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Pre-Installed Linux On Dells Coming

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the dude dept.

Linux Business 340

When Michael Dell took back the reins of he company he founded, one of the first things he did was to launch the feedback site Dell Idea Storm. Following up on the recent Slashdot discussion of the early results of this experiment — an overwhelming expressed desire for pre-loaded LinuxDell reports on what it plans to do with this feedback. Quoting: "[W]e are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. [On the question of which distro to choose:] "[T]here is no single customer preference for a distribution of Linux... We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems. In addition to working with Novell, we are also working with other distributors and evaluating the possibility of additional certifications across our product line."

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I've been wondering... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18147790)

Hey Slashdot, why are PC users such ugly dweebs [imageshack.us] in comparison to Mac users [imageshack.us] ? Is it because nobody has the time or patience to put up with Windows/Linux except for friendless, sexless nerds like you?

Remember when.... (0, Offtopic)

Sillygates (967271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147852)

Dell used to distribute redhat 7.2 back in the day (most of the support links still have it listed). That didn't last too long.

Which distribution does not matter. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147812)

As long as "Linux" has the drivers for the hardware. That's all that matters.

Re:Which distribution does not matter. (2, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147826)

Bah, they're going through Novell.

Clearly the Novell Microsoft team up is having some affect on industry.

Dell's laptops cost MORE w/ no OS than w/ Windows! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148280)

Dell is paying consumers to use Windows! The exact same Dell Latitude D520 Notebook costs $48 MORE if it comes with no operating system than if it comes with Windows. Here are the specs and links to Dell's online shop:

Processor: Intel® Core(TM) 2 Duo T5500 (1.66GHz) 2M L2 Cache, 667Mhz Dual Core
LCD Panel: 14.1 inch XGA LCD Panel
Memory: 512MB, DDR2-533 SDRAM
Hard drive: 60GB 5400RPM
Modular Bay Optical: 8X DVD
Wi-Fi Wireless Card: Dell Wireless(TM) 1390 802.11g Mini Card
All other options: set to "none".

The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747.

So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned! That's hardy Linux friendly or even consumer friendly. It's downright rotten, and I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't going to end up in an anti-trust lawsuit against Dell and Microsoft.

Re:Dell's laptops cost MORE w/ no OS than w/ Windo (5, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148344)

"The laptop loaded with Windows XP [dell.com] costs $699, while the same laptop and configuration loaded with no operating system [dell.com] costs $747.

So it seems that Windows has a negative price tag as far as Dell is concerned! That's hardy Linux friendly or even consumer friendly. It's downright rotten,"

All major brand-name computers come with a ton of crapware pre-installed. Why do you think they do that? Because they get PAID to put in there. When you eliminate Windows, you also eliminate the extra revenue from pre-installed crapware.

Re:Which distribution does not matter. (5, Insightful)

topical_surfactant (906185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147854)

Exactly! If I can purchase a laptop from a company knowing it will all just work out of the box in Linux, they will have my business almost immediately.

Re:Which distribution does not matter. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147968)

A distribution might stop it from "just working" or working out of the box. It has happened in the past and will probably happen in the future. I'm going to guss that as long as everyone knows it is the distribution's fault and nothing inherent with the computer or design it would still be fine.

Re:Which distribution does not matter. (2, Informative)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148288)

You can already do this from places like System 76 [system76.com]
Sure, it's not a huge company like Dell, but they have support and warranties and after having dealt with the Dell's belonging to my family members, I can't imagine the support being any less useful than Dell.

Re:Which distribution does not matter. (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147974)

Well,

Dell can just build 100% Intel boxes, CPU, GPU, NetWorking etc... And they'll just work with the majority of the distros out there, and using opensource drivers.

I'm hoping that this will put some pressure on AMD/ATI and nVidia to release opensource drivers to their products.

For real? (2)

The Anarchist Avenge (1004563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147814)

If dell keeps this up for any amount of time, we could see a large upswing in the usage of linux on the desktop. Here's to this being more than a pipe dream.

Re:For real? (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148006)

Now only if there will be enough people actualy requesting it to make then want to keep offering it.

It would be a real slap in the face for Michael Dell if after all the support for linux installed computers was shown on the ideas website, and the company taking steps to do so, and then find out there isn't really a demand for them.

Let's hope there are enough customers doing more then saying they are interested to keep this going.

We've been down this path before. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148230)

It would be a real slap in the face for Michael Dell if after all the support for linux installed computers was shown on the ideas website, and the company taking steps to do so, and then find out there isn't really a demand for them.

#1. The "support" has to include ALL the hardware on the box.

#2. The boxes have to be the most popular boxes Dell sells already.

#3. The price cannot be higher than the equivalent Windows box.

We've already seen "support" which doesn't include everything in the box, which only includes boxes that most people wouldn't buy in the first place and which, for some reason, cost MORE than buying the same box with Windows.

That's just a ploy to "show" that "no one" really wants Linux on the desktop. Fuck Dell. We've heard it before. If they're really serious this time, it's up to them to demonstrate that.

Re:We've been down this path before. (1)

Afecks (899057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148372)

You're kidding right? Dell support is laughable. If you call them you better be ready to tell them what the problem is, how to fix it, the part number and the extension of the warehouse that has said part number in stock.

The only reason they aren't drowning in support calls already (which is debatable) is because Windows has excellent hardware support and most families have a computer person they turn to before waiting a half hour on hold.

I feel sorry any first-time Linux users that get burned by Dell and look at Linux as too confusing and unreliable in the future.

Re:We've been down this path before. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148376)

So what if supporting all the hardware drives up the price?

There really isn't any way to tell without looking inside dell, so it isn't much more than a rhetorical question, but it at least seems possible that doing the work to produce an install image for a low volume system would end up pushing up the price.

Re:We've been down this path before. (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148502)

#3. The price cannot be higher than the equivalent Windows box.

Yes. Ideally, I should be able to toggle the Dell order-customization wizard between Windows and Linux with exactly the same hardware and see the price drop before my eyes.

But failing that, it would be great to have a mostly-similar hardware but completely supported-on-Linux box at several different price points. Last time I checked that was true for the $700 range, but not the $500 deals from Dell we're used to. (Could just be that the Vista Tax hasn't been crushed by Moore's Law yet. I'll check again next week.)

Re:For real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148448)

>It would be a real slap in the face for Michael Dell if after all the support for linux
>installed computers was shown on the ideas website, and the company taking steps to do so,
>and then find out there isn't really a demand for them.

A bunch of Linux fanboys found out about the website and posted in some Linux fanboy communities, which lead to a whole lot of Linux fanboys requesting linux machines.

The only problem is that the linux fanboys build their own PCs and installs and modifies whatever Linux they prefer, but think it would be nice for mr. and mrs. Smith to have a 'choice of OS'.

If Dell were to offer Linux PC's(again), they would just revisit their last brush with Linux... Lot's of money spent and no sales.

Andy

Re:For real? (1)

rlw26 (998655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148116)

Well, wouldn't pre-installed Linux be much better than preinstalled windows? It depends on what crapware they can dig up to shove on the box.

Dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18147830)

I'd buy a Dell. But an exploding penguin is uncool.

I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (5, Interesting)

cyberkahn (398201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147834)

I hope Ubuntu is an option. First, because it's a stable and easy to install distribution and it just works. I have installed it on a number of platforms and have been very pleased. Its package management system is awesome. I don't have the broken dependency issues I use to have with Fedora/Red Hat.

Second, it has both versions available to the public for free being the Long Term Support release and the more bleeding edge. Unlike Red Hat, Ubuntu is willing to "eat its own dog food." Even on the more bleeding edge releases of Ubuntu I don't get the impression that I am running a broken beta release like I did on Fedora.

Third, if you want to utilize it within the workplace you can sell it to management that there is official support available via Canonical, although there are other means of support as well. In addition it has already gained commercial acknowledgement through vendors such as Sun, IBM, and MySQL etc.

Last, but not least because it's completely free Dell can install it on a system and not have to add the associated cost of a license. Perhaps let the user make a donation for each installation of Ubuntu?

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (1)

pboyd2004 (860767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147890)

I doubt they're going to preinstall any free distros. I think they will preinstall RHEL WS and SLED. They probably don't want to eat the support costs.

But them certifying their systems on any Linux distro and providing a no OS option. Is a good thing for Linux and probably for Dell too.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (3, Informative)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148208)

Ubuntu have an OEM version which would make life much easier for Dell.

Beside, Canonical is providing support for Ubuntu.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (2, Interesting)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148362)

I doubt they're going to preinstall any free distros. I think they will preinstall RHEL WS and SLED. They probably don't want to eat the support costs.

It would be nice to see Canonical step in to support Ubuntu desktops. I'm assuming here that the RHEL and SLED taxes will replace the MS tax and if Canonical came up with an OEM support package at a fixed cost to Dell, I think it could be very competive and attractive.

The advantage of offering a distro with the reputation of being "easy" is fairly obvious and with the inclusion of CNR, commercial software could be easily installed. Under the bonnet, there's the Debian heritage of stability (yeah I know Ubuntu is from "unstable", the stable releases are still... stable. :-?) and the niceness of apt.

Then again, the cynic in me thinks there's a chance Dell will provide broken desktop installs, or at least systems that require more experience on the part of the user, just to shut people up while not effecting the relationship with MS. (I'm not saying RHEL or SLED are inherently complicated or broken BTW, just that MS is pretty intrenched in some circles)

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (5, Informative)

Soko (17987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147906)

Ubuntu makes very good sense for Dell to distribute, especially since they've licensed Click'n'Run [slashdot.org] from Linspire. Should make the average user's life easier when they want to listen to /watch their media files, besides Ubuntu being a great desktop distro.

Kudos to Dell - let's hope they're willing and able to do this right.

Soko

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147950)

I prefer Xubuntu (Xfce) over Ubuntu (Gnome) and Kubuntu (KDE) since my hardware is not the latest and greatest to be running eye candy. I was surprised that Ubuntu has a package option to switch over to Xubuntu/Xfce. That was cool as I originally installed Ubuntu on my filewall six months ago before I checked out Xbuntu.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148178)

hat was cool as I originally installed Ubuntu on my filewall six months ago before I checked out Xbuntu.

Why the hell are you running a GUI on your firewall?

You can actually turn the GUI off in linux - it's not like windows or osx.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148284)

The terminal windows are a lot nicer than a plain old command line. :P

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (1)

AI0867 (868277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148384)

that's what screen is for, it works quite well.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (4, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147976)

Just yesterday I was looking at getting a new laptop, and was dismayed because everything came with Vista. I am not an early adopter, I'm possibly a luddite compared the /. crowd. However, I've heard more good things about Ubuntu than any other Linux version, I would rather buy a laptop with Ubuntu than Vista. So, give mainstream America another two years to catch up to where I am, and your dreams of Microsoft falling may be realized.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147996)

You can order some pc's with WindowsXP if you call them or from their website. I know many laptops that come with Vista you can order WindowsXP restore disks.

You are right to avoid Vista if you run any security software or anything graphically intensive.

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (0, Flamebait)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148246)

*shudder*
I've actually never managed to successfully install Ubuntu. Slackware, Mandriva, even Libranet all worked fine. Ubuntu wouldn't even boot into the main installer for some reason.

Mandriva, now there's a distro that 'just works'. Didn't even have to do anything for my wifi drivers. Installed it, and everything was fine. Hell, it was less work than Windoze.

Ubuntu Flamemaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148426)

Could it be that you are an idiot?

Re:I hope Ubuntu is an option..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148466)

Won't happen, because Ubuntu doesn't come from Corporate America.

Yeah, right. (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147850)

Just watch. They'll put Linux on one overpriced laptop, won't make it cheaper than the version with Windows and Office, and will hide the order page for it. Then they'll claim the market doesn't want Linux.

Because if they do more than that, Microsoft will cut their discount.

Dell used to have a Linux laptop. They discontinued it.

Wal-Mart used to have a Linux laptop. They discontinued it.

HP used to have a Linux laptop. They discontinued it.

Re:Yeah, right. (2)

AoT (107216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147916)

Um, they're talking to Novell.

Novell and MicroSoft, ring a bell?

Microsoft will probably support this.

Re:Yeah, right. (2, Interesting)

dclozier (1002772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147942)

Microsoft may not care much if it's Suse. They got all of those vouchers from their deal with Novell. Perhaps there is more to Dell's motivation here than meets the eye?

Re:Yeah, right. (5, Interesting)

NovaSupreme (996633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147988)

I more than share your concern and am a Linux devout myself. However rather than whining, dont you think we should believe in free-market theory?

HP/Dell can do whatever they want, MSFT can play its tricks withing legal limits. If linux deserves it and is really needed, someone will start offering it soon.

IMHO, so far OSS have been bogged down by bad user experience. We are at juncture where its changing. Look at Ubuntu frenzy.

I wish Vista crams more DRM and they discontinue anything but $500 enterprise ultimate editoon (or whatever its called). And, Dell and HP dont offer any thing in Linux. That way one day when I am looking for new job, I can create Linux-only-Dell :-)

Bottom line -- we should stop whining and making the user experience better and better.

Re:Yeah, right. (2, Interesting)

muszek (882567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148182)

Keep in mind all that crapware that brings down the price of hardware with Windows pre-installed. I can't see anything like that happening with Linux in a long while... somehow worthless proprietary stuff becomes of use (by reducing the price).

Re:Yeah, right. (2, Insightful)

peterbiltman (1059884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148016)

Did you ever think the reason they discountinued it was there was no demand?

Somebody set up us the lack of demand (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148206)

Did you ever think the reason they discountinued it was there was no demand?
Did you ever think the lack of demand might have been set up on purpose? Was the offer advertised nationally?

Re:Somebody set up us the lack of demand (5, Insightful)

peterbiltman (1059884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148276)

Do you honestly think a company like Wal-Mart, who will argue with a vendor for MONTHS about 2 extra inches of floor space being allocated to their product line, is going to spend the TIME, RESOURCES and MANPOWER to get these in and then not advertise them? I remember the advertising for the Wal-Mart Linux laptops. There was no shortage of it. But the bottom line is they didn't sell. Customers didn't want it. So, Wal-Mart being a business, they got rid of it. The same way they get rid of the potato chips that don't sell and bring in another brand that does. Business is about business and what makes money. You can claim all the reasons you want about why it didn't sell, but at the end of the day they are no longer there because very few people bought them. Wal-Mart could give a rats ass whether it was a Linux laptop, Windows desktop, bag of pretzels or a bottle of bleach.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148468)

Did you ever think the reason they discountinued it was there was no demand?

Your explanation is simple but won't sit well here. "But the survey has lots of demand for Linux!".

What most people are missing is, that shouting in a web form and demanding Linux is easy and free. Putting your money down and buying those machines is not that easy.

The supporters of Linux are very vocal for sure, but most of them sport beige boxes bought from some completely different vendor, or they keep buying Windows laptops, since they are somewhat cheaper (because of all the craplets preinstalled).

That Dell decided not to put a huge blinking Linux laptop offer on their homepage is a poor excuse for a bad demand. If people knew enough to even know Linux is, they'd search for it and find it.

If they have no idea what the OS is and what effect it has on their computer, then they DO want Windows, since they DO want to run the mainstream software and games out there.

Re:Yeah, right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148042)

No, you're way off. Linux at samsclub was there all the time, available on the low end model, and they didn't hide the link.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

NovaSupreme (996633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148048)

(I goofed up my last comment, posting again)

I more than share your concern and am a Linux devout myself. However rather than whining, dont you think we should believe in free-market theory?

HP/Dell can do whatever they want, MSFT can play its tricks withing legal limits. If linux deserves it and is really needed, someone will start offering it soon.

IMHO, so far OSS have been bogged down by bad user experience. We are at juncture where its changing. Look at Ubuntu frenzy.

I wish Vista crams more DRM and they discontinue anything but $500 enterprise ultimate editoon (or whatever its called). And, Dell and HP dont offer any thing in Linux. That way one day when I am looking for new job, I can create Linux-only-Dell :-)

Bottom line -- we should stop whining and work on making the user experience better and better.
 

Re:Yeah, right. (4, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148052)

Part of why the Windows desktops are cheaper is because of the insane amount of crap sponsored to be put on there. A bit like advertisements keeping certain things free (for better or worse). So of course if they go and sell a machine without those (not many crapware marketing in the *nix world), they have to make up the difference somehow, either by raising the price, either on only putting it on high profit margin desktops. Sucks, but thats how it works.

Re:Yeah, right. (2, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148274)

Yes, but it's all about profit margin, right? Well Linux is free. There Dell just saved $50 a pop (guess). Linux doesn't need anti-virus, so that'll save you another $20. Doesn't need anti-spyware, that's $20. It includes things like firewalls, CD-burning software, and numerous other things. There may be fewer vendors paying to get on the box, but there are also fewer things Dell has to fork out over. My guess is they could price the same and make MORE profit on the Linux box (not including labor differences because they image so many more Windows computers).

Re:Yeah, right. (4, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148356)

No, thats the thing. The anti-spywares, anti-viruses, etc...Dell don't pay for that. They MAKE money on it: the users don't even WANT it, if they could keep the same profit margin without putting it on, they would, as they'd sell more. For all practical purpose, putting Windows on the box actually ends up with a negative price tag , something that right now, even "free" linux can't beat.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

thammoud (193905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148144)

So Dell, Wal Mart and HP are all conspiring with MS to kill Linux? Bull.

If there was a good demand, these vendors will jump on the bandwagon. These are some of the greediest companies known to man. They will jump at any opportunity to make a buck. The sad truth is that Linux on the desktop sucks (Go ahead flame me) and lacks a standard. Until gnome, kde stop bickering and I can reliabley cut and paste between my Linux apps, we will never have a viable alternative to Windows or the Johnny come lately Mac.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148442)

Linux has often been an OS for the discerning and technically capable crowd. I really don't have a problem with it being sold under their business line-up. I think you must also understand that the user base of Linux as a desktop OS has often been found to be under 1%. That's not a very much, and I think bolsters the fact that there's not much market for it. I think you should be very careful to try not to foist Linux onto computer vendors because you want them to promote it - it's not Dell's job to cater to the niches, neither is it HP's job, or Walmart's. Changes don't happen that way.

Dell's system does seem to be pretty erratic though. I could have sworn that their Precision workstations and mobile workstations were offered with Linux last week.

Got my Linux on Dell years ago (4, Informative)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147860)

http://www.emperorlinux.com/mfgr/dell/ [emperorlinux.com]
Several other good manufacturers, to boot.
Rock solid, hard drive laid out to your taste, including dual boot configurations with that lesser operating system.
My biggest quibble is they don't Gentoo, but if you're batty enough to run that (like me) you probably know what to do. ;)

Re:Got my Linux on Dell years ago (1)

megmeister (1067884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147994)

Why the heck would you want Dell to put Gentoo on your machine? The whole point of Gentoo is customization to not just your hardware but your own preferences.

For a known-good starting point (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148236)

Why the heck would you want Dell to put Gentoo on your machine?
So that I have a known-good starting point for the ricing^W customization of the system. If Dell tests its hardware with some (normalized) Gentoo distribution, then buyers will know that the machine isn't chock-full of hardware that lacks drivers.

Re:Got my Linux on Dell years ago (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148314)

You could have it come with the stock release CD in place, to save time.

Only on business machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18147866)

This is a good start to what is needed, but why only business machines, would be nice for home also.

Crapplets (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147872)

I do appreciate Dell doing this. Really, I do.

But I fear the coming of the Linux Crapplets. I fear what happens when AOL starts placing icons on my Gnome desktop.

And I pray that Dell does the right thing and drops the crapplets -- insist that they stop paying per machine sold and start just paying for Windows licenses sold, and use the money saved there to avoid preloading random crap other than the OS.

Re:Crapplets (2, Informative)

gradedcheese (173758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147920)

Right. Dell PC prices are highly subsidized by the sheer amount of crap that they pre-load. However in Linux it can be the same as the current situation: open the box and unpack the new PC, format the hard disk, and re-install the OS...

Personally, I just care that they'll have to use Linux-supported hardware (Intel wireless + video and so on). If one distribution runs, I can assume that my favorite one will work as well. As a ThinkPad user, I am upset about Lenovo's handling of the ThinkPad line, so this move might just get me to buy a Dell as my next laptop.

Aggreed, somewhat. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148118)

I will buy a Dell for my next laptop, if it comes preloaded with a decent Linux distro and without a bunch of crap. (I will not pay for the crap.)

I'll even buy it if it isn't a distro I like.

However' if you really want to blow us away, Dell, give us a few of the configurable install options available via the website -- preferably without Flash or excessive JavaScript required. Maybe a web-based debian-installer? Because I'd like to be able to choose filesystem, partitioning scheme, and base distro (maybe from a limited selection -- hell, just Ubuntu and Fedora would probably satisfy most people who would care about pre-installed). I want to be able to choose these not because I am such a nerd, but because they aren't easy to change after an install -- which is probably why Dell lets you choose FAT32 or NTFS when ordering an XP computer.

Re:Aggreed, somewhat. (1)

Toby_Tyke (797359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148320)

I will buy a Dell for my next laptop, if it comes preloaded with a decent Linux distro and without a bunch of crap. (I will not pay for the crap.)

You never pay for the crap. Rather, the crap pays for (part of) your laptop.

Most of those "craplets" like anti virus trials and ISP sign up programs are there because Dell was paid to put them there. There was a story on Ars Technica a few weeks ago (sorry, don't have the link) where a CEO from one of the big vendors was doing a Q&A session. Someone asked him how much extra it would cost to buy a PC if they dropped the craplets, and the figure he quoted was $60.

This does mean that any saving they make by not paying a Windows license fee could well be swallowed up by not having any craplets installed. After all, most ISPs don't even officially support Linx, and most home software packages are windows only, so its hard to see who would be willing to pay have their software preloaded in a Linux PC.

Re:Crapplets (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148158)

If its any consolation, #4 is no extra crap installed.

Re:Crapplets (1)

c_fel (927677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148490)

Yeah, but for everybody here, the first thing to do with a new shiny Dell will be to wipe out the pre-installed OS and install your favorite distribution. So at least for us, there's no concern about the distribution and softwares Dell installs by default. All we want to have is a 100% certified Linux-compatible laptop.

Anyway Linux is so easy to install these days...

Translator required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18147930)

Could someone kindly translate that beancounter speak into something I can understand more readily?

Thanks in advance.

Business software (0, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147938)

This is a nice idea for home users. If they could find some decent accounting and other business software, I'd consider it. As is, I just can't use Linux for business because it's lacking so much software.

Re:Business software (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148176)

I ran a business with Linux. It worked great. I think what you mean to say is: lets get businesses away from thinking they need a certain brand of accounting software. I had the stuff that is supposed to make the world go round, and later found out that there was a lot of shaky ground in continuing dependence on it. Soon I had made my own using other Linux ready "business software" that did not involve programming and it worked great. If my accountant demanded I use that "branded software" I simply said I would go elsewhere, because that meant they were simply making me do all the work anyways.

There are free and pay linux accounting packages BTW. And just what would this other business software be?

Why not Gentoo... (1)

Thaidog (235587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147948)

This would give the best range of options for desktops... giving a high degree of quality as well since everything is custom compiled from source.

mo3 dowN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18147970)

and distraction for the project. BSD machines centralized We'll be able 7o a super-organised a BSD box (a PPII Be forgotten in a accounts for less

FCC (1, Flamebait)

7of7 (956694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147980)

When Dell decided to follow through with the Idea Storm idea I was reminded of something that happened after the Super Bowl a couple years back and keeps happening occasionally. Something will happen on TV or radio and about 20 people from Focus on the Family will freak out about it and complain to the FCC over and over again. The FCC then freaks out and does something stupid like increasing censorship or fines. Similarly when the dedicated Linux community decided to take over Idea Storm they should've been ignored as they are simply an extremely vocal minority. That Dell is considering wasting that money is a sign that Dell is desperate and instead of making better looking or cheaper computers they will instead cater to the extremist elements in the IT society. It's too bad. I really like my Dell but if they are going to waste their resources on this fruitless endeavor then I'll take my money elsewhere.

Re:FCC (4, Informative)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148200)

Why is it bad for them to focus on a niche? It doesn't preclude them also making better looking or cheaper computers.

Moreover, if they become a solid Linux vendor, they'll be able to pick up a lot of high-margin sales pretty easily. There's plenty of professionals using Linux on some pretty pricey hardware. It doesn't take much volume to make up for the effort if it's high-end workstations you're talking about, and getting the hardware certified with major Linux distros would allow them to keep a lot of the OS-related costs that currently go to Microsoft.

It's not going to save the company, but it does have the potential to be a profitable niche.

Re:FCC (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148410)

As further reason for niche support, I have personally been responsible for 5 different people getting mac laptops in the last couple years (2 powerbooks, 3 ibooks). I would have liked to suggest a linux laptop, but that's just too sketchy for people who have no great love toward technology but want/need a computer anyway. I'm sure that many people here have been the very reason their friends or family got whatever computer they did. In other words, if you win the geek's heart, you'll get the geek's business, plus family, friends, and associates. It's easily five or more sales by convincing one geek.

Re:FCC (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148298)

I've heard comments like these all over the web. Dell/Windows users who are threatening to "take their money elsewhere" if this affects them negatively.

My question is: how does this affect you? Dell aren't dropping Windows. They're merely adding another option for pre-loaded software (and not taking away your right to choose Windows in the process). I can't possibly envisage how this would even be a blip on the radar for existing Dell/Windows customers. They can happily carry on as normal. Dell will undoubtedly continue to bundle Windows AS DEFAULT. My guess is the vast majority of people won't even notice the change even as it stares them in the face on the "configure this item" page.

I think a lot of people are making mountains out of molehills here. If Dell did this silently, you wouldn't have even noticed.

They can start .. (2, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18147982)

.. by listening to their customers who want quality computers that do not break down and also bundle poor support.

I did a consulting job for help desk at a gaming company and more than always it was odd dell desktops and laptops that had issues or had very bad drivers. Dell loves to modify their video hardware so vanilla nvidia and ati drivers wont work. Sometimes new laptops have drivers from 2005 that wont run many games properly and no recourse to upgrade the drivers.

Also I have never seen techs load tcp/ip stacks on systems that fail to authenticate to a domain controller. Sound odd? It happens with Dell corporate desktops. At a former college they had a guy whose sole job was to run around with a diskette that had the proprietary tcp/ip stack .dll files for failing Dell pcs. Incredible!

dell playing to the microsoft/novell patent-troll? (2, Interesting)

1 a bee (817783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148012)

As if anyone needs reminding, the caption in Dell's ideas in action [dell.com] page says "Dell recommends Windows Vista(TM) Business." Will Dell soon be recommending Novell's distro, together with its nonesensical patent-indemnification FUD?

idiot slashdot readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148034)

..don't read the article. This is nothing new for Dell- their corporate customers have always had more options than retail. They're not going to sell Linux desktops on their Website. Dell has been lying about their Linux offerings for years, and is still lying. Even worse, this is only the Novell edition, which means you're still paying the Microsoft tax.

Re:idiot slashdot readers (4, Interesting)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148096)

more editors than readers. I don't understand how that statement could possibly be interpreted to suggest that Dell's going to start shipping preinstalled Linux OSs, it says nothing of the sort. It looks to me more that they're trying placate everyone by saying they're doing everything they can, as opposed to actually responding to consumer requests. In other words, this headline is blatantly false.

users can "help define the market" (2, Interesting)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148038)

We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems.

Gee. Thanks, Dell! We users wouldn't be able to define the market on our own without your permission.

Vanilla "Linux"? (2, Interesting)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148060)

I certainly appreciate the idea here, and hope they're doing this for the right reasons (not some of the cynical-but-possibly-true ideas posted in this thread elsewhere). But I've never known two Linux users who preferred the same setup. Ubuntu here, Redhat there, BeOS, OpenBSD, and so on. I'm a Windows guy for the most part, but have run installations of all of these here and there over the years. I don't quite know how they're going to implement something like this and please much of anyone. With Windows or OSX, you get one default installation and you adjust it cosmetically a little bit (though at the OS level it's pretty much the same). With all the flavors of Linux, you can set it up almost any way you want.

It's great that the system cost might be lower if the Windows tax isn't applied, but is anyone who prefers Linux really going to use whatever comes installed? Most will wipe it as soon as they get it, just like you would if you ordered a Windows box/laptop. I think what would be nice (though certainly not a productive business model for Dell) would be to step up their options for OS-free machines and then put the energy otherwise spent on Linux installations on creating a repository of drivers for ALL platforms for their hardware. That way you could install whatever the hell you want but have some help with the hardware fun that all Linux users spend so much time on.

Linux users, for the overwhelmingly large part, seem to me to be roll-your-own types, and fairly advanced in their understanding of stuff like this compared to their Windows (and even OSX) counterparts. So why not work with that instead of making this "Linux alternative" option viable?

Re:Vanilla "Linux"? (2, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148308)

That's true, but as others have pointed out when you get right down to it, Linux is Linux is Linux because it's all about the kernel. As long as they use parts that have drivers in the kernel provide the drivers, you're golden. Same with other little utilities to modify things. They'll all run on Linux, it doesn't matter if the user is using KDE or GNOME. To a certain degree there are only 4 or so distros out there: Red-Hat based, Debian Based, Slackware Based, and Other. Dell can offer any flavor they want (all Fedora, all the time) but as long as the little parts are there then the people who want can go to Ubuntu, Gentoo, or whatever.

On top of that, Linux is free and much more forgiving of hardware changes. Replace the motherboard in a Windows computer and you can run into all sorts of problems. Do it on Linux and if you have it set up right you'll barely notice the change. This means that they could easily offer 2 or 3 distibutions with little additional effort and very little additional cost to them. It's not like going between Windows, OS X, BeOS, and FreeBSD. Fedora and SuSe are based on much the same stuff.

I agree though, it will be very interesting to see how they handle all this.

Re:Vanilla "Linux"? (1)

DAharon (937864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148428)

Linux users, for the overwhelmingly large part, seem to me to be roll-your-own types, and fairly advanced in their understanding of stuff like this compared to their Windows (and even OSX) counterparts. So why not work with that instead of making this "Linux alternative" option viable?
While I and many other linux users fit into this category, the Ubuntu fad has changed things a bit. We are seeing more and more wannabe computer hobbyists and kids experimenting, and often moving, to Ubuntu or Fedora. These generally aren't computer literate people (maybe Windows literate). Many either got on the computing bandwagon after the internet became popular, or are very young. These are people who have NEVER used a command line before (Am I the only one who finds this fact nearly unbelievable?).

I think Linux pre-installed might actually have a chance. The major distros are prettier than Windows, and they "just work." The above average computer user might be realizing that if you don't play video games, you just don't need Windows and all the headaches that come with it.

Re:Vanilla "Linux"? (2, Insightful)

TheoCryst (975577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148482)

This deal is not designed to make anything better for tech junkies who already have a favorite distro and are comfortable with compiling their own kernel. The whole point of this is to make Linux more accessible for Joe Average, who uses whatever is included on his computer and is terrified to change it. By giving him a (hopefully cheaper) option to buy his laptop with Linux preinstalled, you've just converted someone who would never willing install Linux on his Windows box. This is the market segment that Linux advocates have been unable to reach for years now, and having Linux preinstalled on Dells is by far the best way to woo them. That being said, I'm tossing my hat in for Ubuntu, which has (arguably) the best, idiot-proof experience on the market today. Don't offer a myriad of options on the order page; the only people who would understand them will probably reformat their hard drive when they get their computer anyway. Make it as simple and obvious as possible, and THEN you'll start to see some real market penetration.

You can already get... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148136)

RHEL on Precision workstations. I noticed them on the Dell site several weeks ago.

And we had a story a couple of months back about getting Linux on their "E" series systems (IIRC).

Re:You can already get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148204)

This is true. I bought one several weeks ago. Nice system. Not sure what the news is here, other than maybe they'll start shipping with Ubuntu.

distribution choice (1)

judd (3212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148146)

I don't care what distribution they settle on, as long as they don't rely on proprietary drivers. From my POV if it is running some kind of mainstream Linux distro, the odds that my preferred distro will work are very much higher.

Wow; Mike likes to sell computers. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148156)

That is what is I call leadership. This guy is about as different from other CEOs as Steve jobs was from all of his predecessors; they were loved by wall street, but hated by the customers.

Finally Dell does something right... (1)

JAB Creations (999510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148180)

Burning down houses and forcing IT guys to clean up systems with 128 MB of RAM only tops my list of complaints with Dell. At least Linux won't be as memory intensive as Windows so that being said I hope we don't see (further) stagnation in increasing the minimum amount of RAM in their bottom line.

NOVELL ??? (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148256)

I always get my medications from the Borgias , why do you ask?

  No wonder MSFT is not objecting to Dell selling non windows machines ( if in fact they did not).
Did Novell know this when they signed on with MSFT?
Will anything be available but SUSE?

A scenario: Dell sells SUSE exclusively, SUSE degrades because of FOSS comm. dislike and GPLv3.
  MSFT says "I told you it wasn't vey good, use an OS supported by professionals".

If... (1)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148322)

If Dell does start offering preinstalled linux (big IF) I would guess they would go with one of the more "user-friendly" distros ie Ubu or SuSE. Anyone who would use something else probably knows enough to install it themselves. Or maybe they could bundle a CD/DVD of your distro of choice? Its just sad that a company has to be on the verge of bankruptcy to start looking at alternatives to lock-in software, or the revolutionary concept of actually LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS!! What a thought!

Mythtv box? (1)

mdboyd (969169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148338)

How awesome would it be if Dell began manufacturing a media center box with MythTV installed? Maybe KnoppMyth? Who knows, maybe Dell would consider tweaking some code to make MythTV user friendly for newbies....

Sure but (1)

loconet (415875) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148340)

Sure but does it run Linux? ............ oh.

I don't understand, this isn't new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148342)

I don't get it, you've been able to buy Linux on a new Dell for years now. It just wasn't stuck in your face when configuring a machine. How is this any different?

Want laptop without windows or m$vell (1)

a1mint (1021941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148348)

I certainly don't want windows and I really don't like this Novell M$ deal. I want to install a version of Linux of my own choice. So sell me a laptop without any OS. Why the hell do these companies get away of peddling this crappy software I don't want?

Who killed the electric car. (1)

Overkill Nbuta (1035654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148360)

Could soon be who killed mainstream linux. I know alot of people at my school who would take linux on there laptops and such. Going through engineering you realize as long as you can run the internet and run word documents you can usually find something more powerful to run anything else you need to.

Alienation of Linux users (2, Insightful)

DaveG, the Quantum P (664195) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148382)

The original article said: "We don't want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another."

I appreciate that thinking, so if they choose Novell SuSE LInux I think they'd alienate almost all Linux users.

Haven't they been doing this for a while now? (1)

shampster (228356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148388)

I bought a Dell workstation about a 1.5 years ago with RedHat WS pre-installed.

This can only be a great thing for drivers ! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148396)

I've got an HP laptop that has an Nvidia video card, a Winmodem and an ENE memory card driver. None of these devices have proper drivers in Linux. If Dell starts selling laptops or even PCs preloaded with Linux, presumably they are going to have a "normal" linux driver for every peripheral device. That can only mean that companies like ENE would have to start providing kernel developers with documentation to write a kernel driver for their device.

You can't keep a good thing down forever. The masses obviously want Linux on PCs and laptops and it will only be a matter of time before a customer responsive company (Dell or otherwise) answers the call. The fact that Dell advertised for ideas and got such an overwhelming response requesting Linux means it something that can no longer be ignored.

Retail price savings? (1)

adambha (1048538) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148412)

So, does this mean that the end user will now save a few bucks since they don't have to pay for a Windows license?

No major news here. (1)

psychokitten (819123) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148446)

If you read the press release, the wording is quite plain and out in the open. They aren't going to, nor are they planning, on offering any systems with any distro of Linux preinstalled. All they're offering is to get more systems 'certified' with primarily Dell's distros of choice (RHEL and Novell,) and then possibly more distros as well. Of course, these systems will most likely also be moved off into the 'n' series line - which will probably cause it to be a failure. If they -really- want to impress me, they need to not only throw the Inspiron line in there (there are already 'n' series Dimensions,) but offer the No OS option, /or/ a Linux Distro option (even if they don't install it, and just ship media with it,) right there on the regular purchase page. If they don't, it's little more than a token gesture to try to make the minority happy. (But on an unrelated note - it's good to see Michael stepping back up and taking charge of things. Dell plumetted even downhill than it usually is when he wasn't leading things.)

Windows users should be hoping this flies (1)

Javaman59 (524434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148460)

Let's hope the Dell Linux business takes off, big time. Thousands of units shipped... a double digit percentage of their business...all with Open Office... all working nicely...

Finally, a kick in the gut for Microsoft's Vista and Office 2007 prices.

Certification != Pre-Install (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18148464)

Certification is a *very* low bar for Dell to achieve. In general it means that the system can be installed, and the graphical user interface can come up, that is it.

The cost for an OEM to pre-install and support Linux properly is currently far higher that Windows. This is because of the variance in distributions and the general maturity of Linux from support perspective. And of course Dell is all about support (well, more correctly, Dell's business model is logistics, and each support contact costs eats into their profit and loss for the system.

In most cases, they don't even contact the IHV to ensure that the drivers for that hardware will work. Even without a preload,ensuring that a level of driver support is available would be a huge boon.

Muwahahaha (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148512)

Now I can order Linux, and install windows 98 to stick it to the man.
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