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Why Dell Won't Offer Linux On Its PCs

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the D-I-Y dept.

Linux Business 628

derrida sends us to an article in the Guardian by Jack Schofield explaining why he believes Dell won't offer Linux on its PCs. In the end he suggests that those lobbying Dell for such a solution go out and put together a company and offer one themselves. Quoting: "The most obvious [problem] is deciding which version of Linux to offer. There are more than 100 distros, and everybody seems to want a different one — or the same one with a different desktop, or whatever. It costs Dell a small fortune to offer an operating system... so the lack of a standard is a real killer. The less obvious problem is the very high cost of Linux support, especially when selling cheap PCs to naive users who don't RTFM... and wouldn't understand a Linux manual if they tried. And there's so much of it! Saying 'Linux is just a kernel, so that's all we support' isn't going to work, but where in the great sprawling heap of GNU/Linux code do you draw the line?"

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Stop it! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312254)

More importantly, isn't anyone else tired of hearing about why or why not? Enough already, no one really cares.

1st? (-1, Offtopic)

aptyp (1051298) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312258)

of course they will, #rhel

Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action. (0, Flamebait)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312260)

The person who wrote the article hasn't a clue. Does he really think that Windows is easy to use or support?? If he does, then ask him about daylight savings time....

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312306)

You cannot honestly think the level of Windows support necessary for the average computer user is ANYWHERE near comparable to the level of support that would be necessary for Linux, can you? The first time a technician has to explain to grandma how to manually edit a .conf file is the last time anyone in that person's sphere of influence would ever buy from that company. Linux is simply not ready to be a widespread desktop OS.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

iowannaski (766150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312442)

Generally speaking, Grandma's sphere of influence isn't very big when it comes to operating systems, is it?

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312478)

The sorts of people who need help maintaining a Linux desktop also tend to need help maintaining a Windows desktop, the only difference is that it's marginally more obvious with Linux.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (5, Insightful)

Canordis (826884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312498)

I hope parent is merely a troll (Grandma + config file is rapidly turning into a troll meme) but I'll bite. 1998 called; they want their lack of GUI configuration tools back.

On my Ubuntu box, I have had to manually edit configuration files to do two things:

  • Install and configure beta software
  • Install and configure Apache + MediaWiki
  • Configure Vi
The one other type of config file I've had to edit regularly in the recent past are xorg.conf files. A computer that comes with Linux preinstalled would never need xorg.conf twiddlery; reconfiguring it when you upgrade your graphics cards isn't a particularly difficult thing to do (If you're the sort of person who is likely to upgrade your own hardware, then you can do it).

The real reason Dell won't offer Linux PCs is plainly that it's not a good deal for them. It would mean more expensive Windows licenses, and it would mean less money for them from all the people paying them to bundle crapware with their boxes. The only way to have good, high-quality Linux PCs is to have an OEM willing to sell nothing but Linux boxes. Preferably one willing to sell well-designed, high-end computers and laptops with fully compatible hardware and pre-installed, thoroughly tested desktop environments and proprietary format support. Hopefully, packaged with a nice manual and long-term tech support for a particular set of "supported" packages too (Like Canonical does with Ubuntu).

Hey, I can dream.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (4, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312574)

### A computer that comes with Linux preinstalled would never need xorg.conf twiddlery;

Unless that user wants to use a graphic tablet, a second mouse with some additional buttons, a different refresh rate for his monitor, a multi-monitor setup or a ton of other things. There is a lot of things that one can do with GUI tools in Linux, but I still have to visit xorg.conf *far* more often then I would like. And unless there one day comes a proper GUI configuration tool for said file that won't change, doing configuration changes without restarting Xorg would be a nice thing to have. Beside the lack of a standard cross distribution package format xorg.conf is among the ugliest show stopper issues for Linux on the desktop.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (2, Informative)

Canordis (826884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312608)

None of those things are the domain of "grandma" though. I agree that Xorg is sorely lacking in user-friendliness, though.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

McFadden (809368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312514)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Not only is Linux not ready for desktop -it's unlikely to ever be 'ready'. There have been enough developers, working for enough years on Linux for them to have been able to roll out a decent desktop system by now. Whatever they might have you believe, most people developing for Linux have never had, and will never have desktop as a target. When you're smart enough to be able to develop distro code, your primary motivation isn't always satisfying the person who can barely plug the damn machine in.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312312)

I support a bunch of Windows boxes, in addition to a bunch of OpenBSD machines.

As far as Windows and daylight savings goes, XP/2003 boxes were all patched by standard patch-tuesday patches. For win2k it took me a grand total of 15 minutes to research it on MS's website, write (+ copy/paste) a few text files, and roll them out on the Active Directory Domain. Not really tough. There are lots of problems with Windows. Daylight savings time just wasn't a big one.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312464)

The DST problem has been a nightmare in my company, both for Outlook and especially PocketPCs. Microsoft has released a series of patches, each of which just muddles the situation more. In the end, they recommend manually fixing all your appointments. Well gee, if I knew when they were all supposed to be, I wouldn't need Outlook, would I?

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

Uzik2 (679490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312322)

Dell supports windows all the time, as part of their business, and you presume to say they don't know how it's done?
They make a lot of money giving people what they want. They understand it a lot better than you do.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (5, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312356)

Dell supports windows all the time, as part of their business, and you presume to say they don't know how it's done?

Based on my one time calling tech support (in Bangalore, I assume), Yes, I'd be willing to say that they don't know how it's done!

OK, They know how it's done (let script monkeys handle the caller), but they don't know how it's done *RIGHT*.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312366)

> The person who wrote the article hasn't a clue. Does he really think that Windows is easy to use or support?? If he does, then ask him about daylight savings time....

Consumers who buy a computer expect the level of plug-and-play with the rest of the consumer-device world that Windows and Mac OS X provide. Very little of the HW out there comes with Linux drivers, the number of frustrated users will be high. Most computer users I know (who do not read /.) would conclude that Dell doesn't know how to support their own stuff. Much downside potential for Dell's already-shaky reputation for service, and the upside for Dell is...

The "100s of distros/everybody wants something different" is accurately characterized by other posters as FUD, but this aspect of the support situation I believe could reasonably be seen as a deal-breaker for Dell.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312396)

What sort of comment is this, its insightful? You think the fact daylight savings updates are the biggest problem windows has? Or that its even a serious issue? I truly challenge anyone to install Linux for their parents and have them be able to do everything they want to do, like install programs they want or do the things they want. Just saying there is an alternative is not valid, it doesn't mean anything. An alternative is an alternative because people don't use it a lot. Going this path is a long slow transition process. Not a "dell can support linux easily". Telling customers what to do isn't exactly 101 in business class. Granted many of the issues are that most people are used to windows, it just doesn't fix the problem. Linux distros nowadays are fantastic , KDE and GNOME are both great interfaces, if we lived without windows ever existing this wouldn't be a problem. However the best things about them are things that programmers or highly technical people can really exploit. This "people are too stupid to understand" argument is exactly the answer to the problem. Package mangers or command line installs its never ever going to work for the masses. I know large attempts at making a better system has been done.. but the problem is, not everyone does it. Linux has come a long way, but the truth is, its got a long way to go before you can convert enough people. But with Microsoft continuing with stupid licensing models there is allot of opportunity to make inroads.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (2, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312428)

For the record, I'm a linux user slightly tainted with a mac laptop. I've been using various distros over the years as desktops and servers. I like linux a lot and I think it is more usable for real work than either windows (ME is my last experience though) or OS X. That said, the summary author (or article author) has a strong point about man pages. They are often very difficult to understand and almost always devoid of examples. The little syntax structure at the top isn't going to help a complete newb and even after 5 or 6 years of linux use, I prefer to find a "howto" than read a man page any day. Anyway, the man page criticism is quite valid.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312578)

I like linux a lot and I think it is more usable for real work than either windows (ME is my last experience though) or OS X.
Windows 95 was more usable than Windows ME.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312620)

Back in the day, I used win95 at work. Also not as good.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (4, Interesting)

nickcoons (1053636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312448)

I have no evidence to support this, but it seems that this has nothing to do with technical support at all. My guess is that Dell has some awesome OEM pricing for Windows (maybe $25 a pop or so), and this deal with Microsoft is contingent on them not offering competing operating systems. If they started pre-loading Linux, their cost of Windows may go up substantially.

However, I could be way off base, so feel free to point it out if I am.

Tag article: microsoft (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312492)

It's funny they talk about support, because on a *brand new* Dell box a friend bought, their support has been total crap.

Not only did they slag him with Vista (he wanted XP, per my advice), they wouldn't downgrade it and it doesn't work right. He installed drivers and crap based on Dell's tech support and eventually got the system so hosed it restarted explorer (the desktop, not the whole computer) every few seconds. I was finally able to get to a system restore point (after many, many tries--it's hard to get to when you don't have time to click anything) and undo that at least. When I checked the Event Viewer, there were almost 20,000 messages in there (not all errors, but the system is only a week old, so there can't be many normal ones unless it logs every damn time you click [ Allow ] or [ Cancel ] ...).

Anyhow, I think I'm going to tag this story with what I feel is the real answer to the question posed in the headline: Microsoft

Maybe they're not to blame, but I have a hard time seeing why Dell would want to avoid selling something its customers want...

Re:Tag article: microsoft (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312572)

I'd have your friend send the thing back (if thats possible) and then turn around and pretend to be a Small Business by clicking Small Business solutions or whatever it's currently labeled. Dell still sells XP there (and for larger businesses of course).

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312496)

It doesn't make any difference what OS is installed...... support will be in an Indian call center where no one will understand their English... just like Dell's Windows....

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (2, Insightful)

taupin (1047372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312530)

No, Windows is not easy to support; whether users can use it is not Dell's problem. But rolling out an entirely new operating system on its machines means Dell has to train new/existing support personnel to deal with Linux problems - from serious errors to "How do I launch programs without a Start menu?" - in addition to dealing with other issues (configuration, etc). Doing this would cost Dell a fortune which they probably would not get back from the marginally greater sales offering Linux would net them.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312558)

The person who wrote the article hasn't a clue. Does he really think that Windows is easy to use or support?? If he does, then ask him about daylight savings time.... He's not saying windows is necessarily easy to support. He *is* implying that the support infrastructure is all in place, and that linux doesn't have that in a form that users can use. Not everyone is going to be happy scanning online man pages and asking questions on forums. They need online help and customer care reps and a phone number to call.

Its going to be expensive to set up and expensive to maintain. Windows support people are 10 a penny and linux support people are not.

Re:Ignorance is just so wonderful to see in action (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312638)

Does he really think that Windows is easy to use or support?? If he does, then ask him about daylight savings time....

Download and install the patch for Windows XP. Done. Download and install the patch for Outlook. Done.

Now tell my Dad how to fix the hard-coded DST in his $50 "atomic" wall clock.

Bullshit (2, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312272)

"Start your own company and do it yourself?" The market is saturated- there's already a large number of major OEM computer manufacturers. Trying to reach that level from scratch isn't going to work. That's like saying "You don't like Coca-Cola or Pepsi? Start your own soda company then." It's wholly impractical and simply dodges the issue.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312394)

Do you mean like or like ?

Re:Bullshit (1)

tomchurchill (242178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312398)

You don't like Coca-Cola or Pepsi? The founders of Snapple, Izzie, and several dozen other tea/soda companies did, within roughly the last decade, and have done fantastically well. It's not impractical, it just requires: 1) having a good idea. (Selling Linux PCs probably isn't), 2) Making it happen. Maybe you can't -- but don't assume no one else can, either...

Re:Bullshit (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312480)

I remember that Snapple Mint Tea was my favorite drink around the time I graduated college. 1992. So Snapple's been working on it for at least 1.5 decades. .... I sure wish I could still get the mint tea. It was great.

Re:Bullshit (1)

desenz (687520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312532)

I like that one too. I still see it in the mall nearby me... unless they're just really old bottles...

Re:Bullshit (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312598)

East coast? I went to college in the east -- I've never seen it out west though.

Re:Bullshit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312416)

dodges what issue exactly? the issue that these companies have the right not to put linsux on their machines? fucking get over yourselves here. this is like the whole "i was censored by dell" bullshit article that came up on here about a week or so ago; dell doesn't want to be associated with a bunch of fucking whiners who are going to scream "foul" the second their favorite distro isn't picked or that they don't offer a machine in the same exact configuration of a windows machine they sell.
outside of slashdot most people don't give a fuck about linsux. these are the people that companies like dell need to have their business profitable. they're not going to put up with a handful of bitching and moaning bitches to make a few extra bucks. you guys keep shouting marketshare but when it comes down to it the number one factor the entire linsux community keeps putting up as the prime point to switch is that it's cheap. this is another reason not to bother; linsux users aren't ready to shell out the bucks.
i can just imagine the day dell would put out a line of linsux pcs, there would instantly be an article on slashdot that the linsux community has been robbed because of some bullshit followed by 1600 posts about how dell sucks because they don't carry distro x, that real computer users build their own, that if you buy from dell there will be spam or spyware associated with the machine and a thousand other bitches.
the linsux community is not a good community to make a profit in unless you can assure yourself that your end user is already linsux knowledgeable. switchers are going to be clueless and they're going to blame dell instead of the linsux fags. this is going to cause a million problems for dell.
i hope for dells sake it never happens.

Re:Bullshit (3, Insightful)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312452)

Dodge the issue? Which one is that, that Dell is out to make money?

His suggestion of starting a company is simply to highlight that there is A LOT of effort involved and that even a company like Dell likely can't see much business benefit in trying to go down this road. If Dell cannot do it with their cookie-cutter approach to most everything, then a completely different approach is needed and the author is suggesting that the collective figure that part out.

And by "cannot do it", I mean "cannot come up with a viable business plan". There is a very limited market for Linux on cheap PCs; what market there is would have extremely small profit margins; what market there is is further fragmented between the distros and desktops; and the training for a support organization would be next-to-killer to set up. How many Linux gurus do you know that want to either man phones or want to write up support scripts?

I'd love to see reasonably priced PCs come out with a stable, robust, well documented Linux distro. Unfortunately at this juncture, I don't know of one (yes, I run Ubuntu and they aren't well enough documented for a corporation to venture into supporting a disperate class of users).

The majority of people I know that run Linux exclusively are very picky about the boxes they run on. Most either built their own or completely spec'ed them out themselves. Dell simply would not be a place that these folks would buy from. Myself, I run Linux on just about any kind of box...but I'm not out to run bleeding edge apps on them, I simply want a shell, a text editor and some server software.

I would gladly buy a Dell with Linux, but there aren't enough of me to support a business model for Dell. I don't know what the overhead of them setting up a product line is, but I suspect that they'd have to yield many hundreds of millions of dollars to make it worth their while.

Re:Bullshit (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312520)

Read the article.

You aren't competing with the "large number of major OEM computer manufacturers",
just those few that build to order and install linux. And support linux.

He's identified an opportunity for linux people to put their $$ where their
mouth is - invest in creating a company that does *exactly* what they want Dell
to do.

Any takers? Anyone?

Failing Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312666)

Didn't slashdot's parent company try that once? I believed it failed.

He's nearly right (1)

btarval (874919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312650)

I agree that the comment is stupid, but not for the same reasons. First, there are already companies which are dedicated to putting Linux on PCs and Laptops.

More importantly, Dell is fading fast in the marketplace (as everyone who's read the press on them knows). So if they don't want to support Linux, then fine. HP will.

From last week's article on "Huge Linux Desktop deals get HP thinking" [] , there was this excellent quote by Scott7477:

"It looks to me like HP is responding to what customers are asking for, while Dell is clinging to Microsoft's subsidies. The top 5 vendors look like this:
1. HP - 17.4%
2. Dell - 14.5%
3. Lenovo - 7.1%
4. Acer - 6.6%
5. Toshiba - 3.7%"

If Dell doesn't want to listen to customers and support Linux, that's quite fine by me. I'll vote by taking my dollars elsewhere. Sending business to Dells competition is the single best way to send Dell a message.

And if Dell doesn't listen, they'll continue to go under. That's quite fine by me too. It will allow the other Linux vendors to prosper.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312656)

That's like saying "You don't like Coca-Cola or Pepsi? Start your own soda company then."It's wholly impractical and simply dodges the issue.

I don't know, it seems to have worked out okay for Richard Branson.

Because (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312276)

They are MS' bitche.

Good point (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312280)

Linux isn't really for the faint hearted, and is an absolute nightmare to maintain if the user is used to MS bloatware.
Many MS users don't know what a driver is or where to find one, what do they do when their new printer doesn't come with linux-compatible drivers?
He brings up a good point with the difficulties of providing tech support. Maybe Dell should offer computers with blank drives and let the buyer select a distro cd to ship with it, with the explicit instruction that tech support relating to software issues won't be availible.

Re:Good point (3, Interesting)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312540)

Although I agree with your point on printers, your "nightmare to maintain" is based on what ?

My Ubuntu system tells me when updates and fixes are available, and I just click yes to install them. Everything works on my system, nothing has ever broken. When I run across something I want to try out, I install it with Synaptic.. couldn't be easier. When I decided a year ago that I wanted a new printer I researched the models I was interested in on Google to see what problems there were with Linux (was running Debian at the time). I'm not saying it was a snap to get the printer working, but I figured it out. So yes I'll give you the printer thing, but not "nightmare to maintain".

Re:Good point (2, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312630)

He brings up a good point with the difficulties of providing tech support.

He ignores the issue that Linux has been much more stable and problem free than Windows. I have been able as a novice to fix a couple items myself on linux such as losing the administrator privilages in Ubuntu. Fixed it with a Hosts file edit. The answer was found on Google. All my hardware works "out of the box" except a couple Windows only items such as the Dell all in one printer and a HP flatbed scanner.

On the other hand things are broken beyond my ability in the Dell desktop of my wife. A prime example is we had a software photocopier installed. It would use the flatbed scanner and print to the default printer. One day I needed to shrink a photo for posting online (100K size limit). I fired up the included photo editor for the very first time and found it was not a full program but a limited function 30 day trial which already expired. This trialware hijacked my flatbed scanner. Opening the photocopier now launches the photo editor preventing the photocopier from getting the scan. It also killed the fax for the same reason. It has been broken over a year now and I still have no idea how to fix it. I have removed the offending program. Now a scan simply brings up a nag screen that Windows can't find the photo editor. Would you like help finding the exe file? Other than needing to re-image the hard drive and losing all my settings, I have not found a fix in a year.

As a fix, I moved the scanner to the Ubuntu box. The photo editor just works. (yea gimp!) So does the photocopier. (Yea sane!)

As a novice Linux user, I have had far fewer unresolved problems on Linux. All my hardware worked out of the box without needing the manufacture's driver disk. This includes my HP printers attached to my LAN on Hawking printservers, my flatbed scanner (Cannon.. The HP didn't work) and my internal flash card reader.

I had a meeting where the guest speaker brought a Power Point presentation. My Windows machine with Office 2000 did not display the presentation properly. The text box appeared all at once instead of bullet by bullet. Switched to the Linux partition and Open Office presented it properly. Later I found the free Power Point viewer from the MS site.

In a nutshell, it takes a lot of money to keep up to date with MS products. (XP or Vista and the new version of Office + updated memory to run it cost about the same as a nice laptop.) Ubuntu makes a nice alternative that works better than older MS products.

As a novice Linux user I have found Ubuntu easier to maintain than Windows. I have used Windows since Version 3.1. I have used Ubuntu since 9 months ago. I have added Flash 7 then 9, added MP3 support, am able to burn ISO CD's without buying an upgrade or searching for an alternative.. The list goes on..

This has been answered many times (5, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312286)

The most obvious [problem] is deciding which version of Linux to offer. There are more than 100 distros, and everybody seems to want a different one -- or the same one with a different desktop, or whatever.

This has been answered many times. The people who know enough to know that they want a different distro can figure out how to get it on there. Therefore, they can pick a noob-friendly distro (like Fedora or Ubuntu), thereby guaranteeing the existence of drivers for the hardware. The rest of us who want to be all l33t and install Debian, Gentoo or even Linux From Scratch can figure it out ourselves.

Re:This has been answered many times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312354)

Wrong. There is not a satisfactory answer for system sellers. The simplest solution is to sell the PC sans OS.

Re:This has been answered many times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312374)

Therefore, they can pick a noob-friendly distro (like Fedora or Ubuntu), thereby guaranteeing the existence of drivers for the hardware.
Not as easy as you think it is to pick just one, is it?

Dell wants both the most popular distribution, and the easiest to use (less tech support). Since most Linux advocates (most likely) use the more advanced distributions, Dell can't exactly get both.

Re:This has been answered many times (1)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312542)

Which sounds great until the first buggy 3d driver hangs a desktop when under load, Dell realizes that it has to get its suppliers to write reliable Linux drivers every time they change a chip, and then deal with the screaming from the more radical corners of the community that driver X is (binary/closed/doesn't work on Debian). (I had a 3d screensaver hang a Radeon9000 hard just a couple of months back. The card is old, I know, and never all that open, but it's the kind of thing that gives Dell PR headaches. Headaches beyond the ones from catching fire, of course) In theory, since they already do this for Windows, what's the big deal? In practice, since the suppliers have razor-thin margins and they'll have to add staff, it will raise Dell's price, and slow their supply chain, further eroding their advantage. Then we get to adjusting the distro to average users (adding MP3 and video support, Crossover so they can run real Office and other apps, removing tools that they'll only hurt themselves with) from whatever stock ships from RH. For the ultimate biege-boxer, it looks like a minor nightmare.

Probably they'd end up offering RHEL, and adding the price of RHEL support into the purchase price. Much as I'd like to see a dent in Microsoft's market share, I can't see offering Linux being a winning proposition for Dell on anything smaller than mid-level servers, where the customers either aren't noobs, or have enough money to hire machine jocks who know what they're doing. I'm probably wrong, being as I backed VMS, OS/2, and Itaniums as viable technologies (and still do the third), but one has to suspect that any sounds of Linux emerging from Dell means that a contract negotiation with Microsoft is in progress.

of course (1)

nothing now (1062628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312290)

stop whinning and and make'm yourself and make money!!

capitalism ,people ,capitalism! what made america great!

FreeBSD (4, Funny)

dkh (125857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312304)

FreeBSD would solve the problem of distribution sprawl.

Re:FreeBSD (1)

black inc. (1069256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312342)

Seeing how FreeBSD is only one of several BSD distributions (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD), I don't see how it solves the "distribution sprawl".

Re:FreeBSD (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312370)

FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD aren't distributions. They are entirely different operating systems, with different kernels. The userland utilities are written by the same folks that work on the kernel.

Re:FreeBSD (0, Flamebait)

black inc. (1069256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312486)

Odd that FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD can not be considered distributions when the BSD in their names stands for "Berkeley Software Distribution".

Re:FreeBSD (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312518)

If you know the history of the Berkeley Software Distribution, it's not odd at all.

Re:FreeBSD (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312536)

BSD doesn't have distributions. At least not in the same way that Linux does, wghere its pretty much the same kernel with differet packages distributed with it.

The BSDs are all different operating systems, with diferent designs, different objectives, different philosophies, differet kernels, different stregths and weakness and different purposes. The diference between on BSD and another is far greater than say ditro X ad distro Y, where asidefrom the package manager and default packageset, its the samething under the hood. Take FreeBSD vs. OS X for example. They're indeed both BSDs, but they'recompletely different OSes, not distributions of BSD4.4.

Back to the point:
Ruling out OS X, FreeBSD is the only BSD geared explicitly to desktop/workstation/server use, as is developed primarily on x86. The rest focus on uber-specialized roles (OpenBSD = paranoid security, netBSD = it'll run on anything under the sun, but since they only need it to run on Dells, who cares?, MicroBSD/PicoBSD = embeded devices and boot floppies, OpenDarwin isn't developed anymore, MirOS/PCBSD/DesktopBSD are all FreeBSD spinoffs, and still in their early infancy, e.g. also ruled out).

Ergo, GF is right. FreeBSD does solve the "distribution sprawl", since its the only one built for the role in question.

Re:FreeBSD (1)

thejuggler (610249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312614)

You are so correct! If I had mod points I'd mod this up from the dungeons.

Seems to make sense to a degree. (4, Interesting)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312310)

The logic seems to make sense. I'm not sure why they don't just partner with one Distro and just go with it however. If someone really knows the diffence between distros then that person changing them wouldn't be an issue really. Dell doesn't NEED to support all the distros as I think the community already supports them pretty well (although I've had my share of Linux-based headaches too).

However, while slightly OT... I wouldn't want to be the IT manager at a company that I allowed everyone in a 10,000 person company to decide what distro and software they wanted to run. I mean if someone has a problem with something... supporting (as the acticle says) 100+ different distros, different kernel versions, different package/install systems, different windowing systems... hell even different text editors. It would be HELL for an IT department to support, so i could see how Dell would have a similar issue. Even simple things would become nightmares to support. Even asking the users what version they are using would confuse many.

Re:Seems to make sense to a degree. (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312522)

So don't allow it. Or at least make it damn clear that anyone deviating from the corporate standard is responsible for their own support.

Settle on one distro (5, Interesting)

thre5her (223254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312314)

The most obvious [problem] is deciding which version of Linux to offer. There are more than 100 distros, and everybody seems to want a different one -- or the same one with a different desktop, or whatever. It costs Dell a small fortune to offer an operating system... so the lack of a standard is a real killer.
This is a non-point; what's the problem with Dell settling on one distribution, outsourcing the support to Novell/RH/etc? The power users will install their own distro anyway, and they can find/finance their own support.

Re:Settle on one distro (1)

awful (227543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312488)

Sure, but if you go to the Dell website mentioned in the article you'll see that all the people who've been responding have been nominating every distro under the sun. If Dell settles on one distro, then anyone who doesn't like that distro probably won't be interested.

Especially if (as the writer says) a non-crapware PC from Dell will actually cost more - because then it would still be cheaper for someone to buy a Windows Dell and then install their favourite Linux distribution.

Finally - the last point the writer made is completely right - since late last year Dell has been trying to switch from volume to margin. They would rather sell one XPS for $2000 than 4 Dimensions for $500, because the margin on the XPS is greater than the four Dimensions combined. And there's no way Dell's going to be putting linux on an XPS.

Re:Settle on one distro (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312506)

I agree. Just pick a distro, and offer those computers at a reduced rate. That seems possible, since Microsoft isn't getting a cut of the profits...In the end, those who are planning to install something other than Windows will choose it regardless of the distro, and plenty of people will just go with whatever distro it came with...

It's not about the number of distributions (3, Insightful)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312318)

It's all about hardware that works. It's great that I could buy a computer with Ubuntu on it, but you know I'm going to format it the second it comes though the door and install what I want. When I install what I want, I WANT it to work, because the kernel has supported that hardware since version 2.6.whatever.

the real reason (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312324)

the real reason they dont off linsux on their pcs is because they dont want to be associated with dick smoking fags. i dont blame them.

software support (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312326)

Just don't offer software support, or charge for it. They could do this with all their PCs.

Re:software support (0, Flamebait)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312378)

You mean they offer useful support for Windows now????

Existing Open Source Series? (4, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312328)

What's wrong with the existing open source [] series from Dell, provided there is a genuine reduction in price for the absence of MS software?

If Dell is hesitant about offering Linux what the Free Software community forming a third party company and approaching Dell with a proposal that Dell simply contract the entire Linux support operation out to them?

Re:Existing Open Source Series? (1)

black inc. (1069256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312386)

The absence of MS software is likely to cause an increase in price - not a reduction. You are only taking into account the price that Dell has to pay for MS software; however, Dell makes that up from companies that pay them to include their software - all those apps that come installed on a new computer.

Re:Existing Open Source Series? (2, Informative)

H3g3m0n (642800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312410)

I doubt Dell would have much of a price reduction for systems shipped without windows.

There was that article a while back about people using the EULA clause that required OEMs to refund the money if the user didn't agree to the EULA, the Dell refund was for $53. This would indicate that Dell has a fairly good deal with Microsoft to get Windows at a reduced price (This itself might be a reason for not shipping Linux, as MS could start charging full price again as a retaliation).

The other thing is that Dell can ship with spyware, adware, AOL, Yahoo! toolbar, etc... to get a price reduction, unless they can do the same for Linux, they might actually be loosing money by not shipping Windows depending on how much these packages pay Dell. Although if they pay via usage rather than the number of shipped installs then offering systems without an OS might not matter so much because the systems would probally be getting wiped anyway but if they ship Linux installs then there Windows sales would probably go down with people trying to save money.

Support (3, Informative)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312330)

Dell couldn't manage to support GNU/Linux, but lets not forget that Dell doesn't really support Windows either. Sure it's impossible to explain to your average user that the Internet and their web browser are different things. This doesn't change if the browser is IE or Firefox or Konqueror. However, as a "geek" I regularly need to provide tech support to friends and family. I have a much easier time doing this once I have switched them over to Ubuntu from Windows. It's simply more user friendly and secure. If you are looking for a new PC, I would highly recommend system76 [] , not any big OEM that functions as a division of Microsoft.

Calling Mr. Obvious.... Dell on line one (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312334)

This is IMO, a problem that is custom made for the open source community. No, I'm not suggesting that people put together a hardware company to build their own. I'm suggesting that Dell give away a few of each PC they want to offer Linux on to any Linux distro group that wants to be supported.

In the end, they won't have to do the image build nor support it. Just let the Linux distro folks support it.

Example: The Ubuntu group could build the image for Dell to put on each line of machines they want to sell with Ubuntu Linux. The Ubuntu group provides software/configuration support, and Dell supports the hardware. Once the Ubuntu group provides a pre-built image, Dell doesn't have much left to do but burn it on the machine and ship.

Sure, there is a bit more to it, but that's it in a nutshell, and it is about open source support. Dell gets to sell the hardware, the OSS community supports the software, and everyone is happy. Current support for Linux comes from the OSS community anyway. Dell is just trying to limit their exposure when they shouldn't even try to expose themselves to support issues. Simply sell the machine as OSS supported software.

When it comes down to hardware issues, I'm certain that each Linux distro group will support tools to determine that it is hardware vs. software. Once that is done there is no reason not to ship boxes with Linux installed. Dell doesn't have to choose which distro to suppport. Let each distro sign up and if they don't, don't sell boxes with that distro installed.

To me it seems just too simple to be this difficult.

Pick one and outsource the support (2, Interesting)

ownermachina (137072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312348)

The best I can come up with is just pick Ubuntu for instance, outsouce support to cannonical (big contract for them, perhaps several others). They would immediately become the community's champions and mass distribution will result in networks of emerging experts to help their friends out. No need for centralized support, if its everybody's os, its everybody's responsibility to help others out.

Its not about supporting distros, stupid (5, Interesting)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312350)

When cars first came out, they broke down all the time, and every driver was also his own mechanic. This persisted through to the 60s when men were still expected to be able to fix a car by pulling up the hood and futzing about. You also saw a lot of opining about the internals of how cars should be put together.

Then Toyota showed up, and made cars that stopped breaking down. Gradually, nobody was hyper-opinionated about the internals of cars, till we get to the point today where nobody but Toyota dealership can actually understand the internals.

Same with Linux distros. We've been so starved of turnkey solutions for so long, that we're all hyper knowedgable distro experts! Just like the early auto operator/mechanics. Of course these people are going to have fine-grained and diverse favorites.

When someone gets a new laptop and figures out that its "good enough", they'll stop worrying that it doesn't have Slack (or whathaveyou), and just appreciate its "good enough"ness. This can't happen from the demand side, the supply side has to lead the way. Then the userbase of Linux will change. Then we'll start to complain bitterly. Remember when AOL happened and the Internet started to suck? That fate awaits Linux too.


And anywho, nobody's asking them to support every possible distribution for their computers. They're asking for two things:

1) support SOME distro, it doesn't matter what it is
2) open source any hardware wierdness you control, stuff like sleep/suspend, software volume control buttons, and whatnot. Just put that stuff out there and all the big distros will automatically move to support you. That's what distros do.

We're not asking, say, Toshiba to create a huge linux compile farm and put out Toshutils for every distro. Just expose the API, create a reference implementation, and let the community do the rest.

Re:Its not about supporting distros, stupid (1)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312382)

I also find it ironic that all the Windows Vendors seek to add Value Added crapplets to their version of windows, yet whine about the opportunity to give Value Added by making a better distro choice than their competitors.

Bad Assumptions (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312358)

The most obvious [problem] is deciding which version of Linux to offer. There are more than 100 distros, and everybody seems to want a different one...

While this might seem like a proble to tha average Slashdot geek who is used to demanding the ability to "roll their own" and so on, these are not the people that Dell would be selling to. Dell would be targeting people that want to unpack the box, plug it in and boot it up and get straight away to surfing the net and running some office applications, maybe some image management software. That and maybe corporate customers with similar needs. The people that want to pick and choose their flavor of Linux on their new Dell box would be perfictly happy getting a Dell box with nothing at all on it, and loading the OS themselves from their distro of choice, tweeking the install to fit their needs. These are not Dell's customers for preloaded Linux.

Realistically, Dell need only offer either Red Hat or SuSE, both of which offer easy to support distros.

So Windows is easy, then? (2, Insightful)

Oshawapilot (1039614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312362)

Yes, Linux is no piece of cake to support to naive users, but is Windows that much better?

I've dealt with so many naive Windows users who couldn't (or don't know how) to install the most basic of Virus/Spyware protection, or how fix the most basic of issues.

I guess it's a matter of the lesser of two evils. Dell would rather help "naive" Windows users then perhaps open the door to something more secure and support "naive" users there instead.

The guys who run Slashdot tried that. Remember? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312376)

Remember VA Linux? They were going to make Linux PCs. Biggest IPO first-day runup in history. Then the stock declined 98% from the peak. Nobody is going to get funding for that idea for a while.

The more likely player is Lenovo. They're not as beholden to Microsoft as Dell is, they can offer corporate support through IBM, and they've sold Linux laptops outside the US.

tough decisions (1)

pjrc (134994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312388)

This reminds me of pretty much the only Simpson's episode I ever saw....

Bart does something to piss off a large crowd. They start chasing him, our for vengeance. A car pulls to to a screeching stop in front of Bart and a well dressed man offers Bart a get-away ride.

Bart says quickly, "angry mod" ... "stranger" ... looks at the furious crowd rapidly approaching ... "angry mod" ... turn to the car "stranger" ... and hops in. (or something like that, it was years ago)

I can just imagine execs at Dell .... "give up Microsoft deals" ... "lose linux business" .... looks at mighty Microsoft able to do whatever they want with barely a slap on the wrist from the DoJ .... "give up Microsoft favor" .... turns to Linux fans - "piss off linux users", ok then.

We've heard all this "too many choices" - "too hard for newbies" over and over. Yeah, right. That's the real reason, yeah!

Re:tough decisions (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312566)

I'd happily mob you up if I hadn't posted ....

Copout Distro (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312392)

So Dell spends a $million studying which Linux distro (including desktop) is best for Dell, and then supports that one. Probably its own distro derived from one that has a strong commercial support contract for Dell. It doesn't support anything but the basic use-case, whether that's office suite, web/email/whatever server, web terminal, or whichever. Then they sell PC configured only that way, and tell people who buy it that reconfiguring it for any other use case voids their support warranty.

If they did that, then Dell would wind up with a PC much easier/cheaper to support than a proprietary Windows PC. Recurrent problems could be fixed by Dell, or paid by Dell to their upstream distro team to fix, without waiting for MS to care.

And they'd sell a PC that didn't require sending a few hundred bucks to MS for licenses. They could rig their package repository to authenticate and charge a SW subscription, then charge SW vendors to deploy their SW through it.

There's a lot of money in that, and it's not so hard. While appealing to the most fanboy customer base out there. I wonder if "not pissing off the Microsoft cash cow" is really the reason.

Nothing to see here . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312404)

Move along.

Jack Schofield is a MS Windows column writer who has no incentive to promote Linux as he would be out of a job in short order. He is correct in observing that a complex business infrastructure exists to "buy down" the true cost of using or purchasing MS Windows and no such infrastructure exists for Linux.

That does not mean that Linux is not viable for the current support infrastructure, just that they and Mr. Schofield (like Wernher von Braun learning to count down from 10 in English) just need to adapt. Or perish. Their choice.

Dell doesn't provide Windows support (3, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312406)

Dell supports their PC's and will try to make sure the device is working but will not sit there and try to support every different Microsoft app that there is. They only try to support basic functionality and basic apps and stick to security, integration and general software maintenance.

So how is this different from supporting Linux? All they have to do is create a knowledgeable support staff, good knowledge base and they'll have pretty much the same thing they have for Windows. It's really not that hard once they make the decision as to what distro they are going to support, strike a deal with the distro's maintainers, and maybe even farm out the support to the distros maintainers or a third party. Pretty simple when you think about it.

mistitled (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312422)

The article's OK, but the title of the post should be "Why (some dude thinks) Dell Won't Offer Linux..." etc.

do they get paid to *not* support linux? (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312426)

Would it be that far fetched that someone is paying Dell to *not* fully endorse/support Linux? These stories about Dell "will soon support linux" have been published about once a year for the last ten years. I don't think it's ever going to happen, and I would just conclude that a large company with vested interest in seeing Linux fail is responsible for it. A lot of other vendors support Linux, the main difference here is that Dell is the largest distributor of new Windows/Intel PC's.

Acer from Walmart (4, Informative)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312434)

Several months ago I bought a cheap laptop from Walmart. I found out from Acer's website they had a Linux cd distribution that I could download. What did this mean to me? Everything worked together, including wireless, sound, and accelerated video. Trying a different distribution, like Ubuntu worked without any hassles. Since then, I bought several other laptops from Walmart knowing they took time to make sure their laptops supported a free operating system. They have been the most trouble free units I have had the pleasure of giving my family. Its a shame Dell doesn't latch onto this idea.

No need for a standard (1)

moria (829831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312440)

Dell do not need an existing standard to start selling Linux Desktops. Dell only need to make a decision on what is the default: a default distro, and a default desktop environment. They do not need to support every single distro or desktop environment or editor or browser under the sun, just the default. Anybody having special requirements on distro or desktop environment or anything will pretty much be able to figure out how to customize their own environment. This will also create a huge amount of opportunities for third-party support providers, which is good for business and open source.

:. just free dos would be enough (1)

Trubadur (1067022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312444)

Just free DOS would be enough as an option. They always can recommend whatever they want, but that's my hardware, and it is my decision what to install there.

Their tech support is less then usable, regardless of what OS is on the computer anyway.

I vote with my money, NOT TO PAY to Microsoft - simple like that.

Have people decide (1)

QueePWNzor (1044224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312456)

Open up a voting booth online. Ubuntu and FedoraCore (and, if it's legal in a few weeks) OpenSUSE will dominate the list, but I prefer Mandriva, and who knows; maybe after the "big three and lost fourth," they can see if any community distros stack up votes. A good one is SimplyMEPIS, which is the most popular spinoff of Ubuntu (as of 6.0). (Ranked by I wonder if it's possible - but could they work with a large Kernel supporter (Red Hat is a large one, but good luck with allowing SUSE...) to make modules that can be loaded by GRUB? This is not a matter of choosing between Wolvix and aLinux, the two general desktop Linux distros at the end of the top 100 list at Distrowatch (no offence), but rather making the community at large happy, and with variance. Also, it needs to be equal between KDE and GNOME. Fedora is more GNOME oriented, as is plain Ubuntu, so Mandriva comes to mind. SUSE's KDE is great, but with Novell possibly violating the GPL, that would not be an option for me.

The real problem... (1)

NotHereOrThere (796706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312458)

is that Dell won't sell you a computer without a Microsoft OS. Back around 1996 or so you could still order from Dell a PC with no OS and they would install some minimally functional DOS kernel just so they could test it. Obviously Dell can sell PCs without an OS if they wanted to, but they don't. I suspect the reason has a lot to do with contractual arrangements with MS and nothing to do with Linux. People who want Linux on their Dell PCs are most likely the type who know how to install it themselves anyway. So the issue is just political and has nothing to do with technical issues. In reality today, Dell only sells laptops to those who want Linux because there are few alternatives for laptops. For desktops, Linux users will most likely go elsewhere or build the machine themselves.

sell without operating system (4, Interesting)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312460)

I would already be happier, if there was the option to buy systems without operating system. Dell could sell such systems cheaper not only because of the lacking windows system but also because they would not have to offer support for OS issues.

Re:sell without operating system (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312544)

Dell already sells some systems with FreeDOS. Presumably they are cheaper, but I haven't checked.

Linux users are just like Peta.. sorta.. (2, Insightful)

Micklewhite (1031232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312472)

It seems to me that the folks who actually want Linux are generally the sort who'd just go out and build their own computer and probably wouldn't buy a Dell to begin with.
I suppose it's like how Peta is always bugging people to switch over to a pure vegan diet despite the health benefits, it'll never happen.

Anyhow. Anybody who actually needs 'support' for an operating system is using it wrong. (that's not supposed to be taken seriously, it's a joke)

If so, do something interesting. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312508)

Look, taking a generic laptop and running Linux on that is NOT all that exciting. How about Instead, create a multi-core laptop with low power. In addition, drop the battery. Use a super capacitor. The battery is good for a couple of years. But a supercapacitor will last longer than the laptop. Of course, that means that much lower power (instead of several hours, it will only be about an hour. But in general, the average person has power close by. If they can plug in and be fully charged in a matter of minutes, well, that is new and useful. Then sell either an external battery or supercapacitor that lengthens the time to 3-4 hours.

Finally, drop all the extras. Skip the DVD or take the IBM approach and make it be a battery, floppy, or dvd bay. Consider the idea of having a 4 Gig flash on board for the OS. That way, the drive can be powered down the bulk of the time. By having multi-core, allow the system to run on 1 core during the battery (but have 2 or more when power is available.).

IOW, do something interesting; Do not try to be dell.

Why Won't It Work? (5, Interesting)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312550)

I very much doubt the support issue is the problem. If enough people would buy it Dell could just start the Dell Computer Expert line and make it damn clear that you don't order one unless you know what your doing and their is no support on anything but the hardware. Hell if they were worried enough about their name they could just sell them under some name other than Dell.

I suspect the problem is economic.

For starters I bet people demanding linux are far more willing to voice demands than they are to put up money. I bet tons of the people who asked dell to offer a linux PC wouldn't really buy one. They might like linux but when it comes time to buy a new computer they decide to dull boot and realize it's cheaper just to buy the computer preloaded with windows. Even if this isn't the case the possibility that linux advocates make more noise than they would buy computers is something Dell must consider.

Secondly Dell doesn't have apps to sell people who buy linux only boxes printer ink and all sorts of other high margin items. If anything the problem is they realize the people who buy linux boxes wouldn't buy extended support, at least not the sort of support it was economical to offer. Dell probably has a nearly zero margin on the basic PC and makes up their money on the extras. Why bother selling a linux PC if the purchasers are smart enough not to buy any of the high margin extras?

Finally there is the concern of pissing off MS. Whatever anti-trust rulings MS is constrained by why risk pissing them off unless it would bring you a high margin business?

The issue isn't offering support it is making money!

Dell linux (1)

mehtars (655511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312562)

I personally believe the solution to this is for Dell to create there own Linux distrobution. I know, there are tons already available, but since Dell has a huge stranglehold on its suppliers, it could easily demand drivers for Linux. In addition for support, it could create a remote access support through ssh or something.

Just my two cents

Linux Users Groups (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312564)

The less obvious problem is the very high cost of Linux support, especially when selling cheap PCs to naive users who don't RTFM...
That's why I run a Linux Users Group at my school.

Linux already supported! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312576)

Dell already sells and supports Linux machines (RHEL) for years. Typically, they come with RHEL, but they "support" other distros. Just mention Linux while talking to regular support, and they transfer to their Linux queue. Linux support has additional tools that help in troubleshooting. I also believe they are based in the US which is better.

OTOH, Dell Windows support most often turns into a reinstall, so I don't see why it is harder to support Linux.

mho (1)

bbnkstr (1017336) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312594)

Why pre-install if everyone has their own preference? Let the end user decide on the distro, desktop enviro, etc. for themselves just like we have been doing since the beginning.

What Should Dell Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18312602)

I dont understand why Dell doesnt design their own Linux Dev Department and create their own flavor of Linux?

A Dell Linux without the fat of the other distros, which is completely native (very efficent) system and runs specifically business apps. A Dell Xandros so-to-speak.

If all these big companies like IBM, HP, etc did this then we would see compatability of ELF being accross the board, it may even open the door for OsX and Solaris to enter the desktop market.

Where's the vision guys? how come these huge ultra smart companies cant thing outside the box. Oh wait a minuite all they do is sell boxes :)

kernel compatibility is all that matters (4, Interesting)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312606)

If they would just make a laptop that is fully compatible (ie, every piece of hardware, right down to the fscking hotkeys on the the keyboard and standards compliance in every single fscking aspect of ACPI) all they would need is a token distro and any linux user with a preference could at least feel safe that they weren't wasting money on hardware that they could never make use of. Put Ubuntu on it and let the user format/install their distro of preference. Who cares once the compatibility is settled.

NO (absolutely none what-so-ever) ATI cards unless ATI decides to at least produce a binary driver that works (prefereably source, but at the very least, something that actually works as advertised and works in linux, not just for Toms hardware under the most fully patched version of WinXP)

NO (absolutely none what-so-ever) Phoenix BIOS unless they're willing to release every single last detail about ACPI, etc. to the kernel devs ... ditto for any other BIOS manufacturer.

Basically if Dell could do that, it wouldn't matter what distro they put on (I said Ubuntu because it's nice and flashy and is free and has left most of the libraries reasonably unmollested, unlike some distros ... I use Slackware myself)

This much should not be hard for a company with resources like Dell or Gateway or Toshiba to pull off ...

If I was Dell, (1)

emptycorp (908368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312634)

I'd just start a small software side of the company, or work with a top distro team, and take the best of all the linux distros and make an uber distro with the Dell branding on it. I mean, all of "Dell's products" are already just branded items made by real hardware makers so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine.

The demand isn't really there (3, Insightful)

sheldon (2322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312646)

I'm surely gonna get troll rated for this, but it needs to be said...

I've been there done that. Had an Amiga, used Linux and so forth at one time or another. I remember with the Amiga how many of us wrote letters to Software, Etc. or other companies begging them to support our computers. And then the demand never materialized as we claimed it would. So eventually, the Amiga was dropped to the dustbin of history. After buying a PC, I came to realize that the Amiga really wasn't "better", it was simply different. advanced in some ways, behind in others.

The Linux "demand" is similar. It's largely just astroturfing, rather than real demand from customers. It's people from /. going over to the polls on the Dell opinion site and clicking "Yes" thousands of times. [Or did you not realize that advocacy groups can astroturf as well as corporate groups?]

I'm fairly certainly Dell understands this. They've been around a long time. At one time they even release their own version of System V which was highly regarded in the industry. So they're not unfamiliar with Unix. They've also at various times offered machines without operating systems, or even with Linux.

But the demand wasn't there, which is why they keep falling back to the position they are in, and why despite freeping their poll they are unlikely to listen to it. Maybe they will, and if they do, you'd better start buying your machines from Dell to backup your poll answers.

As for open source advocates starting up their own company to sell machines. It's been tried. It was called VA Linux. They changed their name, abandoned selling computers and now run sourceforge.

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