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back to article Dell's Linux sleight of hand

Pssst, pass it on… Dell is selling Linux-based home PCs and laptops to its UK customers, but you’ll need a very good eye and probably a magnifying glass to find the systems on the direct seller's website. It recently said it had bowed to customer pressure by shipping computers with Ubuntu pre-installed - Dell already offered …

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i'm not surprised at the 1 in 500

I actually find it hard to believe that anyone technically adept enough to want linux would buy from dell rather than put a pc together themselves.

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Dell's website is awful

I presume that they have never employed (or listened to) a usability expert.

I particularly like the way that sometimes you get to pick the type of machine you want, sometimes the type of customer you are and sometimes you think you're picking the type of machine you want, but mostly it's a poorly chosen predetermined list that has already made a bunch of assumptions based on something you clicked or a url you went to or the kind of underwear you're wearing.

Despite that i keep buying their blasted machines.

The place to go to is http://www.dell.co.uk/ubuntu

If you randomly decide to go to /linux you'll be taken to the outlet shop. Perhaps because Linux buyers are cheapskates?

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I tried this a couple of weeks ago

And had no problem finding and pricing a Linux box in Sterling.

The problem I had with them was that an almost identically specced Windows box (including the cost of Vista) was slightly cheaper!

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Anonymous Coward

£20 premium

It still asks if you are sure you want to then charges around £20 more compared to the windows version.

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Odd sales pitch.

"in this case it would have been an Insprion 530 loaded with Red Hat available for just £20 more than the same machine with Vista inside."

So why not just buy the Vista one and load your own Linex Distro? I know it can be a pain, but its a principal thing, when it should realy be £70 (At least) Less.

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But XP is cheaper

I've just spec'd up an Inspiron 6400 with both XP and Ubuntu, using the exact same components (as far as possible).

Ubuntu: £440.62 inc. VAT & Shipping

XP Home: £289.00 ex. VAT & Shipping (£339.58 inc Vat exc Shipping)

So, unless they're charging ~£100 for the shipping, that makes the XP version cheaper. Again.

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Hiding Linux

They're hiding the systems so well browing the "open source systems" on their site either takes forever to load or just crashes firefox completely.

Naturally the windows systems are available to browse and their pages load flawlessly.

Way to go Dell.

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It's quite simple really

Mind you I had to find the link from the Ubuntu website at

www.ubuntu.com/dell

Here are the national links

UK - http://www.dell.co.uk/ubuntu - priced in GBP

France - http://www.dell.fr/ubuntu - priced in Euro

Germany - http://www.dell.de/ubuntu - priced in Euro

I might even order one myself

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Yes we are doing Linux...

But we will put it on a separate site out of the way so that nobody can find it. Then later on we can always say "well we tried but didn't make enough money" and pull the plug.

Ubuntu should be an Option on ANY Dell machine currently available and sitting there alongside XP, Fista and the rest, not on some half-hearted out of the way site that only sells one type of PC or Laptop with Ubuntu.

A PR move so they can say "We do support Linux" and yet not be serious about it.

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Market saturation

It's good to offer choice, but I think the Linux market is pretty saturated. Regular people who want to use a PC buy Windows or maybe Apple, which are customer-oriented systems. Only a small fixed percentage of people will buy Linux, as a sort of political statement against "big business" or to feel "elite" (which it is not really). But you can't get your work done on Linux or play good games. It's not a practical choice.

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Why extra £20

Why is it an extra £20 with Ubuntu? When the Ubuntu OS is free to download.

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Dell is for everyone. Linux isn't. Get over it.

Come on! Most of Dell's customers have probably never heard of the IdeaStorm forum (or Linux, for that matter), and if you run a poll like "Should we offer PCs with Linux pre-installed", who is actually going to vote "No"?

Several members of my extended family have bought Dells this year and although regular readers might find this hard to believe, most of them wouldn't know the difference between Vista and Ubuntu until they booted it up and couldn't find Internet Explorer. Haha, aren't they stupid. Well, no, actually, they're just not particularly bothered, they just want to do their work and maybe play some games. If they ended up in the Ubuntu section of the Dell site they'd definitely be lost, and Dell are absolutely right to make sure they realise it.

As for Linux costing extra, since Dell probably pay hardly anything for the millions of Windows licenses they buy every year, I wouldn't be surprised if the man-hours involved in installing Red Hat or Ubuntu on a handful of customised machines far outweighs the time taken to dump XP or Vista images onto hard disks.

And your analogising of Linux's incompatibility issues with Vista's is vaguely humorous but nowhere near the truth.

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El Reg seems fond of paranoid bullshit, these days

I detected more the Register's trend these days of being more focused on puerile attacks than accurate facts, so I thought I'd check this out.

Go to the home page, dell.co.uk. Click on home desktops (or laptops). Click on the "open source PCs" category. Configure, and even purchase, your Ubuntu PC in sterling.

How can anyone find that confusing?

"At every opportunity it reminds potential customers that open source is NOT Microsoft."

Every opportunity?! It happened once in the entire process, right at the start. If you think it's unreasonable to check that a random punter understands he's not buying a PC just like 95% of the other ones they've ever encountered, you're no more cut out to run a business than you appear to be suited to journalism.

If there's any truth to that article (I didn't bother calling customer support), it's buried under the general incompetence of the rest of it.

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Try finding the same Vista PC

Dell Inspiron 530n (Ubuntu)

N-Series-Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core E2140 Processor (1.6GHz,800MHz,1MB cache)

Ubuntu Desktop Edition Version 7.04

Dell™ 19" Silver Wide Flat Panel (SE198WFP)

1024MB 667MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [2x512]

160GB (7200rpm) Serial ATA Hard Drive with 8MB

128MB nVidia® GeForce® 8300GS

16x DVD +/- RW Drive

Integrated 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio

1 Year Base Warranty - Collect & Return

£416.61

Inspiron 530 Vista

Intel® Celeron® 420 Processor (1.6GHz,800MHz,512k cache)

Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium

Dell™ 19" Value Flat Panel (SE197FP)

Integrated Intel® Graphic Media Accelerator 3100

1024MB 667MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [2x512]

160GB (7200rpm) Serial ATA Hard Drive with 8MB

16x DVD +/- RW Drive

1 Year Base Warranty - Collect & Return

Integrated 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio

£349.00

This comparison was made seemingly very difficult but I seem to be paying £67.61 to not have Vista ?

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Anonymous Coward

Malice or incompetence?

As the saying goes - never put down to malice what can be more easily explained by incompetence.

Dell is a big company with lots of lots of clueless people working in bland call centres to pay the rent/mortgage. Why should they all be aware of the Umbongo revolution?

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page no longer available

I just used a premier login to find an Ubuntu machine. None of the systems or laptops I checked had it as an option. Although most servers will allow you to select a supported copy of Red Hat.

When I did a search for Ubuntu it returned one link, following this leads to a Page No Longer Available error

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Anonymous Coward

Not had a problem yet

I was thinking about buying an Insipron 6400 laptop which was going to get wiped and loaded with Ubuntu anyways so, when Dell announced I could get it preloaded, I decided to put my money where my mouth has been for a few years and support this initiative.

One of the release announcements had the http://www.dell.co.uk/ububtu URL and I didn't have any trouble picking a system which should be delivered in a few days.

I'm a bit annoyed with the community reaction. A major manufacturer is selling hardware pre-installed with Linux and a lot of the people who have been loudly clamouring for this to happen seem to be upset that it's not exactly what they wanted straight away. Come on, let's have some support for what Dell are trying to do here even if it's not quite right yet. I'm sure they are aware of how they are marketing it and the return they can expect from this to judge it a success and expand their Linux offerings. If this initiative fails because of lack of support then don't expect anyone to care about any crying for sympathy over things like BBC iPlayer for Linux.

(Jut my £0.02 - please direct all flames to /dev/null)

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£20 more?!

"just £20 more than the same machine with Vista inside."

Somehow that doesn't sound right. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop is available from the redhat.com for US$80 for the basic option. According to google's currency converter that is equivalent to about £40.

Looks like it's more expensive to buy a machine with Linux preinstalled than just buying a machine with windows and installing Linux yourself.

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Silver badge

It might be the name...

Maybe Dell thinks that, well, the average Joe would wonder what is that strange African nation doing in the OS options. Frankly, "Ubuntu" might sound nice in Africa, but it is a poor naming option for a worldwide distribution.

Kind of like Linus Torvalds originally naming his OS "Freax"... he changed it to "Linux" instead, and the name's catched on the media; even RedHat and SuSE have been able to do it. That said, Ubuntu does seem to be the most user-friendly distro out there, though I've been able to trick "mortal users" into using Fedora Core 6 without them realizing it isn't Windows. (The Firefox culture helps, so they don't find out that IE is missing at first.)

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Anonymous Coward

What a con!

Sorry Dell, but I want to select the OS as a component when selecting a PC like a processor or a hard drive. You can make it Windows by default but it should be clear that selecting Linux will knock the Gates tax off the price of the PC.

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Anonymous Coward

Unix users don't know much about computers?

According to Jaster, a PC with a Dual-Core Pentium, a Wide Screen flat panel and an add-in Nvidia graphics card should cost the same as a machine with a Celeron, a "regular" flat panel, and on board graphics, and any difference in price is down to the OS that it ships with?

Talk about being selective with the facts?

"Dell Inspiron 530n (Ubuntu)

N-Series-Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core E2140 Processor (1.6GHz,800MHz,1MB Dell™ 19" Silver Wide Flat Panel (SE198WFP)

128MB nVidia® GeForce® 8300GS

£416.61

Inspiron 530 Vista

Intel® Celeron® 420 Processor (1.6GHz,800MHz,512k cache)

Dell™ 19" Value Flat Panel (SE197FP)

Integrated Intel® Graphic Media Accelerator 3100

£349.00

This comparison was made seemingly very difficult but I seem to be paying £67.61 to not have Vista ?"

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Anonymous Coward

@Don Mitchell

"But you can't get your work done on Linux or play good games. It's not a practical choice."

I'm not a linux fan by any means, but I have a linux box for developing a very specific application (based on RADIANCE). I also have a laptop running Windows XP Pro for my main office work. When the laptop died I had to rely on the linux box for a week or so. It was fine - I could communcate with and read and write files sent to me by everyone else in my dept (all running windows). I could do all the day to day office stuff quite painlessly. I don't do games so I don't know about them (or care).

cheers,

Bob

ps - just so you realise I'm really really not a fan I'm back using Windows now, but linux does work

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wtf...

"It's good to offer choice, but I think the Linux market is pretty saturated. Regular people who want to use a PC buy Windows or maybe Apple, which are customer-oriented systems. Only a small fixed percentage of people will buy Linux, as a sort of political statement against "big business" or to feel "elite" (which it is not really). But you can't get your work done on Linux or play good games. It's not a practical choice."

customer oriented? like hell vista is customer oriented.

political statement or a need for something that actually works?

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They can take you into the past though.

Hmm, just went to dell.co.uk/ubuntu to spec a machine (no point, there are hardly any options). But they could deliver it to me last month apparently: 'Preliminary Ship Date - 22/08/2007'. Yes my PC clock is correct. I doubt many people what actually use Linux daily would every think of buying Dell.

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@ Don Mitchell

"But you can't get your work done on Linux or play good games."

Bollocks! I can do word processing, calendar meetings, create presentations, connect to users' computers remotely to work on their (always-crashing) Windows, and play World of Warcraft on Ubuntu. I could do Computer-Aided Design on Ubuntu, except I don't have the talent for that, so I can't do it on Windows, either.

Don, you clearly don't know much about Linux. Why not go get a free 10-pack of Ubuntu (or for you Windows-drones, Kubuntu) CDs and run it "live" (e.g., no installation required, it runs from the CD)? At least then you'll have some clue what you're dissing.

Visit https://shipit.kubuntu.org/

I am unaffiliated with Kubuntu/Ubunut (except as a happy and unpaid user).

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Dan

well actually...

Not that I don't like to see anyone with more than 12p to their name get a kicking, as a good anarcho-linuxist, but in fairness, if you look at these 2 pages you can find the same hardware spec Dell laptop with Ubuntu or Wispa, and the Ubuntu one is 30 quid cheaper. Took a while, though.

Dan

http://configure.euro.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?b=&c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&oc=N08645L&s=dhs

http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspn_6400?c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&s=dhs&~tab=rs_bundlestab

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Tiresome tirades

Is anyone else sick of the my OS is better than your OS arguments? I use Windows and Linux (and would like to try OSX, but don't want to pony up).

I get the feeling that the Windows fan boys are afraid of something they don't know and understand, and the Linux fan boys are elitist toss-pots that are often out of touch with more modern Windows versions (I mean seriously - how often have you received a BSOD with XP SP2?, oh yeah - about the same as you see kernel panics in Gentoo).

Why not agree to disagree - different horses for different courses.....

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Silver badge

Re: Try finding the same Vista PC

Erm... the systems you're comparing are vastly different - this is why there is a difference in price, not a conspiracy by Dell (in this instance). They might happen to both have "Inspiron 530" in the name, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends... For example:

Linux - Core Duo processor, Vista - Pentium D (The Pentium D is a cheaper, naster processor by far)

Linux - 19" Silver Wide Flat Panel, Vista - 19" Value Flat Panel (Notice the value and non-widescreen nature of the Vista system monitor)

Linux - 128MB nVidia GeForce 8300GS, Vista - Integrated Intel Graphic Media Accelerator 3100 (Decent nVidia graphics card compared to cheap and slow Intel on-board output).

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J

No...

"But you can't get your work done on Linux"

Stupid statement. Maybe YOUR work can't be done on Linux. I for one can ONLY get my work done on Linux, or at least some Unix derivative. Toy systems for drooling gamers like Windows are next to worthless for me, and even if you do bother with the available workarounds, it's clumsy and slow anyway.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the man-hours involved in installing Red Hat or Ubuntu on a handful of customised machines far outweighs the time taken to dump XP or Vista images onto hard disks."

Well, it seems like you've got no clue what you're talking about, so I think I'll "surprise" you. First of all, a disk image is a disk image. Why would it take longer to dump an Ubuntu image compared to an image of XP or Vista or random bits or whatever to a hard drive? Second, even if you do install from the CD, it's at least faster than Windows 2000 (the last Windows I have had the displeasure of installing), and I've heard it beats the modern Windozes too.

@Jonathan Walls

Hmmm, I wonder if you got redirected, it sounds exactly like the US site... I tried it myself in the UK site (redirects to www1.euro.dell.com, but states I'm in UK) and got mixed results. If you click, on the right, Solutions for: Home, then you get NO link to Open Source PCs in the next page. If you, as I suppose you did, hover the mouse on the laptop or desktop pictures and then choose Home from the pop up menu, then you do get the nice Open Source PCs link on the left of the next page.

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Silver badge

A little honesty for once!

I just found a little honesty for once - in the page that Dell has regarding Vista - http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/emea/topics/solutions/winvista?c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=anavml

Read the section about the "Windows Vista Capable" PCs... it lists these specced systems as "Great for... Booting the Operating System, without running applications or games". This is amusing, until you read the specification and realise that MS has redefined bloat once again... :(

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@Tiresome tirades

My work XP pro machine bellies up a couple of times a week. Usually isn't so gracious as to offer a BSOD.

The SuSE machine I use to control my xen testing was last rebooted a few months ago when I upgraded to SLES10SP1rc5.

My home BSD 6.2 machine had to be shutdown a few weeks ago when its UPS was running out of juice because of an extended power failure due to a thunderstorm.

I switched away from MS because of its instability some years ago. The IT people at work even 'let' me switch over to FireFox from the Lookout virus because they got tired of refusing to take my bug reports. So much for M$ support...

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Just like GM

When you have vested interests outside of encouraging diversity, diversity suffers.

@Stephen, you are probably correct. Dell "does" Linux like General Motors "does" electric cars: Manufacture a few, leak them out as a "bastard child" product, and then claim that people don't want the alternative technology because "look at the paltry few that sold".

GM went so far as to collect all of the electric vehicles (EV1) that they distributed in the US and CRUSH them. Of course, they were never for sale, just for lease in California and Nevada only. But they claimed the program was a failure because "only" 1200 people leased the EV1 ... in fact verifying that EVERY ONE of the cars that GM produced had found a home. Rather than saying, "Wow! Those electric cars are flying out of the showrooms! We're sold out!" they chose, "It's a failure because only the entire inventory were snapped up." If they had made 5000, they would have leased out all of those, too. Dell are choosing, like GM, to make a paper effort just to seem cool for a little while. Bastards.

There are lots of sources for Linux desktops/laptops, using hardware configurations that are optimized for it, just like Dell boxes are optimized for Windows ... even when they ship with Linux. (Fair? Hardly.) I know some of you corporate customers require the kind of long-winded, expensive, less-than-useful service contracts that a company like Dell offers ... but the beauty of it is that as long as you have the hardware warranties, you won't be needing much OS support.

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Linux

Does anybody here know one single person not employed in the IT industry who runs Linux as an everyday machine? I bet you don't! The only people I know who use Linux every day are Linux developers who need that OS for a good reason.

There are some round here who won't want to admit it, but XP and Vista work perfectly well on any Dell pre-installation. As for those that complain about the price - well if you buy a few million copies like Dell then Microsoft will offer you a good price too!

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@ Market saturation

Don Mitchell wrote: " ... But you can't get your work done on Linux or play good games. It's not a practical choice. ..."

Couldn't agree less.

I may not be the most gaming person around, but I play Unreal and Q3 Arena (and Urban Terror) once in a while, and they run just fine* on Linux. These may not be "good games" in your eyes, and only few games actually run on Linux. Actually, most games ONLY run on Windows. Not Mac, Unix, Linux, whatever. That's sad, but at least that shouldn't mean anything in relation to a workstation / other work computer, should it?

And regarding work: I couldn't do half the things I needed on a Windows box. It has a terrible shell and doesn't come pre-installed with anything (Perl, ssh client, nmap, Firefox and so on). Yeah, I know: "Download PuTTY, connect to nearest *nix, et voila!", but why not just have it all at your fingertips? Oh, and according to a lot of the people I know using Windows, stability could seem to be a problem too.

I'm so glad I don't use Windows. Even though I'd like some of their UI people to give the Linux distros a helping hand, but that's another story. (I'd prefer the Mac UI people anyway.) :-)

/Prathlev

*) I have a few colleagues running Windows on exactly the same hardware (Thinkpad 42p) and they have a lower frame rate...

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Re: Linux

I use Linux day to day as an alternative to Windows purely because it's what works best for me. I don't work in IT, I work in telecoms and I use Windows at work but at home, Ubuntu is what I like to use and is what I have used for about 6 months.

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Here's a concept that no OEM will buy

why not sell computers and let the customer buy their own OS. Then you don't have to support anything except the hardware... if it's a software issue, pass the buck to the OS maker. Then there's no OS premiums and you might actually get fair pricing. Or for those lemmings that must buy an OEM system... save the hassle of dealing with the OEM's support and build your own (except for laptops... bugger of a problem building those on your own... not enough universal stuff there to work that one out, but desktops build easy).

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cor

Heated debate

@ P.Pod : My wife runs her own small business (childcare). She spends about 35% of her time on the PC, which has been MS-free for about 5 years. oh, and all her digital photos are on it too. My kids (under 12s) play games on their Fedora -powered PC, and learn new skills using GCompris (opensource education). My mother-in-law, a retired nurse, creates computer art on her Ubuntu laptop. She has never used MS in her life. All of the above also do the usual webcam chat, e-mail, word processing etc.

@Curtis W. Rendon : Yep, I had a RH9-based pentium II go down 2 months ago after the UPS gave up during a power outage. It had an uptime of 2 years and 4 months.

@J : You tell 'em

@Daniel Ballado-Torres: Yeah... Ubuntu is not an African nation. But you could be right; "XP" is such a universally coherent title. As for "Vista", a bit shortsighted really.. but you're right. The name is far more important than what it does. Penicillin is another stupid name, I'm surprised that stuff ever got off the ground.

@Mark Rendle : "most of them wouldn't know the difference between Vista and Ubuntu until they booted it up and couldn't find Internet Explorer. "

... I think you've just proved the pro-ubuntu case.

@ Anonymous Coward : "Dell is a big company with lots of lots of clueless people working in bland call centres to pay the rent/mortgage. Why should they all be aware of the Umbongo revolution?"

... because their Boss is, like.. euh.. selling it?

Ok, my 2 sense:

I think the argument is comparable with the Big Mac v. Home Cooking debate.

-If you want no control, no information and no clue about what you're paying for - get a Big Mac hamburger.

- If you'd like to have some influence over what you consume, a clear view of what goes into it, the choice to leave out bits you don't like, add more of what you do and know that what you are getting is the real deal - eat Home Cooking.

With one of these choices, the chance of suffering an early coronary attack is much higher than with the other.

I'll leave it to the group to fill in which is which.

Not everyone can cook, and not everyone will eat 7 days a week at the Golden Arches. The point is, each to his own, but don't go mouthing off about something you don't understand. Good food is an acquired taste, and not everybody likes to eat his (her) greens....

Enjoy the weekend everyone...

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Linux v Windows?

First, Windows is not inherently unstable. I've managed to get 100+ day uptimes on 2003 and XP, normally terminated by power outages or physical relocation. If you have decent hardware and you don't mistreat the computer, Windows can be very stable.

Second, for all the Windows defenders that focus on what you can't do in Linux that you can in Windows, what about what you can do in a *nix environment and not Windows? I suppose most Windows users wouldn't care, but a powerful command line interface is amazing. I transcode audio by piping the output of an mp3 playing program directly into an ogg encoder. In one command. With programs that all came on my Slackware CD.

What about performance? The list of ways in which Linux is faster than Windows is far too long to even begin to recount. Where Windows does things in idiotic ways (Hey, lets swap out every application that you aren't currently using! That way it takes 8 seconds to restore when you alt-tab back!), Linux does them sanely (Your physical memory isn't full? Then lets leave that swap file alone!) Once you get used to things like that it is very hard to go back to Windows.

I haven't tried Vista much, but since they ditched all of the Longhorn features, it seems that they've been moving in totally the wrong direction.

And the solution to all of these problems is simply to avoid buying a Dell. No matter what OS you run, Dell is just a bad choice. I've seen no less than a dozen of my colleagues' and friends' Dell laptops suffer catastrophic failures over the last 2 or 3 years. And I can't remember a single case of another brand of laptop breaking for no reason among my acquaintances in the same time period.

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Tracking shills?

As the comments to this article seem to have attracted more than the usual number of Obvious Shills and Astroturfers, I have to ask:

Does The Register make any attempt at counting the number of shills/astroturfers? It seems like the sort of groundbreaking thing that an irreverant, Fleet-Street-style Trade Rag like The Regiser should do. After all, you run "Dick Destiny's" crap all the time.

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Anonymous Coward

A Dell support person

"let's call her Pat"

mayn't we call her Adele?

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@ P.Pod

"Does anybody here know one single person not employed in the IT industry who runs Linux as an everyday machine?"

Yes, infact, I do, a few and they aren't all computer geeks either. I do provide a small amount of support to some of them, but I have had to provide less support than to those I know still using windows.

"There are some round here who won't want to admit it, but XP and Vista work perfectly well on any Dell pre-installation."

XP and Vista may work well on any new Dell machine, but just about any new machine is over-kill for the 50% (conservative guess) of computer users that use their computer to browse the web, send and receive email and do some light wordprocessing. Unless of course you happen to run microsoft's latest OS which, without wanting to go too hippie, means that running this OS to do just these tasks is a gratuitous waste of resources.

"As for those that complain about the price - well if you buy a few million copies like Dell then Microsoft will offer you a good price too!"

Which fails to make any comparison with the licencing cost of providing Linux on those machines. Given that the basic option provides "No Ubuntu support [Included in Price]" (other than the free community support of helpful users and developers, that are in most cases far more responsive to the needs of a single home user than microsoft) means that that actual licensing cost is near zero. Dell are free to download the distribution from the Ubuntu site, like anyone else, create and install image and blat it onto as many drives as they so desire. I say near zero cost since to comply with the licencing, as a distributor of the code, they must provide the source on request, which is usually achieved buy placing it on a ftp/web server, thus allowing interested parties to download it. This incurs some bandwidth costs.

Now, if I buy a enough copies of microsoft's latest attempt at an OS to be able to provide every human on the planet with 3 licenses (one for work, a laptop and home computer) and enough to coat the entire land surface area off the planet in licence key stickers, I might, just, possibly, get the licencing costs down to an approximation of that of Linux. Though interestingly this won't include the cost of those pesky microsoft office licenses and other sundry applications to provide the equivalent functionality installed in the standard Ubuntu install. Ok, you could just use open office on windows, but if your going to do that and are one of the above mentioned 50%, why not just run Linux and save yourself the cost of those OS licenses?

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@Andy S

"I actually find it hard to believe that anyone technically adept enough to want linux would buy from dell rather than put a pc together themselves."

It's a matter of cost. It is simply not possible to build 1 pc, with equivalent specs (including running noise) for a similar price.

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Only low-spec laptop displays on offer

I've had a couple of Dell laptops - an Inspiron 8000, which ran Red Hat (7.1 & 7.2 at the time) like a dream. When I upgraded to an 8200 a few years later, I foolishly assumed that the laptop would be similarly Linux-friendly, but it was not to be. I can have accelerated X, or have working hibernate, but not both, AND the on-board wireless card has been replaced (proprietary hardware; no Linux drivers) with a linux-friendly one.

BUT, I'm spolied with the 1600x1200 display I have on the 8200 (it's *never* run windows, btw). I could live with a 1400x1050, as on my 8000, but Dell are only offering 1280x800, which is majorly sucky, and about 10 years old, if you ask me!

I'm *almost* tempted to buy a same-brand laptop with windoze (or fight them on the phone for *no* OS), but the pre-configured ThinkPads from linuxemporium.co.uk look very tempting (if a trifle more expensive). Because they *will* work.

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Uptime

Windows users please note that when your system reboots to apply one of the popular "security patches" ... that restarts your 'uptime' clock. So unless you haven't been updating your Windows installation, your 'uptime' figures are probably no longer than 60-90 days.

Linux only needs to reboot when you update the kernel ... My Fedora servers have uninterrupted 'uptime' of over 3 years. No runs, no drips, no errors.

Also, sit a new user down in front of any operating system and leave them alone, and they'll probably have a hard time getting going. Computing is still nowhere near transparent enough on ANY platform to be considered 'better' or 'worse' than any other platform.

When was the last time you thought about the operating system used by your land-line phone? Talk about thin clients ... When day-to-day computing reaches that level of transparency, threads like this will be achingly dull. And if the operating system in primary use at that time is a Microsoft product, I'll eat my phone.

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J

@P.Pod

"Does anybody here know one single person not employed in the IT industry who runs Linux as an everyday machine? I bet you don't!"

You lost your bet, what do I get?

I'm not working in IT at all, but a biologist using Linux only since 2001 -- in the beginning, with a few dual booting cases because of hardware (scanner, mainly, but also music production), but it's been years ago. I know other biological scientists and mathematicians who also use Linux. And let me tell you, having a PhD does NOT necessarily make you computer literate...

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For what it's worth

I'm one of those non-IT linux users - a Dell linux user, to boot.

Why linux? It's free, and free is good. It's fast, and it's customizable. I don't play games, and everything I need to do on a computer, I can do in linux. Viruses/virii/whatever - that's a no-brainer. Fast linux vs. Windows bloatware? That's another no-brainer. Install what I want, when I want, without having to dink around with Microsoft's WGA malware? Not having to reboot after installing that software? Multiple choices for any task? All no-brainers. My choice of browsers, my choice of office software, my choice of UI (Gnome vs KDE vs XFCE)? More no-brainers.

Why Dell? After I got rid of my aging PowerBook, I needed a new laptop, and I could get a lot more laptop from Dell than from Apple. Dell was selling linux preinstalled, I had a 15% off coupon and a close relative who works in Dell support. Seemes a natural to me.

My stepkids use Linux, my wife uses linux (when she accidentally boots into Ubuntu instead of Mac), two of my nieces use linux and a couple of my co-workers use linux - as long as they can surf for porn (the co-workers, not the nieces [as far as I know]), they don't care. None of them are IT types either.

Granted, some of the tweaking takes a lot of digging, but I can do that digging. And by the time I'm done, I've actually learned something.

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A possibility

Something that I have been thinking about the difficulty of finding the Dell Linux computers on their sites..

Perhaps they are using the lack of publicity as a means of limiting the sales. Not for any sinister purpose, but to discourage the "average" user< thick as two short planks types> from buying a Linux PC and finding that they haven't a clue how to use it, or the inclination to find out, and returning it in a huff. Then they can work out all the glitches in the supply line, and get things as idiot proof as possible. the Linux computers may be available in several countries, but they are still in the market research stage. Expecting Dell or anybody else to switch to offering Linux on everything isn't gong to happen.

From Dell's perspective, while Ubuntu is very new user friendly, it isn't so easy for some to make the switch. So a cautious roll out is advisable.

And for P. Pod's benefit. I'm not working in the IT or any other industry. I had a little programming training years ago, and haven't coded since. I build computers as a hobby, so I'm a slightly above average computer literacy.

I use Fedora 6 every day for photo editing, surfing, email, indexing my DVD collection, managing and playing my mp3 and OGG collection, watching stuff on youtube, and a little light gaming. Pretty much what I used to do on Windows... I do have one Windows PC, which only exists due to hardware problems with devices I bought before I switched to Linux a year or so ago. So when I can source Linux compatible replacements, these will go to friends or eBay. So far, I don't feel limited in the slightest using Linux, which is not only easier to install than Windows on a SATA equipped computer(as I found out last weekend), but it is more responsive and stable.

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Anonymous Coward

@Don Mitchell

"But you can't get your work done on Linux or play good games. It's not a practical choice."

Wrong. The only games you cannot play on like Naitively run in DirectX. The majority of not all games developed my ID Software do run on Linux naitively, mainly due to the fact they use OpenGL instead of DirectX. Granted, generally the support isn't "out the box" and you need to download a patch for it, but it's a damn sight better than being forced to WINE your game, eh?

Games with Naitive Linux Support:-

Quake 1.

Quake 2.

Quake 3.

Quake 4.

Doom 3.

Return to Castle Wolfenstien.

Wolfenstien: Enemy Territory.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Unreal Tournament 99.

Unreal Tournament 2k4.

Unreal Tournament 2k7 (It's set to run on Linux, apparently.)

Neverwinter Nights (Afaik it's got a Linux client.)

Suffice to say there are games for Linux. How ever, if you don't fancy blowing people into tiny chunks of gibs and would much rather spend your evening playing "The Sims"...Yeah. You're a bit screwed. Hopefully developers will start to realise how much of a flop Vista appears to be and perhaps consider writing their games for OpenGL3.0 rather than DirectX 10.

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@Mark Rendle

> I wouldn't be surprised if the man-hours involved in installing Red Hat or Ubuntu on a handful of customised machines far outweighs the time taken to dump XP or Vista images onto hard disks.

What, you actually believe it isn't possible to dump preconfigured Linux images onto hard disks in the same way? Lordy, how short-sighted is that...

You really ought to take a look at Linux before trying to slag it off.

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Yawn

Haven't we already seen this exact same charade played out back in 2001? They'll pull the plug on it due to "lack of consumer demand" before 2010, mark my words. Just like they did last time.

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