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Linux Business

Ubuntu On Dell After Four Months 378

mrcgran sends us to LXer for an interview with John Hull, a manager of the Linux Engineering team at Dell, where he reports on how the Ubuntu machines have been working out for them so far. "Embracing Ubuntu Linux on our desktops and laptops seems to have really raised Dell's visibility within the Linux community. We have been supporting, testing, developing for, and selling Linux for 8+ years here at Dell, but before the Ubuntu announcement, a lot of people didn't know that we did any of that... Previous to our Ubuntu product announcement... we would have a conversations with vendors about pushing Linux support for their hardware, but without a Linux product offering from Dell for that hardware, it was very difficult to convince them to release Linux drivers. That has certainly changed now... The original sales estimates for Ubuntu computers was around 1% of the total sales, or about 20,000 systems annually. The program so far is meeting expectations. Customers are certainly showing their interest and buying systems preloaded with Ubuntu, but it certainly won't overtake Microsoft Windows anytime soon."
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Ubuntu On Dell After Four Months

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  • Dude! (Score:3, Funny)

    by longhairedgnome ( 610579 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:06AM (#20993561)
    Your getting linux!
  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:09AM (#20993585)
    ...Dell have raised the awareness of Linux to the point where potentials are actually asking if Windows or Linux is installed. Eighteen months ago, that wouldn't have happened. Eighteen months ago people asked if a machine had XP, 2003, ME, 2K, or whatever version of Windows, but hardly ever Linux. I'm a Linux user myself, by preference (and politic, and budget), and advocate it wherever I can. I'm not saying it's for everybody, it might not be, but if you want a toaster, get a toaster. If you want a toaster that deep fries your sunday roast with all the trimmings, give Linux a go. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      If you want a toaster that deep fries your sunday roast with all the trimmings, give Linux a go. :)
      If you want something that can install most programs you'll want to install, don't go Linux. I'm enjoying my Linux, but I am having trouble installing things that I can't find in a repository (although repositories do make it damn easy to install and update programs).
      • You know, I don't really find it very hard to install Ubuntu packages. Synaptic isn't that nice, but apt-get install is really pretty simple.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iamdjsamba ( 1024979 )
        I know i'll probably get slaughtered for this, but I agree with this statement completely.

        I'm completely pro open source, and started off with Ubuntu as my first linux distro about a year ago, as everyone was raving on about it. Really impressed with the package manager, but I was completely lost when it came to installing stuff that wasn't in there.

        I'm on Mandriva now, which is a massively improved user experience, where most of my stuff worked perfectly out the box (except my wireless, which took a bit o
        • Try Linspire, it setup my wireless without any problems (and they've released a new version since then)
          You even get codecs and dvd support without breaking the law, and installing apps is a doddle.
        • by zergl ( 841491 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:45AM (#20993839)

          However, I'm now in a position where I want to install subversion and tomcat, and it's really not easy. Windows wins in this situation, because of the ease of automated installers. Which is a great shame, and I know I'll get lambasted because I haven't done enough research or put the effort into to learning the basics of installing on linux properly, but for it to ever be accepted in the mainstream by your average Joe, things like that need to "just work".

          Tomcat and SVN probably isn't part of what average Joe will use.

          While it's true that "professional" or "power user" software isn't that easy to setup (messing around in the configs with an editor, etc.), I don't think it would bother the ordinary desktop user very much, because he'll probably never need it.

          OTOH, installing everyday software like OOo, Gimp, Firefox, small little games etc. is extremely easy on linux in comparison to windows. Browse repository, install and forget. With the added bonus that the software you get is very probably free of malware of any kind (if you use $DISTRO default repository) and same goes for updates to that software.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tepples ( 727027 )

            With the added bonus that the software you get is very probably free of malware of any kind (if you use $DISTRO default repository)
            So if I am the maintainer of a Free application, how do I make it notable enough to be included in $DISTRO default repository so that users of $DISTRO can easily install it? Or is there another preferable deployment method for maintainers of lesser-known packages on common GNU/Linux distributions?
            • by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:08AM (#20994147) Homepage Journal
              Yes, simple;

              RPM. Most users can download an RPM, double click on it, and it'll get installed properly.

              I'm 99% sure that Ubuntu or Debian people can do similar things with DEBs. Of course, the downside with the package approach is you have to have one package per distro (take a look at Skype; skype isn't in any linux repositories, but it supplies 4-5 RPMs and a binary tarball).

              If you prefer something that is more like a Windows installer, use autopackage []. Autopackages are distro neutral. Here's the quote from their website:
              # What is autopackage?
              For users: it makes software installation on Linux easier. If a project provides an autopackage, you know it can work on your distribution. You know it'll integrate nicely with your desktop and you know it'll be up to date, because it's provided by the software developers themselves. You don't have to choose which distro you run based on how many packages are available.
              For developers: it's software that lets you create binary packages for Linux that will install on any distribution, can automatically resolve dependencies and can be installed using multiple front ends, for instance from the command line or from a graphical interface. It lets you get your software to your users quicker, easier and more reliably. It immediately increases your user base by allowing people with no native package to run your software within seconds.

              As you can see from the screenshots [], autopackage is pretty dead-easy for end users.

              There are also next-generation packaging utilities that are overtaking Windows MSI-type things, including openSuSE's one-click-install, and KDE's klik://, but neither of these has taken hold with enough Linux distros yet (you have to be using SuSE 10.3, or install a package on older SuSEs, and klik:// requires a kio-slave).
              • by Trelane ( 16124 )
                commercial users can also use InstallShild, with all its point-n-click GUIness. Or the loki installer. There are probably others, but these are the 2 I know of offhand.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by bfree ( 113420 )

                KDE's klik:// ... (... klik:// requires a kio-slave)

                Firstly klik isn't KDE's though it did start out dependant on some kde features. The initial k in the name reflects the knoppix roots, which reflects Klaus Knoppers name rather then the desktop environment he happened to also choose! I sometimes wonder what difference it would have made to klik's adoption if it's name hadn't started with either a k or a g!

                Secondly you don't need a kio-slave to use klik, you can use it from the command line if you wan

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by aymanh ( 892834 )

                I'm 99% sure that Ubuntu or Debian people can do similar things with DEBs. Of course, the downside with the package approach is you have to have one package per distro (take a look at Skype; skype isn't in any linux repositories, but it supplies 4-5 RPMs and a binary tarball).

                Skype offers an APT repository for Debian and Ubuntu users:

                And so do many other companies. For example, Google also provides an APT repository:

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by VagaStorm ( 691999 )
            Now, if every linux game was as easy to install as Americas army, it would all have been a walk in the park. Unfortunately, even installing games that has a linux port can be hard at times.... I had to find out patch, alter the code(I have no right alt on my keyboard) and recompile sdl to get nwn working as I wanted the last time I installed it :p But unlike windows that seems to become stranger evry version, linux becomes simpler every time one of the larger distros makes a major release, which seems to ha
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by supermank17 ( 923993 )
            I dunno, people trot out this argument every time the debate of Linux ease of use rears its head, and I'm not entirely sure I agree. I use Ubuntu (and a couple other distros) regularly, and Windows, and OS X. I have to say that the various Linux distros, Ubuntu included, are the harder to install software on, even everyday software. The problem is that while the packages in the repository are easy to install, many pieces of software still don't exist in the repository. With Windows or OS X, you just fin
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              I don't think that this is really the fault of Ubuntu. It's the fault of the software makers themselves. (if fault is to be assigned) Any software maker has the option of making a .deb or .rpm, it's just that many, for various reasons, choose not to. The reason these pieces of software install so easily on Windows is that somebody made the installer. Software doesn't just install itself on windows from source code. It all comes back to the necessity of making these installers. If you want your software to r

            • by mhall119 ( 1035984 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @10:19AM (#20995087) Homepage Journal

              With Ubuntu, if the package doesn't exist, it gets considerably more painful. Painful to the point that I don't think your average user would be willing to put up with it. I think the repository system is great, I just wish that there were decent installers for when it fails.
              .DEB is Ubuntu's equivalent of Microsoft's .MSI installer. Ubuntu will load .DEB files (and apt:// URLs []) in GDebi, which informs you of any dependencies, resolves them if they are available in any of your repositories, and installed the package. Developers just need to create the .DEB package, they don't need to use a third-party installation wizard. The problem isn't that Ubuntu doesn't have an easy to use installer, its that not every developer bothers to make .DEB files.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Cato ( 8296 )
                .DEBs are a bit like .MSIs, but there are some major differences - as you mention, you can use Gdebi to install arbitrary .DEBs bu8t it's a lot better if the package is actually in a repository already. The big difference is that for packages in a repository, you can install a whole set of packages (tens or hundreds) with a single operation, whether CLI or GUI.

                Try doing that with Windows Installers - just keeping a Windows box up to date with security fixes (beyond Windows and MS Office) is quite time cons
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by mhall119 ( 1035984 )

                  whereas on Ubuntu the system actually prompts you like Windows Update *for every app you have ever installed* from an Ubuntu repository...

                  A minor clarification for those who might not know, Ubuntu's update manager will update any software from *any* repository you tell it to use, not just the repositories hosted by Ubuntu. The Trevino [] repositories are particularly popular with Ubuntu users, plus Google [] and the Wine project [] hosts their own repositories, as do many other projects.

        • by Jussi K. Kojootti ( 646145 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:49AM (#20993893)
          I'm not saying your complaints aren't valid, but the examples you use are fairly bad. I'm pretty sure both tomcat and subversion are available in the repos of all major distros. Example in ubuntu:

          aptitude install subversion tomcat5.5
          Do you have actual examples of "joe average" applications that are not available (things that could legally be available)?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Lumpy ( 12016 )
            I was able to do what you did with the Ubuntu click and drool interface as well.

            I then went to install subversion on windows. Ubuntu install was 100 times easier than windows as I had to search for a version that was acceptable. I finally settled on TortiseSVN which was nice.

            Overall install on my ubuntu and my Fedora Core 7 box took very little time. Ubuntu was the least time and least effort. windows ended up the most as you had to find the software and then install it. fedora was as simple as your e
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MMC Monster ( 602931 )
          Yeah, you'll probably get blasted for that post. :-)

          Really, though, package installation is incredibly easy in most distributions now, with repositories handling all dependencies. In Ubuntu, for instance, there is an "Add Programs" icon in the Applications Menu by default, that lists the most popular applications and separates them into categories so there is no information overload. If you know the exact name of the package to install (such as subversion or tomcat), open up synaptic and choose the packag
        • As a fellow Mandriva user, I have to point you to Easy URPMI [] set up the PLF as well as the standard main and contrib update sources, and most packages can get installed automatically.
        • The issue here is mostly software packagers, not Linux, the distribution, or a lack of install tools.

          Take a look at my grandchild post to your post here:

        • You can look at it another way. Yes, the installers are automated, but in many cases the default options suck or worse ("Would you like to install this IE toolbar along with the application?"). And sometimes you want to install the apps on a different partition, etc.

          The only real difference in Linux is that you'd have to download the tarball, untar it and then in the CLI type: ./configure
          make install

          I guess people have a mental block to typing commands. Give them buttons and GUIs and they're happy. Give
          • "and they'll run to the hills screaming."

            as they should.

            /me dons flame retardant suit

            CLI's are great when you have a mental list of every command you'll ever need. Unfortunately, it's easy to forget one little thing. The CLI is the most non-intuitive user interface a non-proficient user can be presented with. Staring at a prompt and a blinking cursor gives you zero clue about what to do. Sure, most people figure they should type something. But what? and how do you find out what? the closest thi

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cerberusss ( 660701 )

          However, I'm now in a position where I want to install subversion and tomcat, and it's really not easy.
          I don't know what you're talking about. I'm on RedHat here, and installing tomcat is like:

          yum install tomcat5
          And on Debian it's:

          apt-get install tomcat5
          I guess your distro just isn't suited for server tasks.
        • by hey! ( 33014 )
          Subversion and tomcat are both available in Ubuntu.

          Here's a better example. Suppose you need to install Oracle. It can be done. I think there are even debs you can get from Oracle for Oracle 11 these days. But suppose you have to install Oracle 9.

          Then you have to use an RPM based distro, and if it's not RHEL or Centos, you're in for a bumpy ride. On the other hand, if you are an average user, RHEL might not be best for you out of the box.

          But of course, this gets down to the fact you can't be all thing
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          When Apple bolts OS X to specific hardware, it's justified in the name of user experience. Apple stabilises the user experience by limiting the OS to a certain subset of hardware: theirs.

          Ubuntu, on the other hand, doesn't have that option. It does, however, have the option of pointing users in the direction of certain software by making it easy to install: repositories. Things that go into the repos are tested for compatibility, they install smoothly, and yet there are literally thousands of programs in the
      • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:38AM (#20993783)
        If you're on Ubuntu there are places such as [] where you can get popular programs that aren't in the repositories yet.
      • Here's my question though. What can't you find in the repositories? I'm on Mandriva, and with the URPMI and PLF repositories, I don't think I've ever come across a program I couldn't find in the repository. There are exceptions. VMWare isn't there (I think) but then again it actually has a really nice installer, so I don't think it needs to be in the repository. I'm not sure of the state of the repositories on Ubuntu and others, but do people really have a problem finding packages for programs?
        • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:04AM (#20994103)
          Not really. It's more to do with the fact that once a version of Ubuntu is released you only get security updates in the repository. So for example there is no Pidgin in Ubuntu Feisty because that was released after Ubuntu Feisty was.

          The reason they only provide security updates is because they don't want a situation where continuously updating stuff in the repositories breaks other programs. Instead Canonical will take a snapshot of all the new programs and work really hard testing that snapshot and sorting out all the bugs, release that out the door and start working on the next version.

          So if you want Pidgin or another must have updated program on Feisty then you go to []

          Ubuntu Gutsy is being released on 18th this month (2 days) so that'll have a ton of updated programs, features, etc.
      • Yes, it is not the 3-click install procedure that Windows users are used to, but that fact has saved me a lot of headaches in terms of helping people who use Linux. When helping a Windows user, the first question I ask after, "Is everything plugged in," is always, "What software have you been installing?" Spyware has become popular on Windows because of the simplistic installation process, and despite all the antivirus, antispyware, and other protection schemes, it remains a serious issue. That issue jus
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Luterek ( 1174623 )
      It's great that they are offering Ubuntu, but it is only available on one desktop system not the entire line-up and you need to go to a specific section of their website. I wish I could click customize and when the OS section comes up choose Ubuntu.
      • That's probably because of the driver situation with Linux. They can't garauntee that Linux works with every hardware configuration, so they create some configurations that do work under Linux, and let you buy from those. Although I think it would be nice if their ordering system figured out that yes, you system was compatible with Linux, and let you choose it, or point out which items aren't compatible with Linux, and offer alternatives.
        • by Trelane ( 16124 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:13AM (#20994187) Journal

          They can't garauntee that Linux works with every hardware configuration, so they create some configurations that do work under Linux, and let you buy from those. Although I think it would be nice if their ordering system figured out that yes, you system was compatible with Linux, and let you choose it, or point out which items aren't compatible with Linux, and offer alternatives.
          Sounds plausible, except that they already do this. Some peripherals require Vista or some version of Vista, and you get a little warning if you choose them without having selected whatever is required.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      If you want a toaster that deep fries your sunday roast with all the trimmings, give Linux a go. :)

      Oh come on, Linux's thermal management isn't that bad, is it?

    • by zyxwvutsr ( 542520 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:03AM (#20994069) Homepage

      if you want a toaster, get a toaster
      I want a toaster with working WiFi drivers. Know where I can get one?
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      Problem is in the retail sector joe Sixpack has the moron at Circuit city or Best Buy as their sales consultant.

      That's like asking the chick at Burger King this morning if you should get major elective surgery. Until there are bullshit detectors for consumers to use when talking to sales people they will be stuck with the moron that sounds like he knows what he is talking about but in reality to the trained ear is a complete idiot.

      My favorite that bust me out laughing in the next asile when a couple was ta
  • Linux compatibility (Score:5, Informative)

    by reset_button ( 903303 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:11AM (#20993603)
    Our lab has been buying Dell servers for a few years now, because they certify the machines as being Linux compatible. Instead of checking the hardware specs against the list of available Linux drivers, I can buy knowing that things will just work. Kudos.
  • okay... (Score:2, Interesting)

    all well and good, but linux or no, i still have serious reservations about buying a system from Dell.

    the negative experiences i've had with dell are really not linked to the OS; they're all hardware issues and service issues related to the hardware. show me that they'll support linux equally on the software side *and* that they've stepped up their hardware support, and this will be a bit more interesting.

    yeah, this is great news as far as the visibility of the linux community is concerned, but IMO, this c
    • show me that they'll support linux equally on the software side *and* that they've stepped up their hardware support, and this will be a bit more interesting.

      They've supported Linux on the server side for a very very long time. It's only specific distributions, but what do you expect?

      And their hardware support is about as good as anyone's. It went down hill on the consumer side a couple years ago when they outsourced to Inda, but most people did the same thing. However, if you have a business accoun

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoonFog ( 586818 )
      Not everyone is capable of building their own computer, and when a large vendor like this gives Linux a shot, chances are that more people who would normally not adopt Linux will look towards it as a proper alternative instead of a geek system.

      Your experiences with Dell and their hardware applies to Windows boxes as well usually, and Dell may influence other vendors to try Linux in the same way, thus the issues with support may get remedied in the long run as well.
  • I for one... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AmaDaden ( 794446 )
    Thank our Ubuntu pushing over lords. This kind of demand from a major vendor is just the kind of visibility that Linux needs for hardware makers to finally start working on Linux drivers on their own. With any luck soon suporting linux will be standard and not some kind of "giving to the weirdos" for hardware makers.
  • by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:15AM (#20993623)
    You had to ask for Linux in a very different way. Now, they are offering a proper desktop alternative, which wasn't the case before, so when he says they've had Linux for 8+ years, it doesn't tell the whole story. There's a difference between offering Linux, under the table more or less, and offering it as an actual alternative to Windows when you're ordering your new laptop.

    Nonetheless, kudos to Dell and here's to hoping more vendors pick up this trend.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by laejoh ( 648921 )

      You had to ask for Linux in a very different way.

      Yes, correct, you had to wink!

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      Exactly the first 7 years of offering linux was lie the following....

      customer: I want linux on my dell.

      Dell: what's liux?

      customer: you said you have linux.

      Dell: Oh LINUX! I though you said ooobagooga. you really dont want that.

      customer: yes I do I want linux.

      Dell: No you dont it's dangerous, difficult, it causes rifts in space and time! DONT LOOK AT IT!

      customer: can I please get linux?

      Dell: OK but I warned you... your total is $$$$

      customer: Wait! that's more than the windows computer!

      Dell: no it isnt.
  • ISTR that the distribution that they offered previously was RedHat, probably because it was the "corporate standard". Now that they are offering a friendlier distro, the interest is moving out of the data center and onto the desktop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:20AM (#20993665)
    To be honest, I don't think it has to take over, nor do I think it will. Even Firefox didn't take over IE, but it did have some impact, and Microsoft changed its crappy CSS support to a _slightly_ better one. If Linux achieves ~20% or so it will be much harder for Microsoft to push its proprietary standards, and everyone benefits.
    • Firefox did take over IE in a couple of European countries and it is above in 40%+ marketshare in a lot of others.
    • with linux i can see the percentage having to get larger before microsoft experiences any pressure to allow others to be compatible with it. if i may exaggerate slightly, the average linux user is portrayed as a poor smelly 30-something virgin living in his mother's basement and planning the replacement of democracy in america with communism: a demographic microsoft can afford to ignore for a very long time. and then, of course, the oh-so-reasonable-sounding fud will start--"well, open office doesn't really
  • by PianoComp81 ( 589011 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:22AM (#20993679)
    What I'd like to see Dell offer is the chance to get both Ubuntu and Windows installed by the factory as a dual-boot system. While I normally use Linux, I need Windows for a few games still. I know, I know, I'm never satisfied. While I'm glad Dell is selling desktops with Linux now, a dual-boot offer would be a great improvement.
    • by djfake ( 977121 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:48AM (#20993875) Homepage
      I bought a Vista box (since the license it probably cheaper and the warranty better server) from Dell: Was this easy or what? I just did a "shrink" to the massive C: in Vista, then booted off of Ubuntu CD and started the install, selecting "guided using freespace" when partitioning. After a reboot, grub had automatically configured Vista into the bootloader. I then edited /boot/grub/menu.lst to set it as the default.

      The other way around (adding Vista to a Linux Box) is slightly more complicated: []

      Or you could buy an Intel Mac and use boot camp, that's ea$y enough too! c

    • Dual boot is so 20th Century. The modern solution is virtualization dude, it is time to wake up.
  • Surfing around Dell's website I am unable to find the Linux computers. Maybe it's just me, but it should be there, right next to the big button that lets you buy computers with WinXP instead of Vista.

    I tried telling Dell this in their fancy questionaire, but it seems the questionaire won't work with Opera.

  • Ubuntu Preloads (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:29AM (#20993731)
    I have a Ubuntu Preload Under warranty from Dell. It runs Feisty Fawn, I love it. I have one little problem. if you load up even a different Linux, you void your warranty, because they have a few proprietary drivers in the machines for some of the hardware, like the Win-modem. So. Here is an interesting question. How do you upgrade from Fiesty Fawn to Gutsy Gibbon without voiding your warranty?
    • I want to know the exact thing. Actually, if I get Ubuntu on a dell laptop (not sure there are, just hoping) and it's 7.04, if I upgrade to 7.10, is the warranty void?
    • by _14k4 ( 5085 )
      Are future upgrades mentioned in the warranty information? The package manager / auto-update icon in Ubuntu will tell you when updates are available - for everything from Wine to HP drivers. Was that disabled when Dell sent the machine to you? I suspect you have a very good point here - will Ubuntu tell you, "Hey upgrade me," and in doing so, will you void your warranty? I suspect if you called someone, you would get a canned answer.

      Windows will not "auto update" from XP to Vista... so maybe Ubuntu's pa
      • by muszek ( 882567 )
        Ubuntu won't tell you to upgrade, unless you run update-manager --dist-upgrade. AFAIR there's no point & click way to do this.
  • by Twisted Willie ( 1035374 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:35AM (#20993757)
    Dell doesn't offer any sytems with Ubuntu preinstalled in the Netherlands. I was looking for a new laptop for my parents, and I managed to convince them to go Linux. So I went to the Dell website, but alas, no such luck. Still, knowing that their hardware will work with Ubuntu was enough for me to go Dell anyway.
    • As far as laptops go, basically just get one that has an Intel GMA chip, and a supported Wireless Chip (native or NDIS), and you're probably good to go. Also try reading forums to find out if a specific model you are interested in is supported. I realize it would be nicer if it shipped with Linux, but it isn't too difficult to find a laptop where all the hardware works perfectly under Linux.
  • It's nice that the community is supporting Dell in this. I personally made sure a friend bought his new laptop from Dell just because of this. My next desktop will certainly be a Dell.

    If they really want to get the ball moving they should tune up their customized installation of Ubuntu and have Walt Mossberg review it again.
  • Dell and Debian (Score:3, Informative)

    by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:41AM (#20993803) Homepage Journal
    Dell for sometime has provided pretty decide web support for Debian. The web pages I've come across have always been enough to get me started when needing to setup a new server. :-)
  • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:47AM (#20993861) Homepage
    Dell selling a few Linux-on-Laptops at the consumer end makes a lot of sense when you consider they want to grab a bigger chunk of the server market, where Linux holds a great portion of the market share. Get people used to the idea of Linux on Dell, then when they are in the market for a server they come back to what they know. The super reliable Linux experience makes Dell look good. Same angle as RedHat supporting FedoraCore.
  • What happened? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @08:52AM (#20993943) Homepage
    I'm kind of interested in hearing what's caused the turnaround for Dell over the past year or two.

    Dell has more or less had a reputation of being deep in the pockets of Microsoft and Intel. It was no secret that Intel was giving Dell huge perks for not selling systems with AMD chips, and I'd be surprised if Microsoft wasn't offering similar perks for keeping Linux off of consumer desktops.

    Now, we're seeing dell open up a lot more options to consumers.

    So what happened? Did the payola from Intel and Microsoft stop? Was there a management shakeup? Are they trying to re-focus their image as a serious business vendor to step into the void left by IBM? Or are they just emphasizing "choice" to avoid losing any more ground to Apple (this theory strongly lends itself to their decision to distance themselves from MS because of the Vista backlash)

    Or maybe they're finally waking up to the fact that "nerd cred" seriously does sell computers. I would credit OS X's acceptance within the community as being instrumental to the sort of success Apple's been seeing over the past few years -- OS 7,8, and 9 left them with a pretty bad reputation that they needed to shed themselves of. When the guy who's fixed your PC multiple times recommends getting a mac, it lends some serious credibility to the brand. Given that Dell's a pretty generic brand, I doubt that anyone has serious qualms about buying from them, but it's a whole lot better than having a negative brand-reputation, or being badmouthed by everyone in the industry. (See also: Article yesterday about AOL losing $100 billion)
    • Dell sells hardware and resells software. They make their money on the hardware. They WANT to sell machines, they care far less about software.

      So Dell was faced with a simple problem, they had X customers, Y (where Y is a subset of X) wanted windows on their machine, Z (where Z is a subset of X) wanted linux. The linux customer was not happy with Dells offering and was even taking its business elsewhere. When Z grew large enough, Dell no longer wanted to loose that number of customers. So they started sell

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rainer_d ( 115765 )
      > I'm kind of interested in hearing what's caused the turnaround for Dell over the past year or two.

      That's easy. AAPL ate their lunch.
      When the market grows say 10% and one of your competitors grows 30% and your own growth is flat (at best), you know you're just a couple of quarters away from a big disaster.
      You don't have to be a genius to figure that out.
      Growth is hardly in selling laptops to new customers (just like the total number of people drinking beer is not going to increase significantly).
      So, you
  • So, has anyone actually bought one of these machines from Dell? Have they employed a legion of call centers to address Linux-related issues and problems (mostly (l)user-created I'm sure)? I doubt actually a legion would be needed considering they have a small market share and most users who buy a Linux box would be more adept at self-diagnosing problems. But, I would be interested to see statistics on how many calls come in about Linux boxes and how many come in on Win boxes.

    Do they have trained folks
    • I don't think Dell supports technical problems. I think you have to buy that as an extra. They'll cover hardware of course.

      So your options are..
      1) No technical support only hardware - free
      2) Tech support from Canonical [] - Different prices
  • by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:05AM (#20994115) Journal
    I, for the first time actually got a friend setup on Ubuntu a couple of weeks ago. Normally, being of the Microsoft persuasion, I'd recommend Windows if nothing else for its generally universal familiarity if nothing else (all the other PC's in the house were WinBoxes), but the machine she was given was free and not very good. The Windows installed on it was Win ME that wouldn't get even to the desktop unless in safe mode, so it had to go, but it was not capable of running XP to any degree of sanity (128 mb ram, celeron processor, etc), and indeed there was the licensing issue too.

    A perfect opportunity for Ubuntu I thought! Or not, as it turned out.

    I downloaded and burnt the latest CD image and installed it. Everything was installed fine, except the network card was not detected, rendering the machine even less useful than the butchered ME installation that was on it before. She only wanted to browse the net and read GMail basically, so without a network connection, the laptop was now as good as a large paper-weight.

    Now, this is by no means a flame against Ubuntu at all. Before it turned out Ubuntu was compatible, I was thinking to myself that if there's one area Ubuntu could really grow in is the "too old to run Windows x/y/z" which sets the hardware requirement bar higher & higher with each release.

    Despite what Microsoft say, Vista is not suited to all PC's - but arguably, Ubuntu is suited to run on almost anything assuming you don't mind common commercial apps/games aren't going to run for newbies (for obvious reasons).

    So, if I had one suggestion for Ubuntu/Linux is please, get it to run on shite hardware! Refurbished machines are overlooked if you ask me as many people really can't be bothered to buy new hardware, and Windows really isn't so suited for them in many cases.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LingNoi ( 1066278 )
      Did you submit a bug on launchpad [] about that laptop giving the details of what your network card problem was? If not it won't get fixed. Ubuntu is mostly run by volunteers that depends on people like you to submit bug reports.

      Also did you check the irc chatroom or forums out for help? I had one guy in the IRC room that couldn't get his webcam working on Ubuntu. After I did a quick search on the forums I found a post on how to get his hardware working and gave him the link. He thanked me and said it was now
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You need to compare apples to apples. (oops!) Take a machine that is preloaded with Linux and download a WinXP/Vista, if possible and try to install it yourself. Most people compare pre-installed windows user experience with download a full os, install and run user experience of Linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by domatic ( 1128127 )
      There are distributions specifically for low end hardware. Puppy Linux is one that I've had success with. There are others. It is probably better in the long run for distros like Ubuntu to concentrate their efforts on current middle of the road hardware. Low end old hardware imposes a lot of tradeoffs that current general purpose distro's won't manage well. Distros made with such hardware specifically in mind tend to fare better. Puppy, for instance, could completely install itself in memory on the ma
  • Not in norway. :-( (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arcade ( 16638 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:13AM (#20994193) Homepage
    I was hoping to get a Ubuntu laptop here in Norway.

    So far - no such luck. I'm looking forward to that day, so that I can just order one. But until they ship it, it's difficult.

    Hey DELL! We norwegians want Ubuntu on our laptops too!
  • We have been supporting, testing, developing for, and selling Linux for 8+ years here at Dell, but before the Ubuntu announcement, a lot of people didn't know that we did any of that...
    Selling Linux on business systems maybe. Until now, I don't recall seeing any consumer class PC's or Laptops that even had the option of shipping without windows. A quick tour of their site still reveals that they recommend Windows Vista for everything. Maybe thats why no one knew before..
  • Personally, I would like to know from people who have system76 boxes, as they've done Ubuntu pre-installed across all of their systems, not some hidden option (you know, publicly placed down in the dark basement, across a moat with live alligators, in a locked file cabinet...) on their website for a laptop or two.

    Anyone have experience with System76?

  • I just went there,are they kidding? They are charging MORE for a lower spec machine than you would get going Vista! 1Gb of RAM, the bottom of the line Core2Duo, and a lousy 80Gb hard drive,for 774? And I tried adding an extra Gb of RAM, which only added $60 on the Vista machine, added $125!!!. It is like they are doing everything they can to make sure it fails. Either they are afraid of making Bill mad, or they don't want to mess up the extra cash they are making from the crapware installs. But either way, you can't tell me that the price of memory jumps more than 100% just because it has Ubuntu on it. []

    Sadly,just like before Dell started, any geek with a brain will have to pay the Microsoft tax and wipe the drive if you want a Dell at a decent price. Unless they love Dell SO much they are willing to overpay for lower spec hardware just for the privilege of Ubuntu. The prices they are charging for what you are getting is just crazy.

  • by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:50PM (#20997783)
    As the article hints, we should be expecting a wider variety of options for computers equipped with Linux in the not-so-distant future. This is mostly due to Dell working with their wireless hardware providers to release drivers to, and also because of AMD opening up their fglrx drivers. I strongly believe that once AMD finishes opening their drivers, more game developers will code in OpenGL and OpenAL instead of just DirectX, and thus result in easier times porting games from Windows to both Linux and Macs. So, is it safe to say that Mac users will benefit from this too then?

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"