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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile? 380

WolfWings writes "Apparently Dell has decided that Ubuntu-based computers are ineligible for their famed CompleteCare service, or any form of hardware warranty what-so-ever. The news has only recently hit Dell's own IdeaStorm website, via a forum post describing an interaction with the company's customer service. Says the customer, 'I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the they?' After so recently decided to support Linux on their machines, including limited technical support, Dell seems to be squandering any possible good-will with this decision to leave purchasers of these machines high and dry for hardware warranty coverage." Update: 06/05 23:40 GMT by KD : many readers let us know that Dell has said that the omission of extended warranty and CompleteCare options from the configurator for Ubuntu systems was an "ordering system glitch." It should be fixed by now according to
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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile?

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  • Re:Support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:49AM (#19396537) Homepage Journal

    Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

    It would be a triviality to write a shell script that uses Zenity to present dialogs etc and which performs simple fault-finding operations, displays certain system files.

  • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:50AM (#19396573) Homepage
    they are assuming that linux users might be more likely than most buyers to open up the box, swap cards, add drives/RAM, etc. In the process potentially exposing the machines to "user induced failures" from ESD, dropped screws, damaged parts, etc.

  • FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:55AM (#19396667) Homepage
    This reminds me of an issue I recently had with my ISP... Packet loss @ 12% so I call the provider...

    Cust svce. Can you reboot, etc., etc., etc.
    Me... Sure why not... yadda yadda
    Cust svce. Can you click on the start menu
    Me No. I don't use Windows
    Cust svce. Please hold...
    Cust svce. Are you using OSX?
    Me No. I use Solaris (Sun Desktop [] on a Dull unInspiron 6000)
    Cust svce. Please hold...
    Cust svce. (supervisor gets on now) Can you please click on the start menu...
    Me No. I told the other person I use Solaris...
    Cust svce. Well we don't support Solaris!

    Solaris nor OSX nor Windows nor BSD had anything to do with their cruddy connectivity. The actual conversation took a little longer than that with more e-stupidity from their customer service and I had to pretty much deal with it to a degree... My options? 1) Find a provider who would support/understand basic networking, etc. 2) Deal with it...

    This is what happened summarily, so I can see why dull would become filled with uber non Windows FUD. Imagine having to explain to Alibaba ... Sorry I meant Charlie in India that his MCSE studies are worthless and they now need to retrain him in Linux... Man that would earn developers a whopping .10 (US) more thus offsetting dull's stock prices a whopping .001 per share. Not in Dull's best interest.

  • by Jimmy King ( 828214 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:00AM (#19396787) Homepage Journal
    This wouldn't be the first time we've seen a phone rep make an incorrect statement about hardware support/warranty when Linux is installed [].

    For those not going to read the attached article (or who didn't the first time around), in the end the phone rep was mistaken and misunderstood the policy and HP handled the hardware repair under warranty.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:01AM (#19396817)
    Yes the home user computers come with disk that run dell diagnostics. They test everything from the hard drive to memory etc. The problem is when I was doing tech support for dell they would require use to tell the user to reinstall video card drivers, and monitor drivers if the user said they were having display problems. So I think that is a harder task to do on Linux. For example with something like a CD rom drive they would want use to tell the user to put in the dell resource CD and see if it can read that from windows etc. I know all of this can be done on Linux but then dell would have to update there diagnostic website. And why would they want to do that when they already need to lower cost...isn't that why the tech support jobs got sent to India in the first place... that is a different story.

    In other words Dell is just fucking lazy and is getting a check from M$ to not support it so people will not buy the Linux computers so they can say the Linux computers did not sell as good as Windows.
  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:01AM (#19396819) Homepage
    But in this case, probably rightly so. When I bought my E520N on opening day, it said I had a warranty, so I'd expect them to honor it.
  • by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:02AM (#19396847)
    Last time I had a problem with my Uninspiron the Dell techie instructed me to open up the
    front remove a few parts and reseat the screen conection.
    When I expressed surprise he said this was Dells standard troubleshhooting procedure.
  • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:11AM (#19396965) Journal

    I'm sure 3/4 of there returns for "damaged hardware" are in fact software issues. People would be returning the machines when they failed to install Office.
    Other than the fact Ubuntu comes with a office suite, Ubuntu also comes with Wine which is capable of running some versions of Microsoft Office (I've installed Office XP in the past with no problems).

    So while some may have issues (like with the latest Office 2007), not all will.
  • Re:Support (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zuato ( 1024033 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:20AM (#19397073)
    Dell used to ship diagnostic bootable CD's for hardware checks. They still offer the iso for download from their support site too, so this is a very poor excuse for not supporting the hardware with the Ubuntu OS. So Dell DOES offer a bootable CD to diagnose the hardware that is OS independent.
  • Re:Support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:04PM (#19398015)
    Well... since they ship Ubuntu... why not just ship it with a LiveCD that covers most of the bases. This way, if people have trouble, all they have to do is boot into the live cd and check if everything works.

    Only thing left to test would be the hard drive, which I'm sure there is stuff available to do.

  • Re:Support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by d3am0n ( 664505 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#19398249)
    Dells already got a full deck of diagnostics for the hardware. The problem is when someone calls in with the equivelant of a windows blue screen, the hardware all checks out, but something is wrong. In this case on a windows machine I'd go ahead and help the customer out with a windows issue until it was fixed. I love ubuntu linux to death but I'm not trained on it and I'd be scrounging around like a noob trying to help people. It's going to take alil while to get all us agents off the phones and trained in a new OS. I'm planning on signing up for the training and moving over to XPS to support the ubuntu machines but it takes time. Everyone that's going to support linux is working on the phones right now, they have to plan for us to take time off the phones while balancing out the call volumes and then go through the growing pains as we start supporting the OS and make lil gaffs etc here and there. Hardware warranty support doesn't mean that we can point blank tell the customers software isn't supported and hang up on them, that'd be bad buisness and a bad customer experience and we're all highly trained that customer satisfaction is what counts above all else at the end of the day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:59PM (#19401309)
    A couple of years ago I had an Dell Latitude laptop with a faulty hard drive. After about 3 weeks it would freeze and be totally inaccessible even by the BIOS until it randomly decided to start working again (fortunately long enough for me to get the data off). When I had reinstalled WinXP the 2nd time, I decided enough was enough and called Dell Technical Support where I was put through to one of their Indian call centres. After explaining the hard disk was faulty, I was told that they wouldn't be able to replace the drive unless the diagnostics partition showed an error on the drive. But of course, at the time the drive was frozen up and wouldn't show up in the diagnostic utility. When I explained this, I was categorically told they would not replace the drive until it failed the test.

    After nearly 45 mins of arguing I suggested that we try it one more time... and this time I reported back that the drive was visible and had started to run the diagnostic. After a pause of 30s when the diagnostic was "running", I reported back in a distressed tone of voice that my drive reported a test failure while in reality I was still sitting staring at the same screen. Fortunately the fact that the drive had "failed" the test was enough for a replacement to be shipped out to me on next day delivery, and so within 24 hours I was up back and running again :)
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:03PM (#19401389) Homepage Journal

    See, in a corporate world, Windows servers and Windows workstations are used for one simple reason. When something goes wrong, they know who to take to court. They know who to blame. They know who to call on the phone at 3 AM and work all night trying to solve a critical server process that likes to eat memory or crash.

    If they "know" all that, they're delusional. Can you point out a single case where someone has successfully sued Microsoft because something went wrong? Having someone to call at 3 AM who can and will help you troubleshoot your problems is a good reason, but you don't get it just by buying commercial software, you have to buy a very expensive support contract, something you can just as easily do for Linux software as for Windows software.

    This is an old, old argument in favor of closed-source software, but it doesn't hold any water, and never has.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:08PM (#19401461) Journal
    Then you post as "Plain Old Text" mode.

    That's nice. Except that Slashdot defaults to "HTML Formatted", not "Plain Old Text". For someone who has posted only two other times, they may not be aware of the formatting drop down menu, and would not necessarily know when to switch the formatting. Also, "Plain Old Text" mode isn't plain old text. It eats some html markup. The only way to see what happens is to Preview.

    In my opinion, Slashdot should remove the Submit button from the post screen, and force everyone to preview.
  • Re:I'm the brick guy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VWJedi ( 972839 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:39PM (#19401961)

    Hmmm... I'm not sure if you should get "+1, Funny" or "-1, Flamebait".

    Sure, AnotherCaptainTux could get "a computer" at a big box store. The point he was making is that he could not get what he wanted (a computer with Linux pre-installed and CompleteCare protection) from Dell's web site. I doubt he could find that particular "configuration" at store either.

  • Re:Support (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shywolf9982 ( 887636 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @06:10PM (#19404203)
    It is not the first time that someone says that (I think I've seen other people make this same observation here on Slashdot) but actually, doing technical assistance with a terminal is WAY much better than doing it on a GUI.
    The Italian biggest ISP tech support (I live in Italy), actually, makes you open a terminal in order to diagnose network problems on the phone. On windows. And most of the time, the hard problem is getting the customer to open the terminal, and once you're in everything goes pretty straightforward: you tell the guy what to type, and the guy reads the response to you. Quick and simple. On the other hand, the conversation to get him open the terminal is usually along those lines:
    TS: "I have to ask you to open a terminal"
    C: "Oh, ok, but how do I do that?"
    TS: "Click on the start button"
    C: "There is no start button"
    TS: "Are you sure? A green button in the left-bottom corner of your screen?"
    C: "Oh, ok, you meant the windows button"
    TS: "Yes" (but there's a big START written on it, goddamnit)
    TS: "Now go to all programs and then accessories"
    C: "Ok"
    TS: "Click on terminal"
    C: "I think my computer just broke"
    TS: "What happened?"
    C: "A black window appeared and it looks all broken"
    TS: "It is normal: that is the terminal"
    C: "It's ugly"
    TS: "Well, hopefully we won't have to look at it for long"
    TS: "Now, I will tell you to write things inside that window, and you will have to read me what appears: is it ok?"
    C: "Ok"

    And then you make the poor customer ping this and that, see if it is a dns problem or what, then do a couple of traceroutes and discover some idiot messed up some router somewhere, so you fix it and then you tell the customer to see if his internet works. He's all happy. You are happy too, and you're about to close the call when he's like

    C: "Oh, one last thing"
    TS: "Yes?"
    C: "Do I really have to keep the black ugly window opened to make it work?"
    TS: "Oh no, that's okay, you can close it. It was just for testing"
    C: "Oh thanks!"

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky