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Linux Business

Pre-Installed Linux On Dells Coming 340

When Michael Dell took back the reins of he company he founded, one of the first things he did was to launch the feedback site Dell Idea Storm. Following up on the recent Slashdot discussion of the early results of this experiment — an overwhelming expressed desire for pre-loaded LinuxDell reports on what it plans to do with this feedback. Quoting: "[W]e are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. [On the question of which distro to choose:] "[T]here is no single customer preference for a distribution of Linux... We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems. In addition to working with Novell, we are also working with other distributors and evaluating the possibility of additional certifications across our product line."
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Pre-Installed Linux On Dells Coming

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  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:29PM (#18147860) Homepage Journal
    http://www.emperorlinux.com/mfgr/dell/ [emperorlinux.com]
    Several other good manufacturers, to boot.
    Rock solid, hard drive laid out to your taste, including dual boot configurations with that lesser operating system.
    My biggest quibble is they don't Gentoo, but if you're batty enough to run that (like me) you probably know what to do. ;)
  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:34PM (#18147906) Homepage
    Ubuntu makes very good sense for Dell to distribute, especially since they've licensed Click'n'Run [slashdot.org] from Linspire. Should make the average user's life easier when they want to listen to /watch their media files, besides Ubuntu being a great desktop distro.

    Kudos to Dell - let's hope they're willing and able to do this right.

  • Re:Crapplets (Score:2, Informative)

    by gradedcheese ( 173758 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:36PM (#18147920)
    Right. Dell PC prices are highly subsidized by the sheer amount of crap that they pre-load. However in Linux it can be the same as the current situation: open the box and unpack the new PC, format the hard disk, and re-install the OS...

    Personally, I just care that they'll have to use Linux-supported hardware (Intel wireless + video and so on). If one distribution runs, I can assume that my favorite one will work as well. As a ThinkPad user, I am upset about Lenovo's handling of the ThinkPad line, so this move might just get me to buy a Dell as my next laptop.
  • Re:FCC (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArbitraryConstant ( 763964 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:12PM (#18148200) Homepage
    Why is it bad for them to focus on a niche? It doesn't preclude them also making better looking or cheaper computers.

    Moreover, if they become a solid Linux vendor, they'll be able to pick up a lot of high-margin sales pretty easily. There's plenty of professionals using Linux on some pretty pricey hardware. It doesn't take much volume to make up for the effort if it's high-end workstations you're talking about, and getting the hardware certified with major Linux distros would allow them to keep a lot of the OS-related costs that currently go to Microsoft.

    It's not going to save the company, but it does have the potential to be a profitable niche.
  • by Red Alastor ( 742410 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:13PM (#18148208)
    Ubuntu have an OEM version which would make life much easier for Dell.

    Beside, Canonical is providing support for Ubuntu.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:20PM (#18148280)
    Dell is paying consumers to use Windows! The exact same Dell Latitude D520 Notebook costs $48 MORE if it comes with no operating system than if it comes with Windows. Here are the specs and links to Dell's online shop:

    Processor: Intel® Core(TM) 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz) 2M L2 Cache, 667Mhz Dual Core
    LCD Panel: 14.1 inch XGA LCD Panel
    Memory: 512MB, DDR2-533 SDRAM
    Hard drive: 60GB 5400RPM
    Modular Bay Optical: 8X DVD
    Wi-Fi Wireless Card: Dell Wireless(TM) 1390 802.11g Mini Card
    All other options: set to "none".

    The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747.

    So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned! That's hardy Linux friendly or even consumer friendly. It's downright rotten, and I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't going to end up in an anti-trust lawsuit against Dell and Microsoft.
  • by Shatrat ( 855151 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:21PM (#18148288)
    You can already do this from places like System 76 [system76.com]
    Sure, it's not a huge company like Dell, but they have support and warranties and after having dealt with the Dell's belonging to my family members, I can't imagine the support being any less useful than Dell.
  • Re:Vanilla "Linux"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:24PM (#18148308) Homepage

    That's true, but as others have pointed out when you get right down to it, Linux is Linux is Linux because it's all about the kernel. As long as they use parts that have drivers in the kernel provide the drivers, you're golden. Same with other little utilities to modify things. They'll all run on Linux, it doesn't matter if the user is using KDE or GNOME. To a certain degree there are only 4 or so distros out there: Red-Hat based, Debian Based, Slackware Based, and Other. Dell can offer any flavor they want (all Fedora, all the time) but as long as the little parts are there then the people who want can go to Ubuntu, Gentoo, or whatever.

    On top of that, Linux is free and much more forgiving of hardware changes. Replace the motherboard in a Windows computer and you can run into all sorts of problems. Do it on Linux and if you have it set up right you'll barely notice the change. This means that they could easily offer 2 or 3 distibutions with little additional effort and very little additional cost to them. It's not like going between Windows, OS X, BeOS, and FreeBSD. Fedora and SuSe are based on much the same stuff.

    I agree though, it will be very interesting to see how they handle all this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @10:45PM (#18148464)
    Certification is a *very* low bar for Dell to achieve. In general it means that the system can be installed, and the graphical user interface can come up, that is it.

    The cost for an OEM to pre-install and support Linux properly is currently far higher that Windows. This is because of the variance in distributions and the general maturity of Linux from support perspective. And of course Dell is all about support (well, more correctly, Dell's business model is logistics, and each support contact costs eats into their profit and loss for the system.

    In most cases, they don't even contact the IHV to ensure that the drivers for that hardware will work. Even without a preload,ensuring that a level of driver support is available would be a huge boon.
  • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:08PM (#18148584)
    As long as "Linux" has the drivers for the hardware. That's all that matters.

    It's my understanding that the dilema for Linux is that device manufactures are reluctant to have their hardware designs exposed in Linux code, therefore they usually don't give out their specs to Linux developers.

    Even if OEMs were willing to offer the same non-disclosure agreements to Linux developers as they offer to Windows developers, with the understanding that these developers distribute binary-only drivers, you'd still have the problem that Linus and the core kernel developers have said many times they're never going to go out of their way to support backward compatibility of binary drivers. Any such support would inhibit the free development of the kernel.

    But apps in Linux depend not only on your kernel version but many other things: what desktop you're using (some apps compile differently for gnome than they do for kde), what libs you have, not only if you have gtk, but what version.

    All this is great for a hacker like me. But the problem for Dell will be in choosing from the gazillions of combinations that make GNU/Linux what it is.

    I say, good luck to them. But it's not going to be easy if your customers just expect everything to be like it is in a Windows world.
  • Re:Yeah, right. (Score:3, Informative)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:28PM (#18148698) Homepage Journal

    Um, they're talking to Novell.

    Novell and MicroSoft, ring a bell?

    Microsoft will probably support this.

    Have your forgotten your history?

    Or when you say, 'Microsoft will probably support this,' do you actually mean 'Microsoft will take this opportunity to ass-rape Novell exactly the same way they did to IBM, Stacker, Lotus, WordPerfect and Novell[*]: Put them in a position where they rely on Microsoft's good graces, then cut their throats.'

    Because if that's what you meant, I couldn't agree more. 8^)

    [*] Novell? Yeah, Novell. This is the second time the corporation has made a formal alliance with Microsoft. The last time this happened, Microsoft positively buried Novell by ensuring that they understood enough about NDS to bootstrap their own AD product, and to make sure that NDS would never peacefully co-exist with Windows NT. Don't believe me? Read the court documents. Novell won a very large settlement from them, but it was too late to save their business.

  • by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:32PM (#18148718)

    What if the price differnce is spent in making sure the linux works on everything? I mean Dell forks a Distro, setd up maintainers, brands it themselves and you have the option of Dell linux or MS windows for the same price?

    From a recent post by a Dell guy on the Fedora Advisory Board list [redhat.com], I get the impression that Dell isn't in a hurry to fork a distro even just for re-branding. And that's juuuust fine by me. I don't care what distro they offer, so long as the hardware can be made to work with any Linux distro.

    If that means a Dell repo with some proprietary drivers, that's fine with me (for now). I wouldn't want Dell to offer ATI or nvidia hardware only for Windows configurations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:34PM (#18148732)
    Umm... that system you linked to is $669. Maybe they've changed it after you linked it to make you look foolish!

    To compare apples to apples, you must change the hardware options on the no-OS laptop to match those found by default on the Windows laptop: Hard drive and Modular Bay Optical. Then you'll see that the laptop without an OS is $48 more expensive.
  • by IdolizingStewie ( 878683 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @12:30AM (#18149054)
    The difference between the D520 and D520N you mentioned is the lack of Windows. That's what the N signifies.
  • by XB-70 ( 812342 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @12:42AM (#18149112)
    If you think for a second that Dell is going to give up lucrative revenue from selling less software, give your head a shake!! Notice that the proposed option will only be available on higher-end (for Dell) hardware. You are not going to see a rock-bottom box with Linux on it. John Q. Public would kill Dell's margins with all the support calls.
  • by Myrcutio ( 1006333 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @02:17AM (#18149568)
    Whether or not Dell succeeds with this (assuming they try) depends mostly on the cost, rather than the functionality. Most of the general public that buys personal computers is only interested in web browsing and e-mail, i work for a PC retailer and i've heard many claim as much. When someone looks at a PC and decides if they want it, the first thing they ask isn't will it work, they take that as a given, the real question is "how much?". If Dell can retail a desktop running Linux for the same price or less than what the equivalent windows machine goes for, then Micro$oft will lose market share. Naturally, MS isn't going to stand for that, they have their monopoly and they like it. If Dell starts to give away some of the market to linux (and it would literally be GIVING it away, if you compare OS cost difference) then i would predict with absolute certainty that MS would put alot of pressure on Dell to ruin it somehow. We've all heard the stories of Microsofts business practices, use your imagination.
  • by clikc ( 1067892 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:15AM (#18149886)
    wouldn't that defeat the purpose? it is true that systems are cheaper in general because the companies pay dell, hp or sony to put there trial versions on the systems, basically premo-advertiseing, but if you purchase a dell system w/ out an OS it is cheaper i mean maybe i just have the inside deal (not inclueding a discount) but i've priceds are systems cheaper w/out an os.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:38AM (#18150024) Homepage

    Try configuring a Dell D520 with Windows [dell.com] and a Dell 520 without Windows. [dell.com] Select the same hardware options on both. (Note that the default for the non-Windows machine is a 40GB hard drive and a CD drive only, but the default for the Windows machine is a 60GB hard drive and a DVD drive. Adjust options to match.)

    With Microsoft: $699. Without Microsoft: $747.

    And Dell won't even install Linux. They give you FreeDOS.

  • by johnw ( 3725 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @04:23AM (#18150252)

    All major brand-name computers come with a ton of crapware pre-installed.
    The best performance enhancement you can achieve for a new XP-based computer is to remove all the Norton AV and related Norton stuff. Boot up and shut down time improve by a factor of at least 4. Install a decent AV program like AVG instead.
  • Re:Vanilla "Linux"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Abnormal Coward ( 575651 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @04:31AM (#18150292)
    BeOS and OpenBSD are NOT linux !
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, 2007 @04:33AM (#18150304)
    "When you eliminate Windows, you also eliminate the extra revenue from pre-installed crapware."

    And it's worth crapware makers paying Dell to put the stuff on there, because, as with spam, enough customers respond to be worth doing it.

    Last time I had a Windows box I took Norton Internet Security with its millions of useless functions off my machine, switched on the built-in Windows firewall and the built-in Windows Security Center, downloaded Windows Defender, and put on Eset's NOD32 (which is considerably lighter and faster, as well as having a better record for catching malware).

    I'm not currently running Windows, so I don't need an AV. IMO, a lightweight AV from the likes of Eset or Kasperksy is preferable to paying on a yearly basis for a full "security suite" from the likes of Symantec of McAfee and getting your machine slowed to a crawl.

    But on Linux or Mac OS X you need nothing at all.

    Customers might pay a little more upfront to Dell for a Linux box, but what they're apparently "saving" on the Windows box they're paying back several times over to the likes of Symantec every year. It would cost more in the long run.

  • by HuskyDog ( 143220 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @06:58AM (#18151006) Homepage
    I just bought an OS free laptop in the UK from Transtec [transtec.co.uk]. I could have had it with SuSE pre-installed for a bit extra. The default hardware spec is different for the OS free machines, but if you configure them to be the same as the Windows ones then they are cheaper (i.e. there is no negative Windows cost as others have reported). Although Transtec mostly supply business customers, they will sell to individuals. I am happy with the machine and it is now running Gentoo just fine.

    There are very few UK companies who will see you a Linux or OS free laptop. One of the others told me that they get theirs from Lenovo, but can only occasionally get one without an OS. In other cases they remove Windows and try to claim back the cost from their wholesaler. Occasionally, this works. So, in most cases money is still going to Microsoft. I don't like this idea, so I was pleased when Transtec told me that their OS free machines have never had any OS installed and so none of my money would go to Redmond. This might be a point worth checking if you are looking for a linux laptop.

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