Linux and Dell - getting there?

Linux and Dell - getting there?


After running Ubuntu for almost a year now on my Dell Inspirion 6000 I wish it were available as an OEM on Dell laptops and apparently so do many other keyboard junkies.

Dell's customer collaboration site IdeaStorm demonstrates a clear demand for Dell laptops and systems to come with pre-installed Linux. This site was launched just 11 days ago. Dell launched the site, "to gauge which ideas are most important and most relevant to you. And we'll share those ideas throughout our organization to trigger new thoughts about how we evolve as a company." Looks like they want to know what we're thinking and we're thinking Linux and FOSS in a big way.

The top eight posts with some five times the ranking points of the nearest non FOSS post promote a desire for Linux, Open Office, Firefox, a Linux Laptop and no operating system install and Linux drivers. It seems the public has spoken to DEll and apparently they are listening.

"It’s exciting to see the IdeaStorm community’s interest in open source solutions like Linux and OpenOffice. Your feedback has been all about flexibility and we have seen a consistent request to provide platforms that allow people to install their operating system of choice. We are listening, and as a result, we are working with Novell to certify our corporate client products for Linux, including our OptiPlex desktops, Latitude notebooks and Dell Precision workstations. This is another step towards ensuring that our customers have a good experience with Linux on our systems." So says the Ideastorm site.

I'm hoping they soon give the option on all their laptops of a variety of Linux distributions? Given the pressure on Ideastorm, they must be thinking about it.

They have a FreeDos option series of laptops they call open-source n Series notebooks , but FreeDos is not exactly looking forward, but seems to me to be looking backward (compatabilitywise I guess). I suppose they must have some wicked agreement with Microsoft which might cause some grief if they start to distribute Linux. But all the same you can easily install a Linux Dist. on one of these systems.

According to Matt Domsch, Dell's Linux Software Architect, "For the last several weeks, we’ve been working to bring Latitude notebooks to the n-Series lineup.... Dell's Latitude notebook line now joins our n-series Dimension and OptiPlex desktops and workstations is now available, complete with FreeDOS on CD in the box—ready for you to install the Linux distribution of your choice. As with other n-Series products, Dell hasn't tested any particular Linux distribution and doesn't offer software support for running Linux on these, so we encourage you to join our Linux mailing lists and to use the one of your chosen distribution for community-based support."

I tried customizing a couple of the Latitude Laptops on the Dell E-commerce site to see if by some miracle I could get a Linux distribution on it instead of that behemoth; but alas you just can't, not yet anyway.

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Comments

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I wouldn't trust Dell to install any distro. I'd like the opportunity to buy a clean machine with no crapware installed. And obviously it would have to be cheaper, since I wouldn't be paying the Microsoft tax.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

It doesn't matter to me if Dell sold me a laptop with pre-installed GNU/Linux Operating System AND crapware but every piece of software must be Free Software and must also include the source code. I must also have full control of the computer system - this means no measures to prevent me from running and changing anything that needs to be improved. I also do not want to pay any Microsoft tax.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

The MS tax is $30 on their n-Series PCs (vs. XP home). Does not sound like much of a deal to me as a home user (who'd purchase just one PC). I don't mind paying $30 to have my PC ready to be used as soon as it arrives. But for a business that buys in bulk (+ upgrade to XP Professional) it adds up.

Another question: DO you really expect Dell install/support Linux free of charge?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

To me, the freedom aspect is more important than the cost aspect. If Dell invests money in pre-installing GNU/Linux (hardware certification, support staff, whatever), then it's perfectly okay to pay for that.

(GNU/Linux might be cheaper because there are no license fees. But then again, there are fewer customers. Anyhow, prize is not the point.)

What bothers me is that I have to pay license fees to Microsoft, who are all but friendly towards free software, just to replace Windows with GNU/Linux the first day the PC arrives. That doesn't make any sense.

guydjohnston's picture

While I'm not too bothered about having GNU/Linux preinstalled, I would like it if Dell started selling hardware which specifically works well with free (as in freedom) GNU/Linux systems. However, as they've neglected to mention freedom or the existence of GNU at any point, they may well just supply that hardware support with proprietary drivers. That would mean that Dell's support of "Linux" would be unlikely to provide any benefit to anyone who uses GNU/Linux because of the freedom it allows them.

--
GNU - free as in freedom

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

From their initial response, I'm not sure how far this is going to get Free Software.

"Your feedback has been all about flexibility" is only half the truth. Some of the feedback has been all about freedom.

Dell now says they'll certify their hardware with Novell. They don't say they'll preinstall Novell Linux, but can we be sure they'll install something free when the time comes or will they install, say, Linspire?

Will their "Linux" offering be "value-added" with proprietary nVidia drivers, Macromedia Flash and RealPlayer?

It'd be great to have Dell PCs sold with preinstalled GNU/Linux, but I think we should continue to comment at the IdeaStorm site so that there are at least some people who call the OS by its proper name. ;-)

guydjohnston's picture

Yep, we should continue telling Dell that we use GNU/Linux because of freedom, and asking them to call it by the right name. It's a good idea to join the 'Linux-Desktops' list at http://lists.us.dell.com/mailman/listinfo, and maybe some of the others, where our comments will probably have more impact.

--
GNU - free as in freedom

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'd really like to buy a laptop that has Free software drivers for all the hardware. Laptops that are made up of completely Intel hardware is a good start but I want to buy a laptop without requiring any payment to Microsoft.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I like my Dells. I like Ubuntu family of distros, I like F/OSSware. I use all three. Had Old Dell PCs- poof they got new life w/Ubuntu, one until processor finally went. Old Dell server at work- poof three more years running RedHat. Best thing to date is my new D620 never even booted fully into MSW - I put on the brakes, dropped in Ubuntu Edgy and poof- I love my new work laptop.

I wished Dells choice of wireless cards had better Linux support out of the box but gave up awhile ago, got an ASUS PC card and have used it in two PCs so far right out of box. And I wish more games played in Linux land but Crossover Office/Wine helps there a bit as does VirtualBox container running WinXP.

But, for the bulk of PC users out there, they want a PC to arrive at the door fully loaded, fully configured so all they do is plug it in and poof- email, internet, document creation, photo munging. Not sure Dell will get Linux distro(s) ones out there but maybe they can help, but not take over.

Right now I'm seriously looking at System76 product line for that second home PC I need :) and theres a 'open letter to Mark Shuttleworth' about getting Canonical into the hardware business.

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Chris Holt specializes in consulting for Government and NGO public health and social services organizations about software to assist with case management and patient management systems.
Check out his site at http://www.intuitech.biz.