Posted on Tuesday 12th of June 2007 at 07:04 in Linux

Why Dell should offer more than just Ubuntu

In the US Dell has famously started offering Ubuntu on selected machines as a direct alternative to XP or Vista. Fortunately these machines cost less than their Windows counterparts and that's good, but Dell really should consider moving beyond offering Ubuntu; and here's why.

Offering Ubuntu is an excellent step in the right direction; bringing quality open source operating systems to the mainstream market. It surprised no-one that they chose Ubuntu, the current poster child of popular Linux and with a suitably strong (and large) community behind it to boot.

ubuntu on dell

However, Dell aren't offering *that* much support for these Ubuntu machines are they? You can buy extra support but you're largely left to fend for yourself with the typical package and that makes me think that Dell could go beyond offering one popular release.

I'm talking about blank machines, without someone elses ideas on it already



That's where big wins will come from. People under-estimate the buying power of the "advanced" users, after all we are the most likely demographic to spend unmentionable amounts on computer parts so I find it surprising that no major distributor has tagged onto the notion of providing "clean" machines.

By "clean" I mean entirely without operating system but tested. This means you get a box that will only boot to the BIOS that you can then install whatever you want on it. Whether that's a stable copy of XP SP2 that you still find "works" or doing odd things with x86 OSX - there should be a range for advanced users to do what they want with.

I'd like someone like Dell to sell a pre-built machine that needs no faffing around with to work. I can quite happily build myself a computer from components but that's not the issue. If Dell could offer a sensibly priced machine with sensible (compatible) components in both the US and Europe - I imagine they would have some sales.

ubuntu banner

Dell have this opporuntity to not only make a point for the value of open source software, but claw back some of the 'enthusiast' market. If they could remove the effort from building your own computer and instead supply you a working, nicely specified machine then they'd probably win over quite a few open source enthusiasts.

Dell can supply normal machines at exceptional value so I see no reason why they can't extend their Ubuntu scheme to offering completely blank computers. Bringing Linux to the mainstream is a good idea but you need to think beyond that - enthusiasts spend a lot money and we like making our own decisions. Give us a blank box and we'll put whatever Linux we like on it. They get a sale and I get a smile - everyone's a winner.

 

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