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Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

by Pete Mason on 26 July 2010, 16:04

Tags: Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), Linux

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qazch

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It was seen as quite a boon for Ubuntu - and a blow for Microsoft - when Dell started offering users the open-source OS pre-installed on its systems back in mid-2007. While the Linux-based operating system never made it out to all of the company's models, it was available for a significant number of consumer desktops and laptops. 

However, it now looks like Dell has removed the choice of Ubuntu from its website on all consumer systems and all but one business notebooks. While the OS was formerly an option on the Inspiron and Vostro lines, as well as on the Mini 10 netbook, a quick look at the company's website shows that only the Dell Latitude 2100 business netbook allow the OS to be selected.

According to PC Pro, the OS is now only offered as an option for consumer computers over the phone.  A representative for Dell explained the decision on the grounds that "Ubuntu systems are primarily targeted towards advanced users and enthusiasts" and that the goal was to reduce complexity and allow for "a simple, easy purchase experience".  However, the spokesperson also stated that the situation was ongoing and that, at some point, Ubuntu may make a return.

Since most power-users planning to buy from a manufacturer like Dell would probably make their order online, it seems a little odd to hide the option to include Linux away like this. At the same time though, the vast majority of Dell's computer sales will come from selling Windows-based machines, so it can't really be blamed for catering to their primary market. Moreover, if any advanced users really wanted to switch to Linux, they probably know where to find it.

If you really think Dell should keep Linux as an option on the webstore - or in general -  the company's Idea Storm website allows the community to help shape the future of its products. Or you can feel free to let us know in the HEXUS Community.



HEXUS Forums :: 21 Comments

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Ubuntu + New Users = Hell, Panic, Disaster.

Done, tested, proven.
My experience is different.
When a new Ubuntu machine has been set up correctly for a new user (mp3 codecs, flash etc), and you spend a little time explaining how it works (ie 30 mins max), it's very straightforward.
Nelsaidi
Ubuntu + New Users = Hell, Panic, Disaster.

Done, tested, proven.

:stupid: emoticon says it all.

Ubuntu isn't any more difficult for a real newbie (as in someone who's not been brought up entirely with Windows) to use/configure than Vista. Yes, there's the usual problem of codec support, but you've also got that (to an extent) with Windows unless someone's been nice enough to bundle suitable DVD players etc with the build image. In fact in some cases, the “brown mess” (and before I get flamed, yes I know purple is the new brown) is easier than Windows - I really struggled to get a Huawei 3G stick working with XP, whereas the same stick was operational with Ubuntu Netbook Remix in less than 5 minutes.

If I was Dell (etc) then it's laughably easy to make sure that the Mediabuntu repository is in place and the relevant codec support packages are installed. On the new install I did recently that took about 15 minutes to find the relevant commands in the online support and run them to completion. Yes, it's a faff, but Windows folks have the same deal with the anti-virus software that they require.

My eight-year old daughter just moved her laptop from Vista (because it was slow and clunky, which annoyed her greatly) to Ubuntu 10.04 and she's really happy with it, with no major problems. She's even able to play Peggle, Bejeweled etc courtesy of Wine, (easily installed from the Ubuntu equivalent of the Add/Remove Programs)

Getting back to the article, I'm sad about this action, but it's not entirely unexpected. Dell has always said that Linux take-up on the pre-built stuff was low, and they didn't actually go out of their way to actually make it obvious that it was an option. HP are worse - you really have to know where to hunt down the Linux option, and even then it's really a “business only” item. :(

Strangely enough, if you look on the various forums, it would appear that quite a few folks have subsequently either dual-booted with Linux or (as I have) replaced the Windows install with an Ubuntu, Fedora or Suse one. :)

Bob
If you're the sort who'd be happy with Ubuntu then chances are you're more than capable of downloading and installing it yourself.

The only negative is that there is no longer an easy way of cutting the cost of those particular laptops (though Ubuntu wasn't free apparently, as they still had to offer support for it). I suppose you could still try to call them up and recover the cost of a Windows license, which has proved successful before, if not apparently easy.
crossy
:stupid: emoticon says it all.

Ubuntu isn't any more difficult for a real newbie (as in someone who's not been brought up entirely with Windows) to use/configure than Vista. Yes, there's the usual problem of codec support, but you've also got that (to an extent) with Windows unless someone's been nice enough to bundle suitable DVD players etc with the build image. In fact in some cases, the “brown mess” (and before I get flamed, yes I know purple is the new brown) is easier than Windows - I really struggled to get a Huawei 3G stick working with XP, whereas the same stick was operational with Ubuntu Netbook Remix in less than 5 minutes.

So there's some stuff about XP (dead, 10 years old) and Vista (dead, replaced by Windows 7). All well and good but at least draw comparisons with the current version of Windows! As for easier to use - i'm not convinced - the help/diagnosis stuff in 7 is pretty darn good (in fact show me where it's done better - the built in help is actually extremely good) and as for hardware support that's an easily won battle period. Nothings perfect (no doubt) but Linux has simply failed to take off at all on the desktop in the past decade simply because MS managed to address the chief reasons why people would *want* linux (security, stability, performance) in successive updates. All that's left now is ‘price’ and given that people don't even see that (as it's included in their dell/hp/blah) it's not a real issue (sadly I might add). So yes, XP sucked and Vista was horrible on laptops - absolutely agree - but times have changed. Heck, it even failed on netbooks too..

I'd like to say I had a greater use for Linux other than splashtop and gparted but really I don't. OTOH Android is alrighty .
:)