back to article Dell launches Sputnik Linux Ultrabook

Apple landed an important punch against Microsoft some years back by becoming a popular platform among devs building new applications. The resource-vampire Windows Vista, Microsoft’s effective hiatus on new releases, the power of MacBooks and rise of the web as a runtime saw Microsoft lose its grip on an influential and …

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  1. Ian 62
    FAIL

    13.3" HD 720p

    Sigh

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and glossy too. ffs. Earth calling ultrabook manufacturers, anyone listening?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Manufacturers are listening, at least some of them are.

        http://zenbook.asus.com/zenbook/?c=prime_ux32

        Curiously, the specs don't list the display resolution - but I have one, it has a 1080p matte IPS display (google for reviews if you don't take my word for it), and what a wonderful display it is. And although there's no Linux option available by default (mine came with Windows 7), so far the only thing that has not worked out of the box is NVidia Optimus (for which there is Bumblebee). That, and adjusting the keyboard backlight and display brightness with fn+F*, but I don't mind - by default the keyboard backlight is automatic, which is fine by me, and I prefer to set sensible defaults through power management for the display brightness and leave it at that. Should you be so inclined you can get these to work, at least via scripts (and you could bind them to some keyboard combinations with xbindkeys or something similar), I just haven't bothered). This is with Arch, I recon with the likes of *buntu the experience should be the same if not easier.

        1. Fuzz

          Re: Manufacturers are listening, at least some of them are.

          The UX32 with the 1080p screen was my choice for a new laptop. Unfortunately Asus have decided not to do this model in the UK. You can get the 720p version but not the 1080p.

          I considered ordering one in from America, which would be cheap. Unfortunately I don't get on with the return key on US keyboards.

          I did consider buying a UK model and a US model and swapping the keyboards but that's just a step too far.

          1. Androgynous Crackwhore
            Happy

            Re: Manufacturers are listening, at least some of them are.

            @ Fuzz (& perhaps Piro and others)

            Will this do you?...

            http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?region=GB&prodID=B1234968&go1=go

            It's a UX31A not UX32A - no idea what the difference is - the spec suits me fine so I'm not going to bother trying to figure that out.

            i7-3517, 13.3" 1920x1080 IPS, 4GB, 256SSD, 802.11 a/g/n, 2USB3

            I'm just finalising my order now. Have a downvote - to (hopefully) attract your attention!

        2. Christian Berger Silver badge

          I've stopped caring about new laptops

          I guess I'll go the "used business Thinkpad" route for a while.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Manufacturers are listening, at least some of them are.

          Like other hardware manufacturers, Asus "hides" Linux. It's not accessible and not visible on the list.

          Genuine Windows® 7 (Home Basic 64 bit | Home Premium 64 bit | Professional 64 bit)

          Certainly Ubuntu is not less genuine and not something to feel ashamed about.

      2. Piro

        No, they aren't

        Nobody is even trying to make the laptops you want.

        I recently tried to find a laptop that met my needs, and found that literally only Sony made laptops that came close. Then I found out they had proprietary SSDs, and sighed. But upon realising I could shove an SSD in the optical bay instead, I went ahead and grabbed a 13" Z series Vaio. I don't particularly like Sony all that much, but it seems nothing else met what I was actually looking for. (Also has discrete graphics, another requirement).

        When you look for stuff, you get an absolute sea of 1366x768 junk, onboard graphics, glossy screens, one button trackpads, and if it's not just that, they're heavy beasts. If you're lucky, of course, it'll also come with a pointless (saves no appreciable power) 5400 RPM HDD to round the deal off.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No, they aren't

          Lenovo thinkpad w530 - 8 core i7, up to 32GB RAM, supports about three monitors. Suits all my dev needs.

          1. dajames Silver badge
            Meh

            Lenovo thinkpad w530 ...

            Lenovo thinkpad w530 - 8 core i7, up to 32GB RAM ...

            Well, the display is only 1600x900 -- so not nearly enough vertical pixels. If the Nexus 10 tablet can put 2560x1600 onto a 10.1" panel a 15" laptop should be able to manage at least as many.

            Oh, and by the way, You haven't got 8 cores, you've got four cores and hyperthreading (so, worth about 5-6 cores in reality) -- but that's about as good as it gets.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lenovo thinkpad w530 ...

              re thinkpad w530 - The display on mine is 1920x1080.

              But, yes, it's a quad core extreme, my mistake...

              Either way, it's a beast of a laptop which will give most workstations a very good run for their money.

            2. P. Lee Silver badge

              Re: Lenovo thinkpad w530 ...

              I had a look at the HP specs for this sort of thing too. All the nice stuff fails with a lack of external monitor support (at least it isn't listed on the website). Doh! Come on guys, mini-DP + adapters at least!

              The dell xps 14" looks a little better - you can get 8G ram, 32G msata + 500G spinny disk with 1080p for a price.

              No idea about the quality though.

        2. Mark .

          Re: No, they aren't

          PC Specialist offer lots of customization (SSDs, discrete graphics, Full HD, matte screens), though they're mostly geared towards larger/heavier laptops.

          Note though, you're possibly restricting your choice if you want something that's light and has discrete graphics (it's not just the weight of the card I imagine, but also whatever's needed for extra cooling). To be honest, Intel integrated graphics is a lot better than it used to be, with HD4000 probably being good for most purposes except high end gaming (and if you want a high end gaming laptop, it's not going to be light).

          I do agree the choices seem odd - why do we have super high resolutions on phones/tablets, but not on phones/laptops? Why can't we get more laptops with SSDs (where speed is useful) and tablets with hard disks? (Which seems an obvious option to me, given their usage for media playing - if you can get hard disks into small mp3 players, it should be possible in a large tablet - it seems pointless having Full HD tablets, considering that one Blu Ray quality HD film is 25GB, and many tablets only have 16GB!) Why did I have the option of matte on my 17" Clevo which I use indoors, but all the phones/tablets that get used outdoors in sunlight only have glossy?

    2. csumpi
      Paris Hilton

      My thoughts exactly. I just ordered my xmas present, a i7 15" Sony Vaio with 1080p screen, backlit keyboard etc for $500 less, Windows license included.

      And I can still install linux on it (although with i7 it's much better to run linux in a VM, that way I don't have to worry about the lack of hybrid graphics, multi touch pad etc support from linux).

      I understand that it took lots of development to get linux running on a laptop with all hardware supported. I love linux (linux machines way outnumber windows in my house), but this price tag is ridiculous. Maybe linux on the laptop was just not meant to be.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shit screen.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

    Nice.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

      Except that as the article mentions, this is priced higher than the same spec Windows box....

      How do they justify charging more for removing a paid-for OS and installing a free one instead? Looks more like their previous Linux offerings where it was a twisty maze of passages all the same to find the one product with Linux and then you paid a premium for the privilige.

      I got the feeling last time this was more to 'prove' a lack of demand than anything else, nothing seems to have changed.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

        Have you ever heard of economies of scale?

        1. David Hicks
          Meh

          Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

          Economies of scale don't really apply to a situation where the hardware is the same but a different OS image is added. It's not going to add hundreds to the price to flash a slightly different image to the exact same hardware.

          Now, I can see them wanting to recoup any development effort they put in by charging for it, fine, that could explain it just fine.

          Still, don't hold your breath for Dell UK to get the picture. They flat-out refused to sell one of these without Windows when I enquired, and made no mention that they might be able to meet my requirements for an MS-free laptop in the near future.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

            @David Hicks: "Economies of scale don't really apply to a situation where the hardware is the same but a different OS image is added. It's not going to add hundreds to the price to flash a slightly different image to the exact same hardware."

            Guess again. How much do you think testing and support of these OS images cost per unit sold? So, yes, there are economies of scale.

            1. David Hicks

              Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

              I guess I never consider support beyond hardware failures, which should be the same, because as a competent software developer I support myself.

              If they're going to start offering linux to consumers I can see it, but this is aimed at developers.

              I'd still rather be able to buy one with no OS and no support contract.

              1. JDX Gold badge

                Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

                As mentioned, creating and testing the image will have taken a fixed amount of time. At least as much as Windows, and fact probably more, but split over far fewer units sold.

                1. David Hicks
                  Linux

                  Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

                  ' At least as much as Windows, and fact probably more, but split over far fewer units sold.'

                  Which should be more than taken care of by the lack of windows license.

                  1. fandom Silver badge

                    Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

                    "Which should be more than taken care of by the lack of windows license."

                    But, on the other hand, they don't get paid to install crapware

          2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

            Downvoted for disrespect ot a golden poser.

      2. Barton808

        Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

        Thanks for the feedback, you helped pointed out that we had not priced consistently across our online stores, this has been fixed (Its now priced at $1,449). This offering was always intended to be priced less than Windows (I promise).

        Barton

        Project Sputnik lead, Dell

        1. Androgynous Crackwhore
          Pint

          @ Barton808

          Hi Barton,

          A sincere thank you for the update!

          I'm sorry this story wasn't better received among us commentards. I fear that I, and I think a few others, have become rather jaded & cynical having watched the Microsoft corporation spend the last 20 years eviscerating the global IT ecosystem with its Morton's fork "business strategy" of FUD and imposed cartels. Something for which Dell, even very recently (with it's previous Linux offerings, so carefully crafted from rocking-horse shit, hens teeth and the tears of fairies) is sadly not totally blameless.

          I just had a look at the Dell page linked to from the story and could find no mention of Ubuntu anywhere. The ONLY OS options appear to be "Windows 8, 64-bit, English [Included in Price]" and "Windows 8 Pro, 64-bit, English [add $70.00]". Was eradication the means to the consistency of which you speak? I suppose the Microsoft corporation might not permit Dell to offer direct selection between its own OS offering and certain other better value possibilities - for fear of... competition! :O NOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo....................

          I did manage to track it down elsewhere though: https://www.dell.com/us/soho/p/xps-13-linux/pd.aspx

          The list price there is indeed $1449 and the specs seem to match. It looks like a nice machine in general. Pity about the shit screen problem. If it had been equipped with something appropriate (1920x1200 IPS or PLS - or better, with a nice soft Matte finish) I'd have snagged myself a pair on the spot. Back to my Zenbook/Dreamcolor deliberations...

          Anyway, I hope you're sincere. Your post seems genuine and I actually imagine you are. I don't imagine this offering is expected to sell in any quantity and I'd be flabbergasted if any attempt will be made to help it. However, it appears the corporate mitigations/machinations for the looming ARMageddon are proceeding nicely.

          Best of luck.

          One more thing, if you read this and if you are able, can you tell us if any royalties or remuneration of any kind is paid to Microsoft from sales of these Ubuntu machines? Worth a try innit? ;o)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC 14:30GMT - Re: They are giving the middle finger to microsoft at last!

      Erm, no! They are not and they never did. Even the stupidest Linux fan will buy the cheaper Windows version, dump the Microsoft OS and install the free Ubuntu or whatever Linux distro he/she fancies.

    3. Androgynous Crackwhore
      WTF?

      Totally missed the point!

      Deliberately? Surely they can't be that stupid? Has MS paid them to launch another "look, no one wants Linux" flop? Something the FUDmeisters in Microsoft PR will all be able to point at and laugh at for years to come?

      Isn't the point of buying an OS free or Linux preloaded system largely to avoid paying the "Microsoft tax"? Not to double it and pay it to Dell instead! So what are the choices:

      1. Pay extra to avoid the moral turpitude of handing money to Microsoft (but knowing they'll probably be getting their cut anyway) and find the release-before-current of Ubuntu shoved on it...

      OR

      2. Save fifty quid and get a "free" Windows license (which could come in handy?) and install an up-to-date release of your fave distro.

      OR

      3. Buy a Zenbook.

      So Dell's market is: Ubuntu developers seeking a mediocre notebook who want to spend an extra 50 quid for an outdated preinstallation of Ubuntu? Developers who don't know how to install Linux?... Aren't these rather "niche" niches even by "niche" standards?

      (Yes, I realise that it's the current LTS release - LTS being aimed at "home" and "enterprise" users - not exactly "developers" so much)

      1. Bruno Girin

        Re: Totally missed the point!

        "release-before-current of Ubuntu"

        It's the current LTS which is always recommended on a production machine so it's not completely unreasonnable. Of course, developers do have a tendency to want non-LTS releases too.

      2. Goat Jam

        Re: Totally missed the point!

        "Isn't the point of buying an OS free or Linux preloaded system largely to avoid paying the Microsoft tax?"

        In the past the "Microsoft tax" was levied--as per the MS OEM agreement--against all machines sold, regardless of whether they are sold with a Microsoft OS or not.

        I don't know if this has changed, but I can't imagine it has unless some Supreme Court judge has made a ruling that I'm not aware of.

        This is why you don't see Windows free PC's from major OEMs cheaper than their Windows alternatives.

  4. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Does not compute?

    So you pay an extra $50 to have a OS on the machine that you can download for nothing, as opposed to one which you pay M$ an in-built license fee for? Even the tailored image set up for the machine is available via the link in the article.

    Aside from the note about the screen, why would you pay extra for Ubuntu rather than buy the standard machine, blank it and then put the image on yourself? Yes it saves a little work (and it's nice to have the option) but it's hardly worth a $50 surcharge for the privilege.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Does not compute?

      It's a niche product they have to put more time into per unit (R&D overhead / number of units). They might also anticipate higher support costs.

      You're paying someone $50 to set it up for you, how much do you value your time?

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Does not compute?

        @ JDX

        Paying someone $50 to set it up to a generic image which I'd probably then spend a while re-working and customising for how I want things (and probably de-crudding given what mostly happens) isn't something I'd do. And that of course doesn't include giving the choice of what distro to fly with.

        Plus having stuck Ubuntu and other distro's on various laptops at various points over the years (most of which involved sticking in the CD/DVD and leaving them to it) and indeed then having to spend an almost equal amount of time whilst they then went off and updated themselves anyway (a joy of all OS's by nature) frankly the additional time to do the first installation is minimal and you end up with a clean install set up exactly how you want it.

        And in all that time I don't recall having any significant functionality missing, and indeed on one occasion a network card that Windows (XP at the time) refused to reliably deal with played quite happily under Ubuntu (which I was very pleased about, as until then I had thought the thing was going hardware-senile).

        So yes I value my time (at my professional rate the $50 would be about 10 minutes worth), but I also value the time I don't have to spend undoing stuff before I can do it how I want it.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Does not compute?

          So you're not target market then are you. The fact THEY are just copying an image across is irrelevant, the typical buyer will spend how ever many hours it takes to download/install/configure Linux.

          Of course if you want a specific setup it's not for you but if someone wants a Linux dev-box, $50 is a good deal especially if they are not an expert Linux-er...

          And as for you charging $300/hr, yeah right.

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

            Re: Does not compute?

            I'd love to know who exactly is the target market, as I would hope anyone willing to spend that figure on a laptop wouldn't be your average casual emailer or novice. And I'm no Linux guru, and if I can do that kind of tweaking then almost anyone can. Judging by the other comments in this thread (and the upvotes and downvotes that various posts are attracting) then I'm not alone in this viewpoint.

            Oh and aside from the fact you haven't got a clue as to who I am or what I do, I never said I charged, I said it's my professional rate that my employer charges our customers for my services (and which they pay for lengthy projects). Although you are correct, it should be a bit higher than $300. I just wish it was the rate that I got paid...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @JDX - Re: Does not compute?

            If you're not an expert Linux-er you'd be stupid to spend 1500$ on such a product and if you are an expert Linux-er you'd be also stupid to spend that much money too.

            As for 300$/hr is not that usual but sometimes companies pay that much in special circumstances.

          3. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Does not compute?

            I installed Ubuntu on a 1.5Ghz machine yesterday using a CDROm that took ~20minutes to download and burn. It took maybe 20 minutes to get the box fully up and running. Maybe took 5 minutes of my own time altogether.

            On a new machine with a faster than light DVD I cant imagine it taking anywhere near that.

            If it cost Dell $200 to install Linux (when they can offer me minute changes in spec for nothing in everything normally it cant be a supply chain cost) I'd steer well clear of their Linux offerings - they obviously either haven’t got a clue what they're doing or they don’t want you to buy one.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Does not compute?

              @Tom 7 - That isn't how thing work in a PC factory though. The image will be hosted on a server and will be pulled onto the new laptop, probably via a pxe boot. The boot will then run all the appropriate scripts to install the image and make any per-machine specific tweaks which are required. Either that or there is mass hard disk cloning, with specific modifications made at first boot.

              This is a fast process, but it is not simple to setup and requires extensive testing. Images for new laptops also require extensive testing. We're not talking about downloading a DVD and just sticking it in. The testing process for a new build is significantly more rigorous than the general end users "stick it in and hope".

              1. Vic

                Re: Does not compute?

                > This is a fast process, but it is not simple to setup

                Yeah, it is.

                There's a couple of hours building an appropriate image, then you stick it on a cobbler server, and you're done.

                Vic.

          4. Vic

            Re: Does not compute?

            > the typical buyer will spend how ever many hours it takes to download/install/configure Linux.

            Less than one hour, unless you have an *especially* slow Internet connection...

            Vic.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @JDX - Re: Does not compute?

        Even for a niche product, if you come up with a new product and the targeted customers wake up and realize they are being ripped off, you can safely kiss good bye that niche. It's business 101 to me, I can't see how is Dell missing this.

        You seem to be right with your estimations so this proves that Dell Linux offer is economically not viable so they should have killed this product since the beginning. Notice they never tried to discount them (Microsoft would not allow them to do that) they would rather re-image them and sell them as Windows computers.

        1. Androgynous Crackwhore
          Holmes

          Re: @JDX - Does not compute?

          "JDX" is perfectly correct. It's an "economies of scale" thing:

          The plan is to sell twelve of these.

          The markup is $50.

          12 x $50 = $600

          $600 is about the sum one might expect Dell to "invest" into the "R&D" of getting some monkey to prep an Ubuntu image for twelve notebooks.

          QED

  5. Adze
    WTF?

    It's got a lot of memory...

    264GB according to the article.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's got a lot of memory...

      That'll be 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. Does it really need explaining?

      1. gkroog
        Linux

        Re: It's got a lot of memory...

        I read it just a bit earlier and it didn't say 8GB anywhere...just Core i4 and 256GB of memory...

        I think they fixed the type error. It still calls the 256GB "memory" instead of "SSD" or "storage."

        1. Miek
          Linux

          Re: It's got a lot of memory...

          "RAM IS Memory" -- I.T Crowd

          1. Kay Burley ate my hamster
            FAIL

            Re: It's got a lot of memory...

            The author must be from the Marketing dept.

  6. MastaBlasta
    Thumb Down

    Desktop space! >:-/

    Another sodding 720p screen. Can anyone recommend a decent 1080p ultrabook (or AMD equivalent)? There don't seem to be many :(

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Linux

    Ubuntu = Fail

    In my eyes at least.

    If I were to buy one of these, the stock build would get wipes and something a little more stable installed.

    I'm torn between CentOS and Debian. Probably CentOS simply because a lof of the software I develop for works fine on RHEL/SUSE. Getting it to work on .deb systems is a PITA and also unsupported.

    Still, it is a start but the H/W seems to have been cobbled together from the spare parts bin.

    Devs need more than 1366x768 but like HP and many other manufacturers just stick their fingers in their ears and shout 'La-La-La I can't hear you'.

    Or perhaps their lords and masters from Redmond are playing the netbook specs game again but a little less blatantly this time. In any case, this is a failure in my eyes.

  8. billium
    FAIL

    @JDX I value my time. In order to get any laptop the way youwant it will take time. It is quicker to re-install Windows than remove the crud.

    As with any Dell you still pay the M$ tax regardless, in this case without getting an M$ OS.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      I agree, re-installing Windows instead of that nasty Linux is exactly what I'd do!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't be the only one who clicked through thinking I'd be getting an ultrabook without the windows license premium, allowing me to obtain my own licensing much cheaper through work (or less legitimate means), only to be genuinely surprised to find it more expensive than the windows version. Absolutely crackers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quit your whining

    and people wonder why companies like Dell only ship laptops with windows installed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dell only ship laptops with windows installed.

      Awesome! Taking "not reading the article you're commenting on" to new heights!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC 15:37GMT - Re: Quit your whining

      RTFA!

      We're bitching here about Dell shipping laptops with Linux.

      1. dajames Silver badge
        FAIL

        @AC 16:25GMT - Quit your whining

        RTFA!

        We're bitching here about Dell shipping laptops with Linux.

        No, as I understand it, we're bitching about Dell offering laptops with Linux, but with specs and prices that nobody is likely to accept. I don't know of anyone who has ever actually bought a Dell with Linux preinstalled, because it's always cheaper to buy the Windows version and install Linux over the top.

        That's why we're bitching.

        1. Sean Timarco Baggaley
          FAIL

          Re: @AC 16:25GMT - Quit your whining

          RTFA yourselves. You clearly missed the part where it points out that Dell spent some of their own money getting the drivers working properly for Ubuntu.

          THAT is why there's a (rather small) premium. This means Dell had to do work themselves that they normally would not have to bother with. With Windows 7, the component manufacturers themselves do 99.9% of the heavy lifting when it comes to drivers. All Dell's monkeys have to do is bolt it all together properly, test it actually works, then shovel it all into a plastic case with a shit screen.

          For the Ubuntu Edition of their laptop, Dell's own people have had to do some of that work, because there's nobody else do to it for them. They've had to muck about with source code and driver support in Ubuntu to make it talk civilly with their choice of components. Only when all the features listed on the side of the box are actually usable can they then shovel it all into that plastic case with the shit screen.

          Las time I checked, programmers capable of working on drivers weren't cheap, regardless of the operating system. Neither are project managers familiar with such GNU / Linux projects. So Dell do have to pay for the skunkworks people's time and effort somehow.

          Furthermore: providing customer support is a legal obligation in most territories. It's also expensive. Even more so when you consider that most call-centre operators have been dealing with Windows users rather more often than Ubuntu users. That means training will be needed to ensure suitable operators are available for these Ubuntu-burdened laptops.

          What happens if a customer decides to upgrade Ubuntu "Anthropomorphic Axolotl" to its next version, which might even have a radically different GUI (again)? Dell need to consider that support aspect too.

          Hence the extra $50.

          Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Sean Timarco Baggaley - Re: @AC 16:25GMT - Quit your whining

            Every argument you present is reasonable but still, it can not be used to justify what can be easily perceived as a rip-off. In this case, as I was saying somewhere else on this forum, the offer is economically non viable so if Dell can not match the pricing to what the intended target customer would be willing to pay, they should not bother at all, period. This is elementary business teaching.

          2. eulampios

            Dell's own people have had to do some of that work, because there's nobody else do to it for them. They've had to muck about with source code and driver support in Ubuntu to make it talk civilly with their choice of components.

            Wow, all of a sudden, Dell is an active Linux device drivers developer? Sorry, very unlikely...

            1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

              Seriously?

              Driver support for Linux is still hit or miss. In order to make a particular distro work on a particular piece of hardware, you have to do some tuning. That doesn't necessarily involve writing actual driver code, but it is quite likely to involve messing about with config files and the like.

              Also, where Dell are using some custom components, they do need to work on integrating drivers properly. And I wouldn't be surprised if Dell's people were finding bugs too.

              The source code is open. ("Open Source" – the clue's in the name.) Anyone can play with it. Why would Dell's skunkworks team be an exception? If it were as easy as just installing an Ubuntu ISO onto a bare laptop, it wouldn't have taken this long, would it?

              1. Chemist

                Re: Seriously?

                "Driver support for Linux is still hit or miss. In order to make a particular distro work on a particular piece of hardware, you have to do some tuning."

                Mostly you are wrong. I've not had to do that for ~6-7 years and I install 3-5 a year on quite a range of hardware even 3G dongles and printer/scanners have worked out of the box.

                I don't know where you get your 'information' from as you seem so dismissive of Linux but I can't believe that it from personal experience. If indeed Dell have some custom components, which I find hard to believe, then some configuration/coding might be necessary.

                1. Vic

                  Re: Seriously?

                  > I install 3-5 a year on quite a range of hardware

                  I install quite a few more than you do. I have a cobbler machine with a handle on top that I can drag to site to install a choice of installation...

                  > I've not had to do that for ~6-7 years

                  Nor I.

                  Vic.

              2. eulampios
                Linux

                Re: Seriously?

                ...That doesn't necessarily involve writing actual driver code, but it is quite likely to involve messing about with config files and the like.

                This particular statement is giving away your being imaginative and quite far away from the whole process. Because, I'd tell you what could Dell "Linux Sputnik team" have possibly done to tune anything if that (had required to be done at all) Go to ubuntu kernel ppa place to install and try some upstream kernels. If something doesn't work with the default Ubuntu/Debian kernel, chances are very high it will work and perform better with some recent stable kernels. Cloning the kernel.org or UBuntu's own git tree, branching , checking out and building kernels is also very elementary and takes so little time (about 2 mins on some AMD's and Intel's desktop multicore cpus, unlike my old P4...sigh)

                I was explaining recently the difference between dealing with issues on GNU/Linux and Windows. Turns out, due to the fact that the former is free and open, it is indeed so much easier to troubleshoot and fix it. Linux is for the ... lazy ones nowadays.

              3. Vic

                Re: Seriously?

                > In order to make a particular distro work on a particular piece of hardware, you have to do some tuning

                Your statement clashes with my experience. Perhaps you'd like to supply some substantiating evidence?

                Vic.

          3. Vic

            Re: @AC 16:25GMT - Quit your whining

            > Dell had to do work themselves that they normally would not have to bother with

            No they didn't.

            There's an open offer from the kernel developers to generate a proper driver for any piece of hardware for which the vendor will supply specs. Dell didn't need to write a thing (not that they did).

            > Las time I checked, programmers capable of working on drivers weren't cheap

            You should check again. Linux driver development is as cheap as you want it to be, without sacrificing quality.

            Vic.

  11. Saul Dobney

    Further screen downgrades

    The last three laptops have all been 1920x1200, now everywhere I look I have to downgrade to 1080 at best for the next one. You'd have thought people like Dell would have taken a leaf out of Apple's book and realised some us who do a lot of work across a lot of applications (and don't care about playing HD videos) actually want more screen real-estate, not less.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ubuntu?

    Bloatware... give me this machine with a fine-tuned Arch Linux (and a non-lardy-desktop - XFCE?), and maybe we'll talk*. I bet this fella would burn virtual rubber with Arch...

    * - Oh, and give me $1500 whilst you're at it, or else it'd be a bit of a non-starter for me :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ubuntu?

      Wow, you are the coolest commenter on here!

  13. Paul Moran
    Linux

    I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible!

    At least that's what the graphic just above the price indicates

    :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible!

      But, hang on - Everyone was saying that Linux can't be run on Windows 8 certified machines, because of nasty Microsoft trying to kill Linux.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 16:30GMT - Re: I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible!

        I'll help you with this.

        Because of nasty Microsoft trying to kill Linux, you can't run anything else but Windows 8 on ARM machines and you can't run Linux if the computer manufacturer does not allow you to disable UEFI secure boot on that machine. In order for a computer to be certified for Windows 8, it must have the possibility to prevent the user from booting alternate OS. Translated for you, Microsoft tells computer OEM that if they want to sell Windows 8, by default they must prevent Linux from booting on that machine. Get it now ?

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: @AC 16:30GMT - I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible!

          I think that was his point, wasn't it? That Linux is being sold on a machine certified as not being able to run Linux.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC 16:30GMT - I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible! @AC 18:15

          What the OP said is actually perfectly true. The threads here are full of UEFI-means-no-Linux FUD. (Nice to point that finger the other way for a change.) While your point about the default is true, it's not an answer to his post. So you haven't helped. Rushing to be supercilious often causes that failure.

        3. Mark .

          Re: @AC 16:30GMT - I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible!

          OOI, how much easier is it to install Linux on an Apple tablet, or install GNU/Linux on an Android tablet? Is this something that MS made harder - or is it that MS ARM tablets are no different, but as always, MS get criticised when Apple got a free pass?

      2. WatAWorld

        Re: I like that it's certified Windows 8 compatible!

        Blame the hackers. Microsoft tried allowing other software to run and it ended up being rootkit-ed endlessly.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does anyone know why Dell bothers with Linux ?

    At the beginning I used to have a lot of respect for Dell. They had the courage to speak openly about Linux and actually offering it on their hardware and I was wondering how could Microsoft let them get away with it. Was Redmond sleeping or powerless ? I soon realized that in fact Dell is cleverly marketing their Linux installed products in such a way that nobody in his right mind would be tempted to buy them (inferior specs, higher price etc.). So this is how I got to ask myself, why is Dell doing this ? Maybe there will be a few suckers who will fall for Dell computers running Linux but this is never going to help their decline on the market ? Why try entering a market in which you have no real interest ? Why don't they just stand up like Lenovo or Sony and say "Sorry, folks, we're just not interested in Linux. It's nothing personal, it's just business".

  15. Ross K
    WTF?

    Did I Read That Article Right?

    $1500 for a laptop running linux?

    $1500?

    A grand and a half?

    I must have missed a memo.

    I suppose one could nuke linux off if and make it a hackintosh or something...

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Did I Read That Article Right?

      Why wouldn't you put Linux on a high-spec system?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Did I Read That Article Right?

        If you got a high spec system there’s no reason not to put linux on it. But if you dont need a high spec machine because your not putting windows on it....

        I use a low spec laptop to do 'enterprise' level development work on and the only noticeable difference between that and my 4 core monster desktop with 8 times as much ram and 10* available processor speed is usable screen space.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Did I Read That Article Right?

          I'm pretty sure Eclipse will benefit from a decent spec and SSD.

          The VMs running DBs definitely will.

      2. Goat Jam
        FAIL

        Re: Did I Read That Article Right?

        "Why wouldn't you put Linux on a high-spec system?"

        Since when is a 1366x768 screen part of a "high-spec system" ?

  16. Wintermute
    Trollface

    8GB RAM and 256GB memory

    Wow. 256GB of memory. That's awesome! I am going to hold Dell to this one if it's in their literature and not only a screwup on the part of El Reg. Yes, Dell must design me a new machine.

    Incidentally, what is this 8GB of non-memory RAM used for? (Not that I care much. With 256GB of main memory, I can easily waste 8GB here and there.)

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: 8GB RAM and 256GB memory

      It's a fairly poor attempt at a joke when an SSD is memory. It's the word 'disk' which is out of place,

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: 8GB RAM and 256GB memory

        In computer industry vernacular "memory" means RAM and not storage.

        Of course you knew that already, despite your snarky comment, I'm sure.

        Yes, I know that technically SSD's are "flash memory", however that technicality is irrelevant when the context is a puff piece about some generic consumer laptop. That rubbish about being aimed at programmers was nonsense. No programmer would use a screen with 768 vertical pixels.

        Oh, and the D in SSD is for Drive, not Disk.

        HTH

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: 8GB RAM and 256GB memory

          "Oh, and the D in SSD is for Drive, not Disk."

          Which almost as much of a misnomer in it's own right as there's no drive motor in an SSD either. :-)

    2. Swarthy Silver badge
      Go

      Re: 8GB RAM and 256GB memory

      That'll be for the video card. Not a bad spec, tho I'd expect higher given the quantity of memory available.

  17. The BigYin

    Interesting tactic

    It this another ruse by Dell? Sell an over-priced and under-spec'd machine to then claim "Oh look Linux is shit. It didn't sell). And I'll believe it is available in the UK when I see it. Probably for £1,500 too, given Dell's pricing structure.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Interesting tactic

      It'll just be further proof Linux users are cheapskates who want everything for free,

      1. MissingSecurity

        Re: Interesting tactic

        Or that they have common sense.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Interesting tactic

          >>Or that they have common sense.

          Not if El Reg is anything to go by, Sean hits the proverbial nail.

      2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: Interesting tactic

        Not quite. The mistake so many – including Dell – make is to assume that there is a single "Linux market", when there's nothing of the sort.

        The collective noun for Linux fanatics is "argument".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interesting tactic

          "The collective noun for Linux fanatics is "argument"."

          The collective noun for M$ fanatics is "poodle".

          1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

            Did I hit a nerve? (Was: "Re: Interesting tactic.")

            Oh dear. The Dollar symbol instead of an 'S'?

            Seriously? Do kids still think that's original or clever?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Did I hit a nerve? (Was: "Interesting tactic.")

              "Oh dear. The Dollar symbol instead of an 'S'?

              Seriously? Do kids still think that's original or clever?"

              That was a useful contribution to the debate !

      3. The BigYin

        Re: Interesting tactic

        @JDX - Cheapskates? Hardly. I am willing to pay for a laptop with GNU/Linux pre-installed. I am even willing to pay a (small) premium due to economies of scale. I am just not will to pay for that turd.

        Give me an ASUS Q200E with a working GNU/Linux install and I'm a happy man. But no, they are only shipping the X201E with GNU/Linux and it has had some features ripped out/downgraded for apparently no reason.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: Interesting tactic

          Replying to myself...

          And that's the problem. OEMs seem to assume (for whatever reason) that GNU/Linux should only be a budget option and it's that which irks me. Just like a Windows user, we'd quite like to buy some semi-decent kit. Now whether this is just ignorance on the part of OEMs, basic economics or some MS imposed conspiracy to keep Linux at bay - I dunno. I doubt it's the latter, but rumours keep appearing and OEM licensing pressure.

          What I don't get is why OEMs cannot just offer a "No OS" option on all products. That would do me.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No sale here

    The higher price might partly be due to the presumable lack of crapware on the Linux installation.

    Remember that McAfee trial version (or whatever Dell ships) that desires a paid-for license after a few months? As we all know it's only there because it provides Dell with an additional income. Do they have the same sort of thing on the Ubuntu install? I suspect not.

    That said, no explanation of why it costs more than the one with Windows license takes away from the fact that it does. If at any point you want to sell the laptop you're much better off having Windows on it. So really, unless you're afraid of downloading and installing Ubuntu, there's no good reason to buy this over the Windows version. And Dell should have realised that. Just as they should have realised that in 2012/13 the vast majority of programmers will not purchase a laptop with phone-style resolution. That just sucks.

    I predict this is not going to sell a lot better than a salt-free low fat shitburger.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No sale here

      It's some sort of extortion here : you pay or we will put crap on your computer!

  19. Herby Silver badge

    Why bother?

    I just (a couple of weeks ago) installed Fedora 17 on a nice new laptop that was imaged for Windows 7. You just answer a couple of questions like (paraphrasing) "Would you like to shrink your current windows partition down to a manageable size and install Linux on the rest of the disk?" and you say "Why certainly", and the installation continues without a hitch. You then go to Nvidia and get the proper drivers and away you go. What could be simpler? It works quite nicely for me, and if I ever (why?) need Windows 7, I go back to it (and start cursing and swearing like a sailor).

    Yes, there is a built-in tax because that is what the company image does, but once you boot Linux, you never look back!

    1. Chemist

      Re: Why bother?

      "You then go to Nvidia and get the proper drivers and away you go. What could be simpler? "

      I agree entirely - some here would say not - they are wrong !

  20. WatAWorld

    13" screen for developers is laughable

    I can just see sitting at a 13" screen for several hours straight. And they keyboard will be correspondingly cramped.

    I can't even see BYOD developers on short term contracts wanting something so small.

    I hope the failure of this one laptop does not lead Dell to think the concept would not work with desktops and 17" portables.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: 13" screen for developers is laughable

      People work on 13" all the time - I do myself sometimes though I am with you on not liking it!

      Plug it into a 2nd monitor...

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Didn't Sputnik just go "beep" as it went round and round in big circles until its battery died. I seem to recall that a fiery death was part of the Sputnik lifecycle too.

    Call me Susan but this doesn't sound like the sort of legacy one wants to invoke for a machine targeted at developers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      It was *the first* though... the first of many: A mere ('scuse soviet-era cosmonautical homophone humour) "proof of concept" for all the amazing things which followed... never intended to do anything more than signal to the loosing side that it could be done, it had been done and "watch this space"...

      Perhaps all's not completely Micro$hafted at Dell HQ after all?...

  22. Tyrion
    FAIL

    Dell has always been anti-Linux. I remember when they first launched models with Ubuntu preinstalled after the idea storm thingy, and their UK flat out refused to sell me one. I then proceeded to ring up and try to buy one only to be told they only sell Windows PC's, yeah that's Dell for you.

    I'm waiting for the day when Dell ends up destroying itself because of its addiction to Windows and all things Microsoft. So carry on Dell, keep pushing Windows until your sales drop through the floor. I'll be on the sidelines laughing my arse off.

    As far as value for money goes, I can build a top end desktop machine with some of the best components for less than £600. Buying from OEM's means getting ripped off. It's far cheaper and you'll get much better components if you build one yourself.

  23. eulampios

    Ballmer must have

    been in a pretty complacent mood to let Dell sell their overpriced rubbish with Ubuntu just a little higher than that with Windows. Well done. Don't you make him angry to spare some chairs...

  24. Elfoad Regfoad
    FAIL

    13.3"

    $1500??? Why wouldn't I get a MacBook for that price?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because you're not a devout enough iTard to drop that much on a highly polished but obsolete iTurd?

  25. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    For what it's worth...

    "Pricing is $1,549, which includes a year of professional support."

    (My emphasis. [Source.]) There's your 'premium' right there.

    1. Goat Jam
      Joke

      Re: For what it's worth...

      I hope their "professional support" is better than it is for Windoze.

      "Have you tried turning it off and on again"

      "yes"

      "OK then, I want you to reload the OS from the recovery partition"

      "????"

  26. a_mu
    Thumb Down

    again

    dell try this every few years,

    ship a few products without windows,

    just to keep MS on the back foot may be ?

  27. Mark .

    "Apple landed an important punch against Microsoft some years back by becoming a popular platform among devs building new applications."

    In your Universe, maybe. Vista is old news. And if you don't like Windows, there's Linux - better that than to restrict your choice to only one company (that is trying to destroy Open Source operating systems with software patents).

    "the power of MacBooks"

    Oh dear - is this an Apple advert. "Macbook" is just a trademark for their PCs. They use the same components of any other PCs, and that power comes from companies like Intel. I've plenty of power in my Clevo, thanks.

    "saw Microsoft lose its grip on an influential"

    Oh dear, it's the new "Apple are going bust". Wake me up when it's Apple who have 90% market share.

  28. Pat 4

    So wait... I am expected to spend 50$ MORE for a laptop that has a FREE operating system???

  29. Master Rod

    Linux Laptop

    The best thing I ever did with a laptop is format the hard drive and install openSuse Linux. Once I got the graphics driver from Nvidia, all went well. I have had it now for 3-4 years. Presently running openSuse 12.2, with an addon 22 inch screen. Although dual-core, 64 bit, and 2gig of ram for only about $300, I would like to upgrade to a quad-core AMD processor, and 4-6 gig of ram. I have never had to defrag, antivirus check, or clean the hard drive. All in all, and Linux is an excellent OS when set up right the first time. Enjoy..

    Master Rod

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