The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

Search the Blog of helios and all comments


Thursday, October 30, 2008

You Don't Make Mistakes Like This.

Many warm thanks to Mark Van Kingsley for spotting. scanning and sending the ad to me. Mark is a good friend of Helios Project and one of the most determined Linux Advocates I have the privilege to work with.

It wasn't but just a few days ago that I laid into IBM for not only saying something that should make every Linux User wonder...but for saying something so outrageous that it was hard to believe they said it at all.

Some of you took immense umbrage at the article. Some lamented that IBM "is our friend" and that "we owe much" to IBM...

If IBM wasn't making billions from Linux they'd drop us like we were radioactive.

I'd put a few bucks into a sweet deal like that too if I were IBM.

Or HP...

Or Dell.


There were some of you that actually got angry with me for "kicking the giant". Well, many of you who reacted that way may want to start making your way to the antacid aisle of your local grocery now.

One or two of you might just want to consider getting a prescription for Valium.

One or two of you.

Dell screwed up. No wait...they didn't screw anything up. They fully intended to do what they did. Now tell me they are not under the thumb of Microsoft. Why was this statement necessary? Let the customer decide. So tell me Dell is a friend of Linux or that they are not complete quislings for the Redmond Empire. Oh please...I do so want to hear you tell me this. It will be an Academy Award performance. It will have to be to explain away this.

So, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Click it in all its glory. The gunshot wound is at the top right hand corner of the picture. Sorry for the large size...But that was done for a reason. Show me on the ad anywhere it physically mentions Linux.

Allow me the ever-so-seldom crude observation:

Linux Community...

You've just been bitch-slapped.

I'm not going to say anything more because it's obvious what it would be. Just look, learn and digest it. If you can't see the betrayal after thirty seconds of looking at this ad, you probably don't have any interest in reading further. Is there a problem with showing the desktop? What's with the disposable coffee cup...Why not a ceramic Dell cup? Subliminal message that this is a throw away system maybe? Maybe the visuals on a Linux System are something you don't want your Windows Users to see? Yes, I fully realize the reasons they portrayed things the way they did. It's called display marketing...front, back, sides, top, bottom...I get it. Still the main point remains just as stark and glaring.

"Yeah we sell Linux...but Windows is what you should use."

That is the message of this ad.

The "evidence" is building much more do some of you need? This is beyond a subtle faux pas. The Linux Corporate has absolutely no loyalty nor does it possess a shred of concern for the proliferation of Linux on the Desktop. Their "development contributions" serve their mission for the large part...and some of you think they expend their development resources for the betterment of "The Community".

Yeah...and I'm currently dating the Tooth Fairy.

Someone wanna fire off an email or maybe a phone call? We did...several of each. No one has yet to return any of them. We'll publish it the second they do.

Trust me.

All Righty Then


Unknown said...

Oh I see it! The ad recommends Windows, yet the screenshot clearly shows Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It also makes no mention of what the OS is. What in the world? Dell, why don't you grow a pair for a change?

Anonymous said...

I don't much care for crass language in the blogs I read but in this case it is apt. A "bitch-slapping" it was.

I'm on the phone to Round Rock Texas now.


Anonymous said...

You have got to be fooling me, you gimped this, right?

No, sadly, I know you didn't. God Almighty helios, thank you. I was going to order one of those pieces of crap.


freeride120 said...

I have to agree that dell is under the shadow of the dark tower! However, Ubuntu 8.04 is mentioned in the ad (which makes the slap in the face sting that much more) and I think the to-go cup is meant to show that this system is for people on the go. That said, I still won't buy anything from dell nor will I recommend dell products.

Anonymous said...

This is an absolute outrage! Yeah, big deal. They offer a Linux computer but the first sentence of the G** D****** ad you purchase the Windows Machine over the Linux. You are right Helios. I want to see the microsoft apologists that claim to be Linux people justify this.

Will be on the phone first thing in the morning. Can we find out who actually ok'ed this ad? Was it the guy that hung out in the LXer forums for so long telling us how lucky we were for having Dell sell Linux boxes? He was some bigwig from Dell but I don't remember who he was.

Dennis Sawyer
Hart Michigan Linux User

Amenditman said...

Why do these corps think they can make huge profits from Linux and related services on their corporate big iron, then turn right around and pound MS Windows into every consumer product they sell?

They most certainly make much more percent of their total profit from the Linux side than they do from the dark side.

When do consumers ever spend any money after the initial purchase for additional Windows services From Dell? When they buy their next computer, that's when. Consumer products have pretty slim margins so there can't be much mark-up on the Windows license, can there be ?

Tell me I'm wrong and that it is a huge cash cow for them, please, then this nonsense would make some sense to me.



Anonymous said...

Don't trust Dell - do you think they are in this game for YOU....think again....they are in this game to make $$$.

Unknown said...

look, I'm getting pounded via emails for a couple of things. First, the person above was right...the coffee cup signifies a person on the go...I was being well when I mentioned the front vs back of the computer. The first shot shows the front, the Linux machine shows the back...I get it.

Why couldn't it have been the other way around? The main point still stands.


Unknown said...

@ anonymous


Yep...don't pass go, don't collect 200.00...

Go straight to and get hooked up. Best folks in the world to deal with.


Anonymous said...

The "marketing deal" with Microsoft (ie, a hidden license cut) is the total of Dell's margin.

In other words, if Dell break the "Dell recommends Microsoft Windows" deal they are bankrupt.

The same holds for every other major PC seller: Your licensing deal with Microsoft is the difference between profit and loss. And whoever advertises Linux pays the max for Windows.


Webmaster said...

Odd that Dell puts the lovely Ubuntu Linux 8.04 desktop, then "recommends Windows". I'm sure every one of your initial observations is true, whether Dell intentionally did it or not. Fact is, bloatware makes more money for the manufacturer. I know Dell made some statement about scaling back on that, but I'll bet there's still some on the Windows machine, and that only means more profit for the Windows system. If they get a couple of bucks for every preloaded crapware they put on their, it increases the margins, regardless of whether Ubuntu is free or not; and, as I understand it, Dell has to license a DVD player for the Ubuntu system, so there is cost there for them, too. I won't apologize for Dell -- I still feel Dell is only offering Ubuntu to quell the vocal masses, and they don't advertise it nearly enough -- but from a financial standpoint, pushing Microsoft systems for them is still more financially viable.

Anonymous said...

> Suggestions?

Yes. Either do as Helios recommends, or if you want a real netboo, get the original: The EEE. You can still get the original model for $249 and the 900 for $349 from Mwave (

Since I've never expected anything else from Dell, I can't say I'm surprised.

Anonymous said...

I'll dumpster dive for my next computer before I buy anything from the Corporate We Love Linux But MS Has Our Balls people
selling in the bigbox stores.

The local university (ENMU) just unloaded
a large number of computers, all with Linux because MS still owned the software I guess. We got two, $35 ea.

Dude, you don't need a Dell!

Anonymous said...

People have complained about this (win logo) before concerning dell, lenovo, hp, etc. All these big oem's seem to be shaking in their wingtips at the thought of microsoft repercussion, even though ms was already convicted in the US & the EU.

After the betrayal and sabotage of OLPC by intel & microsoft, came the initial Asus entry (eeePC) with Linux and it's rapid success. Most of the other pc makers are stampeding & tripping over each other to cash in; But, they're all doing it wrong by offering lesser equipped models with Linux as compared to the aging xp.

Lately though, even hp is getting smarter by dropping its ballnux (microSLED) version and going to an ubuntu based os.


Anonymous said...

And this is also why--despite it being Dell IdeaStorm's highest-voted suggestion--Dell won't put as an option even on their MS Windows systems.

Dell is a farce. Screw 'em.


Anonymous said...

twice submitted to slashdot by two different people. Twice rejected.

I guess Dell running it up inside the Linux Community isn't news...or is Dell an advertiser?

Linux news site my dying ass.

jhansonxi said...

Cost difference analysis:
Total = -$40? XP + $? quantity discounts across entire M$ product line + subsidized M$ marketing + $? third party crapware profit - $0 additional support center training costs (relative to this new product line)

$0 Ubuntu - reduction in M$ quantity discounts + $0 marketing subsidies + $0 third party crapware profit - >$0 support center training costs

Third-party crapware could be added to the Ubuntu version but is that something we want? Would any Linux user be thrilled to have a trial version of Symantec's Norton Internet Security included? It wouldn't have to do anything, just hog the CPU and pop-up useless warnings once in a while.

I would like the Ubuntu version to be higher priced so they make more profit on it (more incentive).

Anonymous said...

Yeah...Slashdot is right up there with the rest of them. If it isn't related to something that makes them money, it's rejected. They post the dumbest things in the world but when it comes to a real submission that has content that the community my benefit from... As for the issue at hand, what a joke. I've never liked Dell for the reasons implied by this blog entry and I can tell I will never get any closer to Dell than I already am. Apple++

Anonymous said...

Meh, I don't get the big deal. Let 'em do whatever they want. If you don't like it - buy somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Dell's website is also playing this "upgrade" game. When I checked these out soon after they were announced, you could buy the XP version and have is ship with only a few days delay, but had to wait several few weeks for the Ubuntu version. I assumed they were pushing the XP version on me and decided to wait - they missed my impulse buy.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Dell really have a choice in this. The cut-price versions of Windows Dell gets, are because of the agreements they have signed with Microsoft. One of which is the "recommends" clause.

While we might wish Dell had the "balls" to stand up to this, the fact is -it's too risky, Microsoft could decide to charge full price to Dell, effectively removing Dell's ability to compete in their core business areas.

If you look carefully Dell, HP, IBM, Intel and co have actually, subtly and quietly started to wise up. Windows should not be a chain around their neck, they should be the one's choosing what OS to load and Microsoft should bid on merit - not dictate.

No business can be happy with it's future in the hands of someone with Microsoft's track record.

And so subtly, they can start to break free - netbooks with Linux, MID's, phones.

The fact is Windows was chosen because people wanted to buy a Windows PC - Windows once actually drove sales for PC manufacturers - now it seems to hold it back. People buy a Mac when they want a PC that does something cool. No-one "wants" a Vista PC - they just need a PC and vista comes with it.

The fact is for netbooks to be desirable the whole package has to work - and with the low-resource requirements of these netbooks Linux works. Yes a lot of netbooks come with XP - but the quick-boot, snappy feel, easy to use parts of the marketing is actually driven by the features Linux offers.

The big manufactuers are behind Linux - because they see it can save them.


The x86 market is not growing, not at any pace at least - they need to diverge. One key gap in the Market: small-form factor devices (we now know as MID's) - Intel (with various partners) have being trying this game for years, how many tablet PC's have we seen? But they have been a disaster, why? Because the Windows experience does not deliver - but if they could create something that does, they would have a desirable product. Who would have though ASUS would be the first to do this with the Eee PC? Anyone who could see the more common notebook vendors either resting on their laurels churning out their usual fare, or at least being too scared to take the first step. Giving the flood of similar devices so soon after the Eee, one suspects they at least had it in the back of their minds.

I'm sure Intel wished to have a processor on every desktop, now they virtually have they would like one in everyones hand. Yet smaller processors from other manufacturers suffice well enough for mobile phones - even smart phones. As Windows Mobile doesn't really do very much, you don't need a processor that does very much. But no-one wants to buy Windows Mobile phones/pdas - it's not say they don't want that sort of device (see iPhone) but it's just that Windows Mobile and it's predecessors were so awful. Because of this phone manufacturers had little choice really but design their own OS, when they did they found they could tailor these to smaller cheaper hardware and so they didn't need Intel in many cases. Now Intel wants back,and so they need something to make manufacturers want the Atom family - they need a platform. After the betrayal by Microsoft in neglecting Windows Mobile that platform is Linux - well Andriod. Come on people, wake up - Andriod didn't appear from no-where, rumors were about years ago. The HTC Dream might run on a QUALCOMM CPU - but just watch Intel muscle in - they came prepared.


IBM have no future without Linux.
Going forward IBM do not have the resources/willpower to maintain a competitive version of UNIX - but given the pace at which Linux advances are happening, no-one does. Does Windows run on the Power processors? Can Microsoft be trusted to maintain a version that does? Their history says no.
After losing the Desktop and SMB server market to Dell and lookalikes - IBM's core business is still the back-end, the mainframe - and it's future will be in the Cloud. Which of course is the same thing really, except it's accessible to everyone by a myriad of different devices - a much bigger market. To do this you need something to run it on - you need the big iron. Yet to compete it still needs a decent OS, Windows doesn't cut it for the big jobs - for the big jobs you can do really well with custom hardware and non-x86 processors. To do that you need an OS that can adapt quickly, Windows can't.


See IBM, but more confused. Perhaps Sun think they can compete with Oracle with MySQL - maybe they can. Maybe they should have ditched Solaris and started selling Linux servers on custom hardware long ago- but with MySQL they could perhaps sell a complete solution. Expect a new distro from them soon to compete with RedHat and Oracle, but optimized for SUN hardware (yes I know thay have Solaris, but as the Cloud begins to form more and more innovations will be made - but this will happen on Linux) Or perhaps closer ties with an existing vendor....


After getting lost for while, HP seem to be doing OK with their desktop/laptop/server/accessories business - for them it seems like a little in each market keeps things ticking. But like Intel Windows is a dead-weight to them - there are too many desktop/laptop/server manufacturer's out there they can all run Windows - but Windows doesn't offer anything new. So everyone is essentially selling the same thing. How can they create value in their products when all there products can do is run Windows? They have tried to create innovation with the Touchsmart brand, but in doing so they have (intentionally) completely removed the "feel" of Windows. It's not too far from that to lose Windows entirely. HP also make printers, scanners, pda's, and all kinds of other accessories (or at least have deals to re-brand them.) Soon they will be making smartphones. If you bought a HP PC/Laptop it would not be a problem if it ran Linux - HP can ensure that you can buy something to connect to it that works. Hell it works for Apple right? If anyone has the chance to push a branded platform that "just works" it's them - but they have tried that using Windows and it's not really working.

The old-boys are doing an end-run around Microsoft, sure they are "using" Linux to serve their purpose - but why is this bad? I'm using Linux for the same reasons. But without these guys (and many others of course) Linux would still be Slackware with the occasional commercial nightmare like Corel Linux. Feel free to flame me on that, but I strongly feel that improvements on the Linux desktop experience could not have occurred without the drive to Linux on the server - and this could not have happened without the support of the big guns.

PS: I am in no way an IT professional, this is just how I see things.

TripleII said...

The one thing that bothers me, with all the Netbook manufacturers is the obfuscation of the price of Windows. Even the deprecated and absolutely insecure version XP.

MS wields it's weight in this #1 way, you can't find two models, side by side with identical hardware. There is no reason why the Ubuntu comes with 4 gig and XP 8. Why not just have ONE product line. It's the simple fact that MS relies on, the customer must never be able to see (general consumers) directly the price of Windows.

They made their billions on the concept that "Windows is free" from the OEM. It shows a disgusting lack of respect for the customer, you must obfuscate our price for no good reason to remain in our good graces.

Amenditman said...

It is exactly the fact that MS does not want the consumer to know the cost of what they are buying, and other related tactics, which is driving the OEMs to offer something else.

It is also the Monopoly maintaining tactics they weild which drove me to find something, at that point anything, else.

If they don't wake up and remodel their business we won't have them to kick around forever, they will be history.

Capitalism is a bitch if you don't keep innovating.


Anonymous said...

Have any of you guys ever been in a sales position before? I know which machine I would prefer to sell. The Linux version allows them to lure people in with the $349 price and then they can scare them into the upsell with FUD.

Do the numbers folks. I doubt there is much margin in that $349 machine. Lets be generous and say that due to Dell's huge volume they are making 20% on it. So they make $70 when they move a Linux box.

Now lets look at the upsell. They get an extra $50 from the customer plus $25 from Microsoft. From that extra $75 they pay for 4GB of extra flash and an XP license. Using the published $32 for XP on netbook licenses and retail on 4GB of flash going for $7.25 they still increase their take on basically the same effort by around $35 and you can bet Dell doesn't pay anywhere near those costs.

And none of this even takes into account the under the table co marketing deals to put the 'we recommend Windows' line in all of their advertising.

Bottom line, as long as customers are willing to pay that big an upcharge and Microsoft is willing to kick back that much cash, Dell would be fools to leave the money on the table and Dell didn't get where they are by being fools.

Anonymous said...

I had not heard of this blog or any of your efforts until the IBM story broke. Thanks for the work you do with disadvantaged kids. You have 1 new fan.

I came to Linux only recently and that's when a friend gave me a Nimblex live CD. I've been a full time Linux User now for a year and being a business owner, I have slowly been migrating my people to Linux. We are using Ubuntu but only because there seems to be a groupthink that it's the one to use and there is plenty of help for my people to find on the net.

We were going to update our sales force thinkpads with these Dell offerings but seeing how they had no problem kicking Linux to the curb, I will do the same with this pending Dell order.

41 machines may not be a big order to Dell, but I bet it will be to someone. Can you suggest anyone that can match this price with a decent "small" machine?

Melody Scott

Anonymous said...

Overthrowing an incumbent is no easy matter. And often the best way to go about it is to be diplomatic.

I don't really see the problem here - at least Dell is offering the GNU/Linux option? And realistically, what choice do Dell have other than recommend Windows? Would you prefer they suffer the death the IBM PC division suffered when they dared push OS/2 along-side Windows?

Come now - a living (and profitable) supporter is far better than a dead (and bust) one.

Anonymous said...

> a living (and profitable) supporter is far better than a dead (and bust) one.

And a living supporter who specializes in Linux is even better. There are plenty to choose from. You can do better than Dell.

Anonymous said...

The UK version of this from last weeks newspaper is very similar. No mention of "Linux" as such just Ubuntu, in very small writing I might add.
However it also failed to mention that an XP version of the mini 9 was available at all. The only version shown was the Linux one.

kozmcrae said...

@ Melody Scott

Try Zareason before looking anywhere else. The link is on this blog's main page. Thanks for your post. I never get tired of hearing about the exploits of new Linux users.

Amenditman said...

@Melody Scott

Always glad to hear of other new Linux users who are happy and they know it.

If you have someone who is tech savvy, you must have someone with that many computers to maintain, why not try to build your own from components. Tiger Direct and several other online sellers can set you up with everything needed.

It's not very hard and you can custom build to your specs, not the random and always changing specs the big OEM's use to confuse buyers and to hide the price of Windows for Microsoft.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

I actually emailed Mr. Starks about this earlier and he stated that since these were the smaller laptops we need, it would indeed be a challenge to build them ourselves. I will however inquire to Zareason and some of the other places I've found during my google search. There seems to be an abundance of choice for these types of machines.


Anonymous said...

> I will however inquire to Zareason and some of the other places I've found during my google search.

For those looking for preloaded Linux or no-OS machines:

Neither unique nor all inclusive, but a useful resource nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

2 thoughts:

- I couldn't care less. Dell offers systems that run finde with linux ? Great. That's all I need.
I just don't give a rats sh*t about ideological wannabee-wars

- While I do prefer and suggest to use linux or, for critical things, BSD (you know, real Unix) in the back-end, linux plain simple is light years away from being a serious contender for the desktop.
*That's* why the vast majority has and wants Windows on their desktops and that's why the mammon whores (dell, HP, etc) sell it that way.

No misunderstandings, please. I strongly dislike Windows and am using Linux/unix since years and years. But then, I'm not Joe Average but a seasoned cs professional.

linux still being the outsider isn't Microsofts fault. It's the fault of ideologically evangelizing, misrepresenting, unnerving, onesided - but customer/user ignorant linuxistas.

It's ridiculous, sorry.

Some time ago, the crowd exaltedly shouted "IBM is supporting linux. That's the final proof!".
Today those weirdos complain about IBM (and others) not treating linux on par with Microsoft. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

burhn the gpl?

You've disqualified yourself immediately as even a marginal Linux Community member...take all that is there for you, give nothing back and sleep like a baby.

All too typical...

Unknown said...

I left a 'feedback' comment at the bottom of the search page when it came up absolutely empty for home/SME Linux systems. Below is the text of that remark.

I was expecting to find systems I could order preinstalled with Linux; Inspiron Minis, if not XPS desktops. I will continue to steer my consulting clients away from Dell systems, and I do not expect to replace my existing Dell systems with new Dell systems. I would much rather deal with a vendor who gives me a choice in systems, who doesn't cram 'We "recommend" Microsoft Windows" on every single page on their site. Maybe you haven't noticed, but the SMEs and home users of the world don't have the IT support capability to be able to deal with the latest Microsoft security disaster de l'heure (NOT 'du jour'); we buy systems with the expectation that we will be able to use them to accomplish meaningful activities. Playing the Microsoft insecurity five-bullet Russian roulette is not 'accomplish[ing] meaningul activities'.