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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 bhtooefr ( 649901 ) <bhtooefr@bhtooefr. o r g> on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:15PM (#18074434) Homepage Journal
    Maybe because of hardware that isn't compatible with Linux?
  • curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravesb ( 967413 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:15PM (#18074440) Homepage
    I'm all for choice, and I think its pretty stupid of Dell not to have offered this before. However, I wonder how many unique requests there are, and how many people asked for that a 1000 times or so. I use Linux at home, but it sure isn't on a Dell box; I built my own, as I guess a lot of Linux hobbists do. But if this gets Dell to implement that option, then great. More Linux penetration is good. Of course, people have to follow up on it; if they offer it and no one buys it, it just gives them and other retailers a reason not to offer it and will make it harder in the future to get pre-made Linux boxes from the major sellers.
  • Um... why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:23PM (#18074550) Journal

    No thank-you.

    • What distro are they going to use? As many as financially feasible? I can hear the Gentoo hordes clamouring already.
    • How old will this distro be?
    • How do I know it's been set up correctly?
    • What if I want a BSD?
    • Do we really want to let people loose on Linux who can't [be bothered to] install it themselves?

    I use Linux more or less exclusively, but I'd never buy a machine with it preinstalled. I've seen how badly a computer supplier can botch a Windows install. Just ship the box blank and accept that some people know more about certain things than you do.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:25PM (#18074582) Homepage
    Oh, that's not the problem. They could easily just pick one distro and only offer it. The problem is that even that one distro involves spending money on qualification, help desk, and so on. Plus then you are pissing of Microsoft, and who knows what kinds of "cooperative marketing" dollars Dell gets from them.

    It's pretty much the same thing as with AMD processors. For the longest time the official line was "There's no customer demand for AMD." Well, obviously there's demand, which is why they are bringing it up in the first place. What they really mean is "There's customer demand, but not enough for it to be worth the cost of supporting more than one platform, plus the loss from making our current single-platform vendor unhappy."

    Basically, just like with selling AMD-based systems, there's no way in hell Dell is going to sell pre-installed supported Linux until the financial incentive to do so is simply undeniable. And even then, they will at first just use the threat of doing so as a lever to get more concessions from Microsoft. If history holds true, expect Dell to be the last major OEM not shipping Linux.
  • by Dan_Bercell ( 826965 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:27PM (#18074612)
    14,000 votes means only 4666 people voted for it, and I can just imagine how many zelots voted multiple time (this isnt the first pro-linux website that has promoted this link)

    I think the person who posted this link got a little excited over nothing. If anyone really believes that having Linux on the desktop is more important/popular to consumers then being able to speak to a 'John Smith' rather then a 'Abdule Ramakaiaky' for their tech support is out of their mind.
  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:30PM (#18074652) Homepage Journal
    Just because a bunch of people on a web board request something, doesn't mean that it's a reflection of what people who are actually going to pay cash money want. It reflects that there's a strong desire for dell to preload linux and; but it's not necessarily a given that the people who are making that request are willing to shell out the bucks to buy a dell (especially considering the fact that most people who buy linux computers buy servers, and any desktop user who is competent enough to use Linux isn't going to settle for a prefab box, they're going to build theirs themselves).
  • by nmos ( 25822 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:37PM (#18074754)
    It's too much of a PITA to worry about qualifying all that different hardware with all the different distros....

    I can't speak for anyone else but if I were buying a computer with Linux pre-installed it would just be as a sort of guarantee that there are Linux drivers available for the hardware. For that purpose it really doesn't matter what distro they choose.
  • by dokebi ( 624663 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:38PM (#18074774)
    I think preinstalled OpenOffice would do more to promote Open Source and MS Alternatives than anything else. Linux is still unsuitable for casual users with other casual users as friends. For an average user wanting to run business apps or games, Linux/Wine/QEMU just isn't as friendly nor has the "ask your neighbor" tech support that you'd get running Windows.

    With a default OO install, there will be an instant install base of ODF. It'll do wonders for adoption of the format. Other manufacturers might even follow Dell, seeing how Dell can add functional software with minimal cost, leading to even more adoption. Business users might purchase MS Office anyway, but the home users and small businesses needing basic office needs would benefit in a real way without spending more money.

    So please, vote for OO.o. Having Dell install linux by default might be really cool, but voting for OO.o would help both Open Source awareness and adoption.
  • by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:45PM (#18074830) Homepage
    If we took all the fulminating from Maclots like me about what trash Windows is, we'd probably assume that no one save an idiot would use it. And yet Windows is still the behemoth with more than 90% of the computer market. Judging what Dell's customers want from what those sufficiently energized and invested say on a website isn't perfect.

    Many of Dell's customers may very well want Linux. But you can't generalize from this survey to all of Dell's market is foolhardy.

  • by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:46PM (#18074854) Homepage
    I don't think I would want Dell, or anyone else, doing the install for me, since I want to handle partitioning and package selection myself. It would be nice if each model said something like "certified that all hardware works with Linux Distros X, Y, and Z out of the box" so that I wouldn't have to hunt that info down myself.
  • by jesdynf ( 42915 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:49PM (#18074896) Homepage

    You put a radio button that reads "( ) OpenOffice, FREE ( ) MS Office, $49.99 Dell Discount Rate" and we'll talk about consumer demand.

  • Dell Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DeepBlueGlow ( 1022475 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:51PM (#18074922)
    The best way for Dell (or any OEM) to support Linux would be to start their own distro pre-installed, configured and optimized for the hardware they sell.
  • by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:51PM (#18074924)

    Quality free and open source software drastically lowers the cost of new PCs, and helps prevent software piracy. For example, the Microsoft Office alternative, can shave hundreds of dollars off the price of a new PC.

    With PCs starting from $360 to $650, can you really expect to shave "hundreds" off the price of a new PC? The $650 machine doesn't come with Office, and Dell probably only pays $60 or so per Windows license (anybody got firmer numbers?)

    The savings may be modest at best, but at least there would be an option (and I didn't see anyplace that said Dell IS GOING TO offer Linux, just that it is wanted by the respondents).
  • by thue ( 121682 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:53PM (#18074962) Homepage
    While it would certainly be better than nothing, it wouldn't necessarily be much of a guarantee. I wouldn't be surprised if they shipped closed sourced drivers which only worked with the specific interface version of the Linux kernel which shipped with the preinstalled Linux OS. Or for example a printer could work with lpr via a closed source driver, but not with CUPS.

    For it to really be a guarantee, the hardware has to have open source drivers and specifications available.
  • Re:Demographics (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:54PM (#18074974)
  • Hey Brutus! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:54PM (#18074976) Homepage
    Do you ever want mainstream driver support? Stop whining like a child whenever someone offers a service that includes Linux that isn't perfect for your needs. You need to a mature a little bit, and that involves coming to the conclusion that what's best for you may not be what's best for someone else. One thing I'm sure of is that it wouldn't hurt the Linux community to have highly visible desktop Dell support. I suspect you'd rather feel superior about your operating system than help the community that develops it.
  • by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) * <> on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:56PM (#18075006) Homepage Journal
    It's a Digg-style ranking site. And items one and three were submitted by the same user (dhart). And now he submits a link to Slashdot to boost the ratings farther.

    He calls this an honest representation of customer demand?! When I got linked to by Slashdot, I got 28,000 hits. And that was a Sunday morning. Say bye-bye to any sort of reasonable cross-section of Dell users.

    I love Linux, and haven't run anything But Linux on my personal systems since 2001, but this is very nearly astroturfing. At the very least, it'll strongly bias the demographic on ideastorm.
  • Re:Um... why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by towsonu2003 ( 928663 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @08:08PM (#18075166)

    No thank-you. (...) Just ship the box blank (...)
    If they ship Linux pre-installed, that means they included the proper F*all caps*G hardware that work with Linux... That means I don't have to look for Linux-compatible hardware with the idea "omfg, will they accept my return if it doesn't work?" in my head...

    Now those who modded the parent insightful, please mod me *redundant*...

  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @08:25PM (#18075364) Homepage
    Seems perfectly reasonable to me! I'd be happy enough if Dell would simply support the hardware without charging me for a Windows license, which is basically the current situation if you order a Dell box and put Linux on it.

    It would be *really* nice if Dell would do some basic work to document device-driver compatibility for their systems. So if I was configuring a Linux system online, I'd like to see something like:

    Information in bold shows the availability of Linux device drivers for the selected components, based on Linux kernel version 2.6.19, version, and CUPS version

    Video Card:
    • NVidia GeForce Yadda Yadda (open-source driver for 2D graphics, closed-source vendor-provided driver for 3D graphics)
    • Intel Extreme Graphics Foobar (open-source vendor-assisted driver for 2D and 3D graphics)

    Wireless Networking:
    • RaLink 802.11a/b/g card (open-source vendor-assisted driver)
    • Intel Centrino foobar (closed-source vendor-provided driver)
    • Broadcom Whatzit (no native Linux drivers, may work with ndiswrapper)

    If Dell could do something like this, I'd give them *huge* props... and I imagine a lot of other Linux folks would to. I'd gladly order my next box or ten from them. It wouldn't even be that hard... I would guess that one guy working, say, 10 hours a week on this could easily document driver availability for all the hardware Dell sells with its desktop systems.
  • by weirdguy ( 1032140 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @08:27PM (#18075384)
    Let's say and old grandma sees that she can save money by buying a PC with Linux on it. So she does. When she gets it she boots it up, puts in here info and stats looking at pictures of her grandkids through her e-mail.

    Wait, there's no problem here. The only problem is above commenter's that think only power-users can use Linux.
  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @09:29PM (#18075956) Homepage Journal

    FTA: Quality free and open source software drastically lowers the cost of new PCs, and helps prevent software piracy. For example, the Microsoft Office alternative, can shave hundreds of dollars off the price of a new PC.
    With PCs starting from $360 to $650, can you really expect to shave "hundreds" off the price of a new PC? The $650 machine doesn't come with Office, and Dell probably only pays $60 or so per Windows license (anybody got firmer numbers?)

    More importantly, how were you able to actually quote something that you did not read (or perhaps, comprehend)?

    It specifically states that OpenOffice instead of Microsoft office will save hundreds of dollars on a new PC. It is implied that if you're using OpenOffice instead of MS-Office, you would have either paid for Microsoft office or pirated it. Of course it won't save hundreds if you order a PC with no office suite... that is not the situation described by the original statement.

  • by styrotech ( 136124 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @10:00PM (#18076266)
    They have no discernible accent--none.

    Well that maybe the case for an American listener. All the Filipinos I've met (only a handful to be honest) sounded to me like they had American accents :)

    But just to agree with you, all of them had very good spoken english (if a little quiet).

  • Re:Great Story: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by koreaman ( 835838 ) <> on Monday February 19, 2007 @10:21PM (#18076438)
    I've got a suggestion for you: Take the trouble to research a topic before you take someone for a troll. Also, don't assume that even if something sounds totally bizarre to you, it's impossible that it occurs in a foreign school. No two school systems are alike, as my studies in France taught me. I suspect that you've never studied in a foreign country, which explains your narrow-mindedness.

    It's 100% true that students in her particular school must pay a small fine if they are caught speaking a language other than English.
  • by jesdynf ( 42915 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @10:47PM (#18076656) Homepage
    And Base is an offense before God and Richard Stallman both, what's your point?

    I /absolutely guarantee/ that if you put that radio button there, eighty percent of Dell's residential customers will suddenly find they can manage to survive without Office.
  • Re:Great Story: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElDavido ( 897521 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @11:23PM (#18076966)
    and they're STILL not going to understand common pop-culture references
    Do you call tech support lines to chat about American Idol or something? When I call, I want technical answers. So long as I can understand the other person, I don't care where they are or what cultural customs they follow.

    (Yes, I understand that the Phillipines are an American protectorate so they could all be considered somewhat 'american' but you know what I meant)
    The Philippines are not an American protectorate. The Philippines have been a completely sovereign nation since 1946. They were ceded from the Spanish to the United States in the Spanish-American War in 1898. That relationship lasted until WWII, when the Japanese took the islands. After WWII, the Philippines became a fully independent nation. The United States had military bases there until the early 1990s.
  • Re:Great Story: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by koreaman ( 835838 ) <> on Monday February 19, 2007 @11:23PM (#18076974)
    Of course your post wasn't meant to insult Filipinos -- one could hardly demand that an entire population speak a foreign language fluently.

    I'm not discussing the companies' practice of making foreigners pretend to be Americans. I think it's stupid and easily seen through, and I don't see why they do it.

    In any case, I don't see how a lack of speaking American English and understanding American culture could be detrimental to technical support. What's the last time you needed slang and pop culture references to communicate with a technical support representative? It's not a situation of two buddies chatting over a beer, it's an individual communicating with a paid professional in a somewhat formal setting.

    I'm not talking about whether Indian or American technical support is superior. I know American technical support is. I don't see how this applies, as we're talking about the Philippines, not India, so your examples are meaningless.

    I hope that someday you meet one or more native Filipinos and speak English with them. I firmly believe that you will be pleasantly surprised.
  • by Morlark ( 814687 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @11:37PM (#18077094) Homepage

    Which means there there are people out there who may not want their hardware requirements dictated by an OS they're not even going to install.

    Erm, I haven't really used the Dell system configurator whatchamajingle very much, but just from reading this the gist of the OP seems to be that Dell are unnecessarily limiting your hardware options if you choose the no OS option. i.e. We want Dell to be reducing the limitations, not adding them as you seem to be implying. Yes, you're right that there are probably people who don't want their hardware requirements dictated by an OS they're not going to install. But the OS-that-isn't-being-installed doesn't try to limit our anonymous consumers hardware choices. Dell does. At least that's what I picked up from reading this thread.

  • Re:Great Story: (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @02:27AM (#18078428)
    I don't think he's talking about race at all. I mean, look at celebrities like Eminem and Kevein Federline. They're white, but they buy into the urban ghetto culture. Yet when you hear them speak, they speak like fucking retards. There are many people who speak English as their second or third language better than Eminem and Federline speak it as their first.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly