back to article Dell UK dances with Linux

Dell has taken its first major step into the open source world beyond the good ol' US of A. The PC assembler is to begin shipping the Ubuntu 7.04 Linux operating system on two of its Inspiron brand PCs. The company said that because there are no software licence costs associated with Ubuntu, it is able to offer the Inspiron …


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  1. Jon Hardcastle

    Cracking stuff....

    ... and about time too.

    But didn't they pilot a scheme some while ago with dead rat?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I know the boat has probably passed on discussing this - but given Dells are typically bought by relatively novice users - are they going to need better customer support to deal with all the Ubuntu inquires? Given the price of these desktops, it seems as if they are even more likely to be bought by novices.

    Or will it be sold in such a way to offer Windows as default and only offer Ubuntu to people who want it?

  3. Google

    Re: Hm

    Novices are the target market. Novices and users comfortable with any linux distro. I'd say my parents could be described as the former and myself as the latter and all of us use Ubuntu comfortably*. It's the computer users with the little knowledge of Windows that are going to be experiencing problems. People who want to continue gaming without knowing about wine or those who want to use their vb scripts.

    Anyhow, it's a good way to use your existing Windows cd and not bother buying another xp license or (horror) a Vista license.

    *I have now switched four machines to Ubuntu

  4. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Novice users

    Thing is, novice users will not know about some of the complexities of Windows either, installing drivers and new hardware will be beyond them.

    So long as the pre-installed OS works and detects their net and printer they will be happy.

    Of course a novice wouldn't get Linux anyway.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hm

    I think you're quite right, Dell is the typical choice (that I've seen) of the novice user and this might cause problems with inexperienced users coming across Ubuntu for the first time, despite how much friendlier it is than other Linux OS's.

    I would be interested to see though how it might alter the college/university scene. Students - and I've been one - live on a budget and buy a budget PC (Dell), if they need one. Would we start seeing an increasing trend of Linux/Windows aware graduates, and how would this knowledge transform the business workplace of the future?

    Introducing Linux to the mass consumer market isn't a bad thing, it offers genuine choice, but that choice still needs to be reinforced with a bit of what is to be expected from either Windows or Ubuntu/Red Hat/Suse. A little education can go a long way and I hope Dell do the right thing and not steer customers towards what is most profitable rather than what is most suitable. Don't forget Dell (if you ever read this), customers prefer good support and giving them what works best for them never hurt the company image. Give them the OS that suits them best and they'll keep coming back for more.

  6. Paul

    Yes, they did try to offer Linux, sort of...

    ...but I understand Microsoft did their old "you are the OEM, we are the daddy, and you will do as we bid" trick to put a stop to such radical ideas as offering other operating systems preloaded.

    They don't necessarily need *better* customer support (well, OK, perhaps they do, but that's not Linux-specific)

    They really just need to make sure the helldesk has some sort of clue about the product, even if that just amounts to updated scripts for them to read from.

  7. Richard Lloyd

    OK, anyone want to post up a link?

    I don't know about you, but I've no idea where these well-hidden Linux desktops/laptops are on the Dell UK site. If you go to the normal home laptop/desktop sections, it's plugging Windows and not a sign of Linux. Anyone want to post up a direct link to where these Linux machines are on the Dell UK site?

    BTW, the fact I can't find a link easily speaks volumes - it's very pathetic that Dell in both the UK and US "hide" the Linux pre-installs well away (even ridiculously giving the machine a different model number from its Windows equivalent).

  8. Douglas


  9. Richard Kitch

    How to order

  10. Edudata


    Just had a look at the base laptop model (Inspiron 6400). The equivalent Ubuntu Linux v the equivalent Windows Vista with MS Works loaded. Saving - 30GBP.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And if you follow that link what is the first thing you see?

    "Not sure Open Source is for You?

    The main thing to note is that when you choose open source you don’t get a Windows® operating system. If you are here by mistake and you are looking for a Dell PC with Windows®, please use the following link."

    Gotta love their commitment!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Linux support is an optional extra:

    No Ubuntu Support [Included in Price]

    30 Days Ubuntu Starter Support [add £39.99]

    1 Year Basic Ubuntu Support [add £80.00]

    1 Year Standard Ubuntu Support [add £169.99]

  13. Edward Rose

    People forget the organisations...

    Good to see.

    Dell's a popular one with companies and organisations which just want a cheap, cheerful wordprocessor. This is just perfect for them.

    Okay, *nix has faults, but it isn't beaten on networking as far as I'm concerned. And 'office' productivity is pretty darned good.

    That said, I've tried Ubuntu, wonderfully easy to install. But I found support and getting stuff working for Deb is actually more simple. Face it, Ubuntu is Deb so both can ultimtly look the same. Interesting choices made by these companies. Wonder if it's down to the sudo (XP style) setup in U.

  14. Chris

    Support Options

    Dell offer paid for support with their Ubuntu machines, which I think is supplied by Canonical, starting from £39.99 for 30 days.

    Plus you've got the Dell/Ubuntu fora which will help the cheapskates:

    BTW in order to find them via browsing you need to select say the Notebooks for Home option on the Home page and then on the left there's an 'Open Source PCs' link.

    I think that's one criticism of Dell's ubuntu machines is that you need to know they're there before you can find them. That's hardly pushing them to the mass market, is it?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell UK's Ubuntu page ...

    i notice the page has a link for "Unsure about open source, click here to shop for PCs with Windows", but the Windows PC pages do not seem to have "Unsure about spyware, viruses, etc? click to shop for Ubuntu". While clearly the 99.whatever% of malware that currently targets windows will grow with the *nix market (which hopefully will grow because of this), its not exactly balanced and even-handed behaviour.

    With regard to the previous comments about mroe support needed for Ubuntu users than Windows users, i disagree. Last month I spent two days rebuilding my 70-yr old dad's PC following a massive spyware invasion; Dell's customer support (yes, he bought Dell cos of an ad in the Sunday Times and they seemed cheap and helpful) were excellent and there is absolutely no doubt that their hardware support team are very good, but why did I have to call dell at all when all i wanted to do was reinstall XP Home? Cos they didnt ship ANY recovery disks or OS installation disks with the PC. Obviously that cuts costs - but not when they then need to send out ten CDs on next day delivery (OS plus drivers plus preinstalled apps), which couldve been shipped with the PC for an extra 10p or whatever.

    As an experiment on the "more support will be needed" front I might put the xubuntu livecd in his machine and see how he copes with it :-)

    What would be a really smart move is to preinstall the Ubuntu /Debian netinst onto a recover partition on the PC. PC goes wrong? Reboot into Recovery, hook up your broadband link and reinstall the OS. No customer support needed, and if it gets messy, at least you should be able to get online and let remote support people look at machine.

  16. Steven Hewittt


    Yeah, you can find it - If you are LOOKING for Ubuntu. If you follow the normal path of selecting your PC type, then the 530 model you don't get a choice - you just get Vista.

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  18. Jim Hughes

    Pay more for Linux?

    Curiously, if you spec up the Ubuntu equipped Inspiron 6400 to the same spec as that offered for XP or Vista, the price for the Ubuntu laptop is higher (405.37 vs 398.99).

    The basic spec Ubuntu laptop is cheaper (at 329), but adding a comparable processor (dual core), memory (from 512 to 1024), and optical drive (DVD/CDRW to DVD+/-RW) makes the Linux lappy more expensive.

    With pricing like this, smart Linux users will buy the Windows lappy, and install Linux themselves, whilst Dell will drop the Linux option due to lack of demand...

  19. Colin Guthrie


    Wow! They really hammer you on the upgrade prices!

    They want £141 quid extra for a 2Gb options (something that costs about £65 to buy independently) and they want £100 quid more for a 100Gb HD when you can buy a 160Gb 7200 disk for about £85....

    And you'd still have the original stuff too! Nuts.

  20. NIILL

    The Dell Vista version is cheaper

    Been on the Dell web site and I just did a basic spec Inspiron 530 (DC1.6Ghz, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD) and it came to £322.61 with Ubuntu; the same Vista Basic Home spec (with a free 250GB HDD upgrade) came to £300.24. Both prices included VAT & Shipping. I therefore fail to see the advantage of taking the Ubuntu option, as the whole idea of having a free OS is that the system price is cheaper... clearly not the case if Dell & MS are price supporting the Vista system. I use both Vista (Business Premium) and Ubuntu (7.04) and prefer Vista (with or without Aero), so personally a no-brainer.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    only for novices? HUMBUG!

    I put Ubuntu on my mum and dad's PC because I was tired of cleaning off viruses.

    they seem able to use it for what they want,

    solitaire games, email, web,

    and they haven't a clue on windows or linux.

  22. Robert E A Harvey

    Comparative pricing

    I also spec'd up similar windows and linux verisons - same cpu, same ram, same optical drive, year's support on both - and they were within 2 quid of each other.

    What is more, a higher spec laptop in the USA was about 30% cheaper until they dropped the 6400 altogether.

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