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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the well-known-disruptory-rays dept.

Businesses 380

WolfWings writes "Apparently Dell has decided that Ubuntu-based computers are ineligible for their famed CompleteCare service, or any form of hardware warranty what-so-ever. The news has only recently hit Dell's own IdeaStorm website, via a forum post describing an interaction with the company's customer service. Says the customer, 'I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the they?' After so recently decided to support Linux on their machines, including limited technical support, Dell seems to be squandering any possible good-will with this decision to leave purchasers of these machines high and dry for hardware warranty coverage." Update: 06/05 23:40 GMT by KD : many readers let us know that Dell has said that the omission of extended warranty and CompleteCare options from the configurator for Ubuntu systems was an "ordering system glitch." It should be fixed by now according to

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Of course... (5, Funny)

Zencyde (850968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396451)

Windows has support for the Ageia PhysX card. Physics moves a little more smoothly and a brick will dent a Windows box in a more realistic manner than a Linux box. I hope that clears things up. ~Dell Customer Support.

Bushism Of The Day: +1, Deceitful (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396785)

Russia is not the enemy [] .

Then who IS?

Democracies want to know.

Philboyd Studge

hahahaahahah! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396459)

cry linux users, cry. just like you always do. something more for you to cry about.

Support (5, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396461)

They have a system to diagnose and test hardware defects based on software checks which aren't available under Linux. They need to create a similiar system where each component can be tested using native linux tools.

Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

Re:Support (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396537)

Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

It would be a triviality to write a shell script that uses Zenity to present dialogs etc and which performs simple fault-finding operations, displays certain system files.

Re:Support (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396545)

Yeah, that's what I was going to say. Dell needs to create a diagnostics CD or USB device that should ship with their machines to circumvent any unpredicable circumstances that the user may introduce into the machine. In the end, this can only make troubleshooting by remote parties and support all the more easy. It would save themselves time and ultimately money.

Get off your asses Dell and be what you once were.

Re:Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396733)

To their credit, I don't think Dell has changed, it's you.

Re:Support (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396753)

The Dell Diagnostics application is a standalone application that runs on DOS, and is usually installed on a utility partition that you can boot if you need too. Perhaps the problem is that without a Windows license you can't have a bootable MS-DOS partition to run the diagnostics tools from, and Dell havn't thought of FreeDOS or have not validated their diagnostics tools under FreeDOS.

Having said that the Dell Diagnostics are wortheless anyway. They can only tell you something so blindinglu obvious that a retarded monkey on crack could diagnose the problem without even booting the machine. For actual real problems they're utterly useless. Dell do love 'em though, bless.

Re:Support (1)

mattt79 (1005999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397079)

Dell does know about Free-Dos... They sell it as an option from the very same start page as their Linux systems!

Re:Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19397113)

Yes, I'm well aware of that. It doesn't mean they've thought to use it instead of MS-DOS for the utility partition, or validated their diagnostics tools under it.

Re:Support (4, Insightful)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396827)

That system sucks anyway. I called them up with some laptop problems. I ran their test. Their test said nothing was wrong, so they told me nothing was wrong. They refused to fix anything. So the only difference between Windows and Linux hardware support is that with Linux, they tell you upfront that they won't fix it.

Re:Support (4, Insightful)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396859)

Many (most?) newer models also have a bootable diagnostics program on another partition that can be accessed through the boot menu (F12 on boot).

We do Dell warranty service where I work and I have to say that they're not very good computers and other than price, I can't see why you would buy one. This Ubuntu ordeal is just more of the same bs customers have to put up with. On the other hand I wish customers would get it through their thick skulls that their data is not covered under warranty.

Re:Support (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19397339)

The diagnostics program is also available as a downloadable, bootable .ISO image in case you have deleted the diagnostics partition. It can even be booted remotely over the network on servers with ERA, but when I tell the support people that these are "production" servers, they never insist that it has to be run.

Re:Support (5, Insightful)

forrestt (267374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396869)

The FOSS community (and I am one of them) have been waiting a LONG time for Dell to start selling Linux native systems. What Dell doesn't realize, is we are more than happy to help write any diagnostic software they need. They just need to learn how to utilize the FOSS community better. . .

Dell, if you tell us the checks you want to have made, we will write the software for you. If you want our help though, then it needs to be a win-win situation, and you need to support the physical hardware you sell us.

Re:Support (3, Insightful)

pilbender (925017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397035)

This captures the essence of how we do things in Open Source. Great post.

But it doesn't appear to be the problem they are having. It looks like they threw together this Linux stuff fast. Very little planning went into it. They're probably not prepared at this point in terms of infrastructure and training to do hardware support on another OS. Sure a diagnostic program would be helpful, but so would employee training.

I'm speculating that they might be testing this Linux offering too before they put too much into developing and supporting it. It's going to have to have a business return if Dell goes down that road and they are probably waiting until they can verify that.

Re:Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19397115)

Yeah because a huge business is going to request the help of unemployed basement virgins to write software.

Re:Support (4, Insightful)

idesofmarch (730937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397185)

I realize you are very well-intentioned, but Dell is a business, not an open source community. As a business, Dell must honor all promises it makes, or risk lawsuits and bad press. For Dell to hold out a warranty now, as you ask, Dell must have a way to diagnose hardware issues right now. Not later, when maybe someone can get around to writing some code, but right now. At this point, Dell is not prepared to do this. Later, when it gets some better support tools, this may change. Your proposal is akin to "Hey guys, let's all be cool to each other. You give us a little warranty and we try to write some code and it will all be groovy." That's not how business works.

Re:Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19397219)

parent wrote: "The FOSS community (and I am one of them) have been waiting a LONG time for Dell to start selling Linux native systems." Uh - Dell's been selling Linux native systems (notebooks, desktops, everything) since 2000 when Michael Dell gave the LinuxWorld keynote. []

Feb 2000: CNN reports "Red Hat Linux 6.1 is now available on the Dell Inspiron 7500.... The Linux-enabled laptops will cost no more than their Windows 98 counterparts, according to a spokesperson for Dell....With the availability of Linux on its laptops, Dell is leading the pack in the deployment of Linux,
Yeah, they stopped for a while when "Microsoft killed Dell Linux" (on the timeline in the above link) - but it's not like we've been waiting a long time for them to do it - we're waiting for them to *RESUME* doing it.

Re:Support (1)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397363)

Dell, if you tell us the checks you want to have made, we will write the software for you.

I highly doubt you or any FOSS community member will be willing to do this (for free) especially when very few has even bought the machines. The Dell Resource CD that comes with every Dell clearly shows what checks are being done. They have been shipping that CD for years with Windows.

Re:Support (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396887)

If that's the real reason, then does the normal CompleteCare include a clause like "This insurance is only valid if you do not change the Operating System on the computer?" Does it have a clause like "This insurance is only valid if you have Windows installed, and running properly, on the computer?"

I doubt it does. In fact, TFA claims that someone had a Dell computer with Gentoo installed, and used CompleteCare to get hardware fixed. So why the discrimination when you buy a computer preloaded with Ubuntu?

Moreover, Dell must obviously be prepared to deal with computers where the HD is broken, or where Windows is installed but running badly (e.g. malware, viruses), or where for some nebulous reason (of which there are many in any OS) their tools do not install/run. I imagine they could boot into a CD or USB key to perform the diagnostics. They must have to deal with these kinds of problems all the time.

So the "diagnostic software" excuse, while reasonable, is not a sufficient reason for them to not offer hardware insurance on Ubuntu machines.

Re:Support (2, Insightful)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397039)

I expect there's a number of issues the Dell organization has to resolve.

After working for two years, my sound card on my XPS decided to stop working. Hardware problem or software problem?

The Dell organization has an extensive structure for dealing with such quandaries. In my case it was simple Windows atrophy. Reinstalling the drivers solved the problem. With the speed with which Linux evolves, I suspect Dell is simply worried they won't be able to keep up with the pace of software changes. Windows evolves MUCH MUCH more slowly than Linux does. A slower to evolve OS is cheaper to support for Dell.

Hardware issues caused by defective drivers are not Dell's fault, but they routinely have to eat support costs figuring out which is which.

They'd be fine if they could just rely on boot time hardware inspection tools. Dell Diagnosics boot independently. They could probably really benefit from Linux here. Move Dell Diagnostics to run on a controlled Linux boot CD. If the boot CD runs fine then its the user that has hosed their system and they need to fix their software.

Re:Support (2, Interesting)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397073)

Dell used to ship diagnostic bootable CD's for hardware checks. They still offer the iso for download from their support site too, so this is a very poor excuse for not supporting the hardware with the Ubuntu OS. So Dell DOES offer a bootable CD to diagnose the hardware that is OS independent.

Re:Support (1)

ajanp (1083247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397163)

Well this seems partly at odds with what they just claimed only a few days ago 4 [] .

In response, it has overhauled its management team and focused on improving technical support for customers

I guess their claims for improving technical support for its customers is limited to Windows machines only. With the job cuts being done to save money (and keep them profitable after facing increased competition from HP and others), I guess they decided that expanding support to computers with Ubuntu installed isn't worth the time and effort (hiring personnel, training, etc). After all, most of their tech support staff is located overseas as it is, so it would probably require a heavy investment on their part if they wanted to offer the same quality of care (it's not a different version of Windows, it's a totally new OS as far as their support staff is concerned).

Ofcourse it's surprising that they stopped offering hardware warranties because Ubuntu isn't going to destroy your hardware any more than Windows will, but this basically sends the message that if you want to get a machine with Ubuntu on it, you're basically paying less 4 [] , but you're a guinea pig trying out our new machines and you won't get any new hardware from (which is an even more unfortunate considering how incompatible some Dell parts can be with non-Dell manufactured replacement parts).

Regardless, seems like Dell has decided to forsake their good-will in the Linux community (which, btw, despite the lack of hardware support from Dell, will take up the slack and offer support/solutions for hardware/software problems specific to Dell PC's), in order to time and money.

Re:Support (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397175)

Dell has had a CentOS based diagnostic disk for their servers for a while now. Desktop line software engineers, I'd like you to meet Server line software engineers. Collaborate.

Re:Support (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397425)

Perhaps someone with a stronger grasp of the theory will confirm this, but I would think any reliable form of self-diagnosis is a problem which cannot be solved with a Turing machine.

In other words, it's physically impossible to produce 100% accurate diagnostics purely in software.

Re:Support (1)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397445)


I'm gonna hafta say... give Dell a break for now. It's pretty cool that they've gone from the idea of offering Linux pre-installed to actually shipping it in just a couple of months. There are undoubtedly gonna be a few support issues to resolve. Let's see if this gets noticed and fixed before declaring that Dell has "squandered" all the goodwill that their innovative policy has created.

(Speaking as a guy who just bought his first Dell, and is very happy with it. I bought a Vista system, since I wanted a much cheaper AMD Turion 64 processor, but promptly wiped the drive and installed Ubuntu.)

Diagnostic Software? (1)

mark0 (750639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396467)

Is there some diagnostic software that Dell uses that doesn't run on Ubuntu? If the magic blue smoke gets out of the CPU, that's easy to diagnose, but perhaps they're concerned about supporting more subtle hardware issues without diagnostic tools?

Re:Diagnostic Software? (2, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396587)

Dunno about the "home user" machines - Dimensions and Inspirons - but the Optiplex and Lattitude series all have a Dell Utility partition that loads Dr Dos (or similar) adn runs diagnostics from that... they should be able to have the same partition setup in *nix...

Re:Diagnostic Software? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396817)

Yes the home user computers come with disk that run dell diagnostics. They test everything from the hard drive to memory etc. The problem is when I was doing tech support for dell they would require use to tell the user to reinstall video card drivers, and monitor drivers if the user said they were having display problems. So I think that is a harder task to do on Linux. For example with something like a CD rom drive they would want use to tell the user to put in the dell resource CD and see if it can read that from windows etc. I know all of this can be done on Linux but then dell would have to update there diagnostic website. And why would they want to do that when they already need to lower cost...isn't that why the tech support jobs got sent to India in the first place... that is a different story.

In other words Dell is just fucking lazy and is getting a check from M$ to not support it so people will not buy the Linux computers so they can say the Linux computers did not sell as good as Windows.

Re:Diagnostic Software? (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397393)

I have an Insipiron e1705 and just had my 7900GS replaced. They had me boot into the special Dell Utility partition to trouble-shoot and determine that it was indeed a bad video card (of course they didn't believe me when I told them it was bad). Anyway, that utility is OS agnostic, so I don't see what the big deal is.

Maybe someone just got in touch with a bad/lazy/stupid tech? (of course I didn't RTFA)

Give Dell *SOME* credit... (5, Insightful)

bdr529 (1063398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396469)

Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile?

No, but it makes for a nice headline, eh? I think it more likely they believe their users will mis-identify software issues as hardware issues and request replacement hardware. Further, it would also cost them extra to have personell on hand (familiar enough with the OS) to help RESOLVE hardware issues. Either way, it costs them more.

It's not entirely unreasonable to charge more for a warranty coverage. It *IS* odd not to provide coverage at all, though.

But not because Dell denies that "The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other". That's just frustrated customer venting...

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (2, Insightful)

nametaken (610866) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396613)

Absolutely, and I worry that making a stink like this might actually scare other PC vendors out of offering linux desktops. Don't get me wrong, a person should be entitled to whatever they paid for, but this territory is largely uncharted. It might benefit everyone to be careful with how they handle things.

Dell = service (2, Insightful)

simong (32944) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396621)

The rejoicing behind Dell's decision to provide machines preloaded with Ubuntu was the assumption that they will also provide software *and* hardware support. It doesn't matter whether everyone who buys a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on is a Linux power user or not, the point of buying Dell is that there's someone on the line if something goes wrong. These machines should have certified to work with Ubuntu, and the support people should be able to resolve common problems, whether hardware or software. What makes matters worse is that Dell continues to promote that expectation in order to take a couple of hundred dollars of a purchaser for hardware cover. One of the reasons to buy a well known name is that, to put it bluntly, a lot of people want someone to shout at if something goes wrong. It seems that there's going to be a lot of shouting if there's no useful response.

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396651)

Then they need to create a hardware support policy that reflects the issue, with surcharges for problems incorrectly identified as hardware problems by the customer (this means ubuntu drivers will need to be heavily tested).

I'm willing to give Dell the benefit of the doubt but not offering HW support is ridiculous. Afterall I can buy a Windows box with support and then put another OS on it without invalidating the HW warranty.

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396875)

I'm wondering, is it even legal to give no warranty at all?

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (1)

queequeg1 (180099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397293)

Generally, yes, it is. You just need to disclaim all warranties, whether they are express (not the case here) or implied (e.g. under applicable laws pertaining to the sale of goods, such as the UCC). Companies that try such tactics walk a fine line. On the one hand, you want the disclaimer to be relatively unnoticeable so you don't scare off customers. On the other hand, if it is too unnnoticeable, you run the risk of a court holding the disclaimer to be ineffective.

Note that various states (or countries) may have consumer legislation that limits a vendor's ability to waive all warranties for consumer goods. However, I believe such laws are the exception.

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397303)

I'm wondering, is it even legal to give no warranty at all?

Often the law requires some obligations, but mostly they don't require that the vendor specify to the customer what those legal rights are, which is why a lot of warranties (or notifications of lack of a warranty) have legal boilerplate that you may have other rights under law that the warranty (or lack thereof) should not be construed as denying.

Chris Mattern

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396779)

Hardware issues..?

How the hell can you have hardware issues when you make the PCs and put the OS on them yourself? Just add the support for your hardware to Ubuntu/the Linux kernel and ta dar, no more problems.

I mean Jesus.. how hard is it to only support hardware you know works?

Re:Give Dell *SOME* credit... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396789)

No, but it makes for a nice headline, eh? I think it more likely they believe their users will mis-identify software issues as hardware issues and request replacement hardware. Further, it would also cost them extra to have personell on hand (familiar enough with the OS) to help RESOLVE hardware issues. Either way, it costs them more.

Just a thought, but is this an area that might be keeping Linus back in the consumer market? What has Lindows done about this sort of thing?

Anyway whats with the question marks in titles? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397439)

Since people in Digg started posting "news" which are pure speculation adding a question mark to the title it seems it has infected slashdot as a plague... for the love of whatever you like, not only it does not looks professional it is wrong and even the grammar is terrible:

Does Dell Think Ubuntu makes hardware more fragile?

That goes into ask slashdot... not as a piece of speculation FUD...

serves the community right (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396541)

No, it serves the Linux community can't spend all these years obsessing about your software, software, SOFTWARE.... and then be shocked when Dell falls in line with your obsession by also letting hardware warranties, ie, warrantees that deal with REALITY, slip a little in the rank of concerns. Look, you want hardware warranties back, worry a bit less about computer software that does this or that, and get with some hardware concerns, ie, getting out of your parents basement and move around in real space, get some girls, or even build a house (get your fill of hardware there)...then, just maybe, Dell might think it needs to worry about hardware (reality) warranties. Until then, settle for software (abstract) fulfillments only!

Re:serves the community right (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396599)

Physical products are still governed by the UCC.

Dell can't really wriggle out of this. The most they can do is to try and get away with flaunting the law.

Re:serves the community right (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396729)

Until then, settle for software (abstract) fulfillments only!

Are you having a bad day?

The Masons! (2, Funny)

richdun (672214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396547)

I am looking for protection from bricks.

In that case, you should buy double protection for Windows machines. I've seen Windows brick far more machines than Linux.

Of course, we all know who is really behind this aversion to protection from bricks.

*cue Simpsons-style song and dance*

Re:The Masons! (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397463)

In that case, you should buy double protection for Windows machines. I've seen Windows brick far more machines than Linux.

i am interested in linux, but i am looking for protection from people throwing chairs. any ideas? xandros maybe?

No Techs (3, Informative)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396565)

The real issue is that Dell doesn't have any techs trained in Linux, and if you sent out a Tech with the average knowledge that the Windows techs have, the end user would probably be more knowledgable than the tech.
They really have no way to solve software issues, which makes it extremely difficult to determine whether an issue is a hardware or a software problem. So rather than retrain or recruit thousands of onsite techs, and pour millions of dollars into creating new Linux checklists for India, they would just assume offer only limited support.

Re:No Techs (1)

pr0xie (902743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396701)

You are right on. I am a 'certified' Dell hardware tech for my job (I work at a university), and many times when ordering a part under warranty I simply tell them the errors it gives me and they send out a new part that day. With linux it becomes much harder, will they take my word? or do they have bunches of people qualified to tell if something is actually wrong with the hardware based on the errors?

Re:No Techs (3, Insightful)

krazdon (1092849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396861)

This is very likely the real reason why Dell is offering less support for linux than windows. That is, it costs them more. There are several possible reasons to this: 1) There are fewer people trained to troubleshoot linux than there are for windows, so they can demand more money. 2) If the mass consumers this product, they will on average know how to do less with linux than with windows and may need to call support more often. Of course, the true linux geeks would never call Dell for help... For both 1 and 2, it is debatable whether people have less experience with linux because it is actually more difficult to use or because people are just more used to windows.

Re:No Techs (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396949)

that's because most dell techs are NOT dell techs but some lacky from a local IT service company that is a dell partner.

I have found that lots of Dell techs are only slightly more competent than "geek squad" level of techs. This changes when you go for server support. they actually fly out someone that knows what they are doing for those.

Re:No Techs (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397487)

which makes it extremely difficult to determine whether an issue is a hardware or a software problem.

I'm sorry, I'm going to have to interrupt you there and shout BOLLOCKS very loudly.

Solution: Bootable CD with diagnostic tools.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Two possibilities come to mind... (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396567)


1.) Dell does not have the tools or expertise in house to do this yet, but will in the future. So, they got pressured into releasing their Linux PCs before they were ready to support them. Incompetence maybe, but not malice.

2.) Dell simply put out Linux PCs to shut the geek crowd up and get them to buy Dells. However, they don't really want to support Linux, so they designed the program to fail. This way, when they cancel this offering in a year or two due to poor sales, they can say they tried, but Linux on the desktop just doesn't work.

I want to believe it's reason 1, but the added fact that Dell doesn't seem to be advertising this thing at all, and the fact that you actually have to jump through some hoops on the website to even see that the option is available, makes me think that reason 2 isn't entirely impossible either.

Re:Two possibilities come to mind... (1)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396983)

2.) Dell simply put out Linux PCs to shut the geek crowd up and get them to buy Dells. However, they don't really want to support Linux, so they designed the program to fail. This way, when they cancel this offering in a year or two due to poor sales, they can say they tried, but Linux on the desktop just doesn't work.

I suspect this is exactly what is happening. Likely some other OEM operating system manufacturer has viewed Linux as a threat to their monopoly, and has exerted some pressure on Dell to shut down this option. This is Dell's way of quietly ending the promotion and attempting to save face. Just a theory.

Re:Two possibilities come to mind... (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397049)

They don't really need to advertise...the people who are interested in this sort of thing already know about through such channels as slashdot, digg, heck, i read about it on google news.

Dell has no illusions about selling Linux installed machines to regular users.

Not to excuse Dell, but maybe (2, Interesting)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396573)

they are assuming that linux users might be more likely than most buyers to open up the box, swap cards, add drives/RAM, etc. In the process potentially exposing the machines to "user induced failures" from ESD, dropped screws, damaged parts, etc.

Re:Not to excuse Dell, but maybe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396679)

Absolutely! Everyone on Slashdot should be added to a "no-buy" list. They are much more likely to open up their Dell and pour chocolate sauce inside.

I have a simple solution [] to this issue.

Re:Not to excuse Dell, but maybe (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396917)

The only complaint I have about your solution is that I needed the extra screen real-estate of a 17" display. They don't seem to offer

On a laptop? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396681)

The guy was buying a laptop. From experience trying to repair units in the past, there's little in the way of
things to swap out on one of these things. Some of the higher-end laptops might have interchangeable GPU cards
but typically, only the CPU (which is NOT recommended for the average user on a laptop- lots of screws and you
have to tear the silly thing totally apart in most cases...), the RAM (which is user serviceable anyhow...), the
HD (ditto...), and the CD or DVD drive (which is often user serviceable too...).

There's really nothing in there to futz with. Everything "upgradeable" is either USB, PCMCIA, or ExpressCard.

Re:Not to excuse Dell, but maybe (3, Interesting)

supersnail (106701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396847)

Last time I had a problem with my Uninspiron the Dell techie instructed me to open up the
front remove a few parts and reseat the screen conection.
When I expressed surprise he said this was Dells standard troubleshhooting procedure.

Re:Not to excuse Dell, but maybe (2)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397287)

I walked an 80-something old grandmother through a motherboard replacement on an old Dimension back when I worked for Dell and it's one of my most pleasant and rewarding memories of being a tech. I use that story to this day in job interviews. My motto was that I'd do ANYTHING so they didn't have to send something.

Doubt it (1)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397199)

There's far more people running Windows than Linux, and while it's conceivable that a higher percentage of Linux users will tinker, the sheer numbers of Windows users dwarfs that.

Besides, one could argue that Linux users are more likely to understand ESD and the like, and take proper precautions than some of the unwashed masses of Windows users.

We are a fickle group, aren't we. (3, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396601)

Dell asks us what we want. We tell them. They do it. Now we complain.

Admittedly, there are issues with not having any hardware warranty, but do we need to get so incendiary against someone who is trying to work with us?

This is slashdot, so, of course we're fickle. (3, Interesting)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396819)

But in this case, probably rightly so. When I bought my E520N on opening day, it said I had a warranty, so I'd expect them to honor it.

No, we're not... (3, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396857)

Not providing a hardware warranty that's purchasable otherwise, just because a specific OS is installed
is most decidedly **NOT** working with us, thank you, very much.

I could have bought the same laptop he was buying but with Vista instead and burned the install down and been offered the option to buy
the hardware warranty- and it wouldn't have voided it upon my act. It's someone's bright idea over there at Dell because they probably
don't have the same testing/burn-in line for the Ubuntu laptops so they're not standing behind them as well as the Vista ones. It's
rubbish and they know it- and so should you.

Re:No, we're not... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397341)

So if you buy their Vista laptop and burn the OS and run DOS on it and run into a hardware problem, how is Dell supposed to troubleshoot? Say you have a problem with the network card or CD rom drive, making installing diagnostic software difficult?

I'm not saying Dell is coming up roses here, but at least give them some time to work out the kinks in their systems.

People that pre-ordered Dells with Ubuntu are early adopters. And like all early adopters, they are going to hit the snags in the system.

Re:We are a fickle group, aren't we. (4, Insightful)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397023)

Admittedly, there are issues with not having any hardware warranty, but do we need to get so incendiary against someone who is trying to work with us?

Especially when, this being Slashdot, everything gets overblown.

These machines come with a hardware warranty.

They don't come with the ability to purchase an extended warranty.

Now, this makes some sense. Loading Dells with Linux is a trial thing. This is not something they want to figure out how to support long-term yet; if this doesn't work for them, having four and five year service contracts out there they have to cover is going to make this a very expensive prospect. They're willing to make sure they have Linux expertise around to support these things for their base warranty time, whether or not it turns out they can make a buck selling Linux systems long-term. But it makes sense that they wouldn't want to keep Linux geeks around (which, let's face it, cost more than Windows monkeys) long term if they can't sell these things long-term.

Re:We are a fickle group, aren't we. (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397071)

> Admittedly, there are issues with not having any hardware warranty, but do we need to get so incendiary...

Yes. It isn't about the specific details, it is the attitude. They aren't treating Linux users like customers expect to be treated.

Some extra hoops because their support org isn't up to speed is understandable, especially if they are nice about it and explain what is going on. But refusing coverage without a drastic price cut (after sales support is a BIG chunk of the sticker price) just doesn't cut it.

Their problem is that, unlike Microsoft, they don't have a monopoly. IBM/Lenovo doesn't give me any problems with hardware failures. They are bright enough to know that the OS doesn't matter if the LCD cable goes bad, hinges fail, power connectors come loose from the MB, hard drives crap out, etc. They send the box, I stick the laptop in it and they make it right. Evenever I can I don't even send the hard drive in. They usually don't know and don't care what OS is loaded.

Since Dell is preloading, they really can't get away with voiding the warranty. There are laws against that sort fo thing.

Re:We are a fickle group, aren't we. (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397123)

Ok, I don't need software support. I've been running Linux since '99 or so and I admin it professionally. What I do want is to be able to get hardware support should bits of my laptop break. The Dell situation seems to offer no benefits over my (unsupported) Compaq laptop, and frankly I prefer Compaq hardware. It's not exactly a compelling reason for me to buy a Dell.

Perhaps not from Dell (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396639)

But almost EVERY computer component I've seen carries at least a 1 year warrantee. If they use Seagate drives (not sure) they have a 5 year warantee. So it's not like they're completely out in the cold. But agree it is more of a nuisance to ship 10 diff pieces to 10 diff people than just sending the puter back to Dell.

Re:Perhaps not from Dell (1)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396767)

Actually, you may be left out in the cold. Dell tends to use some fairly low-grade components to keep costs down. Personally, I wouldn't buy a Dell without the hardware warranty, although with their 1 day support, I've been quite happy with my laptop and business desktops.

FUD (2, Interesting)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396667)

This reminds me of an issue I recently had with my ISP... Packet loss @ 12% so I call the provider...

Cust svce. Can you reboot, etc., etc., etc.
Me... Sure why not... yadda yadda
Cust svce. Can you click on the start menu
Me No. I don't use Windows
Cust svce. Please hold...
Cust svce. Are you using OSX?
Me No. I use Solaris (Sun Desktop [] on a Dull unInspiron 6000)
Cust svce. Please hold...
Cust svce. (supervisor gets on now) Can you please click on the start menu...
Me No. I told the other person I use Solaris...
Cust svce. Well we don't support Solaris!

Solaris nor OSX nor Windows nor BSD had anything to do with their cruddy connectivity. The actual conversation took a little longer than that with more e-stupidity from their customer service and I had to pretty much deal with it to a degree... My options? 1) Find a provider who would support/understand basic networking, etc. 2) Deal with it...

This is what happened summarily, so I can see why dull would become filled with uber non Windows FUD. Imagine having to explain to Alibaba ... Sorry I meant Charlie in India that his MCSE studies are worthless and they now need to retrain him in Linux... Man that would earn developers a whopping .10 (US) more thus offsetting dull's stock prices a whopping .001 per share. Not in Dull's best interest.

Re:FUD (3, Insightful)

drrck (959788) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396903)

What you want to do in that case is to pretend like you are doing what they are asking. I've done it at work with Dell before many times. I know what a dead hard drive acts like, and a reboot is not going to fix it.

If you've already know what the problem is you should have an easy time fabricating the results of whatever inane tasks they are required to ask you to perform.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19397161)

I like it!

Why should we ever need to tell helpline support staff what O/S we are running? Just ask them what info they need and then provide it. So if a disk is suspect they might ask you to write a file and then read it. You decide how.

Is it just me, or can I see a problem with this approach when the user is not a geek?

Re:FUD (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397475)

As someone who worked in that kind of environment you can thank the spyware makers for starting this craze.

Many many and I mean many moms and grandmas call in with spyware all angry that their hardware is not working right and can not differientate the difference between the 2.

I tried doing the path of using logic rather than a sheet of checklists to solve problems. I always end up using more handle time on the phones and getting in trouble.

For example your computer is running slow hmmm 8 out of 10 times its related to spyware but you have to prove to the customer its not your fault otherwise they will get very very pissed and demand to complain to your boss! So you download lavasoft wait 4 minutes wait another 3 minutes to reboot install for another 2 minutes and before you know it 9 minutes has passed and your boss is wondering why your costing the call center money by being too long. if its the 2 out of 10 times its not spyware related then you wasted the customers time and made yourself look incompentent and blew your handle time out of the water making you look bad.

Its easier to read off a sheet of software settings to get you off the phone the quickest. If your running solaris or something it means to me my handle time will go through the roof dealing with you and they are not paying me for customer service. You cost me and my employer money.

As you can tell I know longer work at help desk for good reason but as long as grandma can not tell the difference between software and hardware and expect the OEM to provide for 3rd party software then you are not going to get support PERIOD.

Re:FUD (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397227)

Exactly, I've always just made up my results as if I was on a windows machine, or run the UNIX equivilent to whatever they are having me do. If you just say "I use Solaris", You may think they are thinking "Well this guy obviously knows what he is doing", Usually it's the exact opposite. As stupid as that sounds.

Re:FUD (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396913)

Your sarcastic post kinda catches on why I never subscribed to the "certified" career path. Sure you can drop 10 large on a MCSE, but what happens when another OS becomes what your employer wants? Same with Novell, Redhat and other cert courses.

I'd rather just not be incompetent and fend for myself than brandish meaningless credentials...


Re:FUD (1)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397031)

The Worthlessness of the CISSP certification [] . It depends what cert you're after. Right now I'm studying for the CCIE Security certification. Does it matter? Yes I do believe this is one of the ones that do. Why? You're not just reading to pass a test. If it were that easy, there would be more than 906 CCIE Security engineers worldwide [] . GIAC vs. CISSP? I'd take a GIAC over a CISSP any time. I've met CISSP's who understood the concept of an attack, an attacker, but couldn't perform an attack to save their lives. I believe in the security industry, one should know everything from the ground up. So what you understand the core of it all... My opinion. As for MS certs', sure if you want to live in an MS world. Same goes for Sun, etc.,

Re:FUD (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397089)

Well given that I work in security as well I question the training. A lot of the fundamentals of secure development (e.g. memory management, use cases, testing, verification) can be taught but that's usually best left to a software engineering course. Sure it's nice that there is a course that teaches what a stack overflow is, but I'd rather have a class that teaches what they are and how to avoid them as a development practice.

And really what we need aren't more security testers than developers, we need developers more than programmers. E.g. less script monkeys who churn out line after line of untested, hard to verify, impossible to parse spaghetti code, and more people willing to take the time to plan out the software, take in requirements and design issues, outline a testing and verification process, etc, etc, etc.

Re:FUD (1)

OverlordsShadow (1034748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397093)

Solaris nor OSX nor Windows nor BSD had anything to do with their cruddy connectivity. The actual conversation took a little longer than that with more e-stupidity from their customer service and I had to pretty much deal with it to a degree... My options? 1) Find a provider who would support/understand basic networking, etc. 2) Deal with it... I think you need to 'dell with it'

The economies of support (1)

simong (32944) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397409)

To be fair, there's a limit to what regular customer support can do in any country: they probably follow scripts (there's an ISP support system that works in exactly that way - I can't remember the name but a lot of ISPs use it) and won't do anything off the track. However, once upon a time there was such a thing as second line support, who would be able to analyse your packet loss problems (to an extent - obviously if it was on the inside of your router it would either be your problem or best endeavours, and I think generally a)). However, even those people have been offshored or globalised in recent years, and might be in Bratislava or Singapore, to think of a couple of places off the top of my head *coughAT&Tcough* and might not have the skills to trace down your problem. The size of the industry now means that power users don't get supported, to the benefit of those who have just been to Best Buy and can't get their Internets to work.

This may also come down to their profit margain/MS (2, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396743)

Some people are contending that the lack of warranty is due to the lack of Ubuntu tools Dell is willing or able to use, however there could be an even bigger motivation behind their choice. Most hardware is sold at or near cost these days with the majority of the profit being due to add-ons and software. Because the Ubuntu boxes generally have far fewer add-ons there is less purchasing power so I can understand Dell wanting to do less in general. One must realize it would require a lot more training and probably a couple brand new company branches in general for a very small share of the market
I could also see a company like MS being fairly raw about something like this and denying Dell their discount if they decide to give a warranty. This would deny most corporate clients the ability to go the Ubuntu route.

Re:This may also come down to their profit margain (1)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397191)

It is my understanding that the markup on a PC from Dell, Gateway, etc is now approaching zero and in fact the system could at times be sold at a loss. So how do the vendors make money? By accepting payment for included software, tool-bars, etc. I believe that their payment for this "crapware" may be on the order of $25 to $50/system. If you have less of this software on the Ubuntu variant, you have a lower profit margin.

I doubt if I could get support on my recently purchased Dell desktop. When I got it, I flattened the disc and did a clean install of Vista. No Dell tools, no "crapware". No security issues associated with said "crapware". I got it at a good price, so I am happy. My kids, who use it are happy with it, but they certainly wish I weren't so strict with the parental controls and blacklist.

Supporting Windows is hard enough (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396775)

There's few Linux support specialists compared to Windows. Hiring enough Linux support staff for a relatively low price will be hard.

Linux and Unix professionals often earn more.

Bootable diag anyone? (2, Insightful)

nmapper (1110717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396781)

Why doesn't dell just put a bootable diagnostic utility in a small partition on the disk? Seems like a no brainer :)

Re:Bootable diag anyone? (1)

rincebrain (776480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397003)

They actually include the rudimentary hardware diagnostic tool in the BIOS, and then when finished it prompts you to run the complete diagnostic tool from a CD.

They do not provide images of these CDs, you get one when your system arrives, and if you ever lose it Dell charges you for another one if you ever really need it.

(Incidentally, I've been running Linux on my Dell laptop for several years, and I've had problems sometimes getting them to ship the correct replacement part, but never on the part of anyone who's had to do any work on the machine. They've all said something to the effect of "Oh Linux okay", and not cared. Also, I've never had them claim when I've filed a problem that it was Linux's fault.)

They also include their Dell MediaCenter stuff for laptops with more heat dissipation than sense on a small partition on the drive, so it's not as though they're unfamiliar with the procedure.

In conclusion, Dell is just being ridiculous.

I wouldn't get upset just yet (3, Interesting)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396787)

This wouldn't be the first time we've seen a phone rep make an incorrect statement about hardware support/warranty when Linux is installed [] .

For those not going to read the attached article (or who didn't the first time around), in the end the phone rep was mistaken and misunderstood the policy and HP handled the hardware repair under warranty.

give the company a break (1)

Maglos (667167) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396811)

I'm sure 3/4 of there returns for "damaged hardware" are in fact software issues. People would be returning the machines when they failed to install Office.

Re:give the company a break (2, Interesting)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396965)

I'm sure 3/4 of there returns for "damaged hardware" are in fact software issues. People would be returning the machines when they failed to install Office.
Other than the fact Ubuntu comes with a office suite, Ubuntu also comes with Wine which is capable of running some versions of Microsoft Office (I've installed Office XP in the past with no problems).

So while some may have issues (like with the latest Office 2007), not all will.

warranty != support (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396823)

Having no hardware warranty is different from having no hardware support.

I would understand completely if Dell did not have staff trained to diagnose hardware failures on Linux. That is support. But if my keyboard doesn't work, and another keyboard does, Dell should accept an RMA on the keyboard. That's a warranty. I picked that example because it is easy, but it applies to anything. If I determine the hard drive is bad, or I take it to a store and they conclude that, then Dell should allow me to RMA the hardware.

My guess is that in some states, they have to do this, like it or not, but probably for only 30 days or so. (Warranties of merchantability and fitness, lemon laws, etc.)

Wow... (0, Flamebait)

Meor (711208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396831)

Linux users are bitches. No wonder you get no respect.

sloppy (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396905)

Unfortunately with today's sloppy hardware it is possible to nuke the hardware via software

Re:sloppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19397281)

true, i believe OEMs tend to buy hardware in mass quantities from the lowest bidder in order to help keep costs down and profits up, and cheap hardware is always the very least sub-par...

The 6 stages of every project. (4, Insightful)

DoctorDyna (828525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396907)

I look at it like this. Dell released machines loaded with Linux, much to the hurray of most of us. However, thinking from a corporate view, which seems to be shared with most large companies, you are missing one important thing:

4.) The search for the guilty.

See, in a corporate world, Windows servers and Windows workstations are used for one simple reason. When something goes wrong, they know who to take to court. They know who to blame. They know who to call on the phone at 3 AM and work all night trying to solve a critical server process that likes to eat memory or crash.

Now, seeing as how applications exist that can modify hardware (read: brick it) then something tells me that Dell isn't going to warantee a mainboard when they can't call up and say "Hey, that patch you released bricked our onboard sound chip / video / lan / cdrom firmware."

For those of you interested, the 6 stages of every project are as follows:

1.) Enthusiasm.

2.) Disillusionment.

3.) Panic.

4.) The Search For The Guilty.

5.) The Punishment of the Innocent.

6.) Accolades for the Non-Participants.

Why would you need CompleteCare? (0)

ozamosi (615254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396921)

My friend had a linux server at a building that was being demolished, however, he had problems arranging transportation of the server. One month after the house was going to be demolished, the server was still there, and still worked just fine. If linux can resist falling buildings, why would you worry about falling bricks?

Who needs a warranty (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19396979)

Hello, cust support, my PC won't turn on and the capacitors on the motherboard are all blown...
- What OS are you running
- We're sorry, we don't support that OS
But I don't want OS support, I'm sure the OS would work fine if they hardware was functional...

Used to work in an all Dell shop, and had caps blow on almost every motherboard in two different optiplex series, and now they're saying they won't offer hardware support / warranty because of OS????


If it's a penny for your thoughts, but you have to put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny? Somebody's making a penny - Stephen Wright

Facts? (2, Insightful)

dugmartsch (125676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396987)

Dell is still honoring whatever warranty you bought. They stopped offereing EXTENDED warranties including Complete Care. So what? They probably removed it due to lack of demand. Geeks don't pay for warranties anyway, do they? Why train and staff an Ubuntu tech support queue for the three people who bought an extended ubuntu warranty? Not exactly a sound financial decision. Man this is people getting really worked up for a one liner on idea storm. Wow.


It's about profit margins (1)

baddogatl (164976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19396997)

Ubuntu may not make your hardware break; however, Dell is worried that Linux support may break their profit margins. This doesn't even take into account efforts in development and training of staff.

If the program succeeds, they break even. If it fails then they aren't stuck with supporting it for any longer than necessary.

You don't get this...? (2, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397149)

According to papers the Attorney General filed in court, Dell deprived consumers of the technical support to which they were entitled under their warranty or service contract by:
  • repeatedly failing to provide timely onsite repair to consumers who purchased service contracts promising "onsite" and expedited service;
  • pressuring consumers, including those who purchased service contracts promising "onsite" repair, to remove the external cover of their computer and remove, reinstall, and manipulate hardware components;
  • discouraging consumers from seeking technical support; those who called Dell's toll free number were subjected to long wait times, repeated transfers, and frequent disconnections;
  • using defective "refurbished" parts or computers to repair or replace consumers' equipment.
source []

Two obvious observations [assuming the lawsuit's accurate]:
  1. Damn, now there's a loss.
  2. They rely on abusing users with limited tech knowledge and limited knowledge of their rights. This isn't exactly a group Linux users famously fall in to.

You have to agree (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397153)

that someone buying a dell with linux has much more chance of spilling coffee on the hard-drive than a regular folk

I think it also has to do with their call support system. Once I broke my laptop screen, it was really broken with pixels leaking everywhere... yet, when I called they made me jump through a lot of hoops to make sure I didn't mess my windows settings... I played along pretending to click. Halas, I guess the procedure makes sense for most of the callers.

European warraty laws (1)

myrrdyn (562078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19397311)

I think in Europe there is a law forcing companies to at least give a 2 years warranty on electronic consumer products. Anyone better informed?
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