back to article Dell Linux is go

Dell has finally chosen a Linux distribution to offer on its desktop and laptop machines. Following news that Michael Dell was running Ubuntu on his personal laptop, the company has followed suit and from late May Dell machines will ship with Ubuntu 7.04 as an option. There's no official word from Dell, but several sources …


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  1. Alexander Hanff

    US or International?

    Is this going to be another US only deal like the XP instead of Vista deal?

  2. Steve Roper

    I thought so

    Well, surprise, surprise! I just bought a Dell Inspiron laptop with XP NOT Vista, noting that Dell had reported a drop in sales when they offered only Vista on their machines, and had to bring back XP due to demand. Faced with the XP ban coming in next year, has Dell finally decided that rather than sink with Vista, they'll jump ship to Linux instead - just as so many others are saying they'll do?

    This is just what the doctor ordered - a major OEM shipping pre-installed Linux. THIS is what will bring Linux into the mainstream, not the fanboys extolling the virtues of open source, not the geeks pushing their grandparents onto Ubuntu, but support from major OEMs like Dell.

    Keep up the good work, Dell. Microsoft will give you loads of stick over this, using their typical anticompetitive dirty tactics. But if you hang in there with this, I will definitely be seriously considering your company as a supplier when I have to roll out our own company's hardware upgrades next year.

  3. Giles Jones Gold badge


    If this is all configured up nicely with all the hardware working perfectly then this is a significant news.

  4. oliver gillespie

    If it works it will be a mirical

    They will turn on all the flashy features then install their own 'special' support software and wonder why the systems are screwed up from day one.

    As a Geek who uses Windows, Mac and Linux with ease I would love to warn Dell build a pc that installs the OS fine, ship it as is and dont mess it up as you do with all the windows installs you ship!

    As such if any dist deserves to make it it is Ubuntu, dispite a few driver issues I have had with my new PC they are one of the best Dists going

  5. Rob Beard

    How much will it cost?

    While this is great for the Open Source community and customers, I can't help put wonder how much Dell will charge for Ubuntu to be preinstalled?

    Will they provide Ubuntu Linux media and will it be the 32-bit or 64-bit editions?

    I'll be tempted to recommend Dell IF they don't charge the earth for Ubuntu (fair enough, charge a bit for it to cover support/building and image etc) but I just hope it won't be as much as Windows.

    I'd also be interested to know how much this will be promoted by Dell? I oftern see the Dell advertisements in Linux Format saying that Dell recommend Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 2003 Server. Will we now start seeing Dell adverts in the official Microsoft Windows magazine saying that the recommend Ubuntu Linux?


  6. Clay Garland

    @ Steve

    I agree, now, let's just see if Dell has the grit to stay in it for the long haul. It's a tightrope walk for MS tho, they can't do anything overtly anti-competitive, but we all know that they will but the branding iron to Dell in whatever way they can. They could choose to increase the price that Dell pays to them decimating Dell's business model of razor thin margins and high volume, they could opt to not sell Windows to Dell at all, we'll just have to wait and see. I wish they would build a distro around KDE instead of Gnome since, in my experience, KDE seems to function more reliably in Ubuntu. Currently, I am unaware of an easy way to switch between the two. We'll see, but it's a step in the right direction.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You may know this already...but heres KDE on Ubuntu...

  8. florian mosleh


    imagine being able to buy a dell pc without quickbooks lite and a million other bits of bloatware pre-installed

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS and anti-trust stuff

    "they could opt to not sell Windows to Dell at all"

    I doubt Microsoft would get away with that, it would be too blatant an abuse of monopoly. It would be like Coke refusing to supply supermarkets that sell Pepsi, there's no way the courts would allow such a thing.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell recommends...

    ... Windows (no longer)

    ... that you start to forget Windows

    ... anything at all other than a Microsoft product

    ... something that ACTUALLY WORKS properly!

    ... Ubuntu Linux

    ... Linux


  11. Paul Stimpson

    KDE on Ubuntu is easy


    If you want KDE on your Ubuntu box here is the way to do it:

    Open Synaptic Package Manager in the System Menu

    Find the package just called KDE in the list

    Right click on it and select "install."

    Click "Apply"

    Go and have lunch whilst it downloads and installs about 200MB :)

    Log out.

    Type your username

    Press the little menu at the bottom left of the screen and hit "session".

    Select KDE.

    Hit OK (or whatever it's labelled as)

    Decide whether you want KDE to be your default.

    Enter your password and you're done.

    Good luck.

  12. Richard Preston

    Best of British

    Well, I wish Dell luck; I really do. Can't fault their choice of distro, but I hope for their sake they ship with the Gnome update monitor disabled: imagine their support lines when a kernel update gets released.

    Surely it can only be a matter of time before OSX becomes an option too? If Dell can control the hardware specs as tightly as Apple (and they must be able to), it would be a fantastic opportunity for Apple to get market share.

  13. Mark McGuire

    Score: MS-1000 Open Source-1

    This is the first big step to taking M$ down a notch. In my opinion M$ shouldn't die, it should just learn to compete. Some of the brightest work at M$ and if the company actually had to fight for business then all their products and services would get much better. All that infastructure and captital is too much to waste.

    Here's to hoping other companies follow Dell in this. As long as the ordinary consumer has the option we'll have a chance.

  14. Alexander Hanff

    Interesting Times Ahead of Us

    One thing I haven't seen anyone mention yet is the potential this creates for an IP patent war.

    Dell may have pleased 100s of thousand of Linux users today with this news, but you can guarantee they have pissed off 2 other parties:

    1. Microsoft will be pissed off. Not only have Dell undermined the launch of Vista and brewed distrust in the IT industry as a result, but now they have decided to offer machines with the evil Linux preinstalled.

    2. Novell are also going to be very pissed off, because Dell have chosen Ubuntu instead of Novell. I don't need to go over the rocky ground of Mark Shuttleworth's reputation among the Novellsphere but clearly with that in mind you can see Novell would be less than impressed with this situation.

    Now comes the crux. When you mix a nice little stew of contempt brewing from MS and Novell who just last year announced an agreement not to pursue each others customers for alleged IP infractions under patent law, this could end up quite a dirty afair. Given that Dell have not gone with Novell, they are not covered by the arrangement between MS and Novell potentially leaving them open to frivilous litigation from both parties.

  15. Martin Owens

    Support for bits?

    Interesting this is dated yesterday, according to Mark there would be two big news events this week, one which will dominate the media (my guess this one) so now I'm wondering what the other one will be.

  16. Albert

    All good

    Any major PC manufacturer supplying Linux preinstalled can only be a good thing for the industry.

    On the MS/Novell being up in arms. My expectation is that Dell will have signalled to MS that this could happen.

    So, no surprises there.

    I'm glad they chose Ubuntu as I just installed it last week, so more money for Ubuntu and better distro for me.

  17. Matthew

    Which is better?

    Ubuntu or Kubuntu?

  18. Richard Kay

    interesting times

    "Given that Dell have not gone with Novell, they are not covered by the arrangement between MS and Novell potentially leaving them open to frivilous litigation from both parties."

    1. Novell have publicly stated that the MS Patents they licensed are not needed for them to distribute Linux. No doubt someone at MS got promoted for sending a large sum of money Novell's way in exchange for the insinuation that US companies need MS patent cover to run Linux by including a smaller fee the other way for covering Novell use of MS patents. Baring a few teeth and a hint of a growl to spread a bit of FUD, but no bark or bite here.

    2. SCO discovered the hard way that initiating high-profile frivolous lawsuits against well-funded Linux companies causes customers to depart in droves. SCO is not expected to survive the next 12 months on account of this and neither Novell, as one of the parties fighting SCO nor Microsoft are ignorant of this outcome. Patent troll companies are another matter. These can do real damage to a small US business, because a patent troll company doesn't need to consider customer goodwill to obtain or maintain their source of income. All they have to do to run a protection racket is intimidate businesses too small to afford the cost of patent litigation - but that is a problem for relatively small and uninsured US businesses.

  19. J

    Interesting indeed...

    I was expecting Dell to go with Novell, or at least OpenSuSE, because of the MS/Novell devil's pact. But they didn't, and I couldn't care less. As long as it's Linux, I'm happy.

    Now, I hope that people reward Dell now. They're (hopefully, let's see if it's not just hype like last time) taking a big step and pioneering something among the big OEMs. Let's not be cheap and demand they sell their Linux boxes for $100 less than the Windows boxes. I'll gladly pay the same for either one (but obviously not more for the Ubuntu box than the Win box), if only to reward Dell for this move. No matter the price of Ubuntu compared to (hasta la) Vista. Let's give Dell a lot of profit so other OEMs get nervous and follow suit! Or not.



  20. Chris Beckett

    Novell angle

    A quick thought on the Novell angle :-

    - Firstly, this news is TBC (though I think we all know it to be good intel) so don't think Dell will flog only the one distro

    - Dell are working with Novell to certify hardware with both the server and desktop variants of SuSE Linux Enterprise 10, perhaps this is just taking longer than with Ubuntu (FWIW, I run SLED10 flawlessly on a Dimension 3100, no driver issues or nothin')

    - Why would Novell be pissed? I can only imagine they're chuffed - proper (albeit still limited) ISV/OEM support for desktop Linux can only help grow awareness and therefore sales

    - If Microsoft are pissed - GOOD. It's about time someone gave them a rattling. They've been getting away with anti-competitive practices for donkeys and I hope Dell don't yield to their special brand of "charm". Vista sales are crap and at last regular Joes and Joesses can see they have a choice.

  21. David Neil

    It's confirmed all right

    Dell To Offer Ubuntu

    LONDON, 1st May 2007 - Canonical and Dell are pleased to announce a partnership to offer Ubuntu 7.04 on select desktop and notebook products. This is a tremendous step forward for Ubuntu, our users and customers.

    More about the announcement is available on the Dell website, including a video interview with Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth.

    We believe that Dell’s decision is a strong endorsement of Ubuntu and to the work of many in coding, translating and promoting open source software. It is also testament to the demand that exists for Ubuntu.

    Canonical is honoured to play a leading role in making Linux more widely available to everyone.

    Jane Silber

    Canonical – Director of Operations

  22. Kevin Hall

    Publicity stunt

    The whole thing is absolutely irrelevant. Firstly most open source fans have no problem in installing their OS of choice. Second, if, as Linux is so often touted, so easy to install then having it preloaded is neither here nor there. Also, although 100,000 people have said they'll buy a system preinstalled with Linux there's no guarantee even 10% will pony up the money. Out of selling nearly 9 million PCs a year that isn't many, personally I would like to be the one antagonising Microsoft for what will be a lot less than 100,000 PC sales. Dell are just trying to drum up business as they're in trouble, their sales are down nearly 10% and market share has shrunk by 4%.

    I am frankly shocked at how naive most readers seem to be. No company the size of Dell or Microsoft has any interest whatsoever in fair competition. They all want to be the only game in town.

  23. Clay Garland


    Ubuntu generally has excellent driver compatibility, i.e. the only Distro to handle my Intel HDA audio's digital output out of the box.

    @ KDE!

    I know about kubuntu, and have it installed, but I'd like to be able to switch between the two easily to decide which delivers better performance.

  24. Mark McGuire

    Re: Publicity stunt

    Yes every single company is out for themselves, however, M$ is the most monopolistic of them all. With Dell, even if it is in desperation, striking a blow to the evil that is M$. If linux can get mainstream, then M$ will have to compete more and competition is good for consumers, which will either make M$ have their products at a better value (why pay $150 for a $75 product) or actually put time in to making their software.

  25. Blain Hamon

    This calls for guarded optimism

    If the license agreement is like it used to be, this is far from a dead cert for Linux/Kubuntu, etc. Firstly, it used to be that Dell et al had to pay the licensing fee for windows regardless of the os actually installed. In other words, it's possible that you'd be paying the Windows Tax even without a lick of MSFT code on the machine.

    Hopefully this isn't the case. But this still has another obstacle: Remember all the crapware that you get on a Dell system? That's not for the user, and it's not at MSFT's request. Instead, it's how Dell and others make profit, by selling you as advertisement to the crapware. If there's no such setup on the linux machines, there's a possibility that the linux option will be more, not less, expensive than the windows option, to offset that loss in advertising revenue. Hopefully, things will turn out well for this linux option, but it's got a danger of seriously backfiring, with Dell's pricing and flaky hardware giving Joe Six-pack an impression of FOSS of expensive and unreliable.

    Mr. Hall is right, in my assumption, that this is a proxy battle. That Dell's doing this for eyeballs and a better bargaining position with MSFT, the same reason why Michael Dell made noises about wanting to sell Dell boxes with OSX, even though it's a dead impossibility.

    Sorry, but history is against this notion of OSX on Dell. The last time Apple had clones was in the late 90s, and it almost killed Apple. One of Jobs's first actions was to end the licensing. Add to that the utter enmity between Apple and Dell, starting with the "Give the money back to the shareholders" comment. It's continued with advertisements, both Dell and Apple going at it. And finally, Jobs has used a Dell as the "Example of what not to do" when comparisons are done, be it on system looks (when the iBook G3/500 was introduced, Jobs brought out a Dell laptop: "Our backside looks better than their front") or on price/performance (When the Mac Pro was introduced, it was compared against a Dell system).

  26. Dieter Lunn

    Watch out

    I'll say yeah to an OEM installing Linux from the factory. But if this is anything like their FreeDOS offer in the US, I would watch the pricing because that is a bit of a rip-off. It costs more for the same laptop without Windows than with.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    about time

    Someday the MS tax will be a bad dream.

  28. James McGregor

    Crapware for Ubuntu?

    I wonder if Dell's software engineers are currently figuring out how to port all the bundled Windows crapware to Ubuntu. For example, Dell's insidious Support Tool, the invasive Network Manager, the useless wireless management tools, the crippled versions of Corel Paintshop or Snapfire, all of the crummy ISP preloads and, of course, the bloatware that is McAfee/Norton Internet Security. Or worse still, Google's Desktop and Toolbar. All crapware that the end user didn't want and has no option to specify whether or not it is installed on the computer that they've just forked out good money for.

    Dell, please take note. Don't bother porting anything. The first thing that any user with half a brain will do is slam in the OS CD (assuming that Dell supply one, which often isn't the case), flatten the box and build a nice clean crapware free one, which is what should have been shipped in the first place. Personally, I'd be willing (though not happy) to pay an extra tenner just to tick a box on the Dell website to state that I want just the OS and drivers installed on my new PC. Whether it be Ubuntu, Windows or whatever.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some people have a short memory

    Have people forgotten that Dell used to bill individuals in France who didn't want Windows on their machines 700 euros (roughly £450) on top of the price of the standard setup to *remove* the preinstalled software?

    Page in French:,39040745,39123895,00.htm


    Dell and HP against the generalization of selling PCs without an O/S.

    ZDNet France, Sept. 17th 2003

    After reimbursing a client who did not wish to purchase the software preinstalled on his PC, HP confirmed today that this was an exceptional situation. Dell, however, has found the solution: bill 700 euros for the uninstallation of the O/S and the software.

    Last month, August 29th, we told the story of Mickael Roger, the young man who, after purchasing a Compaq brand machine, managed - not without difficulty - to obtain reimbursment by HP France of the software bundled with his PC.

    Today, the manufacturer, who seems to be afraid of a flood of similar demands, insisted on setting the record straight via a press release in which it confirms its "commercial policy regarding preinstalled software in response to various press articles". "It was an exceptional case that will remain exceptional", the manufacturer confirmed.

    "HP wishes to reiterate that on its range of consumer microcomputers it offers a set of preinstalled software applications running on Microsoft's Windows XP operating system and perfectly adapted to the home or personal use for which the machines are destined. There is no option for the reimbursement of this software. Furthermore, this policy is in line with huge demand on the part of users and has been standard

    procedure within the profession for years."

    * No mention of software licenses

    However, this declaration does not mention the software licenses under which the software supplied with HP computers is supplied. This was the main argument on which Mickael Roger's action was based. It was written black on white that if the client did not wish to acquire this software, he could "contact the manufacturer as soon as possible in order to find out how to send the product(s) back and be reimbursed for

    it/them." This was in the contract dated March 1st 2002.

    When asked about this, HP was unable to answer and is currently checking to see if the contracts have been changed since the HP-Compaq merger at the beginning of this year.

    * An O/S-free Dell PC is possible: it's a 700 euro option!

    After HP, we decided to find out what the position of the world leader, Dell Computer, was. Dell differenciates between orders placed by companies, for which Windows is supplied as an option for 75 euros (at least that's what happened when the CNRS administrative services recently placed an order), and those placed by individuals for whom this option is unavailable according to comments posted on the "Detaxe" mailing list devoted to this particular kind of problem and hosted by AFUL (Association Francophone des Utilisateurs de Linux et des Logiciels Libres).

    When quizzed on this point by ZDNet, Dell declined to comment. However, a mere phone call to the manufacturer's customer service enabled us to confirm the above-mentioned difference. If we introduced ourselves as a company, we could have ordered computers from the Optiplex range without an O/S and save roughly 90 euros in the process. Things were more difficult if we introduced ourselves as individuals. In this case, customer service is far less amenable: "I'm sorry, Sir, but for that we have to bill uninstallation fees that are set at 700 euros." So, a basic PC from Dell, with an O/S, costs about 537 euros for a Dimension 2400. Without the O/S, the machine suddenly cops a 130% price hike...

    According to comments posted on "Detaxe", Acer and even Apple Belgium are other manufacturers who reimburse unwanted software to individuals.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux admins and power users, get ready!

    I just wanted to point out that any progress is progress. We have a lot of infighting going on over choice of distro, window manager, etc. It is all pretty much redunant at this point. The choice was Dell's to make. They chose Ubuntu.

    All I can say is that we (Linux SA, power users, developers) better get ready for a large influx of linux using consumers. Let's start cleaning up our support structure asap, as the old IRC and message board methods might not cut it for much longer. Since Dell chose Ubuntu, I'm actually going to have to re-read the "Upstart" docs (I currently use the old sysVinit).

    Best of luck everyone,

    Get ready,


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not both?

    How about having both XP and Ubuntu on the machines?

    It would give people time to wean themselves off of M$ as they would be unlikely to pay to move to Vista when they've already got all the pretty odds and sods in front of them.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I won't get Ubuntu until they ship it with KDE.

    I really find GNOME a pain. I won't even consider Ubuntu until it ships with KDE (they could ship both). The response of "well just download it" is fine and dandy for all with wideband connections, but if you don't then it is a real pain. There are too many excellent distributions that do use KDE (or at least include both) that I don't see any reason to switch.

    If this is Dell's choice and that's the only one they ship, and they don't give a price break, and they don't support Latitudes-what is the point.

  33. Clay Garland

    I find KDE.

    I find KDE to be the more windows like of the X managers. I like some of the features of both distros and wish that you could install only the features that you wanted.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Attention Idiots, there is Kubuntu for KDE!

    Hey, to all you people who keep posting about how Gnome sucks and how you won't use Ubuntu until they switch to KDE... There is an official and supported distro of Ubuntu called Kubuntu, which uses KDE! If you had bothered to read all the posts above, you would have noticed this. If you bothered to check Google before posting an opinion (type KDE and Ubuntu for example), you also would have found this out. I use Kubuntu myself, as I too like KDE more than Gnome. Even if you do happen to get a preinstalled Ubuntu with Gnome installation, as someone previously noted, you can easily add KDE in the package manager to make it the Kubuntu OS. Quit your bitching already and check it out... Must be noobs posting...

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