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Dell's Ubuntu Ultrabook Now On Sale; Costs $50 More Than Windows Version 403

nk497 writes "Dell's 'Project Sputnik' laptop is now on sale. The XPS 13 Developer Edition comes with Ubuntu 12.04 pre-installed, and costs $1,549 — $50 more than the same model running Windows. The Ubuntu Ultrabook is the result of a skunkworks project to optimise the open-source OS to run on Dell projects, to create better laptops for developers. The idea of the project was to create a laptop for developers, based around 'the idea that developers are the kings of IT and set the agenda for web companies, who in turn, set the agenda for the whole industry,' Dell said." Reader skade88 points out a positive review from Ars Technica.
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Dell's Ubuntu Ultrabook Now On Sale; Costs $50 More Than Windows Version

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  • Boatware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:22PM (#42131617)

    Thats because all the pre-loaded bloatware on win machines practically pays for the MS license.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:27PM (#42131679)

    Are you frickin' kidding me? If I'm going to spend nearly 2 grand after taxes on a laptop, then I expect something better than what I can expect to get off the shelf at walmart for $400.

  • Re:Boatware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lilo_booter ( 649045 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:27PM (#42131687)
    Indeed. I don't see the problem anyway - just because it's based on free software does not mean it's free to produce a good product. I'm in the market for a new laptop and may even consider this one - but if it too comes with bloatware/shovelware, I'll probably avoid it...
  • Hmm. $50 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:32PM (#42131765) Journal

    So, if I buy the Linux version, I'm paying $50 to skip:
    * Download an ISO (and wait).
    * Convert it to a bootable USB image.
    * Find a spare USB stick and shove the image on.
    * Open the installer, click a bunch of stuff and wait for the install.

    It's not hard. Typically takes maybe 0.5 to 2 hours depending mostly on the speed of your internet connection and whether you can find a spare USB stick.

    Still, you can pay $50 to avoid an hour's work. Seems reasonable.

    Especially to the crows of "time is money" whiners who claim that they only don't use Linux because of the time taken to set it up.

  • by Picardo85 ( 1408929 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:32PM (#42131769)
    Alright, so they've put Ubuntu, a free OS with free applications on their computer instead of Windows. So why is it more expensive then you ask?

    Well the simple explanation would actually be because it doesn't have Windows. With Windows you get the so called bloatware or trialware which is included with the installation at in almost 100% of the cases.

    The software in question is there as marketing from the companies who've created that software and they pay DELL and other OEMs for the opportunity to have it installed on their machines. Hence if the operating system doesn't support their products and they can't be installed it means that they won't buy this "ad space" and that in turn leads to DELL losing out on money.

    That is the simple answer to why OSS laptops are more expensive than Windows laptops
  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:34PM (#42131797)

    I'm not an American, but I know that: the thing I'm going to look at the most after I theoretically buy a laptop/ultrabook is the god damn SCREEN. And for that matter, the fact that it's fast and snappy is heavily counterbalanced by a shitty screen. The GP is right in a way.

  • Re:Boatware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:36PM (#42131837) Homepage Journal

    Why not just buy the cheaper, Windows version, reject the EULA and demand a refund, then install Linux yourself?

  • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:38PM (#42131883)

    What good is an ultrabook if I have to bring a monitor along to use it?

    1366x768 is a good resolution for a 5" phone, and usable for a 7" tablet.

  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:41PM (#42131933)

    Practically? This clearly demonstrates that it pays for the windows license and is also a revenue stream.

    Or, it demonstrates that there isn't a lot of competition in the market for manufacturer-optimized linux-installed laptops, and that Dell is using the lack of competition in that market to extract rents. The idea that prices can be expected to closely mirror manufacturer costs is correct so far as the expected long-term result in a competitive market where no player is pricing based on influencing some other market, but its not necessarily true in the short run, or when there is little competition for a specific class of good, or where there are market participants that are using one product to draw people into another market.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skade88 ( 1750548 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:46PM (#42131999)
    Dell did a lot of work to make sure drivers were solid. Its not cheap to make a laptop have a perfect out of the box experience.
  • Re:Boatware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:51PM (#42132069)

    Why does this sentiment never get any thought? Something tells me that Dell's bottom-line shrinks when they have to start working to support hardware on an operating system that isn't part of their core offering.

    If Dell didn't put extra work into making sure everything was rock solid, the community would be complaining that Dell didn't take the time to support Linux. They actually put the effort in and the first complaint is price.

    Just because Linux is free doesn't mean the cost to engineer a Linux laptop is automatically cheaper. Dell has been working with Windows for over a decade. Every time they start making inroads with Linux, the community bitches about price. I'm surprised they even try at this point.

    The alternative is Dell sells the hardware and doesn't put any effort into validating compatibility with Linux and leaves it to the users, while offering rock-bottom pricing. If they do that, then all of a sudden the customer experience for folks *not* already familiar with Linux is terrible and everyone acts surprised.

    Get the fuck off my lawn, you whiny little nerds.

    ** For the record, I use Debian as my primary desktop at home and would gladly pay for a tightly coupled experience on a laptop. It takes time to get there and realize the costs savings that is intrinsically associated with Linux being free. You have to go uphill first and reach the peak before you can start looking downhill. Why is it so hard for the Slashdot community to get that simple logic imbedded into the loosely coupled meat between their ears?

  • No Microsoft Funds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @01:55PM (#42132123) Journal

    Microsoft is essentially paying a large builder like Dell to put Windows on the systems. Linux, on the other hand, has no one paying Dell, so that $50 premium probably represents the loss those marketing dollars.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:03PM (#42132237) Journal
    Actually, it might be the way to do it. Linux is out there, for free, in many forms, and people who see free as being a major point have already downloaded it. Whilst *we* know that the extra $50 is probably because they don't receive the same crap-ware subsidies, it'd be easy to pitch it as "it's $50 more because it's a better operating system". Sometimes charging more will automatically make something seem better...I can see it now..."Well sir, yes, you could have the Windows option, but for a measly $50 we can upgrade you to a more secure, stable operating system that comes with a huge library of free software and all future upgrades will be free, you'll save money the first time Microsoft brings out a new Windows."

    Might very well work.
  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:08PM (#42132301) Homepage Journal

    Not true, MS charges Dell for Windows, although they pay a lot less than low volume OEMs and consumers. However Dell load the system up with crapware that pays them to be there.

    Crapware is big business.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:19PM (#42132455) Journal

    For a full-featured machine, price is inversely proportional to the weight. A doubling of the weight is a real non-starter for anyone who actually has to carry around a laptop.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wile_e_wonka ( 934864 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:29PM (#42132609)

    Not to mention--I assume Dell doesn't get any money for crapware on the Linux variant. (I have no idea how much money Dell gets for crapware, so I don't know if it is enough to totally offset the license for Windows, but it's a thought anyway)

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:38PM (#42132743)
    You can justify paying $1000 and more for laptops to yourself if it makes you feel better - there's NOTHING you can do on your laptops that I need to do as a developer that you an do on yours.... and mine cost less than $500. It's true my last one was $700, but that was a long time ago when laptops were more expensive (and I still have it, actually, and if I wanted to sell it I could - and I'd reinstall the XP Pro it came with - makes it a lot easier to sell second hand than with Linux).
  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:39PM (#42132753)
    In fact, the reason I don't need to spend that much is BECAUSE I don't need a toy.
  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:42PM (#42132807)

    'Just picking the right parts' does not happen for free. Somebody has to find 'the right parts' (that also fit in with the other requirements of the box (including price point). Somebody has to verify that 'the right parts' do indeed work with the distro you are using. Somebody has to create the install image, and verify that it is good. Somebody has to decide how much of the production run should be devoted to this config. Somebody has to find room in the warehouse to store a different config. Somebody has to ensure that those boxes are actually getting sold and not just collecting dust. Somebody has to write (and test) the call center scripts. Somebody has to update the sales system to include the new config (including it's description).

    None of that stuff is free. So you add up how much you are spending doing all those things, and divide it by the expected number of sales. That is how much is costs per box.

  • Re:Boatware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @02:46PM (#42132875)

    You forgot to divide the cost by expected sales. Sure the actual COST of doing the work may be the same for Windows and Linux, but if you are expecting to sell 100 Windows boxes for every Linux box, each Linux box is going to have 100x more of that cost passed to the buyer.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:19PM (#42133323)

    You just pick the right parts. You include "works well with Linux" as one of the business requirements when designing the thing. THAT is not worth $50 per laptop.

    Really? I've been using Linux on laptops for over 10 years and wasted many days trying to get things to work over time. Actually I've never seen power management work correctly under linux - not in combination with hardware graphics acceleration, wifi, and external displays. (Even my MacBook running OSX still gets confused and needs an occasional reboot...) Nowadays laptops dynamically switch from Ivy Bridge graphics to the NVidia card to save power... I'd be amazed if Linux can even use both (seems like I remember a lot of tinkering on a Thinkpad T400, one of the first dual-graphics solutions, to get that working), let alone switch dynamically.

    I just ordered a Windows 7 laptop from Dell and plan to shrink the Windows partition a bit to make room for a linux install. If I could have added a preinstalled Linux multi-boot as a $50 option, or a $150 option, I certainly would have (it's a work machine).

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:35PM (#42133569) Homepage


    I think you hit on EXACTLY why the price is higher. Not some 'deal with Microsoft' that, if uncovered would mean a world of hurt for both Dell and Microsoft, but that they are losing a revenue stream by not having crapware installed! Things are beginning to make a little more sense now.

    Just how much does Dell get from installing crapware?

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by micheas ( 231635 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:38PM (#42133597) Homepage Journal

    What you get for the extra $1000 is a much lighter laptop.

    Which if you need to take the laptop with you a lot can make a huge difference. My housemates 11 inch mac air is a about the same as the dell being advertised but with a smaller screen and only weighs under 1kg. making it a much nicer machine to carry around than the dell. The 13 inch mac air is almost identical to the dell.

    As a developer what I would really like is an actual touch screen so that I can test out mobile user interfaces without flipping between the laptop and my phone.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @03:51PM (#42133761)

    So the 'Linux Community' has access to Dell's designs and prototypes before they go on the market? If not, then how does the 'Linux Community' ensure that the product will work before Dell releases it?

    Also, can you show me a site where the 'Linux Community' guarantees (as in, will replace the box) that any particular configuration of Linux will work on any specific box? No, you cannot, because they can't and don't do that. Dell does.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @04:29PM (#42134169)

    I was going to add that I would pay the extra $50, but after looking at the machine, no. They're calling this a developer's laptop, but it only has 1366x768 resolution for that price?

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