As DaniWeb reported back in February, the trouble with asking what your customers want is that they have a habit of letting you know in no uncertain terms. When Dell did that at their IdeaStorm site, the masses yelled ‘what we want is Linux pre-installed’ and the Michael Dell yelled back ‘we are listening’ and then it all went very quiet indeed.

The official Dell response included such snippets as “there is no single customer preference for a distribution of Linux” and “we don't want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another.”

Until now, that is. Dell has announced that it will be selling certain consumer PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed and by so doing admitting that
Linux is actually ready for the mainstream consumer big time.

Something that Michael Dell himself has known for quite some while, considering he himself uses a Dell Precision M90 laptop running Ubuntu 7.04!

But the real news here is not that Linux is hitting the radar of Joe Consumer for the first time rather than flying under it for the benefit of the geek crowd alone. No, the real news comes in the fact that for the first time your average consumer is being given a real choice over OS rather than having to decide between PC and Mac hardware in order to get flexibility over operating system software. If this does not give the whole PC marketplace a boost then that market is dead in the water.

Yes, older readers may recall we have been here before with OS/2, but this time the Windows alternative is a real one with a valid place on the desktop. It is good news for everyone. Except, perhaps, Novell and Red Hat considering that both lost out to Ubuntu in the which distribution for Dell stakes. In the short term this could hit both hard, although the longer view looks more promising as increasing numbers of consumer get turned on to Linux. Or perhaps that should be IF they get turned on to Linux.

And that remains a big if. After all, an alternative OS is all well and good but only if there is a solid base of commercial software available to the average consumer, with an ease of installation that can match Windows. Then there is the small matter of cost, which Dell has managed to avoid up to now. We have no idea as to how much cheaper, if at all, an identically specced Dell Ubuntu machine will be compared to the Windows version. Heck, we have no idea which Dell machines will be offered with the Linux option come to think of it. The danger is that Dell will seize a bottom line opportunity and conveniently forget that Ubuntu is free whereas Windows is not.

If they get it right, and a Linux Dell equates to a cheaper Dell, then Microsoft could face its most serious bit of competition for the longest time.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

10 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by ajax-the-techie

I think Dell shipping machines with Feisty pre-installed will have a relatively small impact on both Red Hat and Novell who aim more at medium-large businesses.

I just hope that Dell's customised Ubuntu will make it easier for the end user by coming with Flash and most commonly used codecs pre-installed. Dell's involvement should at least mean that wireless networking will work out of the box.

Also, it would be great if they didn't install the usual crap you get like AOL shortcuts etc.


yeah if they edit default feisty to have a crappy dell background and 2,000 icons I going to scream..


I think this is great. I doubt that Redhat will be much affected (as pty mentioned), but I'm interested to see how successful it is. Remember, a lot of consumers will be afraid to make the jump, and IMHO the software on Windows is still a lot better. However, the price tag is very appealing, so we may see lowering prices on one side and increasing quality everywhere.


I think this idea is great as well, but the only competition is going to be between Dell call center associates and who is going to answer the next Ubuntu call.

Just think about the niche Dell has...cheap PC's. So next year 20,000 frugal people will buy a Ubuntu Dell and wonder what happened to their PC.

An Ubuntu Dell is a good option for me, because I want a non-bloated copy of Windows...so get the Ubuntu Dell and install Windows from OEM CD from Newegg or something.

In the desktop market we all know Ubuntu doesn't shake a stick at Windows, so I can't say I picture Microsoft taking that big of a hit from this...except for those frugal people who don't know what they're getting into when they want to save $120 on their next Dell.

Just my thoughts...


Linux's big big failing is its lack of installable device drivers. Not everyone wants to recompile the OS kernel just to install a driver for their new printer (if they can find a driver). In fact 95% of Dell users probably won't even know what that means.

Until Linux does acquire installable device drivers any idea that it is going to hit the big time is pure pie in the sky. Its probably pie in the sky anyway, because Windows is too firmly established to be easily displaced. (Without something truly earth shaking to make it look like yesterday's technology.)


Davey Winder -->After all, an alternative OS is all well and good but only if there is a solid base of commercial software available to the average consumer, with an ease of installation that can match Windows.<--

Why does being a good alternative OS, have to hinge on additional purchases made by the consumer. I would think that a good alternative would actually offer the opposite of those things, so that they did NOT have to go out and buy $400 worth of Office Suite software, anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-addware...OMG the list goes on and on...just to get on the internet safely.

with an ease of installation that can match Windows

Hey Davey..go ahead and click on your Ubuntu Icon, (its that circular shaped logo at the bottom right of your screen)...What? You don't see one...well what do you see? Ahhh a little quad-color flag...with the words START near it. Now I understand.....well anyway, if you had that circular logo....

goto SYSTEM-->Administration-->Synaptic Package Manager---
Search ... Click...apply, drink tea...enjoy your app :)

My point is this folks...Davey, do some research, prior to firing out blasts like that. People see blogs like that, that have NOT seen Ubuntu-Linux and immediately assume that there is NO software available. Also in that comment you imply that installing software on linux is a total headache.
Not true...especially in debian based distros...

AS far as the actual topic regarding who in the linux community it's going to hurt..absolutely no one. Do you know that the Linux marketshare has jumped over 5% since the release of Vista. 5 % in under 120 days. That is NOT distro specific. The Ubuntu-Dell deal just adds more percentage to that non-distro specific %.

More exposure to Linux the better -- This is only the 2nd car added to the train this year folks. If your not already on the train, you better find an empty seat, sit down, and hold on tight....this is history in the making

Are you part of it?


Linux's big big failing is its lack of installable device drivers.

Wow, Mathematician, you really didn't both thinking before you opened your mouth on this one. Ubuntu (and many other distros) have the ability to not only recognize often obscure devices, but install the drivers without having to insert a disk or identify the driver needed from a line-up.

Maybe you should download and insert an Ubuntu LiveOS CD real quick then come back and repent....just a thought.

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