especially with laptops, there are dozens of little things that you'd like to configure yourself to get the machine to be 'just so'. Having somebody else do it the first time forces you to start from a somewhat unknown position. Better a completely blank machine than somebody else's configuration.

    2) Windows ME is a good place to check out drivers and hardware. You can plug in your USB CompactFlash card reader, and see if the hardware is compatible (under Windows) before trying to dig up a driver (under Linux). I probably boot Windows at least once a month to do this; most recently when I was trying to get the Lucent winmodem working. (It does work, see [])

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if 95% of the Dell laptops running Linux were bought with Windows (it's no more expensive) for exactly these reasons.


  • This doesn't have anything to do with VA. VA just about stopped making workstations fairly early in the game, concentrating on servers. When I last looked at their site before they went out of hardware altogether, VA had only one desktop product remaining.

    So this didn't do anything to VA. Even they didn't think of desktops as much of a market.


  • ``Linux is still far from being mainstream capable. Installing that, for the common folk, is NOT easy.''

    I have to wonder whether that's really true any more? Unless you're setting a system up for dual/multi-boot or manually selecting what packages to load, the installation process for most of the latest distributions hardly asks any questions that Joe Sixpack couldn't answer. Unless that timezone question is too tough for Joe. :-) Even partitioning can be fairly automatic. (Not that I'd like the way things get laid out using the automatic method.)

    ``some bash is very necessary in Linux''

    IMHO... not really. Remember, all Joe wants to do is pound out a letter or connect to the internet so he can check out the sports scores (or his stock prices). How much shell programming is required to do that? Sometimes people in the tech realm forget that not everyone is using their PC to write code and tweak Makefiles with vi.


  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:49AM (#2176162)
    ``This was a month ago on an entry-level Dimension L. Here's the link that *didn't* offer Linux.''

    Does it bother anyone else that the ability to purchase a Dell system with Linux appears to have been limited to people who already have a PC and an internet connection? OK, or maybe those who go down to the local library and use their PC and 'net connection? The printed catalogs that I used to receive in the mail never had Linux as an option except for servers.

    Of course Dell never sold many Linux desktop systems. Their advertising campaign was so low key that it'd make an NSA security officer jealous.


  • If anyone looked at thier configuations for desktop systems, linux was never an option. I was looking for a friend of mine, and there were no systems with a drop-down box with an os choice of linux. I called Dell's sales dept. and was told that you can only get desktop systems with Windows.

    After searching for a good hour on Dell's site, I did find their "linux" section, with a system. Perhaps if linux was an actual choice when you called, or went to configure their true desktop sytems, more people would have went for it. You can't sell a product, keep it in the back room, tell people it's not really there, and then stop selling it before "no one bought it when we had it".
  • It's not as if Dell machines with linux pre-installed cost $90 less.
    In effect, you're still be paying for Windoze, just not getting it.

    It doesn't matter anyways - linux is free, and widely available.
    So Dell's not gonna install it for you anymore.
    Most of the people I know (myself included) that run linux prefer to install it themeselves anyways,
    so they can be assured of a reasonably stable and secure system.

    I'd estimate 90+% of workstations/laptops Dell sells are destined to be windoze boxes,
    so it just wasn't cost-effective for them to continue installing linux.
    Not as if it matters, because someone clueful enough to consider ordering
    a Linux install prolly has the skills to install it themself.

    C-X C-S
  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:57AM (#2176171) Homepage Journal
    I sent Dell asking whether I could dual boot their laptops into Windows and Linux. Got no response.

    Also AFAIK, their UK website made no mention about offering Linux installed on their systems. It certainly didn't appear as a purchase option (Select Operating System:Linux -50UKPounds) when I went through the options in order to buy one.

    In short, if you don't advertise or even offer the option on your website, you are unlikely to get any demand.

    I don't want to install JUST Linux on my laptop, as I still need Office tools and want to play Diablo II occasionally.
  • by PRickard ( 16563 ) <{moc.cb-sm} {ta} {rp}> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:54AM (#2176172) Homepage
    Dell announced today it will stop offering as an option on desktop and laptop computer systems an operating system it never advertised and buried deep within the bowels of its Web site where most customers could never find it. The reason cited for dropping the option was "low demand."

    This is really a non-issue. The only people who could get Linux on a Dell had to know from the beginning that Linux was an option and know where to find the page that allowed them to select it. Dell only offered Linux in the first place as a flimsy token to open source people. Now Microsoft probably used that as a reason to not let Dell stick AOL icons on the desktop or something, so the option is gone. Is anyone really surprised?

  • Excellent arguments! Did you know the same situation also applies to the internet, too?

  • Linux is still far from being mainstream capable. Installing that, for the common folk, is NOT easy.

    This is even true for a techie. I have a friend who is a Linux competant sys admin and had problems installing Linux on the his Dell Latitude because the PCMCIA slots were causing problems. This he ended up sorting out with a BIOS tweak and going via the 'advanced' installation method. There also was a problem with USB mice until he modified a value in the BIOS. These problems may no longer be an issue with newer versions of Linux installers, but at that point in time it proved to be a big time waster. Had he not been so convinced to get Linux running, I don't think he would have gone the mile.

    BTW Once you have built in a built in modem and ethernet port I am not sure what use PCMCIA ports really have? I have removed the blanker cards to allow better air flow.

  • I would tend to agree with this. Any techies will find a way to install Linux whether it is vendor approved or not. Don't get me wrong I like Linux and use it myself, the problem is that for your average workstation user it just doesn't have the polished edges that it could. At the moment I think of Linux vs Windows, as the mechanic's off road vehicle vs a Ford Echo - sure Windows is not 100% reliable, but it is comfortable and does what the user wants without having to fight too much.

    One OS that Linux needs to emulate is MacOS X. Sure the OS still has some maturing to do, but it has given a relativley friendly interface to the Unix underlays. The user needs never use the command line to configure the machine, though if they do it is there ready to be revealed.

    I am not wanting to start a flame-war, rather I am trying to give real world view point of the situation. Sometimes it helps to leave the computer alone for a few weeks and see where everyone else is coming from.
  • Were you supposed to call the number to get it? I wanted to hopefully get a duel booting computer so I could take full advantage of a DSL connection I'm getting (but I don't want to pay for a full server). I guess I'll just have ME for games and buy a Linux at the store is all.

  • i can say why i, at least, wasnt interested.
    last time i checked, their linux configurations didnt have as many options as the regular windows configs.
    lower cpu speeds, smaller screens, etc.
    it was a cheapened version in all aspects :(
    i never looked at the desktop offerings though so i cant comment on that aspect...
    its sad to see them drop it though, id have preferred getting one with linux (although i will still be getting a dell laptop sometime soon)
  • I have an IBM Thinkpad - a low-end i1400 from last year. 256 MB, 10GB, 14", 5.5 lbs, 500 MHz.

    • The modem is a Lucent Winmodem, one of the first to be supported, though I never got around to configuring it. I only use 802.11b to an Apple Airport connected to a DSL line.
    • Sound hardware: No problem with the ESS Solo - ALSA works great.
    • No internal ethernet, alas, but I bought the IBM PC-card ethernet adapter with it, and again, no problems at all. Also have a Lucent Orinoco Wavelan wireless ethernet card - worked out of the box.
    Add in the previous two posters' experiences, and you'll see that what you're looking for is almost the norm these days... Personally, I recommend the Apple iceBooks - they're neat! And weigh less than a brick while lasting 5 hours on battery.

  • Dell's refurbished on-line store sells machines without an OS, and some servers can be had sans Windoze. I've purchased a a dozen or so Windoze desktops (new) from Dell. When I needed a SCO server, I configured it (new, not refurb) with no OS and loaded SCO myself. Surf their refurbished store. Notebooks, desktops, servers, some with and some without an OS, but all with a decent warranty. My new Red Hat 7.1 company server was a "No-OS" refurb on which I loaded a store-bought copy of Professional Server with no problems. You can save some good bucks, BUT ya gotta shop just like with anything else, and sometimes surf through DOZENS of similar models with different specs. I'm probably jinxing it, but with all these Dell machines I've had just one bad CD-ROM (tech support shipped a replacement) and a bad embedded network card (I replaced it with a $15 Linksys). Better get back to tweaking that RH7 box. -- jedbone works Madison, Wisconsin
  • "What if your boss emails a word or access docuement to you on Saturday and demands to have it finished by monday?"

    I hear that a few lucky people don't have jobs like this. I don't know if it could be true though.
  • by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:57AM (#2176210) Homepage Journal
    If you have signed confirmation, then you could have a case in small claims court. Just threatening one could cause them to relent and just replace the darn thing.

    Or are we going to see Taco on Judge Judy?

  • by hbo ( 62590 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @11:16AM (#2176215) Homepage
    My new job is a big (well, little really) Dell shop. We are also primarily a Linux shop both on the server and the desktop. When I started a month ago, they plunked a new Optiplex GX400 on my desk and asked me to install RedHat 7.1 and see how it flew. (I'm their first full-time sysadmin.) Well, it flew just fine, thank you very much, so that box became our standard engineering desktop. The second system we got from Dell had hardware problems with the on-board ethernet. I put it on the shelf and deployed the third box with no problem. When I called Dell support, the tech was incredulous that I had "blown away the factory load." (Windows 98. Cheaper than 2K.) He said he couldn't help me, to which I replied "you're kidding!" He apparantly was, because he next asked me to load the diagnostics. I told him to wait while I wired up the system to the KVM. When I came back on the line, I said "You know, my desktop is running on identical hardware just fine." He was looking for the file he needed to run on the diagnostics, and finally snapped "Fine! I'll ship you a new motherboard!" I wanted to see what Dell diagnostics were like, and I had just gone through the trouble of spinning up the system, so without thinking I said "Wait a miniute, I'd like to .." He started yelling "I've solved your problem! I'll ship you a new motherboard!" This got me a little riled so I said "Oh, can't find the file, huh?" This sent him into orbit. I finally said "Please stop yelling." He screamed "I'm not yelling! If I were yelling you'd know it!" I said "OK, but I'm holding the phone away from my ear because it hurts." He calmed down and took my information. He finally admitted "I don't know anything about Linux."

    Now, I doubt (God forbid) that this is typical of Dell service. I think I just caught this guy on a bad day. Also, I can see the logic of not supporting a low-volume (for Dell) OS on newer models. They have to qualify it, which takes time and money. The Optiplex GX400 is a P4 with RDRAM, so it's not just a simple upgrade. Having said that, RH 7.1 really was a slam-dunk install. The 2.4 kernel also has settings for the P4. I rebuilt the kernel with that switched on, but I didn't benchmark it. But today's announcement makes clear that the lack of Linux support wasn't merely a delay, but a hint of things to come. They've decided that Linux sales on the desktop don't justify the additional expense in qualifying the hardware and supporting it post-sale. Is that Dell's fault? Partly, maybe. But I'll bet the decision made sense in cold black, white and red.

    "Even if you are on the right track, you'll
    get run over if you just sit there." Will Rogers

  • by quartz ( 64169 ) <> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:17AM (#2176217) Homepage
    I dont see any real computer company actually seriously selling Linux on their user level computers any time soon. This is not a troll, but most users dont want Linux.

    I totally agree with that. It's exactly why I like Linux so much. Right now, Linux is made for people who know what they're doing and demand total control, and that's all I can ask from an OS. The only way Linux can make it into the mainstream is to become at least as dumbed-down and full of security holes as Windows, at which point I'd probably start looking for alternatives. But I don't think that will ever happen, as most Linux developers have power and security as primary design goals, not what has come to mean "ease of use" nowadays.
  • by iceT ( 68610 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:21AM (#2176220)
    - Geeks buy LINUX. (Generalization, I know)
    - Geeks deal with computers better than people (more generalizations), so they would order over the Web.
    - Web ordering never allowed LINUX as an OS pick for desktops.
    - Geeks never ordered LINUX.

    Thank you. Please drive through.

  • Don't bother... every Dell laptop I've ever seen (and I've seen plenty, my company uses them) is visibly slower than a comparable IBM or Sony when using the same CPU.
  • Get real. They never offered real support. Offering one desktop model with no configurable options as your only system with linux pre-installed hardly qualifies as offering support on the desktop. We have several workgroups using Dell hardware running linux, and we did all the installs ourselves because we couldn't order the systems we wanted with linux pre-installed on them.

    Dell's offering linux pre-installed on desktops and laptops was nothing but an attempt to gain publicity. Now that linux isn't pulling headlines, they're dropping support...

  • mean, what's a Windows Me license running these days? $100? On a sub-$1000 system, that's a *big* chunk of your total system price.

    No, they get huge OEM discounts for pre-installed licenses. I don't have any figures but I wouldn't be surprised if it were in the order of $20-$30. That also explains why it's a limited license you get instead of a general-purpose WinME license.

  • No most users don't know how to use Linux.

    One of the reason most people dont want Linux is because it has a large learning curve for normal people. Most users dont know how to use Linux because they dont want to spend the time to do so!

    other reasons may include:

    • not agreeing with the GPL ideology
    • hardware support
    • lack of games when compared to Windows
    • lack of real office suites (MS office is still the standard)

  • I BEGGED them to send me either a Latitude with Linux pre-loaded or a blank box with no OS. They flat-out REFUSED. They would only ship with MS Win2000 or WinME preinstalled and REFUSED to provide me with information so I could obtain a refund for the unused Windows license.

    Me too. When I requested a box with no OS or with Linux pre-installed the sales rep. said she had no idea what I was talking about and said it couldn't be done.

  • Internal modem, eh? A Winmodem, perhaps? Those can be extra fun to make work. You might have to mknod the expected COM port (ttyS?) before the system will recognize it. Check /proc/pci for details on your hardware.

    ATI Rage Mobility seems to work [] with XFree86 4.0, but you might want to search google yourself for details. Asking tech support to fix your Linux box is like asking a fish to ride a bicycle.

  • by jacobito ( 95519 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @11:23AM (#2176241) Homepage
    Yeah, it was always a pain in the ass trying to figure out how to get a Dell machine with Linux preinstalled. Sometimes you could go to [], read all about how Dell is thrilled to be supporting Linux, click on "configure a computer," and be taken to a page that let you choose between Win98 and Win2000. Ugh.

    However, it really does cost Dell a lot to support Linux. They have to test and validate the OS with every hardware configuration they sell and note those configurations that don't work, they have to make changes to the manufacturing process to support the new OS, and they have to train and staff support lines for Linux customers, and so on.

  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @02:10PM (#2176243) Homepage Journal

    My opinion differs.

    One, Dell desktops are generally regarded among the best rated machines for PC hardware reliability. I know people that support a range (over a thousand desktops) of different PC machines day to day, week to week, year to year, and their experiences bear this out:

    Dell's are among the most reliable PCs.
    Published surveys like this [] and like that [] support the same conclusion.

    Personally, I also like Dell's for their low decibel rating compared to other brands.

    Their prices are only low if you're restricting yourselves to Intel processors. Dell's are not dirt cheap to buy in any case. It's just that for the level of hardware reliability and reduced maintenance costs, corporate buyers like them.

    If you're willing to venture beyond the safe confines of 5 year track records that corporate buyers rely upon, then much better performance and price deals can be found if you're willing to do some research and testing.

    I think Dell is vulnerable sticking to Intel for processors that are overpriced for the delivered level of performance. The technically inclined that support Dells at work buy Athlons for home - at some point they might notice their home Athlons great price performance ratio is augmented with tolerable reliability.

    Yes, Dell operates on the slimmest of margins, assembling to order and not enduring the 1.5%/week depreciation that applies to computer inventory that the other firms keep. Maybe their Intel-only policy gets them on the priority list from Intel to compensate for no inventory.

    Also, Dell minimizes the amount of high-powered technical staff they keep on hand, so it's little wonder they're bowing out of the small-sized high-knowledge overhead of the Linux market: it's not justified on a purely business level.

    While Dell is making the right tactical business decision in this case, the long-term strategic consequences are that they will lose a small but vital share of the high end x86 workstation market to HP, IBM, Compaq and any other company willing to listen to the Linux desktop customer.

    Case in point.

    My organization is in the middle of evaluating various high-end x86 Linux desktops to replace some aging Suns. Dell was on our first round list, mainly because the corporate PC support people have them on the "approved" list and they're reliabile.

    However, Dell's Linux technical support was never thicker than 2 web clicks. So it's no surprise that we're looking only at HP and IBM at the next stage.

    We'll probably buy about 200 machines at around $5K apiece, but Dell won't be getting any of that. Given their size, I doubt they'll miss it.

  • I was on there two weeks ago getting something for my brother. RH6.2 and 7.1 were on the list of operating systems to install on the laptop.


  • I was planning to buy one with windows installed (as my college requires it) and install linux manually. As long as they keep selling the linux compatible hardware (namely the PSION modem and Xircom LAN card) I'm happy.
  • duel booting computer

    Please God no!

    Don't let your operating systems duel. Playing with guns is bad, mmmkay?

  • There's another article [] on Yahoo! [] too.

    I'd rather be trolling for [].
  • I never did any shopping at VA Linux, so I'm not sure what their entire product line was like, but which of the following most likely happened?

    • VA ships Linux workstations. Dells smells a market. Dell enters market to sell Linux workstations. The tiny market now split between a big company and a smaller company isn't enough for VA to continue to exist. Dell, having held out a bit longer, realizes that the market as a whole isn't big enough for them to stick with, so they exit.
    • Dell enters Linux workstation business just long enough to push out VA, a competitor in the server market.
    • Bill Gates sends Dell a check just big enough to stop them from selling Linux desktops but not big enough for them to stop selling Linux servers. :^)

    Just rambling. :^D

  • Dell has never offered Linux on their laptops. Not true. I was given this option when I ordered my inspiron 7500. I did order it over the phone though. No matter how many times I tried to get their website to quote it with linux installed their website always finished the quote with win2k. Their site has tons of glitches and is missing a lot of the options available. Call for your order instead of placing it online and you'll be much happier.

  • I am not sure what use PCMCIA ports really have
    I use my PCMCIA slots for:
    • IBM Microdrive
    • Wireless networking (802.11b)
    • DVD Decoder card
    • Token ring (most laptops don't have built in token ring :)
    • Firewire (see Margi 1394-to-go!)
    • etc
  • You must have a nice laptop :) I have an older IBM thinkpad. It's only a P-II 266, but man, I would not trade it for anything (my wife has a new VAIO Z505 thing, I definately prefer my thinkpad). What's been great about the PCMCIA is I still use PCMCIA cards I've had since my 486-laptop days. And that 486-laptop is still hosting my crappy domain [], using a PCMCIA ethernet card :)
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @11:18AM (#2176268) Journal

    "high demand" does not mean a small number of people squaking loudly. It means either a large number of people willing to pay a little, or a small number of people willing to pay a lot.

    Actually, in economic terms, "demand" is a graph of what people are willing to pay for a unit vs. the number of units.

    So, all you have established is one datum on the demand curve, and you haven't provided us with any information about how many units you'd be willing to buy at a given price.

    Now, if Dell actually tracked requests like yours and added them up, they undoubtedly have some kind of report on some manager's desk that approximates the demand (in the economic sense) for laptops loaded with Linux.

    That same report also contains a "supply" which is the price at which companies are willing to sell units vs. number of units.

    The intersection of these two curves is the equilibrium price, and if Dell can't sell units at that price, and make a profit, they have no business selling these boxes.

    That's all there is to it. If you don't believe me, just ask the CEO of VA Linux. :)

  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <rimbosity&sbcglobal,net> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:59AM (#2176271) Homepage Journal
    ...we still have to pay for that pre-loaded software that we aren't using.
  • by fetta ( 141344 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:23AM (#2176272)
    Times are tough. This is just an example of zero based budgeting. There is nothing here that claims that Dell says "Linux is a bad operating system." They just made a decision that with limited resources, they would get better return on their investment by supporting other products. []

    Too often, when an announcement like this comes out, the slashdot community starts crying foul and looking for Microsoft conspiracies. Dell will start shipping Linux based laptops and desktops when they think they can make money doing so, or when business improves to the point that they can afford to take more chances.
  • As someone who was a dealer in used exotic cars for a few years I can tell you that buying a car without tires is not only easy but that it happens all the time.

    MANY people already own a set of tires of a brand and model that they prefer that they wish to put on their new rides.

    Yes, people do this with NEW cars as well.

    All you have to do is ask.

    As general rule you can can get a car with/without any legal equipment you want if you ask for it.

    Hell, if you want a particular individual car but it's a color you don't like the dealer will MAKE it that color.

    All you have to do is ask.

    "I'd really, really like to buy that Porsche for $100,000 but it dosn't have a rubber duck glued to the roof. I have my own, would you glue it on for me, or should I just walk?"

    Trust me, they'll glue on the rubber duck.


  • by ellem ( 147712 ) <> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:50AM (#2176276) Homepage Journal
    I purposely bought the Dell that they use(d) for Linux. Then I whacked the drive put W2K on one half and RH6.2 on the other.

    Recently I called them and asked them to fix the problem I was having wherein the B-Memory chip slot would occasionally "drop" the memory chip out.

    They sent a guy who had just completed his A+ Cert... Hey it's just a motherboard I thought. He never hooked the fan up. He fried the chip and the "new" board.

    Dell sent more parts. And the same guy. I sent him home. I requested a veteran to do the replacement. New guy comes. Installs everything. Boots the machine. This guy FREAKS out and tells me, "What you're doing is against the law. I should report you. You CANNOT install another OS on a Dell."

    I gently inform him that Dell ships laptops with Red Hat.

    An hour later I get a call from the repair place (IBM) who also inform me that since I have voided the warranty I am now liable for the repair costs and they'll send me a bill.

    I called Dell back and they fixed everything, but still...

  • Funny you should mention that, in the hippie-town where I live there is an old blue compact car that is painted like a duck pond... and there are rubber ducks glued all over the car. It's good to know that when that guy upgrades to an expensive car he can keep his ducks.

  • Federal law? I SERIOUSLY doubt that! I wonder if the guy made that up on the spot, or if they were coached to say that? You should call back and pretend to be a Senator.

    Someday when my publishing company grows up, I will use the profits to start a PC bizness with a clue, and I will do my best to drive the likes of Dell out of business.

    Whatever happened to "the customer is always right?" Customer service on the whole has really taken a dive lately.
  • by squeegee-me ( 169687 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:26AM (#2176284) Homepage
    Dell wanted an additional $200 per linux PC. The end result is people are buying win2k on them because they are cheeper, even with the little sticker on the box. They apparently never considered users with a linux CD for any PC they buy. But Dell discuraged their buyers by charging more for a free operating system installed than a $100-200 operating system they are already supporting.
  • It's a private company. They can sell whatever they want. Try buying a car without any tires.

    Actually, it's a public company, traded on NASDAQ.

    "They" can sell whatever they want, but if it's not what customers want, they'll go out of business. And I imagine if the only way to sell me a car was to take the tires off of it, the dealer would do it.

    An engine would have been a better analogy, because it would probably wouldn't be worth the dealer's time to take out an engine just to sell a body. But that analogy is broken too, because an engine costs a larger percentage of the car than an operating system does of the computer. Especially if you're Dell and buy big licenses. It would be very little trouble for dell to sell a computer with no OS.

  • When confronted at the dinner, he was asked to give the $50,000 in fees that would have to be paid to close a real-estate deal, something of this nature, I forget the details. Well, needless to say, Michael stormed out of the dinner, upset that the people he gave this "gift" to "spit in his face."

    I must say that whatever charity you worked must be a bunch of ingrates. If the "fees" to close the deal was around 50K, the land must have been worth much, much more than 50K.

    Any "charity" that accepts a donation, throws a friggin "thank you dinner", and then insults the guest of honor--they deserve to have the guest storm out. Did you ever think that if the 50K was so outrageous, maybe they shouldn't have had a thank-you dinner.

    People amaze me.

  • I was on there two weeks ago getting something for my brother. RH6.2 and 7.1 were on the list of operating systems to install on the laptop.

    This was a month ago on an entry-level Dimension L. Here's the link [] that *didn't* offer Linux. (Did I miss it? I can't see how to get it without Windows. Dell lost the sale as a result.)

  • I was actually pretty impressed how easy it was to select Linux instead of Windows. You can't say they didn't try.

    This was a month ago on an entry-level Dimension L. Here's the link [] that *didn't* offer Linux. (Did I miss it? I can't see how to get it without Windows. Dell lost the sale as a result.)

  • That Dimension desktop or Inspiron laptop will always have the latest copy of MS whatever, with MS-Works. Which I am sure they are getting a little revenue off of that.

    Which really shoots them in the foot for the low-end market. I mean, what's a Windows Me license running these days? $100? On a sub-$1000 system, that's a *big* chunk of your total system price.

    For general newbies, preinstalled Linux makes things easy, and let's face it, most of these people are looking for nothing more than a web and e-mail grinder that lacks the intelligence-insulting AOL crap.

    Especially if you advertised that Linux came preinstalled and configured with Netscrape and an e-mail client, maybe StarOffice too. Little different for a newbie to learn, but this guy is a newbie whose only other net experience was AOL on Windows 98, and *hated* it. (Crashes, found it counterintuitive to click "Start" to shutdown, nasty AOL point-and-drool, silly sound effects, etc.)

  • Maybe there'd be more demands for Linux on Dell desktops and notebooks if I could actually select it on their website. If it was available as an option on that machine, I couldn't find it.

    As it was, I was hunting around for a Dell desktop for a friend of mine. Nothing spectacular, but he didn't want to pay the Microsoft tax, and liked the look of Linux on one of my machines.

    We chose the link to customize the machine, and Linux wasn't on the list. In the end, he went with a generic clone because he could get it without the liability of a copy of Windows Me. Oh, and we downloaded an RH 7.1 ISO from their website.

    Wanna hire a computer geek who can configure BIND and whip out a soldering iron to hack a monitor? []

  • Not wanting to pay 100+ for an OS I will not use, I asked them not to put one on my computer. They said that's not an option - federal law prohibits it because it's often too hard to do for the average user (Is that true? It's insane!). So I asked about Linux. They told me that would cost almost as much. I politely told them to go to hell. I'll call back later and choke out the money 'cause I really want that big screen. But I'm still pissed...

    So yes, I didn't order Linux from Dell. It's a wonder why, too.

    This space reserved for future uselessness

  • (Re: Is that true?), aka a sign of doubt. But I wouldn't doubt it too much. People tend to do stupid things like that. And when you start the PC business, give me a call. I want in!

    This space reserved for future uselessness
  • When I tried to explain RedHat could be downloaded free, he said "No way. How else would they stay in business?". Clueless!

    Really? []

  • I believe the problem is windows is still required or demand is there just in case linux gets ugly.

    I am willing to pay for a new pc with a copy of windows. WHy? Because I recieve word docuements need to write a few vbscripts for work and play UT( linux version sucks).

    So would I actually pay more for windows or just recieve the machine and wipe out windows or dual boot the setup. I looked at the linux desktops at dell and I get more bang for the buck with windows.

    I still believe your a fool if you buy a pc without windows and do not have access to another machine. What if your boss emails a word or access docuement to you on Saturday and demands to have it finished by monday? StarOffice has some campability issues so its not a truely viable option.

  • What Aclute doesn't mention is that the article cites a Dell source as saying the problem is that 'the productivity suites aren't there', referring, I assume, to StarOffice, et al.

    Linux really needs an Office suite on par with Microsoft.

    If a company developed and sold a closed-source office suite that was as good as MS Office, would you buy and use it, if it was better than the open source tools? Or is StarOffice 'it' for you?

  • almost every configuration the boxes were MORE expensive than identical models with Windows

    An interesting question might be why do the configurations running LINUX have to be more expensive? (I'm not doubting that the options were more expensive.)

    Strangely I can run the latest Linux on my old 486, but cannot run a 3 year old release of Windows on it.

    There may be more at play here. Maybe Dell never really wanted to sell Linux in the first place. Another "why" question would be appropriate there too.

    ~~ the real world is much simpler ~~
  • Despite an initial splash last year, and efforts by groups such as Gnome to build graphical user interfaces to run on top of Linux, it has been difficult for the operating system to get a foot in the door of the desktop market, said Red Hat spokesperson Melissa London.

    Foot....Gnome......Ha ha. I wonder if she even knew what she was saying. Ha ha ha!

  • Microsoft: It's a monopoly. They can't do what ever they want. If there was only one kind of tire available, and I produced my own, I imagine I could ask for a car without tires and tow it away... I imagine I'd get some strange looks, but it would happen.
  • I've run linux on everything from the old Tecra 730, to the Satellite Pro 8100. They are beautiful laptops and linux has no problems with them.
  • If you're talking about their Windows support then I would say that their end user support is trash but if you have a corp account (I work for what you'd consider a tiny enterprise) like I do I'd think you'd be happy. Most conversations go like this:
    me: It's broke and I can't fix it.
    Supp Guy: Ok a new one's out the door.
    Me:You da man!

    The other cool thing most of their Corp Acc Mgrs are some of the coolest/nicest ppl I've ever worked with.

    Having said all that, I've never had to use their RH support but I know that they have it outsourced so your beef isn't with Dell (not really anyway) it's with whomever they outsourced.
  • It's a private company. They can sell whatever they want. Try buying a car without any tires.

  • i'm not sure why you got modded down, any event..

    I agree with the fact that computer users of the 90's+ (basicallly, "non-geeks") will never install a os in there life.

    I've been using computers for 15 years now, and started by installing slackware UMS-DOS installs when I was about 13, but, thats because I had interest. Needless to say, I still have issues when installing linux on my system, but I get them down, and then able to get it running after some time..

    A friend of mine mentioned this, and it seems to be true. I was commenting how much awesome GAIM was than any of AOL's AIM clients (Windoze version specifically, because the linux client is awful) and he said, its funny that GAIM will be the best program ever, but it'll take YEARS before they come out with a good office package. and I guess thats the problem with geeks writing code w/ other geeks...they write code for the apps THEY want to see, not whats totally needed...I think that holds true..

  • While I love the theory, my guess is the support costs? I mean it doesn't cost THAT uch to maintain the images they throw on the drives - that's easy & automated. But my guess is the cost of having support available for user questions cost more than it was worth given how few desktop/laptops were sold with Linux.

    Personally, I'd install myself anyway - the fact that this DOESN'T affect servers says something - they found a market there and given my past experieince with Dell servers - I'd spec one in a heartbeat if the price was right and the customer was willing to forgo Micro$oft!

  • James Dell, 34, Sysadmin for, accidentally dropped his RedHat7 CD case, which landed on a stack of Sun Ultra-60s and burst open.

    "I think the CDs are ok," James said, "but the jewel case is shot. Guess I'll have to go to Sam Goody this afternoon again. Sheesh."

  • by Compulawyer ( 318018 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:18AM (#2176368)
    Low Demand??? I BEGGED them to send me either a Latitude with Linux pre-loaded or a blank box with no OS. They flat-out REFUSED. They would only ship with MS Win2000 or WinME preinstalled and REFUSED to provide me with information so I could obtain a refund for the unused Windows license.

    Maybe if they actually sold to people who asked for Linux they would find that demand isn't as low as they think.

    This is the height of hypocracy for Dell. They are known for custom building boxes to order and for having the lowest inventory levels in the industry (5 days). Tell me they can't slap a hard drive with Linux in as easily as they can load more RAM. Excuse me while I barf.

  • by Zeio ( 325157 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:49AM (#2176370)
    I agree. Dell default installs are horrific. I also remove Linux from their servers, and reinstall.

    I used to get Dell machines - ranging from Win9X to NT4 and beyond. I always do a fresh Install with windows because the apparently know nothing about Windows.

    Now, for the Linux machines, they know nothing about it either. We have 31 Dell/Linux boxes (1550, 2450 and 2550), and after about 3 machines, we decided fresh RedHat would be far better. Its too bad they have the best deals on 1U servers, /.-ers, if you know of any other vendors for 'good' (good used loosely when referring to x86 servers) 1,2 and 3-4U servers in that price range, let me know. IBM and Compaq are pricey, Linux Vendors, like the former VA-Linux and current Penguin Computing sell garbage that you can build yourself (better). I think I'll switch to IBM as soon as I can convince the brass.


    Brothers of /., I must have you read the following: Dell "hides" the truth, and won't update BIOS of relabeled Intel board!

    When I bought a Dell Dimension XPS Pro 200N, I got a Dell BIOS, A00. It was really a masked BIOS for an Intel VS440FX motherboard. I begged Dell at version A06 (Intel version 11) to give me the latest Intel version, 18. They claimed ignorance. After some hacking, I got the Intel BIOS to install and I was able to put more memory and a larger hard drive in. The moral. Dell withholds firmware updates to force obsolescence.

    Another story. Dell Won't provide firmware updates again even on Servers!

    We have OC12/ATM/POS cards from Intel. Fairly rare. They are called GigaBlade. They have two PCBs, a few Xylinx asics on them, nice silver flush mount jobs, and HP/Agilent optical framers. Cutting edge crap. Well, I wanted to put this card in a Dell box. It appears the AIC-7899 BIOS 2.X series doesn't like to behave well, and the 3.X BIOS for the Adaptec lineup fixes the problem, especially on RCC/Serverworks chipsets. Needless to say Dell has done NOTHING to help me, I have submitted about 10 requests through various channels and Adaptec has confirmed they gave Dell and all OEMS the 3.X code.

    Finally, Dell has told me NO - they will not do it. The Intel GigaBlade cards are too rare to be worth their time.

    I personally see why IBM charges more for their stuff - I have never been told to go screw in that manner by IBM. (MHO here is that IBM > Dell)

    I think Dell is a bad company now, and I hope they go out of business.

    Another story is: Dell is Scrooge McDuck, yet worse.
    .... one of the charities I worked for had Michael Dell over for a thank-you dinner. Dell had given this charity some land in the middle of nowhere that is essentially worthless. He did it to get a tax write off, and the charity couldn't sell the land for much (even though it was "valued" at some arbitrary number). When confronted at the dinner, he was asked to give the $50,000 in fees that would have to be paid to close a real-estate deal, something of this nature, I forget the details.

    Well, needless to say, Michael stormed out of the dinner, upset that the people he gave this "gift" to "spit in his face."
  • by kypper ( 446750 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:50AM (#2176375)
    to the hands of the geeks who install them on their own PCs.

    Linux is still far from being mainstream capable. Installing that, for the common folk, is NOT easy.

    Consider that these are the people who avoid DOS, which is the child's intro to that sort of interface. (and I'm sorry, but some bash is very necessary in Linux)

    Dell has no reason to think it'll make them any money to provide it, especially when you can just download, burn and install :op

    Screw 3...

  • by Unknown Bovine Group ( 462144 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:57AM (#2176383) Homepage
    I think thats the crux of the issue. The people who want to run Linux on a desktop/laptop are the same ones who, if forced to use Windows, end up reinstalling it from scratch anyway to remove goofy configurations and 3rd party "value-added" crapola.

    If we don't want happy Dell-enhanced Windows we CERTAINLY don't want to leave a much more configurable Linux install in their hands.... and as for those users who DO like the hand-held pre-installed setup... they're not Linux users. At least not yet.

  • by natesch ( 465385 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:04AM (#2176388)
    Oh man, this is no good. I know a lot of people are thinking "Fsck Dell, who cares what they do. I'll install it myself," but I was geniuinely happy to see Dell offering the choice between Linux and M$. When my friend was assembling his own PC on Dell's webpage he noticed you could save some cash by choosing Linux. He asked me about it, and I said I'd help him learn about the OS if he picked it. He did, and has been a huge Linux fan ever since. This is beautifully illustrative of the kind of cooperation between the open source community and OEMs that Linux needs to expand to the desktop world. I really hope that the other OEMs don't follow the lead of Dell, but since it is the largest of the pack I'm a little worried.

  • by Captain Bonzo ( 472184 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @10:04AM (#2176397)
    Linux is still far from being mainstream capable. Installing that, for the common folk, is NOT easy.

    To go at a slight tangent...

    To be honest, I don't think that the difficulty of installing Linux is actually a real issue. The recent Linux installations I have made (most recently SUSE and Mandrake) have been almost as easy as the last Windows install that I did (Win98). But that's not the point I wanted to make.

    My real point is that I believe that there are relatively few people out there who have actually installed any form of OS. The average desktop user will be either using the OS that was preloaded on their PC, or whatever their company's IT department gave them. Those of us willing to tinker are the minority.

    What people are more likely to be installing are applications -- or, more to the point, games. Once they are easy to install, people might start to convert, and PC manufacturers might see a bit more demand.

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan