back to article Dell moves 40,000 Ubuntu PCs

Dell agreed to ship PCs and laptops with the Ubuntu operating system after more than 130,000 people promoted the notion on the company's IdeaStorm web site. It would seem, however, that only a fraction of these zealots were willing to back their votes with cash. Dell has shipped close to 40,000 systems pre-installed with the …


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  1. E

    It's a fair statement.

    "Ubuntu fans are urged to hold back their virtual quills of vitriol..."

    I hope they don't get mad at you. I think that Redhat, SuSE, Fedora and Debian must account for the vast majority of the Linux 'market'. Ubuntu cannot be a very large player, though perhaps Dell will change that.

    Ubuntu is OK if you want a polished faintly Mac-like desktop that makes it as hard as possible for a newbie to access the raw power of Linux/UNIX.

    Now they can get mad at me instead!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Dell will cave...

    As much as I'd like to see an open source OS thrive in a commercial market (oxymoron, I know...), I honestly believe that Dell will crumble again... Besides, as it's been said countless times, the lack of big name software publishers, like Adobe or some of the really big game houses, is going to absolutely kill *nix as a viable solution to the shit Microsoft continues to poison the IT industry with.

    Let's face it, in the consumer market, base hardware is pretty much irrelevant anymore... It's all about the peripherals and available application base. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, if something like Halo 1 were released for Linux, you'd probably see a huge increase in IT employees calling in sick (providing the video drivers were up to snuff). I'd even venture to say that the frenzy would be akin to sharks feeding, if it were a perfect world for the publishers.

    The biggest problem with Linux apps are their portability and thus fairly easily copied, cracked & hacked... Companies like Bungie, EA and Adobe aren't charitable organizations, nor are they [that] stupid. They're going to stay where the money is. And unless the open source user community is willing to belly up some cash and prove that they're willing to play by the rules of capitalism then I rather doubt we're going to be given a larger catalog of applications to pick from.

    So, I think after the initial shock wears off, you will see Ubuntu quietly go the same way as Red Hat, as an option in the Dell product offering...

  3. J

    Not mad at all, but...

    I'd have to point out, E, that while I agree that in some respects the GUI of Ubuntu (specially the vanilla, GNOME-based one) is calculated to look dumbed down a bit compared to others, I see that the program to access the terminal is exactly in the same place as it is in all other distributions I've seen: buried inside some menu (in the case of Kubuntu, System, I don't remember what it is in my old SuSE 9.2 I use at work but I suspect it's similar). And that is where the "raw power" is. That's why the first thing I do after installing any distro is adding a shortcut to the terminal just beside the virtual desktop switcher (aka Pager). Even better, I assign the "Win-T" key combination to Konsole and don't even have to reach for the mouse. :-)

    Now, 40,000... Nice number. Until you compare to 10 million. Per quarter. Gee... Oh well, maybe that's 40,000 that they would have never sold to these people after all. Anyway, that's a nice number, compared to 130,000 asking for it. I mean, more than 30% willing to put their money where their mouth is? I'd say it's surprising, even if they are not all the same people for sure... I'm happy as long as I am using it, that's what I care for really. ;-)

  4. Alan Donaly

    Not sure if this is good or not.

    Considering the somewhat blunted nature of Ubuntu and Dell for that matter it's something I hope people find them useful.

  5. Ray

    It's partly Dell's fault

    I tried to order an Ubuntu box. Dell couldn't sell it to me because it was only available to "home" users, but I had a business account. So I had to order a similar box with XP and format it.

  6. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up


    well, yes, a third is indeed 'a fraction'. it's quite a *large* one, though. I'd say that's a rather good ratio of voters to purchasers.

  7. Trix
    Dead Vulture


    What Adam Williamson said. I think an uptake of about 30% from what a bunch of anonymous voters professed on the Intarwebs is an amazingly good result, actually.

    Of course, next to 10m machines per quarter, that's a drop in the bucket... but so is 130,000.

  8. Christian Hass

    It's a great initiative

    But from what I've seen the good offers still only apply to the Windows machines and the choice of hardware is too limited on the Ubuntu ones making it more appealing to just buy a windows machine and install Ubuntu afterwards.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Offer more than bottom of the range hardware!

    They only offer one bottom range PC and one bottom range laptop with Ubuntu, if they offered ubuntu across the range, say for example on the XPS laptops then I would by from dell with Linux pre-installed. As it is I purchased and XPS laptop (with Vista pre-installed) and have had to replace the OS with Linux (ubuntu!)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Since the Ubuntu PC option is about the same price as a VISTA/XP option, what do they expect. The people who voted for it probably had some hope that they would see the cost benefit of Linux appear on the Dell website, and then it didnt quite materialise exactly as hoped. Still 30% aint bad, and if you put Mandriva on it I may even go for it myself :-P

  11. xxx

    The masses don't know...

    I think its a great number 40000, keeping in mind that the masses simply don't know about the choice Dell offers. If you go to the Dell's website or any Dell shop, you will not see any advertisement for the linux boxes. I just went again to Dell's site, you REALLY have to dig somewhere to finally find the linux option. Considering this, I find the number of 40000 pretty good. Can you imagine what would happen if Dell would simple put a nice looking desktop/laptop clearly visible on its site and in its shops (or agents)... the number of people exposed would increase immensely, as would the number of sold linux boxes. It is simple as that. Look what happened in Taiwan with Asus' Eee mini laptop thingy. They sold one, each 2 seconds! All with linux on it. I live in HK and here we have very nice computer malls with lots of little computer shops, and many have this Asus product... loads of people are buying it. (they love gadgets here) but I bet most buyers don't have a clue what linux is. Its all about marketing and exposure... if you combine this with the superiority in many fields of linux, you will have a clear winner. Dell or any other major player must see a reason to push the linux options more, for now its hidden somewhere in their websites. That's a shame. Again 40000 is therefore a good result and clear indicator that they can sell shitloads of them if they only wanted to.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Dells choices....

    As Ray has already noted I also actually had to buy a vista laptop from Dell and put Ubuntu on board.

    Not that I wanted to, its just that the Dell Laptop with Vista runs like a dead dog.

  13. JohnnyG

    The poll was worldwide, the laptops are only available in a handful of countries

    Another factor in 130K voting and only 40K buying is that whilst you could vote wherever you lived in the world, the laptops are only available in a handful of countries.

    For example, I voted, but live in Ireland, where these things are not available.

    I did actually buy one for my sister in the UK (though had to order by phone).. working very nicely too. Bizarrely, the machine itself was built in Ireland.

    Other factors to consider are that only one laptop model and one desktop model are available -- so many may not have wanted that model and decided to pay the Microsoft tax on another machine.

    Add to this the fact that the availability of these machines is not exactly displayed in banner headlines on Dell's site.

    Overall, not too bad a response.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @The poll was worldwide, the laptops are only available in a handful of countries

    I agree. I just went through Dell Malaysia's website and the only offered choice is Window$. And the only AMD-based model offered is the low-endian one.

    I would gladly pick up a Dell box if they'd sell me an AMD machine with SLI and Linux.

  15. Danny

    Small steps

    "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

    - Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu. Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)

    Kudos to Dell. Now add Linux across the range.

  16. Daniel


    who cares? what's in it for them to offer a pc with an os on it that can be downloaded for free anyhow?

    I wish they'd just offer a bare bones PC with no OS on it, at all. Then you avoid having to pay for windows, and just download whatever distro you like. That means that you can install it as you like (for instance, with a very simple partition scheme and no LVM gubbins to annoy when you try to to rebuild a kernel ...)

    And while we're at it, I wish that Ubuntu, Cent, and the rest would *stop* pretending that they are the great big scary giant slayer (dream on, f**kwits), and offer a version that reflects what they do best. That is, a version with Gnome/KDE, all the basic dev tools, and *not*:

    - Open Office

    - stupid games that noone wants to play

    - CUPS

    - bluetooth stuff

    - so-called secure linux stuff

    - power management features

    and all the rest of the gubbins.

  17. Jocke Selin

    Another point of view

    I just popped into the Dell online store, and chose a computer that I might buy if I'm not that interested in computers. So, a desktop, of a slightly lower spec but not the lowest. I went to the configuration page... and I chose my processor, and then it was time for my operating system; Vista Home Premium (included in price), Vista Ultimate (+£94!!), XP Pro (+£34.95 for an old OS!)....

    Where's Linux...?!?! There is no Linux option. So, isn't it a bit unfair to even drop the total number of sold systems into here as you can't even choose Linux amongst the total number of systems sold?! You have to know you want Linux if you're going to get it from Dell - and through my clicking on the site, I saw no symbols or information about Linux. They might have been there, but they didn't catch my eyes. In my opinion, selling 40,000 units of this hidden computer is quite a feat! One could also assume that the Joe-average-computer-buyer will never ever even be subjected to any information about Linux, let alone any sort of propaganda about why they should buy it.

    I applaud Dell's efforts and I can only hope that they open the Linux effort up to the average consumer - at least give them the option to try it out.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem with Linux for home users...

    I'm a big fan of Linux, and would never run Windows on a server, given the choice. But on a desktop, I need Windows, mainly because I need MS Office. Without it, I can't synchronise my (Nokia) smartphone with my calendar and contacts, and the little compatibility niggles between MS Office and OpenOffice would cause problems for my clients. Also, I wouldn't be able to test the web sites and applications I develop in Internet Explorer, which is vital for my business.

    Regarding the mass market, if all someone wants a home PC for is web-browsing, email, multimedia and typing the odd letter, there's no doubt many of the Linux distros around can fulfill this. But, most people will either get a knowledgeable friend or a professional home IT support person to set their computer up, because they don't know what they're doing. And most of those (apart from the odd Mac specialist) don't know their way around Linux, so people will continue to go for Windows, and then get annoyed when they find they have to pay extra for Word and Excel.

    So, in my opinion, until these issues are resolved or there's a strong marketing push from someone like Dell for Linux (and is it really in their commercial interests potentially to sour their relationship with MS?), Linux will (regretably) continue to be a niche OS in the desktop/laptop market.

  19. Martin

    Rubbish model

    I looked at buying a Dell laptop with Ubuntu pre-linstall but they only sell it on a crappy low end machine. If they offered it on a top-of-the-range machine I would by one tomorrow.


  20. D. M

    Re: bleh

    Daniel, your idea will kill Linux.

    The only way Linux can develop big and become competitive is exactly what Ubuntu, Mandriva are doing. You must make Linux user friendly and include most common applications average users would use.

    I recently blow way windows XP and installed Mandriva on my father's laptop. He have no tech knowledge about computer/OS, and as majority of users, just want the machine "work". I had a few problems with Linux setup to do what he wanted it to do. but at the end, apart from one last thing I need to work out, he can just use the machine to do what he wants it to do. That's the most important for him.

    OpenOffice is important for Linux, users need a application they can use and able to exchange document with the rest of windows world. And guess what, average users do play card games that "no one wants to play"., same as bluetooth stuff/power management/etc.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell / Ubuntu numbers

    The truth is nobody knows how many of each distribution are run on what hardware. I personally have 3 Dell systems right next to me at work, one running XP and the other 2 running Ubuntu 7.10, and another Dell at home running Ubuntu 7.10.

    I looked at the Dell/Ubuntu combo, but it was limited in range, so had I been buying at the time it would be a different system, and get Ubuntu added later.

    I prefer it by far if Dell just sold raw hardware, and as an optional extra installed whatever software you want, if any. Makes no sense to me to have to pay for them to install anything.

  22. OneTwoThreeFour
    Paris Hilton


    They might actually want to make Ubuntu run on Dell hardware first - it hates everything about my Inspiron notebook. No wireless, power features...

    The problem with Linux is that when it works it's good and when it doesn't it's impossible to get it work without spending hours and hours googling and typing commands at the terminal. It's a complete gamble as to if it works with anything and is a complete pain in the ass - the fact Linux is an exceptionally flaky OS is the reason it hasn't gone onto the desktop. Generally, it is a pain in the ass to use unless everything you want happens, by some miracle, to work out-of-the-box.

    Example: at the start of the year all of my flatmates (including me) converted to Ubuntu full time. That's 4 of us. Of those, only three had a working system (mine was basically unusable with Ubuntu). After two months, only 1 was still using Ubuntu (and that was only because he'd been using it before we started). One guys' new monitor refused to work with Linux regardless of what he done so back to Windows it was, and after a month of battling the other guy just decided it was too much effort to get anything whatsoever working on it. Oh, and by the way we're studying computing at Uni....

    When they make an OS that has standard applications that are easy to install, an intuitive GUI for doing configuration, better hardware support, more common-sense everything it might be desktop-friendly.

    As it is desktop Linux will never work - they should go back to the drawing board and write a desktop OS from scratch.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised they even sold one

    I heard that dell were going to sell ubuntu laptops so i waited until the became available. When it was announced that they were available I went to their website and tried to find them, I even used their search box, no luck. I only found the page from a link on slashdot. They were only offering a couple of crappy models. I went and brought a Samsung Q45 and nuked the vista install.

    40,000? Its a bloody miracle. If Dell want their customers to put their money where their mouth is maybe Dell should start by doing the same.

  24. jim

    sell volume dell ubuntu

    40 thousand is sales is fine i think. of the people that said they wanted dell to offer linux--i am sure many already had linux loaded on their pc and will only need to buy a dell linux machine when they are ready for an upgrade or replacement.

  25. Jon Cutting


    "When they make an OS that has standard applications that are easy to install, an intuitive GUI for doing configuration, better hardware support, more common-sense everything it might be desktop-friendly.

    As it is desktop Linux will never work - they should go back to the drawing board and write a desktop OS from scratch."

    I'm not studying computing, I'm a builder, but I have installed and configured Ubuntu on 5 systems to date, one of them a laptop (which was indeed something of a dog but I learnt a massive amount in the process). I've only really had problems with 2 Canon scanners and a Canon printer, and the printer actually works now with the latest release (7.10).

    I would have seriously considered a Dell laptop but the price was no better than the Windows alternative, and the spec was pretty basic. Not to mention the fact that you have to be a St Bernard to sniff out the relevant page on their website.

  26. randomtask

    Am I the only one to notice...

    the correlation between the 40,000 Ubuntu PCs sold by dell and the 40,000 pints of Guinness stolen recently. Is this some crazed marketing ploy by Guinness and Dell, a free Ubuntu with your pint or vice versa!

  27. Andraž Levstik

    RE: The problem with Linux for home users...

    I can easily sync up evolution with my nokia and palm... so don't see what issues you have... I agree that msoffice is a good product... and ms should try to sell it on the linux as well... not that that will happen even if hell freezes over an infinite amount of times

    And a user that only needs browsing/email/docs doesn't really need a knowledgeable IT person around since with linux they wouldn't hit 90% of the issues that happen on windows... And the other 10% could be most likely solved by a reboot of some sort...

  28. Chris

    @Dell will cave

    "The biggest problem with Linux apps are their portability and thus fairly easily copied, cracked & hacked... "

    Eh? You clearly have no idea do you? A proprietary product on Linux or Windows has the same chance of being hacked - the OS makes no difference.

    I think you're confusing Linux with Open Source. The majority of apps on Linux are open source and so can be 'hacked', but there are lots of paid-for and non-Open Source apps available on Linux, which can't.

    I also think the number of 40,000 is encouraging, but I do think Dell could do more to make Ubuntu a more attractive option:

    1. Actually advertise it - duh!

    2. They've only recently put the word Linux on the link to them rather than just the rather non-specific 'Open Source'.

    3. If you upgrade the basic Ubuntu model it then becomes *more expensive* than the equivalent Windows model. That's a stupid artifact and needs removing.

    As has been pointed out before many people buy a Windows machine, but still put Ubuntu/Linux on it. This can be for several reasons; a safety net, a cheap way of getting Windows for occasional use, the Windows model is cheaper or not available with Linux, etc. So the 40K figure is an underestimate.

    Clearly, Dell has to make a business decision on whether to continue supporting Linux, but I think the demand will only get stronger as more people become aware of the possibilities of Linux.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Linux is more expensive than MS OS's (apparently)

    went to Dell's website, built two systems that were **almost** exactly the same, one with XP and one with Ubuntu. Ubuntu system cost £20 more; system with XP whilst being £20 cheaper also had a bigger HDD (~200GB compared to the Linux offering of ~160GB).

    WHY? I asked Dell this via their online chat function; their answer? "That's a marketing question, prices fluctuate, come back and check again soon". What a load of old toss.

    I would like to buy the Linux box, but won't now as I feel cheated that a system bundled with a free OS is more more expensive than a system bundled with a chargeable OS (with the same hardware).

  30. David

    Why just Dell?

    I seem to recall that there are other large computer makers in the market. How about HP, they sell direct, and after a couple of minutes on their UK site I could surmise that they only sell Windows, and Vista at that (no XP options).

    Or is it they just don't want the competition for HP_UX? Cough, cough.

  31. Anonymous Coward


    Studying "Computing" at University these days, I am amazed you could even assemble a PC, let alone install an OS correctly....

  32. Ash
    Gates Horns

    Just got Ubuntu working on my home PC...

    Maybe some of the folks who voted, like me, already had a PC which he wanted Linux on, but didn't have the technical wherewithal to perform the task himself? Or wanted some support for it if it went wrong?

    I wouldn't buy a Dell PC, but anything to help some other chap save himself some pennies on the Microsoft Tax seems a good cause to me.

  33. D. M

    RE: Hummm

    That was strange, what do you do at uni?

    Myself is a total Linux noob. I know pretty good deal about windows and general computing (I studied an worked for years in IT), I even had the useless M$ certificate when it was "hot".

    To be honest, I did have a few problems with Linux setup, but it is nothing new comparing what I've been doing for living and my experience with windows. These days, Linux is no worse than windows in term of "make it work". Most of things just work straight out of box. For the things don't work, you don't have more trouble than what you'd do in windows. I found it is very odd that you have monitor problem with Linux.

    Now consider this: since most people will have to ask a handy friend or pay for some else to look after their computers, what different it makes between windows and Linux? If both have the same kind of applications software that users want, do you think average user will know any difference at all?

    I said it before, what things that limit Linux use:

    1. Application software (include games, hell, games might be the only thing windows is good at).

    2. Hardware drivers support (getting much better now, even Canon printer works now).

    3. FUD (M$ fanboyz, Mac zealot, M$ itself).

    4. User don't know what Linux is (most of them only heard about M$).

  34. Dave

    Price Gouging

    As others have mentioned, the Ubuntu machines on offer appeared to have worse hardware and no price advantage, making it more cost-effective to buy the Windows machine with the special offers and the MS-tax and then wipe the disk and put Linux on afterwards. That's what I did, although my laptop predates the Ubuntu offer.

    Perhaps when Dell can offer the machine with no OS at a base price and then add the cost of the OS on top of that, more people will buy the straight Linux box. Even if the Linux price is non-zero because they're paying people to write some device drivers...

  35. The Power Of Greyskull

    Can't think of a title

    I'm a big Linux fan, but I bought a laptop with Windows. I reformatted the disk and installed Ubuntu. I bought the laptop (not a Dell) last Christmas as it was a blinding offer.

    It's a bit annoying that I have, by proxy, given Microsoft a few quid for something I'm not using (a Windows licence).

    What's my point? It's the bottom line. The price you pay. Yes, a Dell with Linux might be cheaper than a Dell with Windows, but I'll go for another brand with Windows if the price is right, then erase the stain that is Windows.

    OT - I resurrected an old laptop and put PCLOS Linux on it. I gave it to my dad who was having no end of grief from his Windows system (poor performance, bubblefests, adware, crashes, BSOD etc). You know what? He hasn't had ONE SINGLE PROBLEM with it in over 6 months.

  36. Daniel


    um, try reading properly. I don't say to kill Open Office, the Ubuntu Desktop, and all the rest. (Although I do believe that you are fantasising if you think that it ever will "compete" with the big commercial OS vendors.)

    I am just saying *please* can we also have a nice simple *developers* distro that doesn't have all that stuff on there? There are those of us out here who *really* appreciate Linux as a dev environment, but are not really interested in it as a windows-wannabe ...

  37. Andrew

    Ubuntu versus Mac

    Hey - we have some concrete figures here and no one has commented.

    "Dell ships more Computers with Ubuntu than OSX."

    I'm guessing this is a good level of FUD :P

  38. Adrian Midgley

    we don't buy PCs/laptops every year

    The 130 000 can reasonably be expected to buy one PC each per 5 years.

    That makes 40 000 in part of the first year look like a rather high proportion[1], not that there is any information on the concurrence between the suggesters and the buyers.

    [1] more than 100%, not 30% not that I'd rely on the rate remaining constant

  39. Ben Jury
    Thumb Up

    Why so few lines?

    Personally I think its great Dell are offering any Linux, but why o why is it only on certain machines?! I would have been so happy to have Ubuntu on the laptop I just bought from them.

    And to the kids who don't want Ubuntu for what ever reason, whats the problem? Just install over it, at least then you haven't paid the MS machine tax!

  40. Simon Westerby
    Thumb Up

    @ Daniel - Dev distro

    Have you tried Centos? Sounds like its just what you need ...

  41. Jim D

    I'm one of the 130,000

    But not, yet anyway, one of the 40,000 who have already purchased one of Dell's Linux computers. I am writing this (at work) from a Dell desktop running SLED 10 and at my other job, have Fedora installed on another Dell desktop. Both work great. At home I have two other computers, one a home built and the other an HP, both of which run Linux. I don't own, or even have ready access to a MSWindows computer. Not even sure if I would know how to do anything with one if I had to.

    I am in the market for a Linux laptop and am giving serious consideration to the Dell offering, but am hesitating for two reasons. First, the hardware does seem to be a bit low end, and secondly, since Dell has not yet moved to Ubuntu 7.10, I'm not certain that they intend to continue supporting these units.

    While Linux can be installed with relative confidence on almost any desktop unit, laptops can present challenges with wireless, hibernate and suspend modes, and possibly a few other areas not relevant to desktop installs. For those reasons, before I drop $1000 or so on a machine, I would like to know that everything will work. And to me knowing that it will work means that it will work with Linux.

    I intend to make a decision soon since I get paid quarterly on one of my jobs and I will be getting a large check on January 1, a portion of which will be going towards the purchase of a laptop. Whether I buy a Dell Ubuntu machine or take my chances on getting one and blowing Windows away is yet to be decided. If Dell were to expand their offerings and provide me with a bit more confidence that they were really interested in supporting Linux offerings, they would be assured of at least one more sale.

  42. Daniel


    I'm sitting in front of about four CentOS 5 machines right now ... doing kernel recompiles on one of them. But there was no install option that didn't have all the office/desktop stuff (I installed from the set of 6 CD's).

  43. Adam

    So how many...

    ... of these Ubuntu PCs were bought because they were cheaper than the Windows PC, but will have a hookie copy of Vista or XP stuck in the CD-drive the moment it's delivered to a house? Installing Windows is an easy task that many people would undergo to save themselves £50. I love Ubuntu, but most people "learned" on Windows and will stick to it.

  44. Frank Haney
    Thumb Down

    I'm surprised they sold so many

    The last time I checked a Ubuntu laptop was £40 more expensive than an XP or Vista laptop. If you just look at the base model machines Ubuntu is about £50 cheaper than XP or Vista but it will cost you £90 to bring the processor, memory, hard drive, DVD drive etc in line with the Windows machine.

    If I wanted to run Linux on a Dell so badly I would load it myself and save £40

  45. rvergara

    I am willing to support my vote with my wallet

    We are a consulting company and we use only Linux PC. I want to replace all our PCs with Dell/Ubuntus however we are located in Chile and Dell has not started to offer these in our country. Why not is beyond me since I presume interest for Linux in the desktop is much higher outside the US than inside.


  46. Anonymous

    Poor hardware options from Dell

    When I went to purchase an Ubuntu Dell PC, the choices for video and sound card were poor compared to what you could get with a Vista PC.

    So, what I did is buy a Vista PC from Dell, and then I installed Ubuntu on the drive.

    I think a lot of Linux supporters have done this, based on the other comments.

  47. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    It's a start

    "Ubuntu fans are urged to hold back their virtual quills of vitriol..."

    Actually this Ubuntu fan happens to agree, on the desktop it *is* a niche OS. But so was Windows, back in the days prior to version 3, and Linux is a hell of a lot better than that turd of an OS ever was.

    This is 40,000 more Linux boxes than they would have sold otherwise, and I know that as and when I'm in the market for a new laptop, Dell will now be top of my list for at least having the balls to try this. Fair play to them.

    "Installing Windows is an easy task that many people would undergo to save themselves £50."

    Damn you Adam, I just coffee-washed my entire desk when I read this comment!

    Aside from the fact that, IIRC, the Linux loaded Dells are actually a little MORE expensive, clearly you have NEVER installed a retail copy of Windows (which your putative hooky copy would most likely be a hooky copy of).

    I have, and I wouldn't repeat the ordeal if you paid me to do it for you. No fucking chance.

    Most of the people who "learned" on Windows have never installed it themselves. They bought their PC with it installed already, and the nearest they've come to reinstalling might be to restore it from the CD that came with their computer. That's a hell of a lot different to actually installing the bugger. Most normal people just keep using the computer with the original install until the cruft overwhelms it and they buy a new computer, or they pay PC World to "repair" it for them, or call on the neighbourhood/family geek to do the same.

    Paris Hilton as the avatar because the default Ubuntu login colours are a lot like naked flesh.

  48. will

    I tried

    I tried to buy an Ubuntu box, twice in fact, in both cases the order was repeatedly delayed apparently due to a 'shortage of parts' I even tried to find out what part it was so that I might be able to alter my order to get delivery but the customer service agent couldn't tell me. In the end we couldn't wait and had to go elsewhere.

  49. Kevin Fries

    Imagine how many would be sold in a fair open marketplace

    Here is the questions I would love to see Dell answer...

    If those machines were placed right on the front page, along side the Windows based machines (instead of being relegated to a special "alternative OS" part of their site), including the price breaks for not having to include Windows and Office licenses... Now how well would they sell.

    John A Consumer comes to the Dell website, and selects the features of he is interested in. He is now presented with 7 machines all of which serve his purpose. Two of the three least expensive machines run linux. One of the three is barely in the category in the bottom three (as far as price) and runs Windows. Now how many Linux based machines would they sell? When the consumer can compare side by side, and get a true sense of their options, the real revolution will begin.

    Dell is still too Microsoft centric. They are pandering to the Linux community. We want real competition, because we know we will win. Microsoft doesn't want real competition for the same reason. When you factor feature per value received, neither Steve (Balmer or Jobs) want to see Linux given a fair shake. For then they would be forced to justify their prices and profits against the value received over Linux. I don't believe either one has a sustainable answer for that.

  50. John Carpenter

    "The raw power of Linux"

    "The raw Power of Linux" Ha Ha Ha!

    Linux geek fanboys on parade!

    Microsoft marketing is looking for evangelists like you....

  51. Mike Allen
    Gates Horns

    Considering how Dell markets Ubuntu...

    Considering that Dell seems to have no interest whatsoever in actually selling its Ubuntu systems, I'd say that 40,000 is quite an achievement.

    You have to go to a special site to buy them (they don't simply offer a choice of Microsoft or Ubuntu operating systems on a machine, which would allow you to see just how must you're really paying for M$ software), you're given a warning before you can even proceed to look at them, the small sub-set of their machines have limited hardware options, the Microsoft-based machines often work out cheaper when you take into account special offers, etc. (at best, the Ubuntu machines work out $50 less - here in the US - which surely means that Dell are making substantially larger margins on the Ubuntu machines) and their web-site carries the familiar "{Your PC make here} recommends Microsoft Vista..." on every page. I also doubt whether their tele-sales staff ever mention Ubuntu either...

    I'd really like to buy an Ubuntu (or, at least, Microsoft Tax-free) PC from Dell, but they're going to have to expand their range and make Ubuntu an option on their main pages before I'll purchase such a system from them.

    One might almost suspect Microsoft of dictating to Dell how they might "sell" Linux-based systems...

  52. Anonymous Coward

    I'm one of the 40,000

    I needed a new low end laptop for home to run Ubuntu so I put my money where my mouth is and went for the pre-installed route. I had no trouble finding it, either type "linux" in to the search box or select "open source laptops" from the drop down menu and it arrived in a week. The biggest benefit for me was that all the hardware worked out of the box: graphics, sound, modem, wireless, volume controls, etc. etc.

    Given that it's only been available on two bottom end machines I just home the 40,000 number is enough to convince Dell to increase the range of machines on which it is available to make it a more attractive proposition for more people.

  53. Chris Jones

    what did they say before?

    Didn't Dell say a while back that they only expected to shift about 20,000 Ubuntu machines a year? If my memory serves me well then they have doubled their expectations in under a year.

    That seems like a) they knew that not everyone would put their money where their mouth was, b) they underestimated how much the Bunty love is spreading.

  54. Marck Robinson

    Measure Percentages of Those Models for a True Comparison

    Dell offers Ubuntu on only a limited number of models. We still use the old route of buying the higher end model with pre-installed windows and then re-installing it ourselves.

    My point is, the numbers are still very biased. There are lots of "windows" sales that still end up with linux running on them.

    What you need to compare is out of the sales of those three models of machines. How many were Ubuntu versus how many were the equivalent models sold with windows. That would give some idea of the true adoption rate.

  55. AndyB

    I think...

    ... it should be a legal requirement for all PC hardware suppliers to supply the full range of their hardware without any OS installed at all. They should also have to supply them at a price = (hardware with OS price - OEM OS license cost).

    Maybe this is something useful that the EU could enforce?

    Then people would have the feedom to put whatever OS they wanted on their PCs without paying for a pre-installed OS they didn't want.

    To make it fair for the hardware suppliers, they would only have to provide support for hardware faults, not OS / Driver issues.

    PS. I put Ubuntu 7.10 on my Dell Latitude D820 and everything just works - including bluetooth which I actually do use :o)

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Either you got it or you don't

    The real issue here is intelligence of the public. Linux and FreeBSD are the best operating systems around. However it takes time and effort to learn how to use them. I good command of Bash is required at least, and for that O'Reilly do a good book. Distro's like Ubuntu or Mandriva are in the end missing the point of Linux.

    Linux was never meant to be a "just works" system. The whole point of the Free Software movement was to get people to be able to not only use a system but understand and also have power over it. I believe the point here is that kids should be learning programming from a young age in IT classes not plays "See spot Run" or some other game.

    Ubuntu et al are just heavily modified inferior versions of Linux. Once you know what your doing (and the best way to do this is to use the Linux from Scratch system or LFS if you really want to know what your system is doing) you can use a distro like Slackware which is so much better than anything else I've ever used, and I have all my hardware running with Fluxbox using compositing and Gnome with Beryl. It just takes passion, the point is we should all be computer Guru's because that's where the future lies.

    I am not an IT professional in fact I'm a Historian by profession and I find things like GnuPlot very useful not to mention the whole host scientific programs that only work for Linux. I took the time to learn the system from scratch with no IT training. If i can do it then the rest of Joe Public can ! .

    And yes you can use Microsoft office in Linux, all you have to do is use WINE .

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why Dell isn't selling more Linux PCs

    Here's my unpleasant experience.

    For my work, I need and use a laptop that boots and runs Linux. Since Dell is on my employer's purchasing department's standard laptop vendor list, I had them contact their Dell representative, who at first said that they didn't offer a Linux laptop. Then, on a 3-way conference call with me and our purchasing agent, the Dell representative said that the Inspiron 1420N, which is advertised on the Dell web site as being available with Ubuntu Linux was not built to corporate standards. Then he said that it ran Ubuntu, not Linux. When I pointed out that Ubuntu was Linux, he said that it ran open source software for which a lot of problems were being reported.

    At that point, I said I didn't want to do business with someone who was spreading FUD, and ended the conversation. I have had good luck acquiring laptops from both for work and for home, so that's where I am purchasing my laptop.

    This has left a very unpleasant taste in my mouth. That's the last time I will consider doing business with Dell.

  58. Jeff Davis

    When Dell and others support Linux properly!

    I can only say thank you to Dell for choosing to sell Linux on their desktop, but in no way shape or form does the Linux and OpenSource community have to pour out from their wallets due to Dells decision to sell Ubuntu / Linux. This is a situation like any before it, Dell like anyone must gain it's customers trust and support the old fashion way, they must gain our respect by making every effort to support this OS and it's varing distributions the best it can by making sure that it's parts from many company's that it deals with in completing a system puts time and effort in to implementing Open Source drivers for their linux hardware and software products. Also Dell must keep the Linux distro competitive in true nature to it's ability to save them a number of major cost associated with it's development, deployment, distribution, and other savings, should reflect in the price of the Dell to the customer. If it is costing them more money to place Linux on a Dell then it does to place Windows on a Dell, there is a *serious problem*, one that I would be glad to research and assist myself.

    When articles like this come out say something to the effect of it could be the customers fault for support problems or adoption of a technology, makes me want to puke, when it make it feel as they are asking the public to give a free hand out, when they themselves are not willing to give something such as incentives, support, or deals back to their customer, especially when they should be working to gain that purchase from the customer.

    The fact is, the more Dell supports Linux on their desktop, the more they will sell. Now it's up to them to make it happen.

    If the customer is wanting support for the distro, then I believe they can seek it in the distro's forums and the company of the distro it's self, such as Canonical Ltd / Ubuntu. These distro's if serious should take on the incoming support for their product. Having support according to the users wants and needs- including paying fees for direct support if needed.

  59. E


    Yes, Linux needs an office productivity suite.

    OpenOffice, alas, is very slow and unbelievably bloated software. It should have been written in straight C++ with not a hint of Java or interpreted languages (say a guy who didn't write a single line of OO).

    IBM has a thing called Symphony, it's free, not sure about OSS. But it is somewhat better than OpenOffice.

  60. Zach Dwiel

    I tried, but it was back-ordered

    I tried buying an Ubuntu laptop from dell but it was back-ordered for 6 weeks. I finally called them and told them to just ship me a computer with the specs I paid for, which got me a vista laptop in 3 days. I installed Ubuntu myself first thing which went fairly smoothly. I wonder how many people were put off by similar delay and back-order problems.

  61. John

    My dell laptop

    has a windows XP sticker on it, XP got wiped (waste of disk space) and ubuntu is running. Same for everyone else at work (10+ dell laptops).

    The 40,000 number does not represent the number of people running ubuntu (or other Linux) on dell machines.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris

    Oh I have an idea, my friend. With that in mind, anybody who has a clue about which is the superior OS already knows that they can simply replace MS software with something more suitable to their taste. And I believe you could advertise until the last dog is hung and I think there would still be some trepidation, on the part of software publishers because the reward from the risk just isn't that attractive yet.

    Yes, I will concede that 40K units is a wonderful number to see out of Dell... But once again, it all boils down to what the typical consumer wants. And most, at least in the US, users believe Linux was the kid from the cartoon "the peanuts", by Charles Schultz. To elaborate on that, 95% of the home users I've suggested migrate to Linux say "it sounds too hard".

    Also, why are publishers staying away in droves from a virtually untapped market? There are a lot of us out there who want to escape the dependence of mediocrity courtesy of Microsoft, the continual hassles of security flaws due to lazy or poor programming or the integration of such a shitty browser like IE into the very core of the OS... Even with all that going against the Wintel platform, the vast majority of the world market is just too apathetic towards the notion of saying "not anymore" to Microsoft. Unless they know they have a truly viable alternative. And you can't have an alternative without some of the bigger players getting involved.

    You get an Adobe to buy in and some of the larger multi-media hardware manufacturers like Nikon, Canon (et. al), you'd probably see a mass exodus from both Microsoft & Apple OS's to Ubuntu, Fedora or others.

  63. Anonymous Coward

    For a minority, you lot have got big mouths

    All the shouting and whining you have done about getting a major supplier to take linux seriously, and when it happens you are still whinging. Be fair to Dell and think about it sensibly instead of ranting. Yes, it currently is only available on a limited range. Yes they are not the most powerful machines in the world, but isn't one of the points you always throw up is that you don't need a mega powerful PC to run it, unlike Vista. From a business point of view, Dell have taken quite a big risk to support a small minority of users. Why test something and pay for any fixes that may be required on every system in the range if you are unsure if anyone will buy it? How many other major suppliers have taken this risk? For those of you complaining that it currently costs more to buy one than a windows box even though it is free, you have overlooked some important points. Dell have had years to put together their support, website etc to support windows users. Training staff in the latest version requires only a little education so it doesn't cost that much. To implement a new OS, they have to make sure it works 100% with their hardware. This means testing, fixing any problems and creating a workable distribution. They also have to either 1) Retrain existing support staff to be competent enough to support any user technical support queries or 2) Hire new staff who know linux, but need to be trained in Dell support procedures and any issues that may be specific to Dell equipment. Not only that they have to have new documentation created, the support website updated etc and all of this costs them money. That money has had to be spent all at once to be in a position to offer linux as an option, whereas the Windows support money has been spent gradually over a number of years. You can't expect them to do all of this out of the goodness of their hearts, they are a business, so of course that cost has to be passed onto you. If offering linux proves to be a viable option over the next couple of years, you should find that the charge for it comes down as it will simply be a matter of updating existing skills and documentation, not doing everything from scratch.

  64. Mathias
    Thumb Down

    Not even introduced in my country

    As usual there is a english-centered focus on the article. However, there are a number of people in the world besides native english speakers that can read and interact with US/english websites.

    I'm one of the 130 000 people that wanted a Dell laptop with Ubuntu preinstalled, but Dell has not even introduced the option in Sweden where I live. They are also unwilling to ship a laptop with a US/UK keyboard to me. Therefore I had to choose another brand of computer.

    Also, it seems to me that the ubuntu choice can not be reached from the front page unless actively searched for. On the other hand, the front page says "Dell recommends Windows Vista® Business".

    The conclusion to draw from all this is that Dell does not want to sell Ubuntu-PCs. I say that the focus on this article is a bit strange. It is when Ubuntu is introduced throughout ALL of Dells product line that a comparison can be made.

    Instead one should ask why it is impossible to choose ubuntu in the normal configuration procedure.

  65. Anonymous Coward

    What about the rest of the world, Dell?????

    You mention that 130,000 people told Ideastorm they wanted Dell's with Ubuntu but only 40,000 actually bought one. Well I was one of the 130,000 who wanted Ubuntu on a Dell, but I can't get one!

    You see, I live in Canada and Dell Canada is not selling Ubuntu PC's at this time. Maybe now that the Canadian dollar is higher than the American- we'll get some respect and a chance at one of these machines. Get your act together Dell Canada!

    Before you and your readers assume that 90,000 people on Ideastorm were just blowing a lot of hot air- figure that at least a few thousand may be potential Dell customer who live outside the USA.

    From the "fringes" of the Great White North!

  66. Michael Sheils
    Thumb Down

    What do they expect

    After clicking through the 5th warning that "this product does not ship with windows" I gave up looking at what they were offering and bought a machine from efficientpc instead.

  67. James Butler

    Fits and Starts

    It's almost always tough, when a new player starts making headway.

    1) General Motor's EV1 Electric Vehicle

    They made under 50,000 of them, got a bunch of metropolitan transit agencies to pony up for the charging systems in public areas like at airports and so on, let the people who leased them have a great time with them for a couple of years, then recalled all of the cars for crushing (!) because "there wasn't a market for them". Despite the fact that literally every EV1 user loved it and that there were outstanding orders for more than 500,000 more.

    2) Honda's new Hydrogen Vehicles

    Has anybody seen the new hydrogen refueling stations? I haven't, either. I wonder how long these will last?

    3) Dell + Ubuntu

    As noted above, there are issues with locating and purchasing these machines, built on low-end hardware, resulting in relatively low numbers when compared with MS-installed product lines. Many people complain about how "hard" it is to install 'Nix and how their pre-installed MS systems work great. They have no idea how well a pre-installed version of 'Nix would be, because the distributors don't work at it very hard. Dell could quite easily put together a gaming MONSTER machine with kicking graphics and tons of power (plus WINE for PC gamers, wifi, bluetooth, et al.), and then simply tweak any 'Nix distro they wanted to until it worked perfectly on the machine ... then image that installation, build a bunch more killer machines and clone the image onto them. Doesn't get more simple than that, and it's exactly what they do with a Windows offering.

    The new guys have to get the corporations to take more of a chance with them, because it's a tough business decision to spend a ton of money promoting something outside of the public consciousness. Shareholders don't like risk.

    On the good side, however, I don't recall any major vendor even considering Linux pre-installed before 2005, so things are moving in the right direction. Maybe by 2010 we'll have a decent selection from which to choose.

    (PS: Me = IT Director/250 XP+Vista workstations/8 Fedora servers; Home = Fedora/BigSlack/XP Pro/Win98 multiboots ... whatever works.)

  68. Gordon

    Soon Dell will realise their error

    Linux fanboys are actually few, but they scream and whine a lot like if they were ten thousand millions. I wonder what was Dell thinking. Face it guys... Linux on the desktop still sucks badly.

  69. Henry Wertz

    I fully intend to get a Dell w/ Ubuntu

    As the title says, I full intend to get a Dell w/ Ubuntu. Or the Asus Eee 8-). I almost ordered one a week or two ago when my current Inspiron (with Ubuntu 7.10) acted up -- but, it quit acting up, and when I went to cancel my order, it turned out I had printed the "verify your order" page instead of actually placing the order....

    I have noticed getting the Ubuntu Dells will not save cash, which is a shame. But I don't want to send my money to Microsoft:

    1) They'll count it as a WIndows sale (even though the copy is unused), and use that stat in the FUD against everyone else "Everyone is using Windows, so why get anything else?"

    2) They have a bad attitude regarding resale. It's my copy of Windows, I'm not using it, I should be able to resell it. But M$ says no, and in fact I probably won't even get a usable install CD, getting some restore CD or worse a restore partition, instead.

    3) I don't want to send money to a convicted monopolist when I'm not even using the product in question.

    4) Dell has not screwed me over, whilst IMHO Microsoft has. M$ have set back computer science at least 10 years. Dell has treated me decently. Therefore, I'd prefer they drop the cost of the system, but if they don't I'll send the money their way rather than Microsoft's.

    .... Or not. Like I say, if some other Linux box (or bare box) is a good deal I certainly will get it instead. Dell's pretty big though, they can certainly stay in that "good deal" price range if they try.

  70. Claude B

    Blame Dell, not the ubunteros

    Don't be so quick to blame the ubunteros. As many people said in other comments, I voted in the IdeaStorm poll and I wanted to make good on my pledge to support them if they offered an open source alternative to Vole's wares. After the big announcement, I tried, and I mean really tried to buy a Ubuntu Dell computer. But I was given the run around on the phone and by email no less than three times by Dell Canada in the last six months.

    To make a long story short, I finally bought an Inspiron Desktop 531S in early October, and of course it came with some OS called "Vista Home Something". I never even bothered activating the bundled crap. So I loaded a Feisty Live CD on it and never looked back. I think I did my part.

  71. Ken Jennings

    I'm one of the other 9 million Dell buyers.

    I haven't considered buying any of Dell's mainstream linux systems, because they are all cheap, low-end stuff. I want something that at least can be vaguely described as powerful.

    So, I bought a Dell Precision M90 laptop. 2.16Ghz dual core, 4G RAM, nvida quadro 2500xl, WUXGA display. Definitely falls into the powerful category. Sure, it came with Windows XP. So, Dell thinks they sold me a Windows system when in fact they sold me an openSuse Linux system. So much for accounting accuracy.

  72. Mark W. Tomlinson

    One of the "zealots"...

    I'm one of the "zealots" mentioned - only, I'm not. I despise zealotry in any form - OS, religion, what-have-you. I bought an Inspiron E1505n because (a) I've been using Ubuntu since 2004 and like what they (Canonical) are doing, (b) I don't like what they (Microsoft) have been doing and (c) when I can, I prefer to vote with my wallet (in the commercial world), not my mouth.

    But don't call me a zealot...

  73. Anonymous Coward

    I voted...

    But I haven't bought from Dell.

    Firstly I'm not actually looking for a new laptop at the moment and secondly if I'm going to get a laptop I want one with a nice spec. Dell's rather stupid idea of restricting the Linux installs to the bottom of the range models means that even if I do buy a laptop from Dell its going to be one which I've had to pay Microsoft for an operating system I don't want.

    Dell obviously don't actually understand the Linux market.

  74. Sceptical Bastard

    In summary...

    Forty thousand is better than forty. Or none.

    To make a success of this initiative, Dell needs to make the ubuntu option more widely available, advertise/promote it more agressively, and - above all - reflect in its pricing the fact that Windows is a paid-for product and Ubuntu (and many other Linux distros) is free.

  75. Jim Wilson

    Linux vs....

    Most of the conflict between Windows and Linux from the user's point of view is look and feel, which most can't get past.

    If you run Windows you might consider dual-booting, which Linux handles well. But leaping from Windows to Linux is not a good idea except for the few who are really willing to work hard at it.

    MS puts a lot of effort and money into making sure of its position in primary education in the 3rd world, and that will keep it on top forever.

  76. Scott

    Dell moves more than 40k Ubuntu PCs, but just doesn't realize it...

    Ken Jennings is spot-on in what he alludes to-- that a lot of folks went unaccounted-for because they didn't want to settle for a low-end system. When I voted in their polls, I did so from an XPS laptop I'd already bought, and it was running Kubuntu rather flawlessly. That purchase didn't factor into their numbers either because it was made before their roll-out. The situation is basically that regardless of which systems Dell offers Linux on (or that it doesn't), most run it pretty well with negligible driver issues, and as long as Dell keeps that up, I'll likely continue to purchase their products even if I have a Windows license rammed down my throat.

  77. FrankR

    Why blame Dell?

    Why should Dell care what OS you use?They sell hardware.They control their costs by multi-sourcing the bits.When MS deepen the discount for Dell, the Linux option will disappear.

    They install Windoze because most people want it. When most want Linux, they will go with it.Meanwhile they use it as ammo in price negotiations.

    Linux's savior will not be a hardware company, it will be a distro which works for non geeks.

  78. Robert E A Harvey

    Would have been 40,002

    It would have been 40.002 if the final price had not worked out more expensive than the equivalent XP machine.

  79. Snowbat

    Check your facts: 130,000 points != 130,000 people

    130,000 points != 130,000 people At one point during the poll, an unregistered vote counted for 3 points and a registered vote counted for 10 points.

    Ubuntu machines have been available from May in USA but only since August in UK/France/Germany. They are still not available in countries where many of the voters live but the poll was global.

    Various discounts on their Windows machines were not applied to Ubuntu machines. In some cases this made it cheaper to buy with Windows and install Ubuntu yourself.

    Dell seems to have gone out of their way to hide the Ubuntu option on their website.

    I am one of the voters and I will buy an Ubuntu laptop from Dell when they decide to make them available in my country.

  80. ben edwards

    Seperation between consumer and IT markets?

    Its drivel like some of the comments here that make people pay no attention to "guru" comments. Blame Microsoft for bad software? No, blame yourselves. You're all continually complaining about Adobe only supporting one or two OS's, and then you run off to make your own distribution of linux -instead- of trying to make a contribution to the major software linux distros are missing.

    And then, THEN, when you've made your new Gurunix system, you realise that, OMG! There's even -more- dilution on the linux market! Oh noes! Its bad enough with Redhat linux being ever so slightly different to say, Debian, the major houses have yet another incomprehensible OS to nurture. Hm. Even a 1% difference in flavours can add up to a buttload of investment for people to learn, but oh no, that's not your fault, is it?

    People may cry about Windows and perhaps MacOSX, but at least there's only one current major flavour of each that are 95% compatible with previous versions, where each release from Adobe is still pretty much a write-once and sell affair.

  81. Jason Clery


    "OT - I resurrected an old laptop and put PCLOS Linux on it. I gave it to my dad who was having no end of grief from his Windows system (poor performance, bubblefests, adware, crashes, BSOD etc). You know what? He hasn't had ONE SINGLE PROBLEM with it in over 6 months."

    Oddly enough, the WinXP Pro machine I have at home has not had a BSOD for more than 6 months too...

    Where do you get this crap that Windows BSODs all the time? It screws up when the hardware screws up (just like your precious Ubuntu), or when new hardware is added (which is more of an issue with Linux).

  82. Martin-Eric

    of course sales are low!

    Dell simply refuses to sell their Ubuntu -preloaded computers outside of specific countries such as US and UK, at a time when the largest demand is in Central and Eastern Europe. No wonder the sales are not what they expected!

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