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Pre-Installed Linux Tops Dell Customer Requests 509

dhart writes "Within only a few days of Dell opening a new customer feedback website, they discovered that the feature most requested (by an almost 2-to-1 margin!) is an option on all new Dell PCs: pre-installed Linux. (And the number 3 request is pre-installed Open Office.) I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux.'"
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Pre-Installed Linux Tops Dell Customer Requests

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:13PM (#18074394) Homepage Journal
    That's cool. But one thing that has always annoyed me about their server configuration utility is that you can select "no operating system, Linux configuration", but there are some hardware options that don't work with that option and so you have to select the microsoft config. So much for getting some extra counts for
    the Linux side
  • Re:Which distro? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gormanly ( 134067 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:22PM (#18074546)

    Dell ships workstations and servers with Red Hat Enterprise Linux preinstalled and re-sells the support contracts.

    End-user boots up, configures their system (as they'd have to do with Windows on first boot) and logs in. The RHN updates icon tells them when patches are available (if they don't have a sysadmin to take care of all that). Easy as pie.

  • Margin Errors (Score:2, Informative)

    by DesertBlade ( 741219 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:29PM (#18074636)
    I don't thinks this is 100% accruate. Number 2 is "NO EXTRA SOFTWARE OPTION" with 8016 votes and number 4 is "Build computers not loaded with extra software" with 5102 votes which equals 13118. Which is almost the same as number 1 "Pre-Installed Linux | Ubuntu | Fedora | OpenSUSE | Multi-Boot" with 14641 votes.

    Someone needs to clean up the voting an remove dups. There are some good ideas hopefully Dell will listen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:32PM (#18074664)
    Actually, Dell does do exactly that. It's called CFI, Custom Factory Integration. They do this for hundreds of enterprise customers, where they deploy the customers OS, corporate or other image to the machines at the factory.
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:35PM (#18074714)

    I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux.'

    Maybe but as a business owner I can tell you that what people say they want and what they are actually willing to fork over money for are often very different things. Dell does $60 billion in revenue [yahoo.com] annually which means Dell needs a huge number of people to buy linux equipped machines for it to be worth the investment. To keep Wall Street happy they'll need to grow around 14% next year. (very rough growth estimate based on year over year quarterly revenue growth) That means Dell needs to find about $8.4 BILLION in new sales next year or their stock goes in the crapper. Is there enough demand for linux to be a substantial part of that growth? Maybe, but it seems unlikely [com.com]. Dell offering linux is really just them buying an option in case linux really takes off in the market. Probably worth doing but I wouldn't expect Dell to really push the issue.

    Please don't get me wrong. I hope Dell hits a home run by pre-installing linux. I think it would be great for consumers. I'm just pointing out that what people say they want and what they actually buy are very often not at all the same. I'm sure Dell would be thrilled to not have to fork over giga-bucks to Microsoft but I doubt they are counting on it happening.
  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:39PM (#18074780)
    You're correct in assuming that most people buying machine from Dell probably *are* happy without a pre-installed linux configuration option, but that doesn't mean the statistics in the poll aren't representative of some portion of Dell's actual machine-buying customers, or that the poll results are somehow rigged or invalid. All the statistics say is that, of people not happy with the existing configuration options, the most popular change request is pre-installed Linux, not that most customers would prefer Linux to Windows. Having Windows pre-installed is not a change, and therefore that configuration option is not represented in the statistics.
  • by rklrkl ( 554527 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:43PM (#18074814) Homepage
    Funny, whenever my company orders Dell Poweredge servers with the no OS option, that's all I have do (how you can have a "Linux configuration" when there's no OS shipped with it?). Slap on CentOS 4.4 and you have an enterprise level OS (a clone of RHEL 4) for no extra cost. And, yes, the Poweredge hardware is fully supported by the enterprise Linux distros in case you're wondering.

    A quick check shows that the "No OS, RHEL $0" and "No OS, Windows $0" options are only on the US www.dell.com site. If you go via the UK www.dell.co.uk site you far more sensibly just get a single "Not included [included in price]" no-cost/no-OS option.

  • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:47PM (#18074860)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:48PM (#18074882)
    Disclaimer: I work for Dell.

    Believe me. If you order 500 computers, you can get any commercially available OS for a PC installed. It's called CFI or custom factory integration. Ask your salesperson about it.

    The catch is that Dell will not support the OS unless it is one that is offered by Dell. Only the hardware is supported.

    The difficulty is being able to support every distro of Linux. It's impossible. I say that one is picked, say Ubuntu and support that with proper drivers and support.

  • by geekboybt ( 866398 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:52PM (#18074938)
    Not to feed the trolls, but here goes anyways... Have you actually called their support? Or, a better question - are these actual servers (PowerEdge) or desktops standing in as servers? I've called them many times, for servers that only cost $1k to ones over $6k. Every time I've gotten an American English speaking rep from Texas. Yes, even on Christmas morning and the machine's technically out of warranty. Cheap desktops get you cheap support. Real servers get you real support. You get what you pay for.
  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @11:49PM (#18077222) Homepage

    Canotical provides Ubuntu support on clients and servers. If you want some ridiculous cluster thing, that requires a differently structured OS anyway. I'm not seeing what the problem would be with Ubuntu on Dell - the lack of a license fee would save a noticeable amount of money.

  • by a.d.trick ( 894813 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:29AM (#18078026) Homepage

    It is 100% true that English isn't a second language in the Philippines, it's a primary language.

    Well, generally the people who get hired for those kinds of jobs tend to have really good English, but I wouldn't say it's the primary language in the country. In Manila, most people can speak some level of English, but Tagalog definitely the primary language. Outside of the capital, English proficiency is much rarer, usually Tagalog or a local language is used (there's around 100 different languages spread across the various islands).

    The English that is spoken tends to be a lot more polite than the English of us Westerners. Philippine culture as a whole is much more hospitable and friendly. Another thing is that it takes them a lot of effort and skill to get that competent with English, so the few that do make it tend to be way smarter than their western counterparts.

  • by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:29AM (#18078028) Journal

    How do we know that the voting isn't rigged by Dell? Are we so sure that many customers voted? Are all the voters from the same IP block, the same company, the same city, or is it a statistically random representative sample?
    It actually shows the votes on the page by geography if guest, or username. The answer is that it's none of the above. It's a self-selected sample, which means it suffers from a bias and is unusable for any real statistical work. What it does show is that there is a demand for preinstalled GNU/Linux.
  • Re:Great Story: (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fulminata ( 999320 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:39AM (#18078110)
    1) The Philippines hasn't been an American protectorate since WWII, so you're well over half a century out of date.
    2) Despite no longer being officially linked with America, most Filipinos are still somewhat aware of American pop-culture, more so than the average Indian at least. I'm not sure what that has to do with providing tech support in any case.
    3) Filipinos set off fireworks for July 4th, because it just happens to be the date that the Philippines became independent of the United States of America, and Filipinos like to set off fireworks for every major holiday.
    4) You're right on the Thanksgiving part though. The average Filipino has probably never tasted Turkey.
  • by red crab ( 1044734 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:35AM (#18078758)
    I remember seeing a laptop ad in a newspaper a couple of months ago. It ran like this - What Other Low Price Laptops offer: Celeron processor, 512 MB RAM, Linux OS. What We Offer: Centrino Processor, 1 GB RAM, Windows XP Home. It was trying to point out out Linux as a part of sub-standard configuration. Such predispositions from leading hardware vendors (Dell included) have mainly contributed to the reluctance of average PC user in considering Linux as an alternative to Windows.
  • by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @09:27AM (#18080578) Homepage Journal
    Good in the GP modifies English, not spoken, so good should be an adjective (which it is) and not an adverb (which it isn't). Smiles.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.