back to article US woman says Ubuntu can't access internet

An American woman has told a TV station in Madison, Wisconsin that something called Ubuntu prevented her from joining online classes at her local technical college. According to WKOW TV, Abbie Schubert recently ordered a Dell laptop, expecting "your classic bread-and-butter computer." But when she unboxed the $1,100 machine …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. Julian


    I provide support to lots of females who are just as feckless as this with Windows installed! One in particular has less difficulty with Linux. Not to say that all females are feckless, of course. I expect there are lots of men just as feckless, I certainly spoke with one just the other day.

    The biggest problems with Linux are unfamiliarity and printer support. Many of the Linux tasks are actually easier than Windows, updating in particular, and Linux is not bothered with all the security issues.

  2. Christopher E. Stith

    Woman and TV station both obviously quite clueless - film at 11

    I even tried to contact them, but they insist on having a "home phone number" and a "wireless email address". I haven't had a home phone in years, and having been an Internet professional for more than a decade I can't see how a "wireless email address" is any different from an "email address". If I want to access any of my email on a wireless device, I just do so.

    If someone's going to order a computer with Ubuntu installed, I don't see why they should expect it to come with anything other than Ubuntu. Love the penguin. Don't shill for Microsoft in the media.

  3. Rich

    50% of people are more stupid than average

    I haven't heard of anyone who wasn't quite smart already using Linux. So it's unsurprising she couldn't hack it.

  4. Neoc
    Thumb Down

    I don't get this woman.

    She *chose* to stay with Linux even though she wanted Windows, and now she complains.

    And let me just add that although I am not particularly well versed in Linux, I have 3 fully Ubuntu install (two Eee and a mail/web server), 3 fully Windows XP machine and a Dell Ubuntu/Vista (ack) dual-boot lapburner.

    In each case the Installer:

    1) Installed OpenOffice when it installed Ubuntu - had she simply double-clicked on the Word file, they would have opened.

    2) Immediately found my internet connection and self-configured to use it. I didn't have to lift a finger (except later when I went to assign a static IP to the connection).

    They must breed for dumb in that part of the country. She wouldn't even have had to worry about drivers as Dell would have installed them already.

  5. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    It's just real hard!

    As they say, "quitters never win." What they don't say is lazy sacks looking for any excuse to be lazy will usually find one. Maybe someone can invent an alert bracelet with a button that calls for help; "I'm failing and can't get online." It is people like this that give stupid a bad name.

  6. Steven Raith
    Thumb Down

    Not an Ubuntu problem..'s a Dell Support problem. If her ISP required windows for her modem, then they should have replaced the machine, helped her fix it, or rebuilt it with Windows as required.

    But then, anyone who has dealt with Dell Consumer Support will know that the chances of getting anything useful out of their script monkeys on First Line will know that would never happen.

    *shudders at the thought of calling Dell without a corporate account*

    Steven R

  7. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton



    'Nuff said

    /technical she aint if she doesnt know what the differences between Ubuntu and Windows are

  8. Losheda

    Why get ubuntu if you have no knowledge of what it is?

    1. She purchased the system with ubuntu without knowing what ubuntu was.

    2. She was told she could get windows for it but then changed her mind based on the opinion of a tech support person even though it went against her experience of using the system up to that point

    If she had researched what ubuntu was she would have known it was free and could have downloaded it at a later date, the tech support person could also have told her, then this whole incident would have been avoided. Support personnel are most likely encouraged to stop people switching back to windows because of the costs of getting windows to the end user.

    Dell needs to add a guide on what ubuntu is and isn't and make it available on their website and on the first boot of the system.

  9. hikaricore
    Thumb Down


    You wrote your article almost as badly as they did.

    That said she's a retard.

  10. Charles Elwood

    The dog ate my homework too.

    Where does the fail here end? I guess it's fortunate she didn't use ebay and end up buying a picture of a laptop.

    Mine's the one with mini-9 crammed into the pocket.

  11. DrewHew

    This idiot...

    ...shouldn't be allowed on campus in the first place!

    I understand that not all indivduals are technologically savvy, but I find common sense (which, alas, isn't very common anyway) and logic can take you a far way.

    So you've got this Ubuntu thingy on, like, your computer (OMG!). And like, if you're at the tertiary level of learning, a little reading online should tell you what is this Ubuntu (I hope everyone gets the fact that my insertions of 'like' and 'OMG' are aimed at mimicry). You're attending a technical college, so a quick visit to the computer faculty should also help with getting an appropriate Office Suite installed and some explanations as to how to browse the interwebs, and complete other basic (but important) tasks.

    Just thinking logically about the situation, and taking some simple steps to find solutions could have made life much easier.

    Being close-minded is the reason you're not in college, NOT Ubuntu!

  12. Simon
    Paris Hilton

    Linux = fail

    It's still pretty much as bad as it was 10 years ago, all well and fine until one tiny thing goes wrong and then only an expert can hack through it to fix it. Can't get online ? Just chmod your .confs and add some random lines of code into some other confs and check your man pages. Or something.

    Windows? Right click > repair connection would be typical of the effort involved in fixing it.

    Paris, because she gets flamed as much as I'm about to be.

  13. Dave
    Thumb Down

    US Woman Unable to Operate Modern Technology

    Overheard screaming "Stupid computer!" while performing percussive maintenance on laptop.

    There ya go, fixed that for you.


  14. Dylan Bright

    Technical College

    She was studying to be a Windows Admin.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    It's called

    natural selection.

  16. Dylan Bright

    Technical College?

    I guess she was studying to be a Windows Admin.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Just a guess

    This would be her "first year" at that technical college? From the sounds of it no one bothered showing her how to access those documents under openoffice, which if I'm not mistaken comes with ububtu. Then I'd guess the first people to try to help her were the x-box ms nerds who, instead of actually helping, told her how stupid she was for not using windows and this is her punishment. Most technical schools have to go out of their way to NOT be MS centric, which very much includes their support staff. If it isn't windows, they ignore you and call you names behind your back to their nerdy friends :P (Techs out there who respect their knowledge, and how much work it took to gain it, not included of course)

    You can lead a person to what used to be considered a supercomputer, but you can't expect them to be able to play with it right away. Unless children are being bred to be born with computers in their hands, and if they are then I really am out of touch :P And there is still a whole population of people who consider themselves computer savvy when they are really just MS Word/MS Excel/MS Outlook savvy, or they may have successfully installed windows on their own by following the directions and being lucky enough to have nothing go wrong, which then makes them windows experts :P

    Yes, I accept my country is full of idiots that will cry and whine over nothing instead of educating themselves, and are full of people who's only skill at helping is to tell someone what they did wrong (even if their own presumptions are just that). One has to hope that its just the few who are loud and are just not thinking before shouting, than it being an epidemic, becuase sometimes it's hard to tell ;P

    I love some people, they can be so cute when they're stupid, like raking fingernails on a chalk board.

  18. hikaricore

    She could be in the running for a Darwin Award.

    If somehow she managed to die while trying to remove Ubuntu from her computer.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly me but

    She still could have bought acopy of Windows for $99 and installed it or had it installed at a local shop. That's only 10% extra on the price of the laptop. If she found a competent shop she could even have had it set up for dual boot.

    I don't know which is more frightening. Cancelling school over a minor PC problem or the writer who failed to point out the technical (and support failure issues).

  20. Anonymous Coward


    So you just right-click and 'repair' in Windows, huh? And about 14% of the time it actually fixes the problem!

    Really, Linux isn't that hard... you may have to search online for some answers if you don't know how to do something, but hopefully that's a skill that anyone at the 5th grade level or above possesses. How can you say it's as bad as it was 10 years ago... that's like saying Windows is as bad as it was 10 years ago. With modern Linux distros (like Ubuntu) pretty much everything just works.

    Seriously though, are you just in a trolling mood to post a comment like that?

  21. GF
    Thumb Down

    She is an insult to womankind...

    Abbie Schubert needs to just stay away from computers. She should have just returned the computer for a refund and just go to college for a liberal arts degree. Use the computers at school if needed.

    She just lacked common sense on how to manage what she purchased, like buying a car and taking it back to the dealer if it was a lemon. This is not what I expect from a woman who should manage her money...

  22. kain preacher Silver badge


    You guys are alot kinder than I expected

  23. Trix Bronze badge

    Sexism = fail

    So, Julian, "I provide support to lots of females who are just as feckless as this with Windows installed! "

    I work in an organisation that has a 70%+ male staff, and let me tell you, they're just as moronic, Windows or no Windows. And resent being told how to fix their cockups by a *woman*. The poor widdums, it must be hard for them to be so emasculated by someone who knows what she's doing when they don't.

  24. Christopher Martin
    Gates Halo

    If Windows is so worthwhile and easy to use...

    ... then couldn't she have bought and installed it within the span of a few hours? Actually, since she's so used to Windows, she probably already owns a license for it installed on her previous box.

  25. Keith Smith
    IT Angle

    Windows = Fail

    It's still pretty much as bad as it was 10 years ago, all well and fine until one tiny thing goes wrong and then only an expert can hack through it to fix it. Can't get online ? Just hit start run, and type regedit in the window,

    Search for HKEY/CurrentUser/.../X@#%^Dadeaf!$%&12356i434 and Modify . . .

    Ubuntu, just plug and unplug the network cable.

    Umm, Be real. That right-click repair sh*t _might_ work, I've never been that lucky, My experience is the driver is hammered, or some update screwed something or some arcane firewall setting is preventing, or you have a virus.

    When your system is hammered you need a guru, I don't care what OS you are running. Better yet I have had more problems with overzealous A/V software on windows than I've ever had with this ubuntu machine. This is not an indictment of windows but a simple acknowledgment that *all* computers have problems that need an "expert" from time to time. Mac is probably the most reliable , turn-key and guru-free.

  26. Shadowslayer
    Thumb Down


    So sounds like shes not the type to be going to tech school to just get the piece of paper because she already knows whats up. shes a noob going to a tech school to become some leet haxor like the commercials say. Its a good thing she did drop out as her lack of knowledge about basic things like OS compatibilities would have done her in.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Windows Mista

    You all call this woman stupid (maybe she is)...but the average person still knows bugger all about computers. I've worked in the IT industry for 20 years, yet my brother couldnt tell me the difference between a hard drive or ram (heck, clicking the Start Button was hard enough... where's the Stop button he asks??? :-| )

    All this article does is highlight to me why linux will never topple windows on the desktop. Readers of the Reg are slightly more educated in IT than the average person you know. Well, some of them.

  28. Moss Icely Spaceport

    Find the box it came in

    1. Pick up the shiny laptop

    2 .Place it in the box it came from

    3. Return to sender or sell on eBay

    4. $$$

    Too silly to use a computer.

    Too silly to attend college*.

    * although, and from experience this is not normally a problem if I go by the 'educated' idiots I work with.

  29. Geoffrey W Silver badge

    You smug gits

    I know you were all born with a complete knowledge of how to compile your own versions of Linux and edit config files before your eyes even opened and they slapped your wrinkled arses for the first time but is she really stupid just because she doesnt know something that you do?

    GAH! You smug bastards.

  30. MaxSmart

    Jeez, guys...

    When I first read this story's headline, I thought this was going to be another "Linyos Torovaldos" article, but after reading the story I feel very sorry for the woman.

    There is way more technology out there than computers and IT. As a "technical college" student, Ms. Schubert may be taking anything from Certified Nurse Assistant to Optometry. She would need "a computer" to function in almost any curriculum. She laid down $1100 for "a computer," not understanding the nuances and hoping for the best.

    She missed the mark, but that's no reason to be mean, or to assume that she is stupid. As technologists, we have created an extremely complicated maze of twisty passages, all seemingly alike. No matter who's fault it was, this person got boned.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    my god how stupid can this woman be

    if you go onto dell and purchase a computer then you purchase it with the operating system that you want. You make the choice and they install the operating system you requested.

    She looked at the $$$$ and saw that she could save some dough by putting Ubuntu on and didn't even take the time to think about what she was doing. Then she whines.

    Bet her mom used to whop her with the stupid stick every evening before bed!

  32. Terkanil

    Coming from an Ex-Dell Support

    While its been around 18 months since I left Dell Tech Support (just as they were beginning to ship systems with Linux), we weren't "Script monkeys". Well, not all of us anyhow. I followed the script about as far as saying hello and goodbye. Beyond that, I went off the "support script" whenever I could. Part of the reason I spent most of my time there as a higher tier rep (apparently they promote you to higher tiers for commonly thinking outside the box.. was front line for all of a week).

    Even at my site though, I'll admit, it was a bit of a hit or miss. One person, while A+ certified, may strictly follow the script and think little else beyond what the internal knowledge base tells you to do. The next on the other head goes so far off the script, or even finds one that is partially relative and then goes off on his/her own to fix it that the problem is resolved either quicker, or in a better fashion (such as fixing a wireless problem in 2 min that took most of the floot an hour >_<).

    As for the choice of Ubuntu vs Linux, its a learning process. Yes, learning. But hey, isn't that what you go to college for? To learn? Doesn't the school have some sort of wireless, and if so, that surprisingly enough should be accessible under (wait for it!) Linux due to this funny thing called (OMG!) standards? As to the Verizon, can't say much to it myself, however, utlizing the previously noted 5th grader skills to do a little hunting online should reveal what I'm missing to get even connected to that in fairly clicky-clicky terms (Prolly some typing in there, guess that means I'm learning typing skills too?).

    And Microsoft Office.. Well, OpenOffice solves that problem, but if you really absolutely must have MS Office, there are ways to install it through mostly clicky options as I recall.

    Linux has changed a lot in the last ten years. While I admit to still spending most of my time working through a shell, that's just how I learned it. Linux has become much easier. Yes, it was a lot of work to sometimes get things working, and while you can still do it the old fashioned way, there are GUI options that can do the same tasks (Scary, no?)

    But what do I know, I still consider myself a bit of a Novice to Linux, even after working with it in desktops and server environments for 12 years.

  33. Stephen Bungay

    Failed by many, supported by none....

    Simon, not gonna flame ya... just gonna make a few points.

    From the sounds of it, the woman in this article probably would not know what to right click on in order to get to the network connection 'Repair' option in Windows. There are a few failings here;

    1. Dell tech support. "Dell told her not to" (replace her computer), that "Ubuntu was great, college students loved it". This is not helping the customer.

    2. ISPs (Verizon) packaging CD ROMS to 'help' customers get on the Internet. Invariably these are CD ROMS loaded with crap that no one actually needs to use to access their Internet account.

    3. The University for not providing information to help their students. She obviously thinks that she NEEDS MS Word to take her course, I don't think she came to this conclusion on her own, it was probably stated in the University Literature.

    A lack of general knowledge and the ability to think is something I see every day. Colleges and Universities that give 'computer courses' when really they are courses in Word, Excel, Powerpoint or Outlook. A 'Technical' school should certainly have been able to provide aid.

  34. Martin Silver badge

    Do I smell bovine output?

    What's the name of the PR company that got caught astroturfing windows?

    Last time I tried to order a Dell with Linux you had to select a single model on the business site and even then you had to find the hidden key in the secret passage and enter the name of Micheal Dells dog to order it.

  35. Pete "oranges" B.

    I don't get it.

    What's so hard about Linux systems? On all the modern iterations I've used, you type stuff and they do it. The manuals are even built in!

    I mean, the CLI can't possibly be more complicated and incomprehensible than all the visual metaphors in used in Windows, with its layers of hidden menus and dialogs.

  36. no one


    This crap has got to stop. It's an external modem, and it does not actually require a Windows program to use. I know, PPTP means you can tell people 'One computer per modem, sorry.' and have them believe you, but no one with half a clue believes it.

    Dell, if your Ubuntu install isn't pre-loaded with a pretty PPTP GUI, fix that now and teach your techs to recognize typical Verizon shenanigans.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Technical College...

    Some have alluded to it, but none have said it:

    She's attending a TECHNICAL COLLEGE.

    If she can't figure out how to open a word doc, has never heard of openoffice, and doesn't understand that the Verizon crapware CD doesn't actually do anything useful - perhaps she should be considering a change of career? Maybe a towel holder for a bathroom in a high-priced restaurant?

    Anyone who's attending a technical college - of any sort - ought to understand that the platform is fairly moot these days. Windows can do what Linux can do what Mac can do.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Average American

    I am ashamed to be an American when people like this live under the same flag. It is outrageous that anyone would even think of attending college without knowing some computer basics (like: a lot of the business world uses Windows for their drones).

    And honestly, why didn't she go to the campus bookstore and ask someone what kind of computer to get? Hell, she probably could've gotten a decent discount on her laptop, or a shiny new copy of Windows, even. I graduated from high school only a couple years ago; and they had computer proficiency requirements (MS Office Suite, basic typing skills) for graduation (Oklahoma). And I thought _I_ lived in a state full of backwards idiots.

    What cruel twist of fate allowed the thought of attending college to even come within a small rural town of this quarter-wit? People like this make a mockery of our already failing education system. Her eggs should be quarantined to prevent further contamination of whatever cesspool she plopped out of.

  39. john

    And she lives in a suburb of the University of Wisconsin

    The young lady has excellent tech/vocation school options in Madison (she's in a suburb) as well as the University of Wisconsin. Why would she want to take online classes from Milwaukee, a city about 150 km away? The MATC online questionnaire to see if you should take online classes would have weeded her out if she bothered to take it, and answered honestly.

    Now that the tv station has gotten her operational problems removed, it would be interesting to have a followup story on how she did with it this spring semester.

  40. Shingo Tamai
    Paris Hilton

    Bla bla bla windows vs linux.

    In capitals, just to be clear:


    Not to mention the college papers stored in the RECYCLEBIN destroyed by clicking YES on the "Are you sure you want to delete "untitled.doc" (actually end_of_the_semester_dissertation.doc) ?" dialog.

    Paris because she was troubled in college too...

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. al

    I'm sure she cant do an integration..

    ...on square root of tan(x) either.

    Anyone with a working knowledge of math knows that tan(x) needs to be substituted and any simple attempt to break it into cosine or sine wouldn't work. One must be soooooo dumb to not think of it themselves.

  43. Anton Ivanov

    Re: @Simon

    For a cellular modem connection - about 0% of the time. In any of them. If it stops working you have to dive into the guts of the cell modem connection manager which is third party and _NOT_ subject to such windows niceties. Considering that a lot of them are written cross-platform to support Windows & Mac nowdays you should be expecting guess what - config files. Text ones. No registry.

    Fix by "repair connection"... Bwahahaha

  44. Charles Manning

    "The internet"!= the internet

    To most people out there is no difference between their computer and the rest of the computers on the internet. They just plug in the cable and suddenly their computer becomes more capable.

    Similarly, there are a bunch of people that can't tell the different between the internet and IE. In fact on my vanilla Windows XP PC I notice that the menu says "Internet" next to the button to launch IE. If Microsoft calls IE the internet, then not having IE == not having the internet.

    As we know many sites won't run on anything other than IE + ActiveX etc. Ubuntu will struggle to deliver that.

  45. John Bailey

    Inadvertent user

    Not the best way to get introduced to Linux I'll admit. But essentially, someone with no idea what they were buying bought the wrong thing. what a surprise.

    How she managed to buy an Ubuntu Dell by mistake is also quite impressive. And do American ISPs really demand a Windows disk to use their service? Or is it that she just had some cheap ass ISP provided USB modem or something instead of a router.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Simon & AC03:16

    I'm with you, Simon. Linux is for elitist geeks, and isn't designed with the average user in mind, which is why Windows is far, far more popular. There are more Vista installations than Ubuntu.

    Let me see now...

    ...My network connectivity is jaffed, so our AC there says go online to find the correct Ubuntu fixes.... er... Epic Fail, I'd say.


  47. jai

    2 semesters?

    surely it was just an opportune excuse for bunking off 2 semesters of college - that's 5 months is it? (not sure how long the terms are over there)

    how can it take 5 months to realise that the operating system really isn't working for you and that you need to switch to (shudder) windows?

  48. Kevin

    @Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 15th January 2009 03:16 GMT

    "How can you say it's as bad as it was 10 years ago... that's like saying Windows is as bad as it was 10 years ago. "

    Actually after the <sarcasm>JOY</sarcasm> of using Vista I would say windows is probably worst off right now than it was 10 years ago.

    I'm guessing she probably was using a verizon cell phone with a dongle for her internet connection that has no Linux drivers readily available. Or had one of those stupid gateways that comes with a usually unneeded windows only CD and has no alternate instructions.

    And maybe the school's web page is made to work only on <sarcasm> the Internet standards</sarcasm> of IE6 seeing it is a technical school and its probably the most they teach.


    I don't think I have ever seen repair connection work once in all my years working on windows PC's

    Also remember this is coming from the same state that had a 34 yo enrolled in high school as a 15yo and didn't question her age... HEY maybe there the same person ;)

  49. David Harper

    Re Linux = fail

    "It's still pretty much as bad as it was 10 years ago"

    And Vista has been *such* an improvement over XP :-)

  50. Tom Peach

    Dell's fault

    A lot of you are missing the point, this isn't about Ubuntu being crap it's about a lady being sold a laptop that wasn't fit for purpose.

    She erroneously selected a laptop preinstalled with Ubuntu, possibly because it was cheapest on the Dell site and got a shock when it turned up. Dell did OSS no favours by telling her it'll be fine, aside from the ISP setup CD she may have needed Windows (activeX whatever) for her online course, in which case Ubuntu won't work for her.

    I wish everybody would realise that most people don't care if their computer runs Gentoo , OSX, Windows or BSD, they just want to put the disk in their ISP gave them and connect to the internet and read their emails. People don't care about Open Office etc, they are not interested.

    Ubuntu is great, recommend it whenever it really will benefit people, keep the positive feedback coming and watch it gain market share. If you have any doubt don't force it on people, let them run windows to avoid nonsense articles like this.


This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019