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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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:45AM (#18348103) Journal
    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 many others) usually do is flatten and reinstall anyways, to get rid of all the preloaded settings and software I don't want.

    But (most) distros are free, so whats the big deal? Install ubunto or gentoo or whatever by yourself.

  • 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 garcia ( 6573 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:46AM (#18348121)
    First, margins on PC's are razor-thin.

    That changes a bit when 50% of the PC cost is eliminated when a free OS is installed with free office software.
  • 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.

  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:56AM (#18348267) Journal
    Yes and no.
    We should not settle down about having a pre-installed Linux option, but we should settle down on what distro.
    Specifically I want the following:
    A mainstream distro with all devices that ship with the PC supported.
    Whatever is easiest for Dell/HP/Acer/whatever within the above constraint is fine.
    *Gnome Vs. KDE? I Don't Care (If I want "the other one" I'll change it)
    *Emacs Vs. VI? IDK
    *Ubuntu/FC6/Suss10.2/Slackware? IDK (though I think the slack may be a bit too geekish)
    Give me any mainstream distro, with a desktop and window manager. Give me drivers for all the devices in the box. Make it "nice" to joe sixpack. I'll geek it out myself.

    Now what wouldn't hurt is if the community came up with a "tweaked" distro (or even an entirely different build) if Dell would host a repository of .iso files with the good ol "we disclaim any liability from these distros, they are un-supported blah blah blah..." warning.
  • by IckySplat ( 218140 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#18348309)
    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 drivers and source!
    I'm sick to death of picking apart your bloody RPMs to get what I need :(
  • by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#18348315)
    Well, assuming we're talking about Vista, the entry level is $200, which for a lot of PCs isn't 50%. But the fact of the matter is that Dell doesn't pay $200 for a copy of Vista. I'd be surprised if they payed over $50 for it. I think XP was something like $15, right? I know I payed $5 for it from my university.

    But one also has to figure in the cost of supporting the transition to Linux. Software systems updated, maybe hardware swapper out, staff trained and informed at every level. I doubt its as expensive as some people want to make it seem, but its a non zero cost.
  • Re:I do not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:58AM (#18348319)
    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.
  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <{richardprice} {at} {}> 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.
  • by dvice_null ( 981029 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:00PM (#18348349)
    The point of pre-installed Linux is that if there is a pre-installed Linux, then most likely the hardware is well supported in Linux also. This is why I would buy a computer with pre-installed Linux, rather than one without.

    Also having pre-installed Linux would most likely increase the Linux user-base.
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:02PM (#18348385) Journal
    Ever seen a (dell/HP/Compaq/etc) straight out of the box? There are like 50 programs installed ... each vendor pays the computer manufacturer to put these things on their PC's. So the cost of windows gets paid for, mostly or even in excess, by these vendors.

    Problem with Linux being, the computer manufacturer doesn't get any of these kickbacks or a % of the purchase price from a trial installation... less profit, gotta charge more for the box.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:02PM (#18348389)
    No, it is not enough that OEMs ship no-OS systems. However, if those OEMs would ship these no-OS systems with guaranteed Linux-compatible hardware/drivers so that every piece of your computer will function just as well as it would have in Windows, THAT would be enough. So far that has not been the case.
  • 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 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.

  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:05PM (#18348465) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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.

  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:06PM (#18348489)
    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 industry.

    What works for tinkerers and geeks doesn't necessarily work for people primarily interested in carrying out a specific set of tasks with an OS, and putting reliability and predictability a lot higher than flexibility.
  • by kjart ( 941720 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:06PM (#18348493)

    That changes a bit when 50% of the PC cost is eliminated when a free OS is installed with free office software.

    Wait, so you're willing to pay more than $CostOfWindowsPC - $CostOfWindows? That does not appear to be the vibe on other threads here that I've read.

  • 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:Wait, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apt142 ( 574425 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:09PM (#18348579) Homepage Journal
    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-installed or comes with a disk only matters to the rest of the population. So, why not make it easier on them? We want them to get interested in it don't we?
  • by n6kuy ( 172098 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:13PM (#18348627)
    Not quite.

    Actually, the "Windows Tax" gets offset by vendors paying the manufacturers to install all kinds of demo crap on the Windows computers they sell. Remove the Windows Tax, and you also remove the Windows Tax Credit... A PC with a free OS will prolly cost more than the one with Windows on it.
  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:18PM (#18348703)
    I don't know why the /. article claims he said that.

    Sometimes.. when I write "Slashdot journalists" I get modded down...
  • 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:3, Insightful)

    by thePsychologist ( 1062886 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:21PM (#18348757) Journal
    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 small step for Linux. Hardware companies would be more pressed to work with Linux. I mean, they can already get drivers developed for their product for free. It would also increase the awareness that other operating systems exist, and for the most part computers can still function without Windows. Geeks can still choose whatever they want.
  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DittoBox ( 978894 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:23PM (#18348799) Homepage
    You must be new here...
  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:26PM (#18348841)

    The people begging for pre-installed Linux are probably the same people who would, upon receiving a PC from a vendor with a pre-installed OS, immediately wipe that OS and install it from scratch anyway lest they be left with an OS that has tons of cruft.
    That was my thought exactly after reading the article. Dell should not try to satisfy the fussy people, but instead satisfy people who don't know about Linux. They should put together a system that our parents or grandparents can use out of the box. They should pre-install a whole set of software, including Linux, hardware drivers, office applications, a browser (along with common plugins), an email program, and whatever other kinds of software that most people use. Anyone who doesn't like what they pre-install can format the hard disk and start fresh, or just pick and choose among different software options.
  • 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:Wait, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:49PM (#18349235)

    It's actually quite hard to buy a console that doesn't ship with a couple of games
    No, it is not. When I bought my PS2, it didn't come with a game. I bought a game at the same time - AND I PICKED THE ONE I WANTED. When you bundle a game with the system, the problem is that it is likely not to be the game someone wants.
  • Re:Fatal flaw (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EggyToast ( 858951 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:49PM (#18349241) Homepage
    But, don't all those "free," preinstalled apps subsidize the cost of new computers? Without the gigs upon gigs of crapware that comes will dells, the computers would cost more or Dell wouldn't make as much money. Sure, it would mean that Windows computers would be artificially cheaper than Linux computers, but the vast majority of people care only about that final charge on their credit card.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:01PM (#18349445)
    Preinstalled linux should come in at most two flavors. If one flavor is chose it should be the lowsest common denominator for the stupidest Windows-like user: a user freindly system with a package manager that does not fuss over the niceities of open and closed source software like Linspire. If two flavors are to be offered the other should be one that is server class with a company that backs support like RedHat or Novel or Oracle.

    Nothing else shoul dbe offered as it only muddies the waters. Anyone who Likes Linux because they like to tweak and knows the difference between Debian and Gentoo and Damn Small, is also fully capable of wiping the disk and doing their own installation. Thus pre-installation is not neccessary.

  • 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.

  • Re:I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:35PM (#18350019)
    Unless Dell uses some proprietary binary drivers to make that hardware work.
  • by waferhead ( 557795 ) < minus threevowels> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:44PM (#18350175)
    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.
  • by infinityxi ( 266865 ) <> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:54PM (#18350395) Homepage
    Why are we making the whole idea of Pre-installed Linux apply to us. We probably wouldn't want to use the preinstalled OS (Linux or Windows) and will end up installing what we want (or if XP home came on a dell, put in XP pro free of shitware). I thought the whole idea of having a pre-installed Linux was to move towards mass adoption of Linux. Many of you guys state that one of the reasons Windows is so ubiquitous is because it is installed by default in nearly every PC. An easy to use distribution is what Dell should be going for not $MyPreference because no one can please the Linux community which is known for tweaking things to their liking.

    For one example, what about the choice of rolling out Gnome vs KDE. There are big fans of both in the community and those who hate the other as a big subset. What about those who prefer a more obscure window manager + environment. These are not average user concerns and this doesn't make the average user stupid. In most cases average users are after what most Linux users are after, the best tool for the job. Skill sets may vary and as a result the average user may not have the best tool but for someone who wants to do some word processing, crunch some numbers on a spreadsheet, browse youtube, and chat on an Instant Message client. KDE vs Gnome doesn't really matter to them as long as it is intuitive, stable, and reliable.

    If Dell decides to actually move forward with this, you shouldn't expect or even want to be the target market. In most cases if a Linux user buys a dell with Linux pre-installed you will at least know that everything works and that your custom install shouldn't require having to purchase a replacement $hardware_device.

    I really like Ubuntu and I was actually moved to install it after my hard drive with XP croaked and the only snag I got was my resolution. Ubuntu is great at many things but still blows at figuring out your driver, resolution capabilities. There should also be a more graphical way to tweak things without having to go to the xorg.conf, however rare it is.

    In short this should be more focused on more widespread adoption rather than trying to please 1000 different tastes. This isn't about you guys so much as it is about the average user getting a PC with a better* option. Bickering will only bring the Microsoft clickaround fanboys more ammunition to troll about linux being one giant bash shell.
  • 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.
  • by h2g2bob ( 948006 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @02:42PM (#18351431) Homepage
    In my view, preinstalled linux should be in a maximum of 0 flavours.

    That is, I'd just like them to add a "no OS" option: people who use Linux generally have strong views about their fave distro, how they'd like it configured, etc. By offering a "no OS" option with no support, they can offer it for less money than the Windows one.
  • by zotz ( 3951 ) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:10PM (#18353259) Homepage Journal
    "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 and test. If the hardware passes, sort your own problems. (Or pay for support?)

    2. Pick possibly one "enterprise" distro and possibly one "desktop" distro and support them. (For approved versions?) For anything else, pop in that live diagnostics CD. Let it boot and test. If the hardware passes, sort your own problems. (Or pay for support?)

    3. ???

    4. Profit.

    The whole thing hangs on the Free drivers for all the hardware in the box.

    all the best,

    drew []
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @06:18PM (#18355087)
    I don't think it should be up to Dell to figure out how to install a Linux distro.

    I'd rather see cooperation between Dell and a linux distro where Dell provides (loans) hardware to a Linux Distro which takes it upon itself to provide Dell an installable ghost image that "just works" for that hardware.

    The computers are then flagged and sold with that OS as an option by Dell.

    There would be nothing preventing Dell from having the same arrangement with multiple Distros.

    This situation would fairly distribute the efforts between Dell and Linux Distros.

    After all, I bet initially it was MS that approached Dell to pre-install their OS, why should it be any different for Linux?

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents