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Pre-Installed Linux Tops Dell Customer Requests

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the please-sir-may-I-have-a-penguin dept.

Linux Business 509

dhart writes "Within only a few days of Dell opening a new customer feedback website, they discovered that the feature most requested (by an almost 2-to-1 margin!) is an option on all new Dell PCs: pre-installed Linux. (And the number 3 request is pre-installed Open Office.) I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux.'"

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Their system configurator (4, Informative)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074394)

That's cool. But one thing that has always annoyed me about their server configuration utility is that you can select "no operating system, Linux configuration", but there are some hardware options that don't work with that option and so you have to select the microsoft config. So much for getting some extra counts for
the Linux side

Re:Their system configurator (4, Funny)

taursir (861098) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074424)

It's probably just a money-making or liability ploy. Although, you'd assume that if you're selecting that configuration, you know what you're doing, and they don't have to deal with people going, "OMG, IT WONT START".

Re:Their system configurator (0, Troll)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074552)

You mean I could order it with Linux (free), then format the HD and install a pirated version of Windows? Wow, sounds like a great deal to me too. I see the ghost of the Genuine Advantage programme coming back to life.

The Indian tech support is worse. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074648)

I agree, the problem you mention is a serious one. But I think a far worse problem is that of their Indian tech support.

I'm sure we all have our horror stories of having to deal with them. My predecessor at the company I'm at bought a few Dell servers, and so I'm stuck maintaining them. The few times I've dealt with Dell's tech support, I've had to deal with somebody names Sanjay, Srivithan, or something along those lines. Most of the time they've been clueless, and completely unable to help me with the problem I'm experiencing. I've had some of them read their script from the very beginning, asking me to "Ensure that my power cable is connected and in working order." Of course, it took five or six tries for me to understand what he was saying.

A few of them do seem to know what they're talking about, in terms of knowing the technology and having the problem solving skills. But even then the communication becomes a real issue. When I can't understand what the guy at the other end of the line is saying, and he doesn't understand what I'm asking, it's difficult to get anything productive done.

Looking at the site there, at least two of the items on the main page concern the ditching of these foreign call centers. I hope Dell takes such requests seriously.

Re:The Indian tech support is worse. (5, Informative)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074938)

Not to feed the trolls, but here goes anyways... Have you actually called their support? Or, a better question - are these actual servers (PowerEdge) or desktops standing in as servers? I've called them many times, for servers that only cost $1k to ones over $6k. Every time I've gotten an American English speaking rep from Texas. Yes, even on Christmas morning and the machine's technically out of warranty. Cheap desktops get you cheap support. Real servers get you real support. You get what you pay for.

Re:The Indian tech support is worse. (1)

Xanius (955737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18075088)

Exactly, my girlfriends laptop is through her dads business and when things break they send a person from a repair shop to fix it at her place free of charge. Doesn't matter where she is, they get it fixed within 24 hours of calling.

Re:Their system configurator (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074668)

"no operating system, Linux configuration"

is'nt that because the operating system is actually emacs?

Re:Their system configurator (3, Informative)

rklrkl (554527) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074814)

Funny, whenever my company orders Dell Poweredge servers with the no OS option, that's all I have do (how you can have a "Linux configuration" when there's no OS shipped with it?). Slap on CentOS 4.4 and you have an enterprise level OS (a clone of RHEL 4) for no extra cost. And, yes, the Poweredge hardware is fully supported by the enterprise Linux distros in case you're wondering.

A quick check shows that the "No OS, RHEL $0" and "No OS, Windows $0" options are only on the US www.dell.com site. If you go via the UK www.dell.co.uk site you far more sensibly just get a single "Not included [included in price]" no-cost/no-OS option.

Re:Their system configurator (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18075102)


Obviously people ask for the Linux version and then just go and install a pirated windows copy

Demographics (5, Funny)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074406)

Strangely, the #2 option was pre-installed pictures of Natalie Portman.

Re:Demographics (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074640)

If they are running windows, that will happen soon enough.

Re:Demographics (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074740)

Strangely, the #2 option was pre-installed pictures of Natalie Portman.

This is Dell we're talking about.

If the #2 request was pictures of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton shaving each other, I'd be more willing to believe you.

Re:Demographics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074974)


Surprising (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074408)

Dell, do you love me?


( ) yes
( ) no



curious (4, Insightful)

gravesb (967413) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074440)

I'm all for choice, and I think its pretty stupid of Dell not to have offered this before. However, I wonder how many unique requests there are, and how many people asked for that a 1000 times or so. I use Linux at home, but it sure isn't on a Dell box; I built my own, as I guess a lot of Linux hobbists do. But if this gets Dell to implement that option, then great. More Linux penetration is good. Of course, people have to follow up on it; if they offer it and no one buys it, it just gives them and other retailers a reason not to offer it and will make it harder in the future to get pre-made Linux boxes from the major sellers.

Re:curious (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074828)

I think its pretty stupid of Dell not to have offered this before.

At least until 2001 Microsoft threatened to completely revoke their OEM licenses if Dell offered any other OS. Microsoft was forced to lighten up just a little bit in their conduct after the anti-trust trial.

Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (5, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074448)

I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux.'"

It's not so much that there isn't customer demand for LINUX, it's that there isn't a whole lot of customer demand for individual Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. It's too much of a PITA to worry about qualifying all that different hardware with all the different distros and then worrying about dealing with Red Hat, Novell and all the different suppliers of what's basically a free OS.

Now, if they had a service like "I'll send you the Linux distro I want, please preinstall it on the next 500 computers you ship me," that could be big.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (-1, Troll)

sulli (195030) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074510)

No, I think this was Linux flavors A, S, T, R, O, T, U, R, F. I would guess this is a push by some pro-Linux webpage for publicity.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074542)

The request specifically says to offer just the top three free Linux distributions. Such a limitation is probably reasonable; if you know enough to not want one of the three most common versions, you can probably install your own.

On the other hand, inserting a customer-provided distribution into a limited run would be a nightmare for a company such as Dell; they'd have to maintain that particular flavor for a very small number of potential sales.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074556)

I wonder how hard it would be to create images of different installs and then just image the computers? Dell has lots of the same hardware so it should be easy. But I've been wrong before.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074582)

Oh, that's not the problem. They could easily just pick one distro and only offer it. The problem is that even that one distro involves spending money on qualification, help desk, and so on. Plus then you are pissing of Microsoft, and who knows what kinds of "cooperative marketing" dollars Dell gets from them.

It's pretty much the same thing as with AMD processors. For the longest time the official line was "There's no customer demand for AMD." Well, obviously there's demand, which is why they are bringing it up in the first place. What they really mean is "There's customer demand, but not enough for it to be worth the cost of supporting more than one platform, plus the loss from making our current single-platform vendor unhappy."

Basically, just like with selling AMD-based systems, there's no way in hell Dell is going to sell pre-installed supported Linux until the financial incentive to do so is simply undeniable. And even then, they will at first just use the threat of doing so as a lever to get more concessions from Microsoft. If history holds true, expect Dell to be the last major OEM not shipping Linux.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074664)

Actually, Dell does do exactly that. It's called CFI, Custom Factory Integration. They do this for hundreds of enterprise customers, where they deploy the customers OS, corporate or other image to the machines at the factory.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (3, Interesting)

zx-15 (926808) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074672)

I doubt that number of linux distros would make much difference. Any popular distro is based on the same kernel, and the only real problem is to get all the hardware working, especially wireless card. Then Dell would have master image for distro A B C D.... and just select the one customer requested, just like the choice between windows 2000 and winxp some time ago. Technically it's not a big of a deal, plus there doesn't have to be numerous distros just the most popular ones ubuntu, fedora, suse that's three. And the people who'd like to install other distros e.g. Debian would have a lot less hassle because of the availability of the drivers. Dell could also sell Ubuntu with 3 or so month of included support from Canonical.

Also dell doesn't have to provide tech support for linux, just the same it doesn't provide it for windows, and I suppose there will be the usual linux-related community to which would be possible to offload some tech support.

So the question weather preload linux in not technical, but purely political.

Are you a Dell call center employee? ;) (2, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074762)

...the question weather preload linux in not technical, but purely...
C'mon, admit it. You're writing this from a Dell call center in India right now.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (5, Insightful)

nmos (25822) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074754)

It's too much of a PITA to worry about qualifying all that different hardware with all the different distros....

I can't speak for anyone else but if I were buying a computer with Linux pre-installed it would just be as a sort of guarantee that there are Linux drivers available for the hardware. For that purpose it really doesn't matter what distro they choose.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (2, Insightful)

thue (121682) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074962)

While it would certainly be better than nothing, it wouldn't necessarily be much of a guarantee. I wouldn't be surprised if they shipped closed sourced drivers which only worked with the specific interface version of the Linux kernel which shipped with the preinstalled Linux OS. Or for example a printer could work with lpr via a closed source driver, but not with CUPS.

For it to really be a guarantee, the hardware has to have open source drivers and specifications available.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074972)

if I were buying a computer with Linux pre-installed it would just be as a sort of guarantee that there are Linux drivers available for the hardware

Exactly. I recently bought a workstation with Linux pre-installed, and told the vendor to put it on a very small partition and leave the rest of the disk blank. I did my own partitioning and install on the rest of the disk, and just used their install to verify that things worked before I started messing around.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074882)

Disclaimer: I work for Dell.

Believe me. If you order 500 computers, you can get any commercially available OS for a PC installed. It's called CFI or custom factory integration. Ask your salesperson about it.

The catch is that Dell will not support the OS unless it is one that is offered by Dell. Only the hardware is supported.

The difficulty is being able to support every distro of Linux. It's impossible. I say that one is picked, say Ubuntu and support that with proper drivers and support.

Re:Linux flavors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. (3, Interesting)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 6 years ago | (#18075014)

Hmm... I've ordered quantities of Dell computers, and supplied the disk image. Never 500. More like 350 (in groups of 50 at a time), and their integration center pre-loads the image that we supplied.

It happened to be a Windows image, but my impression is that they would have installed any image that we requested, including Linux.

Which distro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074456)

Did Dell roll their own?

Also this is unsurprising considering the number of people who are daunted by the task of actually installing Linux rather than talking about it or asking a friend at the LUG to do it for them. Ubuntu's nice... if you can get the disk to work, or so I've been told.

Re:Which distro? (4, Informative)

gormanly (134067) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074546)

Dell ships workstations and servers with Red Hat Enterprise Linux preinstalled and re-sells the support contracts.

End-user boots up, configures their system (as they'd have to do with Windows on first boot) and logs in. The RHN updates icon tells them when patches are available (if they don't have a sysadmin to take care of all that). Easy as pie.

LOL! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074470)

Stupid Dell.

what happened to my rebate submission? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074478)

Oh, this is a *feature* hotline. Well, getting the rebate I was promised is a feature to me.

lolz (1)

abscissa (136568) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074492)

Just reading through those suggestions, ... I can promise you that 95% are not going to ever happen.

e.g. no preinstalled earthlink? You think they do that out of kindness to earthlink, or maybe earthlink pays for it?

Re:lolz (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074824)

...The parent post brings up a very important point, however. I suspect the reason why they haven't already offered pre-installed Linux computers is because they have not figured out what additional commercial offerings they could provide on this platform to earn extra money. Though I'm sure this provides them some extra bucks, I imagine it may also have at least some part in lowering the overall cost of the computers they are trying to sell, which helps make them competitive. Imagine this scenario: 'Computer A' is bundled with Windows and a bunch of crap you and I don't want, and costs $399; however, 'Computer B' which consists of exactly the same hardware is bundled with Linux and no third-party programs is offered at $499. While us Slashdot folk may be willing to spend a few extra bucks not to have that "crap" pre-installed, the "average Joe/Jane" would most likely see the lower price as the bottom-line.

Quiet Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074500)

On the second page is this comment:

"How a manufacturer can produce an expensive computer, and then have the user acoustic experience of that computer dominated by the noise generated by a cheap fan worth just pennies, for the entire lifetime of that computer, is incomprehensible. Computers are noisy when brand new, but those cheap fans begin to rub and oscillate and make additional annoying noises, frequently within a short period of time of purchase."

Requests != demand (4, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074504)

I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux.'"

Assuming, of course, that this wasn't a campaign launched by F/OSS zealots. For some reason, vocal minorities are often confused with silent majorities. I'll put more faith in this alleged consumer demand when Linux boxes start outselling all other systems by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, I'd be amazed if they even sold at a 1:2 margin. It would be a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Re:Requests != demand (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074610)

Yeah no kidding. A self-selecting population with a big motive to push their agenda given a direct line to a company's future product offering? Not exactly a scientific test.

I wonder what percentage of the votes are the results of ballot stuffing.. something extremely common for online communities that discover online polls.

Re:Requests != demand (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074620)

I'll put more faith in this alleged consumer demand when Linux boxes start outselling all other systems by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, I'd be amazed if they even sold at a 1:2 margin. It would be a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Stupid. Just because it's the most demanded system, doesn't mean it will outsell what's around now.

Re:Requests != demand (3, Informative)

profplump (309017) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074780)

You're correct in assuming that most people buying machine from Dell probably *are* happy without a pre-installed linux configuration option, but that doesn't mean the statistics in the poll aren't representative of some portion of Dell's actual machine-buying customers, or that the poll results are somehow rigged or invalid. All the statistics say is that, of people not happy with the existing configuration options, the most popular change request is pre-installed Linux, not that most customers would prefer Linux to Windows. Having Windows pre-installed is not a change, and therefore that configuration option is not represented in the statistics.

Re:Requests != demand (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074852)

I'll put more faith in this alleged consumer demand when Linux boxes start outselling all other systems by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, I'd be amazed if they even sold at a 1:2 margin.

Both are ridiculously high bars to measure up to.

No one is asking for Windows to come pre-installed, because it already does. It does not require any funny-business for a survey like this to be correct and still only represent some small fraction of total sales. It just means that of the services or products Dell does not currently offer, pre-installed linux is at the top of the list.

Re:Requests != demand (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074874)

I'll put more faith in this alleged consumer demand when Linux boxes start outselling all other systems by a 2-to-1 margin.

The 2:1 margin was for REQUESTS. Obviously, since they're selling Windows, nobody is going to REQUEST it.

So, no, it's not going to sell 2:1, or even 1:2, and it's stupid to think it should, based on this story.

HOWEVER, this story is misleading, as the "No Extra Software" (on Windows) is divided into two different options, and if vote were combined, would be about 80% of the Linux option. So, it's decidedly not 2:1.

Re:Requests != demand (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074984)

HOWEVER, this story is misleading, as the "No Extra Software" (on Windows) is divided into two different options, and if vote were combined, would be about 80% of the Linux option. So, it's decidedly not 2:1.

Actually if you look at it, slots 2 and 4 are no extra software, but 1, 5, and 6 all make mention of Linux. At the time of this writing, options 1, 5, and 6 total 23,535 votes, options 2 and 4 total 14,243, a ratio of 1.65:1.

Re:Requests != demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074878)

I can't help but wonder how many of the postings are from everyday users, rather than members of "special interest groups" (pro or con F/OSS). There are various postings that smack of F/OSS zealotry but there are also a surprising number of postings that are hostile to F/OSS postings. Since I'm guessing most everyday users just won't have a strong opinion either way, it makes me think that some of those hostile postings are shills (fighting F/OSS with the usual FUD tactics).

Re:Requests != demand (4, Insightful)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074896)

You put a radio button that reads "( ) OpenOffice, FREE ( ) MS Office, $49.99 Dell Discount Rate" and we'll talk about consumer demand.

Lack of Sales != Lack of Demand... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074944)

Unless there is a real option for more than very select versions then there won't be anywhere near the sales of those systems.
Dell offers Linux or no OS on select models because of Windows Licensing reasons. They've got special BIOS tags in the HP/Dell/etc. machines that make for "easier" installation of XP and Vista- and they have to have different BIOSes for the Linux/No OS boxes. Since the bulk of their line is Windows-Only, they've only made up and verified select models for the other option, which is why they don't seem to offer the configurations like they ought to.

The REAL reason Dell doesn't have as much of a demand for Linux systems is they don't offer as good a models in many cases- people just don't give them a second thought for server machines or desktops in many cases. Since they don't have a "demand", they don't realize that there's a real market so they don't offer machines to buy that're worth a damn, which stifles demand, and round and round we go...

It's a vicious circle that they and many other companies have gotten themselves into with keeping to mostly Windows.

\dev\null to dell catalogues (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074988)

We get the dell offer booklets, they are automatically binned in the recycle box.

I might be a zealot in Linux department but i've heard too many other bad stories about Dell.

Sure i could buy Dell - and hope that i can get standard drivers for say fc'x' that work but then i'd have to borrow a digital camera and document that i never ever pressed "i want to have s e x with Steve Balmer now" and then spend 5 hours plus talking to an array of indians at dell in order to get back the $30 windows tax back per dell pc.

Look I didnt know about the dell ideas site and don't care about Dell. So Dell don't get our hardware orders - do we care no.

Windows works for some folks. Linux works too, conclusion Dell does not want our money - thats fine by us.

Re:Requests != demand (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074994)

Well the question, apparently, was about requests not-currently offered by Dell. It's not saying that Dell is getting more requests for Linux than they're getting Windows purchases. It's nothing of that sort. Just, "out of things currently not altered by Dell, what would you like to see most?"

I'm not surprised that Linux would win this legitimately. Alternative operating systems, including Windows 200/XP now that Vista is out, would certainly be among my top requests. And anyway, even if it it is a "vocal minority", that's not meaningless. The silent majority is probably fine with Dell's current offerings. At least, they don't seem to care enough to say anything. Sometimes it's worth wooing the vocal minority too.

Silly Linux Kids (1)

wframe9109 (899486) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074516)

Because the majority of "I want a PC I don't have to think about" buyers post on internet forums.


Let's check back after a few months (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074530)

Since the story submitter is so sure that the demand for Linux is strong, surely it will still be one of the top requests after a few months...

Um... why? (3, Insightful)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074550)

No thank-you.

  • What distro are they going to use? As many as financially feasible? I can hear the Gentoo hordes clamouring already.
  • How old will this distro be?
  • How do I know it's been set up correctly?
  • What if I want a BSD?
  • Do we really want to let people loose on Linux who can't [be bothered to] install it themselves?

I use Linux more or less exclusively, but I'd never buy a machine with it preinstalled. I've seen how badly a computer supplier can botch a Windows install. Just ship the box blank and accept that some people know more about certain things than you do.

Re:Um... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074820)

The reason linux pre-installed would be nice would be for the device support and knowing it all should run.

Hardware support (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074886)

As a user who just bought a System76 [system76.com] laptop, which ships with Ubuntu, I'd like to comment. In part, I agree - my computer came with a widescreen monitor and no option for any wide-screen resolution, it took a while to get that straightened out. The swap partition also had not been activated. I don't know that a non-technical user would have noticed either of these, let alone be bothered by them, but I did think it was a bit irresponsible of the distributors.

On the flipside, I have the comfort of knowing that there are open source drivers for every piece of hardware in my box. My other laptop took hours to get my graphics card and wireless card configured - and the wireless card still can't make use of 802.11 g.

While I wouldn't mind getting a box blank, I want to be damn sure it has well supported hardware. I would prefer to have something that just works (and is supported) out of the box, but is customizable for those with more experience.

Re:Um... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074910)

Just a coupla points...

How old will this distro be?

Why is that an issue? They already sell Windows installs that are so old they take 4 hours to update over a dialup line (I just went through this with a client that ordered a new Dell box). I honestly don't see any difference if they update a Linux install with whatever flavor of update that particular distro uses.

I use Linux... but I'd never buy a machine with it preinstalled

Amen, brother! I don't really like any of the Linux distros with all the crap they have preinstalled or the shitty default organization of menus!

Given that most who ordered Linux don't really understand what it is, Dell might have more success with a Linux distro that they custom configured to include the stuff most want in a home machine. Unfortunately, that would almost certainly include the equivalents of the standard round of Dell crapware that they include under Windows, too. On second thought, no thanks!

Hey Brutus! (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074976)

Do you ever want mainstream driver support? Stop whining like a child whenever someone offers a service that includes Linux that isn't perfect for your needs. You need to a mature a little bit, and that involves coming to the conclusion that what's best for you may not be what's best for someone else. One thing I'm sure of is that it wouldn't hurt the Linux community to have highly visible desktop Dell support. I suspect you'd rather feel superior about your operating system than help the community that develops it.

Re:Um... why? (5, Funny)

LParks (927321) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074982)

What if I want a BSD?

If you want a Blue Screen of Death, then just get one of their Windows options.

Re:Um... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18075016)

* What distro are they going to use? As many as financially feasible? I can hear the Gentoo hordes clamouring already.

Does it make a difference? They all work. Anyone who has a little bit of practice using a modern desktop computer can use linux, as long as it's already installed.

* How old will this distro be?

Several years newer than the os that's on the computer that Joe Sixpack bought last month.

* How do I know it's been set up correctly?

How does Joe know that his XP was set up correctly?

* What if I want a BSD?

I suspect that you know exactly what to do in that case.

* Do we really want to let people loose on Linux who can't [be bothered to] install it themselves?

Certainly not if we want linux to remain an obscure OS to be used exclusively by geeks and nerds. Most people running windows didn't install it themselves, and they probably wouldn't know how. If they have a problem, they call the manufacturer's tech support line, and someone walks them through it.

I've got a few friends running linux. Two of them are on debian and don't have a clue how to install software - they just use it, and they're happy. I don't get called with problems, because they don't have any. It requires a lot less maintenance than what they had to do with windows.

Another friend is on suse, and she makes an effort to learn. I do get questions from her, because she tries to do a lot of different things with her computer. If she'd bought a Dell with linux on it, she'd probably call them for help.

I think we want more people using linux, until it gains a significant portion of the desktop market. That will help all of us. Think fewer zombies, more demand for hardware drivers and competition for the current dominant crap.

Include a Wireless Driver That "Just Works" (2, Funny)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074580)

. . . and I'll order a Dell with pre-installed Linux too.

Re:Include a Wireless Driver That "Just Works" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074822)

Stop buying cheap wireless cards. My Orinoco's drivers are in the kernel itself, works right out of the box. Every time. Same with the other (better) chipsets.

Maybe their customers save money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074590)

Dell: "It looks like Windows.."
Sure, I'll have that one, and I'll save $$$ too. I save $$$. $$$.

How about... (1)

xaoslaad (590527) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074600)

...getting back the tech support service I used to know and love them for. They've picked up a lot of bad tricks from Alienware, which has to have THE WORST tech support service I have ever seen. I am hoping this is one of the areas that will improve with Michael Dell returning to the company.

At this point (thought it is a little distant into the future) I seriously believe my next laptop will be a Mac. It's not that I necessarilly dislike Windows all that much, but the PC vendors are all becoming carbon copies of their HORRIBLE selves. It used to be one of the places Dell was better than the rest...

I'll just use Parallels/Boot Camp to dual boot/VM for those pesky Windows Apps/games, if there are still any at that point... And can keep Linux/Solaris VM's around if I want too. Best of all worlds on one machine really...

I think the #2 request is "no more Indians/phone" (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074606)

I think the #2 request is "no more Indians on the phone". Seriously - check out: http://www.dellideastorm.com/article/show/61748 [dellideastorm.com] http://www.dellideastorm.com/article/show/61833 [dellideastorm.com]

Now, honestly....I know that this may not be the nicest thing, but the biggest complaint I hear and have myself is that dell hires techs that sometimes I really can't understand at ALL. Come on people, promote this idea, wouldn't you like to hear someone who spoke english as a first language? No offense meant here, but I would just like not to have to reconfirm my service tag 5 times until we go over the "b for bowling" "g for gorilla" etc.
There's a danger in a company opening a forum like this when chances are small they'll ever implement more than a tiny fraction of these. People will be hopeful for a short time but then believe they're being ignored if there's no reaction.

Re:I think the #2 request is "no more Indians/phon (1)

xlsior (524145) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074846)

I think the #2 request is "no more Indians on the phone".

They already offer that, it's just phrased as "Gold Technical Support", and costs you an extra $80 or so.

Not that many votes (3, Insightful)

Dan_Bercell (826965) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074612)

14,000 votes means only 4666 people voted for it, and I can just imagine how many zelots voted multiple time (this isnt the first pro-linux website that has promoted this link)

I think the person who posted this link got a little excited over nothing. If anyone really believes that having Linux on the desktop is more important/popular to consumers then being able to speak to a 'John Smith' rather then a 'Abdule Ramakaiaky' for their tech support is out of their mind.

Re:Not that many votes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18075030)

actually, there aren't any zealots, its just a shell script.

Margin Errors (2, Informative)

DesertBlade (741219) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074636)

I don't thinks this is 100% accruate. Number 2 is "NO EXTRA SOFTWARE OPTION" with 8016 votes and number 4 is "Build computers not loaded with extra software" with 5102 votes which equals 13118. Which is almost the same as number 1 "Pre-Installed Linux | Ubuntu | Fedora | OpenSUSE | Multi-Boot" with 14641 votes.

Someone needs to clean up the voting an remove dups. There are some good ideas hopefully Dell will listen.

Crowdsourcing innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074644)

From ZDNet:

"the 'IdeaStorm' Terms of Service makes it clear that Dell has the right to use any of the ideas "royalty-free" and without compensation. This is obviously a legal necessity, but effectively means that the company isn't just accepting feedback on its own ideas but is in fact crowdsourcing innovation -- for little or no cost."

http://blogs.zdnet.com/social/?p=95 [zdnet.com]

Re:Crowdsourcing innovation (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074858)

With respect, the notion that anyone would demand royalties on advice they gave someone freely and without coercion is mad.

Web comments != paying customers (5, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074652)

Just because a bunch of people on a web board request something, doesn't mean that it's a reflection of what people who are actually going to pay cash money want. It reflects that there's a strong desire for dell to preload linux and OpenOffice.org; but it's not necessarily a given that the people who are making that request are willing to shell out the bucks to buy a dell (especially considering the fact that most people who buy linux computers buy servers, and any desktop user who is competent enough to use Linux isn't going to settle for a prefab box, they're going to build theirs themselves).

Re:Web comments != paying customers (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074862)

For a period of several years it often wasn't worth it for me to build a system out of discrete components because (a) pre-built systems were available with the most common hardware configurations I wanted and (b) those systems came with much longer hardware warranties than I could get from the individual component manufacturers, sometimes 2-3 times as long.

That's why I have a Micron box here, for example, and why I've purchased used IBM boxes in the past. Their IntelliStation line did what I wanted.

I haven't looked at Dell seriously for almost a decade, but I would if they'd give me the option to mot have a copy of Windows preinstalled on the box.

Re:Web comments != paying customers (1)

qzulla (600807) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074894)

Or do like I did and install Linux on an old eMachines box I had cluttering up my closet. It is RedHat and, quite remarkably, everything works.

But my plans for a Linux server were shot down. It has only 3 gig free space on the drive.

But it did work.


scary thoughts (1)

mpoloks (1062844) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074696)

as linux becomes more and more popular and comes pre-configured on PCs people will start writing viruses and
spamware for linux, just like it happened for Windows.

What people say and what they do (1, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074714)

I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux.'

Maybe but as a business owner I can tell you that what people say they want and what they are actually willing to fork over money for are often very different things. Dell does $60 billion in revenue [yahoo.com] annually which means Dell needs a huge number of people to buy linux equipped machines for it to be worth the investment. To keep Wall Street happy they'll need to grow around 14% next year. (very rough growth estimate based on year over year quarterly revenue growth) That means Dell needs to find about $8.4 BILLION in new sales next year or their stock goes in the crapper. Is there enough demand for linux to be a substantial part of that growth? Maybe, but it seems unlikely [com.com]. Dell offering linux is really just them buying an option in case linux really takes off in the market. Probably worth doing but I wouldn't expect Dell to really push the issue.

Please don't get me wrong. I hope Dell hits a home run by pre-installing linux. I think it would be great for consumers. I'm just pointing out that what people say they want and what they actually buy are very often not at all the same. I'm sure Dell would be thrilled to not have to fork over giga-bucks to Microsoft but I doubt they are counting on it happening.

Pre-Installed GNU/Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074730)

Penguin Computing has offered pre-installed Red Hat Linux for years. Forget Dell they are in the pocket of Microsoft. Buy from Linux-friendly vendors.

No guff (0, Troll)

loquitus (675058) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074738)

I asked those idiots at Dell about Linux in 2001 and they gave me the rudest reaction imagineable. I still wouldn't buy their garbage. Forget Linux for a moment... ever try to run anything on a Dell (well, a laptop in my case) that they did not ship with it? Like say a different version of Windows? Good luck there. I bought my Dell in 2001 and was forced to swallow XP Home. I wanted to run Win2K and Linux as I was developing server apps and needed 2K server. Guess what... my laptop did not "support" Win2K, whatever that means. ATI's driver's never worked on it. Dell's answer? "Tough luck". I should use XP... that's what they said. Freaking idiots. Yeah. Me too. For buying one.

Re:No guff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18075040)

If the laptop was not certified for Win2k why did you buy it? Sounds like you are the idiot. Nevermind the fact that XP pro would do anything that Win2k would.

It also sounds like you wanted to run a server os on a laptop. That makes you a bigger idiot.

Think about it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074748)

Dude, dell missed something pretty obvious I mean Hello! If I'm on the internet I clearly have a computer so I don't need to buy one do I, so anyone who can get to the poll is excluded from their target market, god guys, think about it!

[dont flame me, i'm just kidding]

Which distro? (4, Funny)

seebs (15766) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074756)

It's ridiculous. While "Linux" may be a large market, each individual Linux is going to appeal only to a subset, and furthermore, users may not know which one they want. How do you know whether you want Linux Home Basic, Linux Home Premium, or Linux Ultimate? Or, if you run a home business, maybe you need Linux Enterprise or Linux Business. If you're not sure, maybe you should try Linux Starter, but I'm not sure you can upgrade.

No one would ever expect a commercial product to succeed with that kind of internal market fragmentation, I don't see why they think it'll work for Linux.

Please vote for OpenOffice option (5, Insightful)

dokebi (624663) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074774)

I think preinstalled OpenOffice would do more to promote Open Source and MS Alternatives than anything else. Linux is still unsuitable for casual users with other casual users as friends. For an average user wanting to run business apps or games, Linux/Wine/QEMU just isn't as friendly nor has the "ask your neighbor" tech support that you'd get running Windows.

With a default OO install, there will be an instant install base of ODF. It'll do wonders for adoption of the format. Other manufacturers might even follow Dell, seeing how Dell can add functional software with minimal cost, leading to even more adoption. Business users might purchase MS Office anyway, but the home users and small businesses needing basic office needs would benefit in a real way without spending more money.

So please, vote for OO.o. Having Dell install linux by default might be really cool, but voting for OO.o would help both Open Source awareness and adoption.

Re:Please vote for OpenOffice option (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074842)

Linux is still unsuitable for casual users with other casual users as friends.
Yet nine year olds, people in their mid-30s, heck even my sister is able to use Linux here. Sorry, something doesn't add up with your statement.

For an average user wanting to run business apps or games, Linux/Wine/QEMU just isn't as friendly nor has the "ask your neighbor" tech support that you'd get running Windows.
Most of the advice I hear from other people tends to be bad anyway, causing more problems...

Requests from some doesn't mean much (2, Insightful)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074830)

If we took all the fulminating from Maclots like me about what trash Windows is, we'd probably assume that no one save an idiot would use it. And yet Windows is still the behemoth with more than 90% of the computer market. Judging what Dell's customers want from what those sufficiently energized and invested say on a website isn't perfect.

Many of Dell's customers may very well want Linux. But you can't generalize from this survey to all of Dell's market is foolhardy.

Certification would be better than install (5, Insightful)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074854)

I don't think I would want Dell, or anyone else, doing the install for me, since I want to handle partitioning and package selection myself. It would be nice if each model said something like "certified that all hardware works with Linux Distros X, Y, and Z out of the box" so that I wouldn't have to hunt that info down myself.

Over-linuxed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18074864)

The problem is lots of linuxes go too far...

ever tried sabayon, I downloaded and installed it cos it was "feature rich" - I soon found out this meant it shipped with 27 media players, 200 internet clients, 500 word editors and a quake4 demo- now I wanted an operating system and basically got what looked like a computer that had been used by a 3 year old for a few months before being packed up and shipped to me.

Basically the point of this story is that I bet if dell does install linux, it will pile it full with a load of this software in the vain attempt of adding new features purely cos its all free, using the free stuff will just end in overusign it.

Re:Over-linuxed (1)

EugeneK (50783) | more than 6 years ago | (#18075028)

You asked for a bunch of stuff and you got a bunch of stuff. What's your problem; try out a few of them until you find ones you like and delete the rest. Sheesh!

Yes, but will it happen? (1)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074872)

Now, I want Dell to sell (and not just sell, but promote) Linux as much as the next Slashdotter, but I don't think this alone will necessarily convince them to do it. There was an insightful comment posted by compugeek on the suggestion in question:

This would be great, except that it really wouldn't be that much cheaper. OEM copies of Windows are inexpensive already, and the bloatware that helps Dell keep prices low is not necessarily compatible with Linux.

Head of nail, meet hammer. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the case that Dell made quite a tidy bit of cash from those preinstalled trials. Symantec (or is it McAfee now>) especially - a lot of people just let their 6 month subscription expire*, but many will pay for more. Often you see comments about how Dell etcetera could knock $150 off the price by offering a Window-less solution where this patently isn't the case. Anyone care to point out how roughly much the OEM copy of Windows actually costs Dell per PC? (I say roughly as there is likely to be a special deal in effect for someone of Dell's magnitude).

To make things worse, Dell would have to update their tech support services to help Linux users as well as Windows users, which would be especially tricky considering that there are still some people who couldn't tell you which OS they were running even with step-by-step instructions.

Again true, but less of an issue I think. Training for tech support will be needed, of course; but after an initial cost, it shouldn't cost any more than supporting Windows, and one could make the argument that a Linux box is less likely to become infested with malware and hence less support requests. There are other considerations of course, but I don't see why there would be significantly more requests.

The comment about the user not being able to tell which OS will generally have is a tad cynical. I know users are stupid yadda yadda, but I would presume the OS's in question have obvious splash screens (Ubuntu does, can't vouch for OpenSuse, and I think Fedora does). A trivial matter in any case.

Dell would be a great company to help Linux gain ground, if they could offer tested Linux-compatible configurations. People associate Dell with easy, so if Dell could design a decent line of computers that came with Kubuntu (for example) pre-installed, they could probably sell it.

Dell have it in them to create an install of Linux that does indeed make it easy - if they did the legwork to make sure sound, video etc all worked properly (eg my laptop doesn't multiplex sound correctly in all cases, though this might be due to certain apps misbehaving; I don't have the inclination to investigate) and out of the box, it would be a damn good system for the email-and-browse-the-interweb crowd.

Of course, those 13 968 (at time of writing) won't all translate into direct sales, so it still may not make financial sense for Dell to do this. If they did though, the repercussions would be interesting. If it started gaining traction, it would start alarm bells ringing (not to mention chairs flying) in Redmond. You'd probably see more competitive licensing from Microsoft, heavier promotion of Windows Vista (or just the Windows brand in general), and possibly the strong-arm tactics we've all come to know and (not) love. It would also send a message to other OEMs that there was a viable market for Linux, so we would probably see similar offers from other system builders. If it really got going, it would also send an unmistakable message to the hardware manufacturers. Interesting indeed.

All that said, sadly it probably won't happen.


*A friend of mine (a smart guy) bought a Dell laptop. Included was a 6 month trial of Norton. I told him to remove it and install a better AV because of performance issues, and it would end up nagging him. He says it wouldn't bother him. Flash forward to 6 months later and he is complaining about it slowing the likes of Battlefield 2, it tabbing him out at inopportune times, and just being a pest in general. Still he keeps it. Why don't folk listen or learn?

Dell Linux (4, Insightful)

DeepBlueGlow (1022475) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074922)

The best way for Dell (or any OEM) to support Linux would be to start their own distro pre-installed, configured and optimized for the hardware they sell.

Shaving hundreds from the cost of a PC? (2, Insightful)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074924)


Quality free and open source software drastically lowers the cost of new PCs, and helps prevent software piracy. For example OpenOffice.org, the Microsoft Office alternative, can shave hundreds of dollars off the price of a new PC.

With PCs starting from $360 to $650, can you really expect to shave "hundreds" off the price of a new PC? The $650 machine doesn't come with Office, and Dell probably only pays $60 or so per Windows license (anybody got firmer numbers?)

The savings may be modest at best, but at least there would be an option (and I didn't see anyplace that said Dell IS GOING TO offer Linux, just that it is wanted by the respondents).

Re:Shaving hundreds from the cost of a PC? (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18075098)

Very true. Plus Dell gets paid to pre-install crapware on your computer (see requests 2, 4, and 6 at the moment) to offset some of the costs of the computer. If they're bundling Free software, they won't sell as much crapware, probably raising the cost of the computer.

Is it me... or is everyone else an OpenSourceFarie (0, Troll)

sford4 (983154) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074980)

So I offer you all hamburgers, and open up a request forum. Moron says... give me chicken! Um... does it take a genius here? 10000 people request linux. A million people buy Vista and never go to the nerd board? So genius says the world wants Linux... nope. Linux wanna be Unix is dead for the consumer PC.

Do you *really* want pre-installed Linux? (1)

pilbender (925017) | more than 6 years ago | (#18074998)

Stop and think for a moment people. Do you really want Linux pre-installed from a company that you may not trust 100%? What if they start putting in spyware or something? What if they start packing it with advertisements for "our business partners"??

I'm all for Linux proliferation, but I would rather have the system "Ubuntu Certified" or "Suse Certified". Then we could go out and put distributions we absolutely trust on the systems. Maybe it would even come with a common install disk like Ubuntu or something when you buy the system.

My point is simply that I don't necessarily want pre-installed Linux from a major distributor, unless I *know* no on has tampered with it.

I bought my Fujitsu laptop years ago because it was "Suse Certified". That alone made it a simple, no-brainer choice for me.

Re:Do you *really* want pre-installed Linux? (1)

lavid (1020121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18075086)

Yes. I'm for one less payment of the Microsoft Tax. Generally when I see the stuff they preinstall on their Windows machines (hell, this goes for pretty much all OEMs) I really wonder if they want them to preform well at all.

dhart submissions all over the place. (5, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 6 years ago | (#18075006)

It's a Digg-style ranking site. And items one and three were submitted by the same user (dhart). And now he submits a link to Slashdot to boost the ratings farther.

He calls this an honest representation of customer demand?! When I got linked to by Slashdot, I got 28,000 hits. And that was a Sunday morning. Say bye-bye to any sort of reasonable cross-section of Dell users.

I love Linux, and haven't run anything But Linux on my personal systems since 2001, but this is very nearly astroturfing. At the very least, it'll strongly bias the demographic on ideastorm.

You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18075060)

Society! More specifically, the part of society that used to enjoy the challenge of a one-liner but has turned its back, choosing "maintainable" code instead. In the days of Perl, Dell would have seen "Linux pre-installed" as the number one requested feature by a margin of 100:1, or even 1000:1 over all other requests. I guarantee it.

The Question... (1)

TheLoneWolf071 (1063682) | more than 7 years ago | (#18075064)

Will they start also catering some of there hardware on their computer for linux? I've never owned a dell, but I know one of the main problems with the linux up-rise is that there always seems to be one or two hardware pieces that does not work with linux. I also wonder what Distro they will choose. The natural contenders are Fedora and Ubuntu(FTW). I think it's good though that they would all linux to come preinstalled, will save the newbies a lot of trouble with problem installations, etc.

If any of you had bothered to click the link... (1)

MeatBlast (834728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18075066)

You would've seen that it says they would "Offer the 3 top free Linux versions for free pre-installation on all Dell PCs." How they would determine what distro is "most popular", I don't know.
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