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Dell To Linux Users — Not So Fast 356

PetManimal writes to tell us that after all the hubbub over Dell's note about manufacturing Linux-friendly Dells and choosing distros, the company is now telling users not to expect factory-installed Linux laptops and desktops anytime soon. According to the article, Dell says that lining up certification, support, and training will 'take a lot of work.' "The company said today that the note was just about certifying the hardware for being ready to work with Novell SUSE Linux, not an announcement that the computers would be loaded and sold with the operating system in the near future..."
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Dell To Linux Users — Not So Fast

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  • by purify0583 ( 1063046 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:26AM (#18177326)
    Couldnt Dell just use hardware that is compatible with SUSE (the SUSE people probably have a list somewhere...), and then pass the burden of software support along to SUSE? If your program doesnt install correctly on your Dell, you call MS, not Dell. If your HD dies, then you call Dell. And I'm guessing that their customer base will not be needing that much support, because the people who buy a Dell with linux pre-installed are probably the same people who buy a computer preloaded with MS, nuke the drive, and install their favorite linux distro all by themselves. I dont understand why tech support would be the thing holding Dell back. Maybe this is a cop-out?
  • by StickyWidget ( 741415 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:27AM (#18177334)

    Before we do this, you love me don't you???? Couldn't resist. I'm so getting flamed for this one...

    Dell needs to continue listening to its customers, and give me Linux on my Dell (dude). The first step for this should be a Linux hardware forum where they discuss possible chipsets and identify possible incompatibilities before they occur. An open forum by such a large manufacturer may also put some pressure on chip and card manufacturers to open source their drivers.

    The Widget of Sticky

  • by tolldog ( 1571 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:34AM (#18177378) Homepage Journal
    Maybe they are just waiting for some poll that isn't flooded by people who really love linux but have no plans on buying a Dell.

    Yes, its good they are considering Linux on their machines. But how many people will actually buy it? How big is the market for Dell to bother with selling it? Most people using Linux in the workplace already have their preferred Linux hardware vendor. Most people that are Dell shops are MS exclusively. That leaves the companies that have mixed vendors and home and personal use.

    Verifying hardware and drivers and support staff will take time and money. They can't switch overnight, not Dell. They are too big to do it quickly. If they don't do it right the first time, they will alienate everybody that may have been interested in the past as well as losing the money they spent on failing. If they take their time and do it right, they can start eating in to HP and other hardware vendors that ship with Linux certified.
  • by sl1thy ( 1069466 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:39AM (#18177404)
    "Also I've never heard of any issues with laptops or desktops" Then you've never looked very hard. I own a Dell laptop and can say that the overall experience under Linux isn't the same as Windows because of Dell. Dell has custom tweaks in the ATI driver that provides better performance (aside from that fact that Linux ATI drivers suck) as well as adjustments for the LCD that I can't change in Linux. Don't even get me started on my Dell wifi card which is based on a broadcom chipset. Since 2.6.17, I have had native kernel support, but there are still some APs that I can't connect to, for example APs that use shared WEP keys.
  • Why SUSE? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delire ( 809063 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:40AM (#18177412)
    SUSE doesn't have any real community momentum these days and - at least from what I hear - is still plagued by spiralling dependency problems. Have they or are they going to sort this stuff out?

    The documentation and community around Ubuntu is so strong that they'd surely get far less phone-calls if they chose this distribution, while 're-selling' Ubuntu's commercial support option if the customer desired it. In other words, ship with Ubuntu soon/now and just outsource the support to either the community or the paid pros? I'm sure if Dell was to start shipping with Ubuntu pre-installed Mark would consider edging something like 'Feisty' into LTS status.

    I would be surprised if the only reason they wouldn't do something like this is to meet MS half way, as their SUSE vendor. It's obvious the most noise regarding Linux on Dell points toward Ubuntu.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a daily Ubuntu user, I've just seen users that try it stick to it for a sustained period, whether coming from SUSE, Windows, Fedora or OS X.
  • by Compholio ( 770966 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:41AM (#18177426)

    People who want linux preloaded also want professional grade support.
    Not necessarily, I voted for it and I can honestly say that as long as they sell a reasonably complete "works with linux" package I'd be happy. I would prefer that I can select an option to have it preloaded with Ubuntu and all the proprietary drivers but I definitely don't need "professional grade support". I plan on buying a new system this summer and I'm hoping that I can get it pre-built (cost of individual components relative to a pre-built system is getting kinda ridiculous). When I looked for systems that meet my needs on Dell's website I ran into the following problems:

    1) No high-end AMD systems (their instruction set is better supported on Linux)
    2) High-end systems do not provide an option for high-end nVidia cards (their drivers work better on linux)
    3) All high-end systems require purchase of MS Windows

    These problems are unacceptable and force me to look for alternative manufacturers. If you know of someone that will actually build a good linux system (desktop system, thank you very much) then let me know, otherwise I'm going to end up doing it myself again - and honestly, that's getting irritating.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:42AM (#18177436)
    There is a lot more ugly stuff going on behind the scenes than most of us can imagine and this is probably just one of many ways Microsoft threatens computer vendors:
    http://news.com.com/Did+Microsoft+want+to+whack+De ll+over+its+Linux+dealings/2100-1014_3-6153904.htm l [com.com]
  • by StickyWidget ( 741415 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:49AM (#18177490)
    No, Dell won't do Linux in house. It would be a waste of money. The idea is to pay someone to design a computer system, pay someone to identify and create the default OS and OS configuration, pay someone to identify what software should be part of this endeavor, pay someone to put in all the nifty dell graphics and popups, and then pay someone to create a default install image (with some minor changes per drive to allow licensing, unique identifying, parchesi, etc).

    Big companies do jack on their own these days, its (almost) all hired out consultants, and for good reason. Consultants are competitive, when you put an order out for bid a consultant will shave every dollar they can off the price to make sure they get the contract. This is why the open source model is so fantastic, the money in providing Open Source Services instead of Open Source Products is incredible, and it even allows for innovation (though if it's gonna be distributed, it has to come with the source). Constant, competitive, powerful innovation drives Open Source to be the BEST OF BREED, and that's who companies should hire.

    The Widget of Sticky
    A.K.A, The Adhesive Thingamajigger

  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:49AM (#18177494) Homepage Journal

    Sadly there is trouble with Dell hardware/software even in their 'big business' server sales. ... our group bought from Dell, and got machines with closed source, YOU CAN'T RELOAD THE OS WITHOUT OUR PROPRIETARY BINARIES software.

    Ugh, $60,000 worth of disposable equipment.

    Wouldn't it be nice if they had just picked some scsi cards that have free software drivers? How nice it would be if Dell used it's market might to ask for specifications or free drivers instead of how non free companies usually do it - asking the maker to keep things secret.

  • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:17AM (#18177708)
    <asbestos chainmail>

    Not to sound like a broken record around here, but why would Dell go out of their way to find components that work on an OS that is in direct competition with the one that ships with (currently) 100% of their hardware?

    Something about not biting hands that feed you?

    </asbestos chainmail>
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:53AM (#18178188) Homepage Journal

    Not to sound like a broken record around here, but why would Dell go out of their way to find components that work on an OS that is in direct competition with the one that ships with (currently) 100% of their hardware?

    For three simple reasons:

    1. Their users want it.
    2. Their users want it.
    3. Their users want it.

    You sell what your users want or you go out of business. What they sell now, contrary to their claim, does not really work with any of their hardware. Indeed, M$ is the source of all bogus compatibility problems, the people who gave you Winmodems and destroyed Alpha (remember 64 bit computing ten years ago?), who trashed Netscape and gave you rampant botnets, who crapped out OpenGL and gave you DirectX version 1 through 10 in far fewer years. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Hardware and software makers like simple and stable interfaces, M$ has done everything in their power to thwart real standardization. Their users know this and want something else.

    Something about not biting hands that feed you?

    Yes, it's strange but it's really customers that feed Dell, not M$. The only reason Dell does not give their customers what they want is because they are afraid of M$ biting them in the ass, which is already sore from their mistaken loyalty to Intel. As Vista tanks and other vendors start doing well, you will see how backward your thinking was. The fact they are even mentioning gnu/linux means Dell knows where their friends really are.

    Ask me again and I'll tell you the same until I see different.

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @03:54AM (#18178504) Homepage
    Ok, so I can understand they need some time to get Linux properly tested on their laptops, I don't mind that. How about their number 5 popular idea at ideastorm then: "No OS Preloaded".

    Surely it doesn't take a lot of time to manage to deliver a laptop or computer just with a plain-old *empty* hard-disc ? I don't see what testing or certifying or whatever should be needed to do that. It's also what most nerds would want anyway, because you can bet whatever linux-variant Dell opts for ain't going to be precisely the one you want anyway.

    A "naked" variant for all their computers would be a good first step, and should be easy.

  • by pugdk ( 697845 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @04:07AM (#18178554) Homepage
    Will Dell PCs with linux be cheaper than the SAME model with windows or will everyone still be eligible for the Microsoft tax? If there is no price decrease on models bearing linux this is all a hoax, then you're paying for something you're not getting (windows) and still lining the pockets of Microsoft.

    Most likely the price will be the same, because a PC without Windows promotes piracy!!!11 Right.
  • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @05:09AM (#18178890)
    That IS why HP did better than Dell with AMD and Linux. The number of incompetent "I just have an IT degree" admins are starting to decline. So are Dell's sales. Coincidence?

    Any IT Dept. with a brain steers clear of Dell. That's why I said "Dell is selling what THEIR users want." HP's customer base is wholly different than Dell's! Why are you arguing with me when we are saying the exact same thing?!?!??

    Dell isn't dumb, but their customers are those who (at the moment) want Intel, Server 2003, and a support contract so they can guarantee to the CIO that "It'll just work".

    Of course Vista is going to tank (Dell knows it), why do you think they are even paying lip service to the idea of selling Linux?
  • by Greventls ( 624360 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @07:24AM (#18179490)
    Your server administrators would trust an OS they didn't install? Unless the device is a prepackaged solution we can't touch anyway, the policy is to always reload the operating system where I work.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @08:15AM (#18179736) Journal

    Of course Vista is going to tank

    Of course it deserves to tank, but we'll have to see how it shakes out. I've been wondering if there isn't an effort going on at Microsoft to rewrite the OS without the (intentional) problems. It couldn't be done as a Service Pack, because it would mean they'd have to admit failure. I'm guessing a completely different nameplate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @09:11AM (#18180066)
    Typing this on a Dell which came with XP which I removed and installed FC6. Not that hard, really. You know what I'd like to see?? A PC w/no OS that comes with Linux certified hardware. Simple as that. Then, I can install whatever distro suits my fancy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @09:29AM (#18180200)
    Why won't Dell sell a laptop WITHOUT an OS? Then there is nothing to support!
    Let the community "support" it. The fact that you cannot buy a laptop without
    paying the Microsoft tax is pretty telling. If I have to pay a laptop OS tax, I
    might as well pay it to Apple where I at least get a useful and reliable OS
    in return.

    For people who can't figure out how to install an OS, sell them the craptastic
    Vista but for the rest of us, just sell a machine with a blank HD, some diags on
    a CD (so we can prove that the machine is busted if and when it is) and be done
    with it. They'll sell boat loads of them.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @10:59AM (#18181098) Homepage
    Dell is also notorious for tweaking hardware or just plain having inconsistent builds. They're like a network company that likes to switch out wifi and wired nic chipsets on you while not bothering to change the model name on the box.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!