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Are You Getting a Dell?

Dell's pre-installing Ubuntu. Now the question is whether the community is buying. Take our informal poll and let us know what Dell is doing right and what they still need to work on.

With Dell making good on their promise to pre-install Linux on a selection of systems — and at roughly $200 cheaper than identical Windows offerings at that — we thought we’d run an informal poll to gauge the response to the new machines.

Submit your responses to the poll below to view the results. Comments are open and feedback is welcome.

Comments on "Are You Getting a Dell?"

tamagotono

I usually build my own machines but now that Dell is offering Ubuntu, I am looking at buying one. I will buy a Dell laptop if I can just get them to install a japanese keyboard in it! They are telling me that I have to order a laptop from japan in order to get the keyboard. Too bad they dont offer Ubuntu on the japanese computers…

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priswell

I wouldn’t say “compel” me to buy a Dell. But I am needing a laptop, and while I can build a desktop, a laptop is a little out of my league.

I’ve recently started using Ubuntu Linux. It will be nice to start off with a Linux distro for the laptop instead of needing to reformat as soon as I get it. As my experience with Linux gains ground, I expect that I’ll install another linux distro, but in the beginning, I’ll be happy with Ubuntu.

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fredericmora

You can order a keyboard separately. Just order a US laptop and then order a Japanese keyboard in Japan. I did that for a French keyboard that I ordered in France and installed in a US-bought D610 laptop.

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mbergman

As a citizen of the European Union I do hope Dell extends this offer world-wide and let us purchase their Ubuntu-laptops in Sweden as well.

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margravezakhur

Hmpf.

I don’t buy garbage. I build my own.

I have not forgotten who testified in Microsoft’s behalf when they were convicted even though they got off with a wrist-slap.

And Ubuntu? If I pay for a linux distro, I will get one with more polish. Ubuntu and Kubuntu are noble efforts for a certain segment of the population, but are more likely to make linux LESS popular with the WinSheep than say, ARK or Mandriva or MEPIS.

Dell offered Linux before, picking the worst possible distro at the time for the application they put forth, then withdrawing it saying Linux wasn’t popular. I have not forgotten that, either.

At least more works out of the box with Ubuntu than with say FC6.

Margrave

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bryanjrichard

Ronnie, good point. Question #1 isn’t meant to ask, “Will Dell make you buy a new PC?” It’s purpose is more to gauge whether Dell’s support of Open Source will have a positive impact on potential buyers. ‘

We’ll tweak the language on the first question and update the survey.

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corfy

Unfortunately, I can’t even afford to upgrade my computer right now, let alone buy a new one. But if I could afford it, I would grab up one of the Ubuntu laptops in a heartbeat. (I’m with some others on this forum when it comes to desktops, I prefer to build my own, but laptops are a different animal.)

I did say that I would keep Ubuntu on the laptop, but that may not be technically true (it depends on how you look at it). It depends on whether Kubuntu qualifies as “a different distro”, which I don’t think it should, and I wouldn’t remove Ubuntu, I would just add the Kubuntu desktop to the Ubuntu installation.

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bryanjrichard

Margrave, how is Ubuntu going to make Linux less popular with Windows users? I’m not sure I follow.

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mrgdonovan

I have 5 dells at home and will not buy another due to the worthless support from India.

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gert1

Hopefully DELL will soon extend its Linux offerings to Europe.

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margravezakhur

Bryan,

Example, possibly fixed by now. Windows user tries Ubuntu.

Plugs in a USB Drive
Doesn’t know
sudo fdisk -l
sudo mkdir -p /mnt/sdf1
sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sdf1 /mnt/sdf1

On windows (or MEPIS, or ARK, or Mandriva), a window pops up saying “What do you want to do?” and displays all sorts of choices.

What would your conclusion be?

Margrave

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advancecomputers

My Ubuntu and Kubuntu systems recognize USB drives without a problem… and have for years.

Anyway, it’s good to see Dell getting into the Linux world a bit. The only “brand” computers we buy are laptops, and with Lenovo being #1 we will stick with their Linux systems instead of Dell’s crappy hardware and India support.

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drokmed

I’d buy another laptop from them if they offered SLED (the supported SUSE version).

I need a reliable linux with support options. Sorry, but Ubuntu isn’t it. Just because Ubuntu is popular (only due to its good forums), doesn’t mean it is mature.

I’m not a big fan of Dells, but I do have one of their laptops and I’ve been happy with it.

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tylerd75

I’m not really a fan of Dell, but IF I were to buy a Laptop I would certainly consider one that was already running linux.
Most of the usual driver problems should already be solved, but as for running Ubuntu? I would most definitly change it to Gentoo!

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floridasage1

I collect curbside donations, recycle them with MEPIS installed, through charity thrift shops, (3 Saints, SA) if they’ll have them, and, private schools, local businesses, kids, or turn the Optiplex’s into IPCOP boxes. Hey, have 100 PC’s on hand, currently! Plus 4 Macs.

Dell kinda made their own trouble, being that I have so many Dells… But, I do recommend to my hundreds of clients, friends, that any computer running Linux from the factory, is a better machine than anything ‘ConvictedfelonM$” from HP/Compaq or Sony!

I ONLY do Open Source *BSD and GNU/Linux. So do all my 5,000+ clients, friends, family members.
You’ll see me giving liveCD Linux Demos in major
Office and Computer or warehouse stores.

One question no one answers, in Costco, Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Target, Walmart, CompUSA, or BestBuy, is “will they offer Dells with Linux?”. I’ve asked. They’re mum.

Has “multiple convicted felon Microsoft” really got that much power as a “protection racket”?

Now, I think I comprehend why “multiple convicted felon Microsoft” fears the Open Source movement so much! We can break their hold on our society, our governments, our schools, and our charities!

To quote the great Mahatma, M. Ghandi, I AM the change I wish to see in the world!

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bryanjrichard

What would your conclusion be?

Margrave, I don’t think the issue is really how Ubuntu handles USB plugables but that the relationship between users and software is pretty complex overall.

A user can decide not to use a piece of software for an infinite number of reasons. Some people won’t use a program because it is closed source, or because a feature is missing, or because they don’t like how a user interface looks, or because a USB device doesn’t work correctly, and so on.

I don’t think that Ubuntu is making Linux any less palatable for Windows users than any other distro. You’re not the first person that I’ve heard say that that Ubuntu isn’t their favorite distro — people’s tastes naturally vary. However, you’re definitely the first that has expressed the opinion to me that the widespread distribution of Ubutntu is ultimately a harmful thing to Linux marketshare. :-)

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gparvan

I love LINUX, and used Ubuntu for some time. However, I need apps and that is the kicker. I don’t like XP, but my apps run fairly smooth. If my finance, Adobe apps, printer drivers, scanner software, calibration equipment, digital camera utility software would run I would run LINUX full time.
If Dell offers Ubuntu then great!! Perhaps the application houses will notice and start porting over to LINUX.
My next computer acquisition will most likely occur in 2008. If significant progress isn’t made then I’ll buy a MacBook Pro.

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jtatex

Having tried Ubuntu and switching to PCLinuxOs 2007, (Much leaner, faster OS), would not make me switch to a DELL Machine, I have a Dell laptop and am quite happy with it, but a hardware maker that switches OS’s to keep up with the current trend don’t cut it. Having a dual boot with windoze and pclinux, i have the best and worst of both worlds.

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sinewalker

My experience with Dell hardware is based upon my employer’s equipment (Dell Latitude D800). Based solely on this, I would not buy Dell because of the hardware problems I have experienced (discounting the problems with Windows and drivers, I have experienced overheating, causing the paint on the casing to bubble off, display snow resulting in replacement of entire machine one component at a time, hard-drive failures). I take good care of my employer’s equipment, but replacements (I’m on my 3rd Dell Latitude in 2 years, without upgrade) continue to have problems with heat, battery recall and a flaky optical drive.

I will say that Dell’s customer support (at least for my large, multinational employer) is first rate.

However, this move to supporting and pre-installing Ubuntu is making me take a second look as I consider purchasing my own laptop. What ever I buy will be running a linux distro, probably either Ubuntu or Knoppix since those get the best reviews for laptop support, and being free of the Windows tax is a big plus on Dell’s scale

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autocrosser

Well-I’m a Alpha/Beta tester for Ubuntu & I’ll say that we have put in quite a large amount of effort in the last few years. If you have not tried Ubuntu lately–take another look.

CLI is “almost” a thing of the past–I still use CLI because I like to, but a normal user in the daily setting very rarely needs to look at the terminal.

I think that getting a Linux distro in front of Joe-consumer is a positive thing & everyone has freedom of choice–you don’t like it—wipe it & start over with something that is more the way you want.

In any case–isn’t the idea to reduce the marketshare of M$?

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jeanmarcpetit

Proposing Ubuntu natively on a laptop (although not yet available in Europe) is certainly a good thing as it show the average consumer there is life outside Microsoft. But what I’d like to see is the possibility to buy a laptop with no OS installed. So I’m really free to install what ever I want, and don’t pay anything extra (there is still a cost for installing Ubuntu at Dell’s end).

As for the choice os distro, I think Ubuntu is as good (or as bad) as any other choice. I’m currently running Xubuntu 6.06 LTS on a Latitude D810, and it runs like a charm. But I’m always concerned with Dell’s very pour customer support: I have an older Dell Latitude with internal connection intermittent problems, and evnthough I bought the full next day, on site international service for 3 year (a very large fraction of the price), I never got Dell to cope with this problem (IBM was way more helpful with another laptop).

So, will I buy a Dell laptop with Ubuntu ? Maybe, when it’s available, and if there is no other affordable Linux offers on a laptop.

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old_salt

I see the majority here are missing the point of the survey and judging from the comments I see why Linux struggles to gain a foothold in the mainstream. Bickering, distro feuds and arguments.

Who Cares what flavor it is. The point is there’s finally a major vendor going to market with Linux. Notice I said Linux as that should be where everyone should focus. Not Mepis, Debian, FC, Suse or whatever.

The fact that a piece of hardware will have support or compliance for Linux is great. If the hardware works for one distro, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it should work on others too? The OS is already done, it’s easier and makes more sense to build a system with hardware components that are “Industry Standards Compliant” meaning non-proprietary.

Linux is not in the position now to demand it’s cake and eat it too. As community members (because we use Linux) we should welcome this opportunity and use it well to take the first major step forward in stepping up to the plate to introduce ourselves (outside our realm) to the world and show what all we have to offer.

Everyone knows Microsoft and MAC but very little is known about Linux except for a very few users around the world. Let us all set aside our differences, stop the bickering like children and seize this opportunity.

Whatever happened in the past is done and gone. If Dell repeats it’s past, so be it. We got good publicity and raised our awareness and took another step forward. As I see it, this should be a win win situation for the Linux Community. We all need to look at the big picture for a change.

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k4rfk

I feel that Dells Linux efforts are half hearted at best. If you go to their web site you have to KNOW that you want Linux and search for it in order to get to the area that offers a Linux box. Otherwise all you will see offered is Windoz.
If you do get to the Linux area the statements given would probably scare away any noobs who are toying with the idea of going Linux “…For advanced users and tech enthusiasts…”, “…The main thing to note is that when you choose open source you don’t get a Windows® operating system…”, “…A downside is that some open source software requires intermediate or advanced knowledge to use, and in the case of operating systems, may not be compatible with the same software applications and hardware as Windoz operating systems…”.
The kicker is that there are no bargains here. I priced out a bare bones Dell Dimension E520 for Vista and Ubuntu. I tried to keep the choices at the minimum values offered. (I could have upped the Linux box to the top offered processor of an Intel Core 2 E6420 Duo Processor(4MB L2 cache,2.13GHZ,1066FSB) but that was an additional $100 so I kept the base processor offered).
A Windoz box was $579 vs the Ubuntu box at $569. For that $10 savings the DIFFERENCES in the two systems were: The Linux box had an Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 @ 1.8GHz, an Intel GMA 950 Video Card and NO modem vs Windoz with a Pentium D 925 @ 3GHZ, an Intel GMA X3000 Video Card and an INCLUDED modem.
Go play with the numbers. You will see that Dell is giving you a lot less for your money if you want to go Linux.
I’d like to see Linx-Mag do a real comparison of Dells “Linux Support”. It’s really just a marketing ploy and perhaps an attempt at tweaking Bill Gates nose in the hopes of getting a little better deal from Micro$oft for being such fastidious supporters.

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clintbrot

I plan on buying a new laptop soon and it will be a dell ubuntu Inspiron E1505 N with all the upgrades bringing a total of $1800. Since I love to download, burn, and test distros (distrowatch junkie, I will partition the 160gb HDD and install Mepis, DreamLinux, and FC7.

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jwsincla99999

I’m not a fan of Dell’s since I bought two systems
for my kids. They were inexpensive, but Dell
intentionally crippled the agp interface and devices on the pci bus seemed to interfere with one another. In the end, I was forced to limit the
use of the pci bus to one device only (video). I had to discard my pci wireless boards and replace them with usb ones.

Of course, Dell never warned me that I was purchasing an inferior product and there was,
again of course, no available help from Dell.

These practices are those of a company that is
interested in the bottom line alone. Why let them
participate in the success of free software?

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byco

I just got the e-mail from Dell today informing me that my E1505N went to the shipper yesterday. I am concerned about the quality Dell products but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Dell’s concern for the Linux community is directly related their bottom line. If we show Dell that there is money to be made selling hardware to the Linux community then maybe they will keep their promise to push manufacturers for more and better open source drivers.

As far as the pricing of the Dell systems, if you figure in the cost of additional Windoz software to match what comes with Ubuntu the Windoz box quickly almost doubles in price. If you start figuring in software that you can download from the Ubuntu repo’s the cost of a Windoz box gets out of hand real fast.

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mickza

Linux does not seem to be offered on the Dell South Africa website. Strange given Mark Shuttleworths contribution to Ubuntu. But, on the other hand, SA also qualifies for M$ Vista Starter Edition as a 3rd world nation which I also don’t see.

Be that as it may I agree that offering Linux on a branded computer can only be good news for Linux in the consumer world and might get even get component manufacturers to offer Linux drivers for their offerings if they want to supply Dell.

If I was in the market for a laptop I would seriously consider Dell given their efforts so far.

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mshives

I have been contacting Dell, HP, and Gateway for years requesting them to sell systems with Linux pre-loaded. Dell is the first to start offering such a machine. So, I put my money where my mouth is and bought the E520 with Ubuntu preloaded. Alas, I am very satisfied with my vote using dollars.

Let us hope that HP, Gateway and Lenovo are not far behind.

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dohogn

I would be curious to know what Dell is calling support for the product. As I see it Ubuntu is an extremely flexible OS that has been able to run on anything I load it on. In some case it allows better performance than XP and the laptop I am using was “Designed for Microsoft Windows XP”. So is DELL just taking advantage of this flexible OS and calling it support, or are they actually researching hardware and loading optimal software?

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gurelin

I have a Latitude D610 and a dual boot, windblows xp and OpenSuSE 10.2. Before installing it, I thought my Dell wouldn’t support OpenSuSE, but now I’m so happy because everything (I really mean everything) runs really well. However, I’d rather build my own than buying a new one, especially if it’s Ubuntu. I used to play around with it and hated it so much (Maybe it’s because of Gnome. Well, I don’t like Kubuntu either).

Considering Dell supports open source, I will definitely buy a Dell if I want to, but I’ll, for sure, get rid of (K/X)Ubuntu and install FreeBSD, F7 and/or OpenSuSE, simply because it (Ubuntu) is too damn mainstream.

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paviles

Hell no! Dell hardware sucks!!! Why in the world will I buy the worst quality of hardware possible, worst technical support (Sorry Dell, your tech support is really clueless….) when I can use any hardware I choose, download and install Ubuntu myself?

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ibh

For christmas, I bought my wife a new Dell Dimension E521, loaded for bear: dual-core Athlon-64; 4gb RAM; NVIDIA PCI-Express 3d video card. I tossed the XP disk into a shopping bag with the rest of the documentation, and immediately tried to load a recent, 64-bit Linux distro.
To summarize, Dell was having hardware problems with the motherboard chipset. They temporarily solved it (for XP) by releasing a new mouse driver (30+MB), followed almost a month later by a BIOS upgrade. After that, the keyboard and mouse stopped locking up (USB issue). However, reliably booting a 64-bit linux distro was still dicey. Even today, there’s some kind of issue with the video card: the 3D screensavers I use to (to see that it’s enabled) make mistakes (objects end up in front of objects that they’re behind). But the rest works, and I’ve finally installed it under her desk — nearly six months after buying it.
Dell recently released another BIOS update for the box. I should install it, see if the video improves. Which is the point, I suppose: If Dell, as a company, at least went through the effort of testing their systems against various Linux systems, the resultant system quality could be greatly improved (or, at least, our expectations could be appropriately lowered). If the system was listed as, “doesn’t work with Linux”, I would have spent a couple extra dollars on the Intel version, the e520, instead. Or simply bought a “real” workstation from the likes of Sun Microsystems….

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boppy

I purchased a dimension about a year ago and found myself trying remove all the garbage software included in Windows when I decided to simply throw Fedora Core on there. It worked wonderfully. I did have some issues with the wireless networking and the wide screen resolution displaying correctly. Both issues taken care of in typical linux fashion (research ad nauseum, make educated guess on which updates will help, yum update, pray, repeat as necessary, and dance in celebration upon success). 3D supported with default installation (I later opted for beryl, which I think is awesome) and everything works really well. Its solid as a rock. I just hope that dell focuses on building machines that are generally linux compatible and not tailoring for any one specific OS/distro.

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gramo

I have a Inspiron 700m, centrino processor, 1 GB RAM, intel video card, 12″ widescreen.

It had windows, so I installed the free Mandriva 2007 Spring.

With little effort the system recognizes almost all including the full screen at full resolution, the 3D chip (for compiz and beryl), the wifi card…

The only thing I can’t use is the SD port.

So I’m very pleased with my laptop.

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handytech

I don’t know what it is about Dell. Maybe it’s the fact that almost 98% of calls I get to “tune” and “repair” a client’s pc for some odd reason always turns out to be a Dell… I mean not that this is a bad thing for business mind you. Keep pumpin out those Dell’s with boat-loads of trialsoftware and an infinite number of startup processes. It’s good for business.

The reason I will never buy a Dell: I don’t trust a company that is pouring thousands of dollars into creating the cheapest systems possible. That’s a recipe for utter and total disaster.

I’m sure Dell’s business clients probably get a whole lot more respect and reliability then we do.

The bottom line: build your own.

Stop taking the easy way out.

Let me remind you.

Some of the benefits of building your own…

YOU KNOW what’s in the box.

YOU KNOW how much it cost you.

YOU KNOW how and where to get drivers.

YOU KNOW your way around your hardware.

YOU DON’T with some other brand, not least of which is Dell.

Putting Ubuntu on a Dell PC sounds like a wolf that just has better sheep’s clothing, or is probing for the “stragglers” that can’t decide whether it’s worth the money. I don’t think it will ever be.

Did you ever think about the fact that Dell is most likely using “wholesale motherboards”? If that doesn’t scare you and you’re still handing over your dough, something is wrong.

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darkstarlinux

I will be purchasing a laptop in the coming months.
Im gonna go with a Dell specifically cause they are offering GNU/Linux laptops.
Just wish they had options with what distro u wanted.
Anyway ill just swap out the Ubuntu with Fedora 7.
Way to go Dell just wish there was a bigger list of hardware to choose from.

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bugmenot07

While I have no specific problem with Dell, I prefer leading edge hardware and software. My distribution of choice would be Fedora. As for the hardware, I can buy a well appointed Santa Rosa notebook for the price of Dell’s last generation notebook. Their product is simply not compelling or price competitive as far as I can see.

For many, Asus’ new $189 Linux MID laptop would be more than enough. Times are changing, and I don’t see Dell changing with them. They are reactionary, not proactive. This puts them well behind the technology curve. Maybe their slogan should be “We’re Dell, get off our lawn!”.

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jjjjjjj

Intel has come out with their own laptop motherboard so now you can grow your own laptops.

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floridasage1

Simply the fact that a computer can run any GNU/Linux distro is a plus for me, and my hundreds of clients.

Now, Asus is trying to get into the game! Perhaps because their server, running M$, was pwned for a week?

Although M$ dominates the US market, GNU/Linux is affordable, and on the leading edge, in other places, such as China, India, Asia, Africa, the middle East, developing nations, the Rest of the World!

It is hard to shove the M$ FUD in the face of the reality of bad M$ experiences, and current government support of Open Source.

Yes, I have seen a lot of reports of bribery of officials, by M$, in the US, and in the world, as reported in the local press of those nations, that I find online!

I don’t think M$ has enough money to bribe 1 billion Chinese, 1.25 billion on the Indian sub-continent, and the billion other Asians and Africans…

My next laptop will be a Linux running Dell, unless Asus can get here quicker, cheaper, with their $189.00 Linux laptop!

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madmod

I purchased a Dell Inspiron E1505n with Ubuntu 7.04 preinstalled. Not wanting the Dell partition, I reformatted the drive and reinstalled Ubuntu 7.04 so as to use the entire hard drive. (A quick note on this: reset the BIOS boot order to have the HDD last so Ubuntu can be reinstalled from the CD.)

The computer is now working just fine. For myself there appear to be no issues getting in the way of what I need to do with this notebook. It’s found all my peripherals, connects well with wireless, etc. I’ve since downloaded all the additional software I need to get my work done. Updates and upgrades via the package manager have been installed without unresolved issues.

What’s not to like?

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fungus

I think what distribution of pre-installed Linux is unimportant, and instead it is important to sell a system which is full Linux compatible.

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simon bridge

It has been observed that the bare-bones linux and vista offerings (on the same hardware) are about the same price. While this is true, the comparison was never fair… you have to remember to equalize the software!

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/showthread.php?p=2775502#post2775502

The MS boxes come with windows, works 8.0, IE6, and little else. Ubuntu comes with… well, we know, don’t we.

(Note… budget MS box is about $300 … can we have a budget linux version or is linux only for rich people?)

In fact, if you were to scout the web for bargains and build your own box, the dell offering is not a lot cheaper (I would have expected better from such a large supplier). The value added is that they do the donkeywork for you (like dinner at a restaurant – more expensive but no cooking, dishes, blah.)

The saving was always going to be software.

Further… DELL are not and never intended to *market* linux to the masses. They intend only to sell linux to people who already knew they wanted linux.

If you don’t like ubuntu, but want dell (but why?) then from the liux page yau can follow the link to Open Source laptops. This gets you a blank HDD and a copy of freedos. (I think their MS contract forbids them from selling computers without as OS but fails to specify…)

Unfortunately, if you want linux for your business… the “business” link takes you to MS again!

Until recently, the extended warrenty was missing on the linux builds… as if linux damages hardware.

There are fewer options for linux customization.

Would be nice to see “customize with linux as an option alongside “customize with Vista” and “customize with XP”.

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beachbum125

@Margrave

You build your own garbage?

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mccancew

I tried to buy a Dell. I even suggested I would like a dual boot XPS or D830 precision. But they could only offer me the base Ubuntu insprion 1525. Its a good start for the newbies. But I want something with a loty more grunt and database processing power.

Ideas are welcomed

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obeewaan

How about from the Dell Canada site:
XPS M1330 – as below – Starting From $1,458*
—————————————————–
Update PriceDiscount DetailsPrint SummaryComponents
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.2GHz/800Mhz FSB, 4MB Cache)
Ubuntu Linux version 7.10 with DVD Playback
Tuxedo Black
Standard Display with 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
120GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
Intel® Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW Drive)
Intel® 3945 802.11a/g Mini-card
85Whr Lithium Ion Battery (9 cell)
Built-in Bluetooth capability (2.0 EDR)
High Definition Audio 2.0
Essentials
1 Year Return to Depot Service and Technical Support
Accessories
Biometric Fingerprint Reader

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graemeharrison

I think the distro argument should ALWAYS be kept secondary to simply getting more average users comfortable/exposed to Linux. I think the offering of Linux pre-installed on ‘packages’ from major hardware companies is a very positive move. Surely others will follow, and the price difference should eventually reflect the true savings (ie Ubuntu should be much cheaper than Vista… when Linux volume increases).

I just loved the earlier post:
“Has ‘multiple convicted felon Microsoft’ really got that much power as a ‘protection racket’? Now, I think I comprehend why ‘multiple convicted felon Microsoft’ fears the Open Source movement so much! We can break their hold on our society, our governments, our schools, and our charities! To quote the great Mahatma, M. Ghandi, I AM the change I wish to see in the world!”

It does come down to breaking that M$ stranglehold. No US Federal Administration will do it. The US believes in anti-trust, but only so far as it does not affect ‘US interests’. (Can you imagine a judge saying he disagreed with crimes unless he was a beneficiary?) As soon as M$ points out what breaking its monopoly hold on the OS+Office market will do to US balance of payments, Washington goes lame-duck. The EU correctly found that M$ was operating a ‘racket’, and fined M$ accordingly, but to little avail. The courts take years, and the competition war is working on another front by the time of any decision. Netscape was dead-in-the-water by the time Washington and Brussels determined that M$ acted illegally in the ‘browser wars’… and by then the war was over ‘open source’.

The challenge now is to get hardware without being forced to also purchase an OS licence. It’s not about just Linux either, as consider all those WinXP users happy to migrate an existing WinXP licence from one box to another and who do NOT want Vista (at any price). Why should then be forced to ‘upgrade’ to Vista just because they were buying new hardware. Dell needs to be encouraged, and asked to roll out the program to other countries. In Australia one cannot purchase a major brand laptop without a Windows licence, even though that is clear evidence of a breach of the Australian Trade Practices Act 1973 (‘forced bundling’). The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is a mere ‘watch-puppy’ and remains silent despite being requested to investigate.

If people were forced to THINK about what OS they wanted to buy (or obtain for free) then we’d get a fair market. Vista was sold just a year ago for nearly $1000, yet now if you ask most retailers (in Oz) how much you’d save if you take Vista out of the package, they’ll tell you it won’t affect the price. So M$ is either continuing to act illegally or the product is truly ‘free’ (wholesale price of zero) in which case we have the same issues as the browser wars, where unfair use of dominant market share is being used to shut-out competition.

The reason M$ is fighting so hard to get users onto Vista is because it knows how unliked that OS is. The reason it is extra cheap in the third world is because M$ knows how suitable Ubuntu is for these countries (which otherwise love M$ software piracy). The reason it is so ‘tightly bundled’ in the first world is because M$ has market power over the hardware suppliers, and M$ knows that most users will never bother changing OS after they’re initially set-up and working. We need to break that market share abuse (anti-trust) issue and force people to make a separate decision to pay a fair price for the M$ rubbish, or be offered a good free solution as an alternative. Similarly, those who are first set-up on (say) Ubuntu seldom decide to switch to Vista, and M$ execs would also know that statistic. There are some (dubious) parallels to the days when cigarette companies offered free sample packs of cigarettes to people to get them started, because the subsequent income stream to the cigarette companies easily justified it, as once they were customers, they were likely to remain customers for life. [But I freely admit that there are no negative health consequences arising from use of M$ products.]

Let’s keep up the pressure for a free and fair battle over the OS of the future. American and OECD countries’ school systems are also ‘poor’ when it comes to capex, so the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ and ‘Asus EE-PC’ type developments with Ubuntu all Wi-Fi pre-configured and operational should have a third-world to first-world reverse-rollout effect… where school systems in the richest countries realise that a secure, stable, non-viral OS is cheaper to maintain than a glossy, expensive, buggy, use-by-date OS from M$.
Graeme Harrison (prof at-symbol post.harvard.edu)

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graemeharrison

Laptop over-heating problems are not limited to Dell. I have two HP Pavilion Laptops. Both over-heat to the point where an external fan must be left running blowing wind under their raised undersides to prevent auto-shutdowns. One is Intel Pentium4 3.2GHz chipset… Later reports indicated that the whole industry admitted that Pentium chips produce way too much heat to put into a laptop configuration. Other is an AMD, which didn’t overheat until its fan started to fail. Both laptops are two years old. The dicky little fans used inside casing have failed on both, and cannot be replaced by third-parties as they are HP-specific. Hard drive failures have been caused on each, as a result of heat build-up (IMHO). They are amply fast processors with 1GB+ of RAM, so I keep them running with an external fan, and each year progressively strip away more and more of the casing and failed fans to expose the heat generation components to the externally-supplied fan-forced air. Of course HP would not so much as reply to my email complaints about sub-standard componentry with fans failing within first six months of use, etc. I note the above so people don’t think that laptop overheating or poor service is limited to Dell.
Graeme (prof at-symbol post.harvard.edu)

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graemeharrison

And for those who think I am a conspiracy theorist about why M$ is ‘gifting away’ so many copies of Vista for market share reasons, see the original Open Letter from OSI to AOL re M$ attempts to get the web dependent upon proprietary standards rather than open standards:
http://www.opensource.org/pressreleases/aol-letter.php
It is interesting that it is coming up to the 10-year anniversary of that letter, but we have not learnt, and the regulators remain ‘dumb’ on issues under their noses.

M$ is almost ‘giving away’ Vista and insisting hardware manufacturers ‘compulsorily bundle’ Vista (in all markets where they are likely to get away with such illegal actions) for two reasons:

1. The Emperor’s Clothes’ Rationale – if M$ can claim X hundred million copies were ‘sold’, then everyone ‘must’ believe it is a good OS, right? You won’t hear them brag about the number who ‘were sold’ Vista but then rolled-back to WinXP on new hardware, even though those numbers are also available to them by virtue of on-line confirmation of ‘downgrades’.

2. Standard M$ Practice: In competitive wars M$ has been in (eg browser war), the convicted felon M$ has been found by courts to have misused its market share power in existing monopoly product lines to cross-subsidise offerings in the competitive sphere to the point of nil prices (or almost nil prices) purely for so long as is necessary to drive such competitor to ruin or to leave that market. Indeed the courts discovered documents that established that it was M$’ intent to behave in that manner.

We need to congratulate Dell for standing up to the pressure… But the tables have turned a bit now. Ten years ago a hardware manufacturer lived in fear that M$ would give it less favourable pricing than its competitors, leaving the manufacturer in a real pickle. Now, there are fewer hardware manufacturers and M$ needs them ALL. Besides Vista licences are now so cheap (as everyone knows M$ needs to give it away) that relative pricing of M$ OS licences (vs competitors) is no longer a major concern for hardware manufacturers. What the Dells of the world need to realise is that if they let M$ regain absolute dominance, they would again be ‘appointed’ or not to sell very expensive OS licences in the future (ie a return to past practices)… so it is in the hardware manufacturers’ interests to ‘commoditize’ OS licensing… which is precisely what M$ is fighting to prevent.

But I think enough people are jack of the past practices, and eventually everyone is realising that ‘total cost of ownership’ is the important measure, not initial licence fees. And as long as Linux can remain more stable, less buggy, less viral, easy-to-install, easy-to-use etc, it should gradually win via (amazingly) successes in Africa etc with OLPC and other broad low-cost roll-outs.
Graeme (prof at-symbol post.harvard.edu)

Reply
graemeharrison

My comment to any Alpha/Beta tester for Ubuntu (eg ‘autocrosser’ of prior post) is to polish the final few rough edges. It seems to me that developers have done a great job of auto-detecting hardware, are increasing robustness, etc… but no-one has done a survey of what average users found frustrating in initial install/use.

So, while I’m a great fan and user of Ubuntu (ie my primary OS), I think the five things needed right now are:

1. Preserve file dates on ‘file copy’ to/from ALL volume types. Copying within nix-native volumes (ie EXT2, EXT3 formats) works fine, but if you copy files to/from NTFS-formatted volumes (eg USB drives) Ubuntu can still re-date the files to the current date. If you have many TB of data, it is crucial that file dates not be fiddled with… At a low level, OS needs to understand that adding permissions is NOT changing the contents, and hence a ‘copy’ of same content must retain same date as original (or the world falls apart). This is a very simple/obvious bug but I’ve seen some techs on Ubuntu forums argue it is a design feature!?!

2. Get WiFi working ‘out of the box’ 100% of the time. Utilities like ‘WiFi Radar’ are hopelessly under-featured. Most Win WiFi utilities will ‘scan’ and show you wireless routers in range, or auto-connect if non-encrypted. The Ubuntu util requires you to specify the DNS, SSID, … analogous to a paper-tape boot loader program of the 1960s. [Similarly, auto-detecting other wired-network available PCs could be made more intuitive.]

3. Install CD should have an easy way to re-install GRUB. Currently setting up a dual-boot WinXP-Ubuntu works like a charm, until you have to re-install the WinXP partition. M$ trashes the dual-boot, and unless you’re real expert, you end up trashing your Ubuntu install, simply to re-establish the dual-boot function. It would be so easy to have boot CD simple able to detect this problem (working Linux partition but GBUB removed) to re-establish GRUB.

4. Keep true to the idea of data vs program separation. Make it that if you backup everything under /home/ you will have backed up ALL of that user’s information. Currently, all documents, music, video etc is captured, but email files are off buried deep in program directories (a la M$ practice). The Mozilla Thunderbird crew claim this is ‘platform standard’ without seeing the parallel that documents are not stored under OpenOffice folders, but in user area. Settings for using the software (eg configs) ought be buried with app, but primary user data should be in user area (or at least one ought have a simple install-time option to put it there). Converting a user to Ubuntu OpenOffice is EASY compared to migrating that same user’s email to Ubuntu Thunderbird… and one is almost assured of losing address book data, as again that is kept buried in a non-configurable location.

5. WINE or VMware should be made far easier to ‘fire up’ a Windows app….

Having had those complaints, I must say that Ubuntu is otherwise fantastic, in terms of install ease etc. If you got me documenting the failings of WinXP-SP3, you’d see that Ubuntu is far superior. For one thing, in MSDOS 1.0 of 1981 removable media was ‘removable’ without pre-advising the OS of your intention to remove it. If you just waited a few secs after writing to a diskette, you could remove the diskette safely. Still now in Win-XP-SP3 27-years later, M$ does not flush out masterfile table (mft$) changes to removable drives when CPU cycles are available after writes, to allow hot-removal of such removable media. That approach is lame! Still more interesting is that while EXT3 and NTFS are supposedly both ‘journaling’ file systems, if you get a power failure under WinXP-SP3, you stand about a 10% chance of causing major corruption to the masterfile table. M$ then prompts to use its ‘CHKDSK’ utility, which doesn’t fix cross-linked files, but simply wipes data. The PC will then no longer boot to WinXP. And if you put that drive into a drive enclosure and try to mount it on another working WinXP system, you cannot recover any data (though you can use third-party commercial data recovery software such as GetDataBack for NTFS or Acronis). Yet mount that same failed NTFS volume on a Linux system and the data is all recoverable (copy it off then reformat). So the NTFS driver in the free Linux world outperforms the NTFS driver in the latest WinXP, even though NTFS is the native file system for WinXP (and an exotic one for Linux)!

Fix those few problems and we should get far more hardware manufacturers rushing to Ubuntu!!!
Graeme (prof at-symbol post.harvard.edu)

Reply
graemeharrison

The fuller details of M$ vs Linux unfair competition is at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_Documents
which is a good read in itself, esp at this 10-year anniversary of the leaked M$ documents about how best to undermine standards to provide lock-in of users. But I’ve cited the most juicy parts below:

[part extract of Wiki text starts here]
Marked “Microsoft confidential”, they identify open-source software, and in particular the Linux operating system, as a major threat to Microsoft’s dominance of the software industry, and suggest ways in which Microsoft could disrupt the progress of open source software.

These documents acknowledged that free software products such as Linux were technologically competitive with some of Microsoft’s products, and set out a strategy to combat them. The documents were embarrassing largely because they contradicted Microsoft’s public pronouncements on the subject.

… Together, these documents demonstrate Microsoft’s continued awareness that its open-source competitors are a potential threat to its livelihood in the software industry.

… the documents show that while Microsoft may be dismissive of open source software in public, it considers it a serious competitor in private.

While discussing ways of competing with open source, Document I suggests that one reason that open source projects have been able to enter the market for servers is the use of standardized protocols. It then suggests that this can be stopped by “extending these protocols and developing new protocols” and “de-commoditize protocols & applications.” This policy has been nicknamed “embrace, extend, extinguish”.

Document I also suggests that open source software “is long-term credible … FUD [fear, uncertainty & doubt] tactics can not be used to combat it,” and “Recent case studies (the Internet) provide very dramatic evidence … that commercial quality can be achieved / exceeded by OSS projects.”
[end of part extract of Wiki text starts here]

Reply
dwilde1

I heard a rumor that 10% of Dell laptops available with Ubuntu were going out that way. That’s a milestone.

If you look at the Intel whitepapers from their recent development conference, they openly tout their willingness to share graphics APIs with the open source community. That’s a milestone.

If you look at the rumor that Dell was a major factor in Broadcom’s recent Linux driver release for their NICs, that’s a milestone.

Enough of the distro wars, already. My eight-year-old is quite happy with Ubuntu except for the @#$%!! Doze games, and it just works for him. Me, I’m more happy with its total available software availability/compatibility than I am sad about its weird root user structure. I also love the documentation section in the package manager, a real help and a first to my knowledge.

And, yes, my 5 year old Inspiron quite happily runs Ubuntu 8.04, although I haven’t tried getting Dell’s latest drivers et al for it. I run Folding@Home on it 24×7 and it’s almost as responsive as my new four-core minitower with Doze. (and THAT’s much happier as a FreeBSD 7 server!)

Kick ASCII, guys! We got ‘em on the run!!!

Reply
samlaw

well. i’m new to linux; since start using it (ubuntu) it quite nice just issue of drivers specially for latest machine like i have dell latitude e4300 but most of the driver not available; like wireless, fingerprint, esata, contactless smartcard, webcam…. so if those not provide on time then not nice to have linux preinstalled.

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