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Shuttleworth Tells Linux Users to Stop Being So Fussy For OEMs 386

Anonymous writes "Mark Shuttleworth says Linux users may need to stop being so fussy when putting demands on OEMs for pre-installed Linux PCs. CRN finds a response to Shuttleworth that seems to be both amusing and telling at the same time."
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Shuttleworth Tells Linux Users to Stop Being So Fussy For OEMs

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  • Fatal flaw (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:39AM (#18348009)

    Linux users may need to stop being so fussy when putting demands on OEMs for pre-installed Linux PCs

    The reason most of us got to be Linux users in the first place was fussiness: we didn't like what commercial OS vendors did with their stuff so we went to open source so we could improve upon it any time we wanted. The average user just doesn't care that much about the OS they're running; vanilla Windows or OS X is good enough for the masses.

    If you Venn-ed "Linux users" and "people who can control their fussiness", you'd have very little overlap.
    • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:51AM (#18348189)
      To be fair to Shuttlesworth, he didn't actually tell us to stop being fussy. He said we are fussy, without making any judgements. And that this fact would make it harder for Dell to satisfy us. I don't know why the /. article claims he said that.
      • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:55PM (#18350423) Homepage Journal

        He said we are fussy, without making any judgements. And that this fact would make it harder for Dell to satisfy us.

        All anyone cares about is to have hardware with free drivers, from there any distro can be installed. The continued acceptance of M$'s inferior GUI and software for "hardware compatibility" is proof that the vast majority of computer users just want the system to work and will put up with all sorts of security and performance issues to get that level of "convenience". If Dell would select or demand hardware with free drivers, every major gnu/linux distribution would work - that's not hard at all. Picky people are going to reinstall the OS anyway and no one will blame Dell for that.

        The of Mark's criticism that sticks is this:

        If Microsoft reduces the per-PC marketing contribution it makes for a particular reseller, that puts them at a huge financial disadvantage relative to their competitors. This means that one of the biggest issues a computer manufacturer or reseller faces in considering Linux pre-installations is the impact it will have on the Microsoft relationship, and hence bottom line.

        Anti-competitive pressure is what this ever boils down to. It will go away as hardware prices drop below $200 or so, because there's no room for software costs at that price point. That Dell is making noises like this now is good evidence that there's not much room for software costs at the $400 price point. The corporate price point is already there and that's why so many companies are dumping M$. The first vendor to deliver a $200 computer with nothing but free software on it is going to win big time and there's nothing M$ will be able to do about it.

        • All anyone cares about is to have hardware with free drivers, from there any distro can be installed.

          Yeah I agree. I may be fussy about what my computer ends up like, but I can take care of the details. All I need from the likes of Dell is for them to offer something that I know for certain will work with Linux. In that respect I don't think I am fussy at all, and that Shuttleworth is wrong here.

          But you know, there's some in every crowd and if Dell were to offer Linux laptops now without doing a lot mo
          • by TENTH SHOW JAM ( 599239 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @05:44PM (#18354655) Homepage
            If anyone could put pressure on the hardware market, it would be Dell. Imagine for a moment that Dell decreed that they would no longer purchase hardware from anyone who did not document their hardware in such a way that an open driver could be written. (hell, let's get the BSD crowd on side too). Dell then say to random video card manufacturers, "can you do it?". They reply "Yes. because it means we make $BIGNUM sales to you".

            If it's a choice between releasing your trade secrets and going broke, most companies will have their specs on the front page of the "wall street journal".

            The Open Source crowd get what they want. (libre drivers) Dell get what they want, (more PC sales to that noisy rabble who affect corporate sales), the hardware manufacturers get what they want, (big contracts with Dell) so everyone is happy. With the exception of some chair chucker from redmond.
        • "All anyone cares about is to have hardware with free drivers, from there any distro can be installed."

          Exactly! That is the key...

          Take that hardware you suggest. Provide a bootable CD meant to test that the hardware is working properly.

          From there they have many choices which will be acceptable for reasonable people.

          1. Sell the machine with no OS installed. There is no (gratis?) software support. Users install OS of choice. If something goes wrong, vendor tells you to pop in live diagnostics CD. Let it boot
        • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @05:23PM (#18354365)
          "All anyone cares about is to have hardware with free drivers, from there any distro can be installed."

          That hits the mark, yes. And it is *VERY* easy for Dell to find the way so it's good for everybody: certify for Debian "Stable", that's all.

          Debian is a known distribution that only uses free software and it's not bleeding edge. In sort: if it works on Debian Stable, it will work with any other. Still, Dell people is corporate, but Debian helps here too. What are the chances for a Debian-certified hardware not to work on RHEL or Suse? I'll bet they are almost nihil, so once certified on Debian re-certify for Red Hat and Suse is nuts. Even more: is the case that you want some hardware certifiable (think PERC)? No problem: Debian is an open community you will find far easier developing open source drivers and have them included on Debian as far as they are good quality than with anyone else that can have their own corporate portfolio.

          So let's sort this again. Mr Dell: by certifying Debian you...
          1) Will be certifying one of the most popular distributions
          2) Will satisfy users of not so well known distributions (if it works with Debian you can bet it'll work with Arch, Slackware, Gentoo... you name it, and that's all that need and can expect users of such distributions)
          3) Will satisfy FOSS zealots: if it works on "vanilla" Debian Stable this means it works over true tested open source software with no "small letter" involved
          4) You still have an easy path for "corporate" distributions like Red Hat or Suse: since it works with Debian, you have an easy way to certify for Red Hat or Suse.

          I don't think it requieres a genious mind to see this.
        • The first vendor to deliver a $200 computer with nothing but free software on it is going to win big time and there's nothing M$ will be able to do about it.
          Didn't Walmart do exactly that a couple of years back, with Lindows preinstalled?

          I seem to remember it wasn't such a huge success... although I could be wrong as I live in the UK and haven't seen first-hand how popular they are, but I certainly haven't read anything about them in ages.
    • Umm... (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by kiwimate ( 458274 )
      +5 Insightful? Okay. But irrelevant to the actual article.

      Or, if you prefer, you extend it to hardware to say you're fussy enough that you will build your own system rather than buying a Dell/whatever.

      Put it the other way around: Dell did not get to be a hardware distributor to satisfy Mr. Dell's fussiness. It was to make a profit.

      The rest of the article follows on from there.
    • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#18348323)

      If you Venn-ed "Linux users" and "people who can control their fussiness", you'd have very little overlap.
      Personally I get the impression that those Linux users that are vocal about Dell et al supporting and providing Linux are not the same group that would ever use a Dell provided install - preciselly because of the issue you highlight.
      • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BillGod ( 639198 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:19PM (#18348723)
        I don't care what flavor they sell it with. Hell give me option of no OS. I dont want to pay more for a pc to come with windows so I can take it home and format the drive.
        • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:28PM (#18348889)
          I think the biggest complaint the OSS community has is not that we can't buy a preconfigured Linux box from a major vendor, but that we are forced to buy an OS we don't want.

          And the truth then comes out in Shuttleworth's article. MS tried tying, and was told to stop. So they tried cliff pricing and were told to stop. Now it's giving vendors advertising money on a per-box basis.

          There's no law against it, but aren't there laws about monopolies being anti-competitive? Isn't that what got MS into trouble all the times before? Isn't that what they're doing now?

          I'm a libertarian (small "L"), and even I can see that government intervention is sometimes justified.
      • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Znork ( 31774 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:58PM (#18349389)
        Of course I wont be using a Dell provided install, it'll probably be outdated by the time it ships anyway, so what would be the point?

        Personally I'm interested in Dell shipping linux because of two things: first, if they ship _one_ working Linux version, any version, the nature of the GPL makes sure that any other Linux version will also work, or easy to get to work.

        Second: For ethical reasons I prefer not to give money to Microsoft, which means I'm through with buying products which entail payment to them.

        In the end, any fussiness regarding Linux distributions simply doesnt impact Dell any more than Windows users fussiness about games, applications or desktop backgrounds. I dont care what they ship on it; I want the assurance that the fundamental product will work as expected. Ensure the hardware is supported by available open drivers, ship something reasonably (not too new, not too old) mainstream, and leave the users themselves to deal with their own fussiness.
        • The MAIN issue is that preconfigured systems will be known to be fully Linux compatible.

          Probably the best choice for Dell would just support ONE current distro of the Ubuntu type, or pehaps Mandriva which is a bit less anal about using binary blobs.

          This allows ALL supported hardware to work out of the box, and virtually guarantees that ANY modern distro will work on all the hardware in the box, if the user chooses to reinstall.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by jcr ( 53032 )
      The average user just doesn't care that much about the OS they're running; vanilla Windows or OS X is good enough for the masses.

      That being the case, what does the vendor have to gain by selling Linux pre-installed? Remember, if you're not talking about a million units a year in incremental sales improvements, Linux is barely a rounding error on a financial statement.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      The reason most of us got to be Linux users in the first place was fussiness: we didn't like what commercial OS vendors did with their stuff so we went to open source so we could improve upon it any time we wanted.

      Then improve upon it and stop whining that hardware vendors support it. You can't have it both ways.

      The very reason enterprise Linux vendors today (like RedHat/Novell) can sell an OS which is essentially free, is because the open source model is way too fussy for wide adoption and support in the i
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      For a current Linux user, buying a computer with Linux preinstalled is less appealing than buying a computer that would have a "100% linux Certified" sticker on it (where perhaps 100% means working with the most popular distros).

      And Linux users are fussy, perhaps. Although just because we are, that doesn't mean we need to be fanatical about which distribution Dell is offering. It doesn't matter too much. What matters is that there just is a preinstalled Linux on the damn thing, because that would be another
  • and then... (Score:5, Funny)

    by malevolentjelly ( 1057140 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:41AM (#18348027) Journal
    And then Mark Shuttleworth made the Linux community a glass of warm milk and sent them to bed...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvan256 ( 722131 )
      They could, of course, use the answers to say something along the lines of "After seeing the survey results, the demands of the Linux community are too diverse. For reasons of technical support, we cannot offer Linux as an OS option on our computers."

      Or something.
  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:44AM (#18348077)
    He wants us to be satisfied with a piece of technology (likely the most complicated one you own) doesn't work out of the box? What is he, retarded?

    Would you put up with that on other devices? Like an ipod that requires compiling, or a toaster that needs C statements to process bread?
    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:48AM (#18348151) Journal
      Ya it's like shipping DVD players without movies to watch, or a video game console without a game to play, or a 200 CD jukebox - WITH NO MUSIC ON IT!?!

      The computer works just fine out of the box. Pop in a bootable CD and watch it do it's thing, or have fun setting the date in the bios.

      • Ah, touche...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by apt142 ( 574425 )
        To me, you and the rest here on slashdot that makes perfect sense. To the average user, they'll be upset there were sold, in their minds, a $1000+ paperweight.

        And, while it would be tempting to say "tough shit, they can learn to stick in a disk", you can't expect that of the average user.

        The main thing slashdotters would be getting out of this is an exemption from the Micrsoft Tax. As far as OS's go, we're more than capable of formatting and installing what we like. So, the whole choice of pre-ins
    • by Vulva R. Thompson, P ( 1060828 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:03PM (#18348399)
      or a toaster that needs C statements to process bread?

      Wouldn't be so bad, just use a bakefile.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by smackt4rd ( 950154 )
      I thought that's the whole point of linux, something complicated and hard to use, so you can show everyone how smart you are. :)
  • by jojoba_oil ( 1071932 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:44AM (#18348079)
    If nothing else, that "response" seems to be more of a paraphrase than anything else, with a few links that are on the original anyways. And obviously the comment quoted by CRN doesn't understand the problem from the shoes of the OEMs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Agreed. That wasn't a response. It simply quoted a few paragraphs and then made NO COMMENTARY on them. Instead it cited a few facts that have little to do with what Shuttleworth said. The /. editors and submitter should be ashamed.
  • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 )
    I don't get the fuss about pre-installed linux. Isn't it enough that OEMs will ship a PC with no OS installed? There's just too many flavors and dickitry and infighting in the linux world, and I guarantee what Dell pre-installed on their boxes wouldn't be "the linux I want". Maybe it'll have KDE, and I want gnome, maybe it'll have gnome and I want fwvm, etc.

    Pre-installing Windows makes sense from a volume licensing standpoint - the consumer gets windows cheaper than retail. And the first thing I (and ma
    • Re:I do not (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The idea is that if a vendor ships boxes with Linus preinstalled that means that there are drivers for hardware in these boxes, that ACPI works OK with Linux and is not filled with MS-only quirks, etc, etc. Even if drivres initially are for specific distro they will find their way into the mainline pretty quickly.
    • by Taevin ( 850923 ) *

      I don't get the fuss about pre-installed linux. Isn't it enough that OEMs will ship a PC with no OS installed? There's just too many flavors and dickitry and infighting in the linux world, and I guarantee what Dell pre-installed on their boxes wouldn't be "the linux I want". Maybe it'll have KDE, and I want gnome, maybe it'll have gnome and I want fwvm, etc.

      This is true, but you forget that there are many people that would not be quite so picky. Many existing Linux users would likely be happy with an OEM

    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

      by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:05PM (#18348467)
      1. Business guys like Shuttleworth view success in terms of volume adoption and profitability.

      2. The vast majority of users don't understand that the hardware is separate from the OS. They can't comprehend that another OS will actually run on their hardware. PHB's included.

      Which leads us to the conclusion that resellers like Dell are a gateway to _very_ many end users.
    • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:08PM (#18348561)
      The big deal is hardware support. If the laptop comes with Windows preinstalled, there's no way of knowing if Linux drivers exist for, say, the wireless card.

      If they sell it with Linux, you can at least be sure that Linux drivers exist and that you'll be able to get everything working when you wipe the hard drive and install your favorite distro.

      Personally, I think laptops with Linux preinstalled is barking up the wrong tree. I'd much prefer if Dell, HP, etc. were to just provide a list of which of their models and hardware configurations include only hardware that is known to work well with Linux. They can provide just as much of a guarantee to me that I'll be able to get Slackware or whatever working without having to take the effort to set up all the infrastructure for preinstalling Linux.
      • Re:Hardware support (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MikeZ52 ( 314911 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:07PM (#18349541)
        One point........Dell, HP, etc. use pretty standard hardware across much of their platform line. They are huge customers of the component manufacturers, many of whom will not open their code to allow developers to write open source drivers. If the PC makers want to sell new machines to me, they should either:
        1.) Only purchase components for which open source drivers are available, or
        2.) Use their purchasing clout to persuade manufacturers to allow developers to write OSS drivers.

        In this scenario, I could purchase a machine either with or without the chosen distro and have some certainty that everything can be made to work when I decide to switch to my favorite flavor of the month.
    • I think just as long as it ships with a decent distro, it doesnt matter. Just supporting one distro should maen that drivers are available for all of the hardware.

      Just as long as the drivers are freely downloadable from somewhere, other distros can come along and check thier releases against your hardware.
    • and hope that the hardware works ok
    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      I don't care what it has on it. Preinstalled linux means that the hardware works. It means that I know regardless of distro, the kernel will make all my crap work without wanting to kill myself. I won't be fighting stupid driver issues, nonstandard hardware, etc. If you can order it with Preinstalled linux, it means your hardware is going to work with relative ease in linux.
    • by matt me ( 850665 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:53PM (#18349311)
      Selling blank PC's is stupid, because they'd be useless to anyone without a second computer and broadband handy (that's most people not on Slashdot), and a operating system is necessary to test the hardware functions correctly immediately after purchase. You wouldn't want to test three different OS just to find out the graphics card is bust and none of them were to blame. Imagine customer service telling you to keep trying different ones. There has to be a standard system on which to test hardware.

      Ship ANY free OS, it *REALLY* doesn't matter which, because almost every user is going to end up replacing it, but they must ship *something* that allows people to download their OS of choice (hell, this could even be windows). Computer boots up for the first time with a good list of links to various operating systems and a functioning network card. Experienced users can go download whatever kinky OS is their fetish. New users can make an informed choice. A few recent images of free OS could be thrown on for users without broadband. Maybe even links to offers to buy Windows and Mac OS at OEM prices. Wouldn't that be fair?

      What matters is that the user is free to choose, rather than free to choose after they've already been made to pay £100 for OEM Vista.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:45AM (#18348105)
    CRN finds a response to Shuttleworth that seems to be both amusing and telling at the same time.

    You mean the quote at the end? Yeah, it's "telling" -- it's telling of how thoroughly garden-variety forum idiots can't even conceive of the possibility that there's something about Dell's business that Dell understands and they don't, and not vice-versa. You'd think that if nothing else, the editors here, as employees of a failed Linux box provider, would understand that.

  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:48AM (#18348153)
    I think the problem becomes evident looking at the Dell survey...

    6) Which Linux distribution should Dell prioritize on?
            Commercial: Novell/SuSE Linux Desktop
            Commercial: Red Hat Enterprise Desktop
            Community Supported: Fedora
            Community Supported: OpenSUSE
            Community Supported: Ubuntu
            If 'Other', please specify

    People complain about several different versions of Windows Vista but you just named 5 completely different builds of a Linux OS, and there are several more I know some niche market people would like to see on that list too (like Kubuntu). Since if you roll out a SuSE based Linux machine several of the others would just say "Meh, I'll order it however and flatten it once I get it" you have a much smaller target audience who would actually buy it.

    And until a company can determine that there's a big enough audience who would buy a specific distro of linux on a computer they won't make efforts to support them.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:04PM (#18348437) Homepage Journal
      The key thing is that if it's shipped with any of these, especially a community supported distro, then wiping and reinstalling is cool, because you know the hardware has drivers available.

      If you just buy a generic Windows version of said box, the hardware may not be supported.

    • Exactly. Let Dell sell a box with a wiped out HD and a copy of SuSE or whatever. Maybe with a coupon for 6 months free support from Novell for the version of SuSE that's in the box.

      If they want the software installed, charge them extra and have the machine redirected to Novell to complete the installation.
  • by DeHackEd ( 159723 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:51AM (#18348185) Homepage
    For me, it's about the money. If I buy a laptop with Fedora Core 6 pre-installed (for the sake of argument), that money spent on the software would go to people who actually develop code for the system I bought, even if I nuke the hard drive and install $OTHER_DISTRO later. If I buy the same laptop with Windows on it, the money going to somebody with whom I have no interest in whatsoever.

    So, put some kind of non-Windows OS on it. If the software costs money, make sure it goes to the people who make the OS. Don't let Microsoft have it. Personally I'm okay with Red Hat getting a small amount of money for the system that will be turned into Gentoo. Microsoft, not so much.

    This is one of the big reasons we want Linux pre-installed -- evasion of the microsoft tax.
  • I don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xerxesVII ( 707232 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:51AM (#18348187)
    I followed the link expecting to read a response. All that I found was a copy and paste of a few snippets and some snark at the end about just slapping an install disc in and calling it good. I am as proud a Linux user as anyone around here, but I fail to see how that kind of "response" qualifies as productive or even linkworthy. I've seen more detailed discussion around here. I agree with Shuttleworth- if we want the big boys to start shipping with linux, we need to meet them half way and explain what we truly expect. This is a very large corporation we're dealing with, not a couple of friends building computers in the garage.
  • by jlowe ( 907739 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:52AM (#18348207) Homepage
    Obviously, Mark Shuttleworth has become a major voice in mainstream Linux. He raises some good points.

    He mentions the problem vendors face with the idea of Microsoft cutting some co-marketing funds. I really do not see much risk to Dell from this. After all, they already sell some OS-less (freedos) desktops and laptops (albeit fairly hidden). That to me seems like something for Microsoft to complain about more than selling preinstalled Linux machines. It should be understood that the cost of a pre-installed Linux machine will be more than a Windows machine. The additional software Dell installs on Windows helps them make money.

    Shuttleworth also brings up the valid and true point that Linux users are very fussy and picky. Linux users also are very specific with what they want. The problem being that Linux users will want specific hardware and a specific distribution. With Dell already talking about certifying several lines of machines for Linux, I see this problem disappearing completely. If the Inspiron notebook line is certified to work with Linux, then it should be trivial to have Dell install Linux instead of Windows Vista. Dell should decide on a specific distro to support, and preinstall that on the Linux computers. Then, if someone is a more "expert" Linux user, he or she can install whatever distro and version he or she wants. The main issue is that the Linux buyer is not buying Vista.
  • I've only bought one pre-built system in my life and have watched others with pre-builts. So many of these are packed with so much software that isn't needed by a most users that it degrades system performance and casues all kinds of conflicts. Frankly, I would rather the companies didn't bother. When I have often fixed pre-builts for friends, it has often involved junking a good chunk of the stuff that came with it. You get a far more stable and efficient machine when you build your own and only put on the
  • It doesn't really matter WHICH distro goes on the machine.
    But once they start delivering Linux on Dell machines the
    ugly issue of available drivers hopefully goes away...

    If Dell were to certify that model xyz comes with Linux pre-installed
    then I would know that most if not all of the hardware in was supported!

    Yes, I will flatten the machine and install the Distro of MY choice.
    But at least I'll know that the hardware in the box will go.

    Note to Dell etc...
    PLEASE supply tar archives of your d
  • In general, I assume no distro kernel has less support than the vanilla kernel, backports might be a different issue. So just chalk up the list like:

    Working functionality - vanilla kernel version
    Motherboard (POST) - 2.6.17
    ACPI Base - 2.6.14
    ACPI Sleep S1-S4 - 2.6.19
    SATA - 2.6.12
    RAID - 2.6.18
    Network - 2.6.18
    Sound - 2.6.19

    Seriously, isn't that the kernels job? If all are supported and the distro version is higher than the listed version, you're all good. Maybe they can throw in some extra info on driver qualit
  • They don't have to even sell systems with Linux, I think the biggest complaint Linux users have is they are forced to buy windows when they buy a pre-built system (yes, I know, there are a tiny group of vendors out there that may sell Linux boxes).

    One of Shuttleworth's complaints is that we even argue about which distribution we want.... again, sell the PC naked and include several DVDs of different distributions.

    He complains we're fussy, but that's not entirely accurate - we do want things to be a certain
  • Although I understand "i'm getting so sick and tired of hearing excuses and rationalizations.", I don't understand the amusing proposed solution of "just put the cd in the cupholder, install it and sell it. period. there's no need to analyze or certify."

    Installation of any popular Linux distribution isn't hard, and hasn't been hard for many years. There are two reasons for wanting Dell to preinstall Linux, and for both of them, there is a need for Dell to go beyond hitting "Next" on a bunch of installation
  • by FreeForm Response ( 218015 ) <> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:03PM (#18348397) Journal
    What I want from Dell is a commitment to selling a machine with hardware that is supported by the community. No Winmodems, no ndiswrapper, but actual, tested, "we put this in a box together and it works like we think it does" hardware.

    Past that, I couldn't possibly care less what distribution of Linux they throw on it. If it's a distribution I like and am willing to use, then more power to me. If not, "lsmod" and I'm off and installing the distribution of my choice. Either way, I'm golden.

    I own a Dell Inspiron 4100, and I remember what a holy terror getting Linux to run on that machine was (with full hardware support). If I could buy a laptop from Dell with a piece of paper that says, "The network adapter uses the 'eepro100' driver," etc., then I would be a happy customer.
    • by replicant108 ( 690832 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:19PM (#18349775) Journal
      Sometimes I wish posts could get modded to '6'.

      If Dell introduced a hardware certification programme:

      1. They would not have to do any post-sales linux support.
      2. Such a programme would have a finite cost-per-system, and would give their product-line a clear competitive advantage.
      3. It would buy lots of good karma and word-of-mouth marketing from the community.
      4. It would reduce the impediments to widespread Linux adoption - and MS's leverage in business deals.

  • Reading over the Dell forums and comments it seems like a bunch of spoiled, whining children over there. It's really not the best way to encourage someone to do you a favor.

    The worst part are that the most vocal are the "I don't want to pay the Microsoft tax" portion. If these folks had their way, what Dell would provide is an entirely separate line of Linux PC's that may or may not run Windows.

    That's not what I'd want, for a couple of reasons:

    1) I use Windows and Linux, and I'd like to have a computer th
  • Part of what makes Macs so reliable is that Apple offers the OS on a limited configuration of computers-having perhaps 100 machines that need to work with the current OSX versus millions of possible configurations for Vista. I do not see why someone running a Linux distribution, like Ubuntu, does not just publish a very detailed specification of what will work best with their OS and then allow a vendor like Dell to sell PCs which precisely map to this configuration. That way Ubuntu, or whatever, gets better
    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      I do not see why someone running a Linux distribution, like Ubuntu, does not just publish a very detailed specification of what will work best with their OS
      The websites of the distros should have some sort of "What peripherals do you own", so you can select from menus (printers, mouses, graphics cards, video capture device, scanners, etc) and the distro tells you which peripherals work or not.
  • What I want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TopSpin ( 753 ) * on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:05PM (#18348475) Journal
    Not really interested in OEM installation of any specific distro. They'll do it wrong or pollute it as they do Windows. What good is that?

    What I want is machines designed with components that are supported by mature Linux drivers. For almost any given component there are implementations that have good Linux driver support and others that don't. Select only components with good driver support, explicitly advertise this policy with adequate technical information, charge a modest premium for it if you must and give me the same hardware warranty as your other products. Seems fairly simple to me.

    That's all I want. You can stop fussing about distros now. That and support lines for Linux; I won't be calling unless your hardware fails.

  • by Ignatius ( 6850 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:17PM (#18348689)
    Linux customers could care less about the pre-installed distrib, but the do care about 100% Linux compatability of the hardware, which is pretty much the same over all distribs (modulo non-free drivers). After all, even for large roll-outs, "installing" a customized system on identical hardware simply means gunzipping a prepared disk image (which can also include the partition table).

    Therefore the best way to go about it would probably be to merely install a minimum system with a small footprint (1 GB max) but all hardware drivers installed and configuered in order to demonstrate Linux compatibility and to allow to check the hardware. The distrib should not matter in this case. Then, the customer can install his favorite Linux distrib and opt to keep the minimum installation as a rescue system.

    In the case of Dell, this means: Replace the existing FreeDos installation (which you get when you order a Dell w/o OS - at least here in Europe) with a small Linux system, and everyone is happy.
  • [Call to Dell sales support follows]
    -Dell? You totally botched up my order! I wanted Damn Small Linux 3 on my PC, not 3 fucking small PCs and a cup of sabayon!
  • by kosmosik ( 654958 ) <> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @02:13PM (#18350797) Homepage
    I don't care about having Linux preinstalled since I would anyway wipe it out and install my own favourite flavour my own way (the way I need it). Linux is very elastic and can be made into lots of wicked setups - lots of options etc.

    What I would like to see is Dell offering PCs that "Work With Linux". PCs that are build with parts that have good support via kernel and userland. Call it "Dell Open PC" or whatever.

    The problem with that is lack of common and respected Hardware Compatiblity List for Linux (Linux itself not specific distro). I think we need a body that would take the hardware review it and give it a rating. With clear specifications on how the process looks. And then give status to PCs. F.e. Dell could make a sticker on some set that says "Works With Linux (A)", "Works With Linux (B)*". The first set would tell you that included hardware works well with Linux and does not require closed source drivers. Second set would tell you that most of the hardware works well but you need closed source drivers (of course freely aviable from IHVs) for some components (note the asterisk) and informs you what comonents need closed drivers (like nvidia card, ipw2??? wireless and so on).

    Now such body could be a foundation or a commercial entity that is charging for certification process or be founded by Linux vendors. But it should be vendor neutral as possible. OSDL seems perfect for this. I don't see if it is a real business opportunitty, but it could be. With working certification process and good marketing OEMs could earn in such situation.

    I think such way would be more sensible approach OEMs selling PSs for use with Linux.
  • Step 0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by labradore ( 26729 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @02:30PM (#18351137)
    It's not that hard for these OEMs to get step 0. Pay some attention to designing your system and only put in parts that have drivers (preferably open source) available. Then you build a repository of those drivers and write some readmes. Test the drivers on a few popular distributions. Maybe Fedora, Ubuntu and another. This can't be any more work than their driver teams do already. You don't have to preinstall Linux. You don't have to officially certify anything. Just get it working and write some installation notes. Put it all up on a moderated wiki so that the customer community can do a bunch of "support" for you. Viola.

    Bonus points if you, for instance, provide a first-boot installation option that gives you the choice to a) Install Windows b) Install Nothing (maybe boot to FreeDOS)

    Bottom line: you don't have to support Linux users. To get our business, you just have to make it (possible) easy for us to do what we want with the hardware.

  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @02:38PM (#18351337)
    OEM linux installs are good for two important reasons:
    1) This could be the leverage that community needs over driver manufacturers that refuse to cooperate with the OSS community. If OEMs won't/can't ship machines with drivers that support their cards, then OEMs will stop buying that hardware to include in their builds.
    2) This becomes an easy entre for new users enterring the linux market.

    It doesn't really matter _which_ distro they include, as long as the driver issue gets cleaned up for commodity hardware and new users can use/learn linux without having to install from scratch.

    The experts will reinstall anyway, but they will start the reinstall knowing that it is possible to get all of the components working.

    The new users may eventually become experts, but they can start learning Unix fundamentals without having to start out struggling with IRQ conflicts, buggy drivers, and difficult configs (X11).
  • missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nanosquid ( 1074949 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @02:40PM (#18351401)
    As far as I can tell, Windows users are just as fussy: every place I've ever worked that has bought Dell computers with Windows preinstalled has blown away Windows and installed their own version. But the fact that Windows was pre-installed meant that the hardware was supported by Windows and the drivers existed.

    With Linux, the problem is not about which version of Linux Dell ships, it's that they ship some version of Linux at all. Why? Because if they do it right, it means that they have selected Linux-compatible hardware and guarantee that it works in at least some configuration.

    So, Dell, please pick a fairly recent but stable version of Linux and ship machines that are preinstalled with it. It doesn't matter whether you pick Fedora or Ubuntu or SuSE, just pick one and ship it. Pay some attention to required drivers (it shouldn't depend on proprietary drivers even if you can find a legal loophole).

    That's all we ask.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.