Linux optimize

Dell and Linux: What's going on?


It's come to my attention that Dell has actually been listening to its users. They started something they call IdeaStorm to get feedback from userspace. They were apparently "flooded" with requests for laptops pre-installed with Linux. The IdeaStorm page was a wiki used as, most likely, a free "focus group" for the company. Hey, I'm all about using your resources! On this front page the first wiki entry was labeled "Pre-Installed Linux | Ubuntu | Fedora | OpenSUSE | Multi-Boot" and offered polls to get feed back and leave comments. Well, as of my reading, there were 588 comments on the entry. I think Dell is getting the feedback they desire.

But what are they going to do with that feedback? Dells' response:

As this community knows, there is no single customer preference for a distribution of Linux. In the last week, the IdeaStorm community suggested more than half a dozen distributions. We don't want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another. We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems. In addition to working with Novell, we are also working with other distributors and evaluating the possibility of additional certifications across our product line. We are continuing to investigate your other Linux-related ideas, so please continue to check here for updates.

Ah yes, the old "we've listened to you and want to please you...BUT!" Now I'm not completely dogging Dell. At least they are trying. But it seems what they are trying to do is get the open source community's attention by saying "you want laptops with pre-loaded Linux? We just might ship them." In the end, however, they just wind up saying "You see - it's too hard to please everyone so we're just going to ship laptops that we certify will install your distribution of choice."

Okay - that helps those already in the know. The l33t will be able to get a laptop they know will work with Linux. But what about the segment of the computing community that Linux NEEDS to reach out to - you know, the ones that have no idea what a distribution is! What they need are shiny new laptops that arrive at their door pre-loaded and ready to rock the open source way. THAT would be a boon to the Linux community.

Of course there are a few small-time companys that will ship you a laptop pre-loaded with Linux - if you want to shell out FAR too much money for an underpowered piece of machinery that will run Linux. That's not the way the PC industry works now (unless you're Apple). The PC industry works by selling cheap hardware with a pre-installed OS so the user has to do little work to make the hardware useful. 

That's what Dell needs to bring to the Linux table. And they can do it. Pick a distribution and stick to it. Ship SuSE Linux. The users that NEED a pre-installed distro won't care. And if those users WANT to install a different distro, more than likely it'll work.

There - you kill two birds with one stone. Everyone is happy. And in the end, Dell makes a bit more money. 

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
jlwallen
jlwallen

Dell said this week: "The company said today that the note was just about certifying the hardware for being ready to work with Novell SUSE Linux, not an announcement that the computers would be loaded and sold with the operating system in the near future..." What do you think of that? Backpedaling? Or was it a case of the Linux community jumping the gun?

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

Dell needs to work with the Linux kernel community of developers, and take them up on their offer to develop Linux drivers for Dell-implemented hardware. Dell should also push its hardware suppliers to do the same. Check out the Jan 2007 announcement/offer at http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS8802144045.html To me, driver support is almost more important than certifying that you can install a distro. What's the point of having the certification if some of the hardware, or enhanced features of that hardware don't work? Once you?ve got a strong driver base, then you can really start working on figuring out which distros they will pre-install. My 2 cents anyways!

mbbs
mbbs

I totally agree that a more widespread of Linux (mainly on the desktop) depends on the availability of HW drivers. I recently installed UBUNTU, to check if I can replace Wxp by Linux. I like the desktop & available apps, but I'm about to throw out Linux because my HW is not supported. Compared to Windows, I loose half of the things I regularly use (scanner, midi keyboard, PDA sync) I asked help for this in several Linux forums, but apparantly my HW in totally unsupported in Linux, and I am not prepared to buy other HW to be able to use Linux Marc

tracy_anne
tracy_anne

Once the driver support is solved, it won't matter which distro Dell choose. The tech heads can install the distro of their choice later, just as they currently do with the machines pre installed with windows.

HomusOnline
HomusOnline

Why doesn't Dell just stick to what worked on this subject in the first place. We (Dell) have X amount of distros that were identified by these users, we can only cost effectively work in Y of them. Which ones would you like to see most. Sure, it may leave out some of the users favorites. But at least it would start to make these options more readily available to those users that have been cornered by Windows. As open source is about the public, why not continue to ask the public?

apotheon
apotheon

If they really wanted to provide the OS of choice, within a narrow range of common options, the lineup of OSes would look something like this (in alphabetical order): Debian GNU/Linux Fedora Core Linux (and/or RHEL) FreeBSD Microsoft Windows OpenSUSE (and/or Novell SUSE Linux) [b]Here are some reasons I left out some other options:[/b] [b]Gentoo[/b] Anyone using Gentoo is going to want to do his/her own install anyway, with only the very rarest of exceptions. There's no real business point in offering Gentoo pre-installed. [b]OpenBSD[/b] If you want OpenBSD pre-installed, you've entirely missed the point of OpenBSD somewhere along the way. One of the precepts of security in the OpenBSD community is that you don't trust others' binaries. [b]Slackware[/b] Nobody really uses Slackware that doesn't know better than Dell how to install Linux anyway. They'd just end up wiping the factory install and redoing it from scratch out of frustration with the default config from Dell. [b]Ubuntu[/b] They might also throw Ubuntu in there, just for marketing value, though the major benefit of Ubuntu over Debian for some people is that installation and default config are "user friendly" toward recent transplants from Microsoft-land. Since configuration can be made whatever you like with Debian, and things like stability, default security, and software availability are better with Debian than with Ubuntu, providing Ubuntu as well as Debian is redundant while providing it instead of Debian is kind of a bad choice unless the marketability of the Ubuntu name right now is really just [i]that important[/i]. [b]Xandros, Linspire, PCLinuxOS[/b] You're kidding -- right?

d_duncan
d_duncan

Dell could be really brave and ship without any OS. After all those who want Linux can load up their own distro. Either the corporate preferred flavour with approved apps or home users with whatever distro is on the cover of a magazine this month. Doug

apotheon
apotheon

The primary reason I haven't bought a Dell is the simple fact that Dell uses second-rate hardware.

Tech_Monkey
Tech_Monkey

the primary reason i havent bought a Dell is because Dell doesnt give the option to NOT have the OS preinstalled.