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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Gatekeepers of our technology

The Linux Community is having an on-again off-again love affair with Dell. It's been a rocky affair since Dell decided it would bump the positive side of their ledger by offering the Linux Operating System on their products.

There have been some embarrassing public displays of affection and there have been equally public spats, with a few pots and pans thrown...

So it goes with passionate couples. A word of advice is always welcome though and I might offer one of the afore-mentioned parties a bit of it now...


"Linux - We don't recommend it."

Those were the words spoken to a fellow I work with. The person uttering those words is a Dell Customer Service Representative, one of those that helps you "build" your computer as you speak to them over the phone.

Gary is typical of the baby boomers who sit down behind a computer. He doesn't use a computer as much as he uses a small handful of applications on it. Kind of like a refrigerator. It sits there day in and day out waiting to do it's job in the event someone wants to eventually come by and grab something cold out of it.

He has no real idea of the raw power at his fingertips...and he doesn't want to. He simply needs something to check his email, read some news on a couple of websites and provide a home for his anti-virus software. Gary, when it's all said and thought about, is afraid of his computer. His few forays into the internet jungle have given him a nasty case of DTD's (digitally transmitted diseases) from time to time and pain is a good teacher.

He just doesn't use it much anymore because of the nasty experiences. That's when I found out Gary isn't as technically-challenged as I thought him to be. He came to me and asked me if I'd look at his less-than-one-year-old Dell computer and take some of the garbage off of it. Seems Gary is victim to the Antivirus 2009 malware and it's variants that so many Windows Users fall prey to.

I asked him if he would consider putting Linux on it. He just shrugged.

"I tried to have it put on there when I ordered the computer...they said they could but they didn't recommend it."

It took me about 5 minutes to start making the phone calls. I started with the proper protocol and called their complaint line. Not much luck there...the people in Malaysa couldn't care less. I decided to target my query a bit closer to in Round Rock. A twelve minute drive from my house.

That didn't work out so well either. I'm still waiting for a call-back.

Note to self...don't tell people why you are really calling. It just tips them off that you're not a happy customer and the chances of getting a call back are as remote as a viral infection on a Linux computer.

Gary is digging around at home for the information on his purchase. We're going to try to find out who the actual order taker was and from there, we're going to try to climb the ladder and find out just why Linux isn't recommended. I have developed a fairly good relationship with just one such representative and we'll try to lay hands on some of their internal memos which may dictate policy on this matter...time will tell how good of a relationship this is.

We've known for a long time that Dell is beholden to Microsoft...and we've known that Microsoft is putting pressure on it's hardware partners to kick Linux to the curb. It's not something that can be disputed. What should be talked about though is Dell's open verbalization that Linux isn't as good as Windows. Gary said so himself...he wishes he had asked the question. When the service rep told him that they didn't recommend Linux he should have asked him.

"Then why do you offer it?"


Of course, with current stories like this, one might understand Dell's hesitancy to "recommend" Linux. They have to believe at times that they are in a no-win situation. people have been given nothing but Windows for over a decade. The woman noted in the linked article is a good example of just how indoctrinated people have become....and how lazy they've become as well. We'll leave it at lazy, although other descriptors jump to mind immediately.

I'm not saying that Dell's position isn't appreciated...but when we've tried to steer people to Dell/Linux machines in the past, they've been so buried on Dell's website that it damn near took a paid detective to find it. And when it WAS found, we ran into things like this

Let me save you a click if you like. Top right hand corner...above the ad for a Linux-based laptop.

"Dell recommends Windows for everyday comuputing".

A Linux-based computer ad recommending Windows...

Yeah, it's old news...we've posted it before but it bears posting again to make the point.

That new love interest might drive a shiny new car and be a good-looking might even be vain enough to just want to be seen in the same company with them...but that doesn't change the fact.

When you get home and you are alone together, you have to ask yourself...

Is getting slapped around and mistreated worth it?

All-Righty Then.


Anonymous said...

This really sucks. All pc manufacturers get significant benefits from microsoft to discourage linux and all have taken the bait!

When I tried to buy a laptop, it took me 3 days of search at the physical stores (online is not yet common/practical in Thailand) to find the perfect laptop without paying money to an evil organisation especially when i wont be using the product id be paying for.

After 3 days the winner was lenovo. It was the only notebook i could find which was ~2kg, > 2Ghz core 2 duo.... and it just went on sale on that day...

Ask any store to not give windows with the notebook and they stare back as i am an evil pirate or something... I gifted them some Ubuntu CDs :)

The other no-OS ones crappy bottom of the line old stock junk.

I posted an open letter to most manufacturers... This was before I found the notebook :

Anonymous said...

Ken, again an excellent post. There was a balance to this that I can appreciate being a former Dell employee. And you are right. There is a tendency to recommend Windows and while I cannot lay hands on it, I can tell you that there are "internal memos" dealing with this. Dell doesn't want the support issues. It comes down to dollars. There may be some influences from Redmond, there probably are but good luck getting any proof of it.

The anti-trust suits taught Microsoft well.

Rob Meyer
Fort Walton Beach

Shannon VanWagner said...

Thanks for the great post Ken!!
Wow, sorry to hear about the bad CSR experience!!

If it makes anyone feel any better, I bought a Dell Inspiron 530n with Ubuntu preloaded, and I am perfectly happy with it.

But then I knew exactly what I wanted and where to get it... Here's the Ubuntu selection page.

Also, here's my blog entry featuring the Dell Inspiron 530n, preloaded with Ubuntu that I purchased a few months ago.

As you can see in my blog, I had to purchase my own NVIDIA 9400GT graphics card and put it into the machine because no add-on graphics card wass available during the Dell Ubuntu online configuration process.

I certainly wouldn't expect that the execs at Dell would be very happy with their own people saying "we don't recommend.." their own product!! I look forward to you(or someone) letting them know that it's not the right thing to do.

I am thankful though, for Dell even selling Ubuntu GNU/Linux in the first place (and for, and now HP(in the form of the Mi OS for their new netbooks), and for anyone else selling GNU/Linux all the same).

I look forward to the day they can come completely out of the dark with the whole idea of selling GNU/Linux to their customers(it is, afterall, what a whole bunch of customers wanted in the first place, see this page at, until then, I guess it's up to people like us to sell GNU/Linux to the masses(even if it's 1 person at time).

The hardest part is that people are being PAID to work against our efforts!!

None the less, you can count me in as soldier of Freedom for the GNU/Linux cause!!

Go GNU/Linux!!
Go Freedom!!!

Shannon VanWagner
see me at

Anonymous said...

Gary is typical of the baby boomers who sit down behind a computer. He doesn't use a computer as much as he uses a small handful of applications on it. Kind of like a refrigerator. you said before. A computer isn't a tool to these people, it's an appliance. That revelation did a lot for me in the way I approach people now about Linux.

The sad part is that you are also right about people being indoctrinated. Most people are just lazy. Man, the stories I could tell you about the excuses people give me when I try to get them to use Linux. They are ate up with viruses, the antivirus software that doesn't even work messes their machines up and when presented with a solution they refuse it.

Why? Because they already know how to manipulate their way through their problem sets, they don't want to expend the mental energy to fix their own problems.

My bet is that they get just what they really want anyway. A reason to bitch and someone to blame.

It's sad and funny in a twisted sort of way.

Shannon VanWagner said...

Ah but I tend to disagree with you Anonymous... because of the fact that it's pointed out that Gary TRIED to be different.. he TRIED to do the right thing by asking for Ubuntu.. The true fail here is that Gary was talked out of being different and having a choice.. This is what needs to be fixed... the structure that enables the forcing of a singular OS onto all of us whether it's actually good for us or not. Humans must be enabled with technology, not discouraged from it.

Anonymous said...

"Gary is typical of the baby boomers who sit down behind a computer."

Why the generational designation and little put down? Your description applies to any user of any age.

Unknown said...

Your description applies to any user of any age.

No, absolutely not true. I've installed hundreds of systems for hundreds of people and us boomers, (I being one of them) are completely frightened of their systems. Once you teach them to use their email and other specific apps, they rarely wander outside of that toolset.

Younger people are not nearly as frightened of this technology...they embrace it. We boomers just try to learn the bare minimum to live in their world.


kozmcrae said...

I went looking for a Linux computer on Dell's site knowing full well it was there. I gave up after about 15 minutes. I went to Google next and found it right at the top. I'm what you'd call a seasoned Internet surfer. I understand that the Ubuntu offered on the Dell machines is a Dell-a-fide version with their own limited repositories. It's definitely *not* Linux as we know it.

Dell has made some remarkable strides towards bringing Linux to the general public. But there's always a gotchya. I've had my personal welcome wagon to the Linux community ready for Dell since the spring of 2007 but they have yet to earn my trust.

Elder Geek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elder Geek said...

Well I was born in 66. So I am right after the baby boomers. The geeks of my generation really have this stuff down. However the non-geeks want to treat the computer like an appliance. It is more like a car. A car is an appliance you can drive. But there are maintenance things related to it. Tires, oil, wipers, tunes ups and keeping gas in it. A Windows machine needs anti virus updates. It also needs to be cleaned of spyware on regular basis.

In general the computer industry tries to sell computers like Appliances. Microsoft Windows is certainly not able to be treated like an appliance. To much maintenance work involved. Linux is closer..don't cut me off on that one. If a company sets up the hardware and the software it just works. If the vendor would set up so that FirfeFox and OpenOffice automatically update most people could be running the same machine 6 years later trouble free. Still able to access all the new document formats and access all the new web pages.

For older generations the computer is just a mystery. A machine with rows of blinking lights no normal human can understand.

For younger generations it is like a toaster. You put bread in, push the button and toast comes out. They don't want to know anything. They don't want to know how long the bread cooks for. They don't want to know how hot it gets. They don't want to know anything. They just want toast to pop out of the top. They think it is their birthright to walk up to any computer and start using applications without any understand of how the application, the OS or the computer itself works. They consider it rude and in intrusion if you try to explain how these things work.

Trust me I know. From experience with many teen agers. Including a daughter who works on computers at high school. If she has a problem. She describes it to me and she wants to know what keys to press to fix it. Not HOW to fix it. And she is considered one of the better techs.

As far as she is concerned she has a disk image of XP, she has a recipe list of 10 of 15 things to try. As long as she can go through her recipe list, reload the OS or replace a hardware part, she is happy.

Anonymous said...

It's not only Dell. It is systematic. All netbook manufacturers sell their netbooks with a copy of Linux on it which is obviously intentionally crippled. People wipe it out and install their favorits.

Anonymous said...

Here in Australia you simply can't get the preloaded with Linux Dells. If you ask for them you are told we don't stock them. You can get some, it's a very small choice, and not always the best choice, computer models 1 laptop 1 desktop, and some servers, but only through the small business channel with No OS or Red Hat.

On the consumer/Home User/Home Business channel there are no Linux machines affered at all.

When you ask why, the response, depending on who you ask, is "I don't know", "We just don't stock them" "There's no market for Linux"

EngineerScotty said...

One other issue-- there doesn't seem to be a dearth of crudware available for the Linux problem that Dell (or other IHVs) can install to get extra money. Part of the money Dell makes on every computer they sell, is the gigabytes of promotional software for ISPs, free trial editions of overpriced games, and other assorted garbage.

True story: Last year I bought a Windows Laptop (for my wife)--an HP, not a Dell--at Circuit City, and the sales droid offered for $50 bucks extra, to have a tech "optimize" the machine by removing that dreck. He informed me that (much like spyware, I might add) I wouldn't be able to get rid of it with the Windows uninstall; and that registry hacking was necessary to remove it.

Needless to say, I didn't pay for that "service"...

Unknown said...

Personally, I'm looking forward to the next generation of netbooks based on ARM and MIPS processors that won't even run Windows. This means these machines will be designed and optimized for Linux. No proprietary bios that's designed for Windows. No compromises in the Linux kernel to work around the bios/Windows issues. These machines will be a dream come true! I will bet that the manufacturers will be so pleased with the public response to these machines that notebooks, desktops and servers will follow. Let's face it, the American OEM's that are tied to Microsoft are legacy companies. Look out for the tidal wave of Linux innovation heading for America from Asia!

Harold Fowler said...

Yeah, I think the next gen of netbooks are going to totally ROCK!

Gone Now said...

I'm sorry to be a spoil sport but yes, Linux on the desktop sucks.

It's all very nice for Firefox/Thunderbird but as soon as you want to run any industry standard software you're pretty much screwed.

It's great as a server OS though!

Unknown said...

Except for the Netbooks, Ubuntu on Dell systems is not "Dell-i-fied" as stated. Dell only ensures that all hw has good drivers support, provides a licensed DVD player, and licensed media codecs. They do NOT make other major modifications to the OS. Even in the netbooks, the custom UI can be ignored and the native Ubuntu menus instead.

Disclosure: I'm a Dell employee, but posting as an individual and Dell customer. I don't speak for Dell. All the above can be known from publicly available reviews, etc.

Greg P said...

"Ubuntu is not Dell-ified"

I just bought a Dell with Ubuntu installed for my wife. What you get is an installation of Ubuntu, yes. A Curious feature of Dell's install is a vfat partition, what I guess might be the fail-safe Linux for Dummies idea. When you boot, one of your choices is to boot from this partition, which wipes out your Ubuntu to its initially installed state.
This might seem like a reasonable thing from Dell's point of view, but try to imagine a Windows installation that allows a boot to a partition that completely wipes out your Windows and all of your data to its initial state.
My guess is that if you call support at Dell, one piece of advice they might give would be to simply nuke your Ubuntu and start all over. Very sophisticated.

Unknown said...

I have been running an experiment for the last year and a half and I should post my results.

I forced my parents off of an older Windows 2k box and onto a brand new Dell at the time. I decided to put Ubuntu on there as an experiment to see how they would react and use the OS. (Dell was in the early stages of including Ubuntu on the system but I did end up buying Windows, which I removed right away.)

They are very simple computer users: web and email. That's all they really used the old Win2k machine for. I am happy to say they have been virus free since that management headaches have all but gone, and they have actually grown in their computing experience. They now regularly chat and take/post pictures with their digital camera. They use both Firefox and Opera and have found both quite usable. The most work I've done for them was upgrading their Ubuntu from 7.10 to 8.04 and now to 8.10. My next level for them would be to get them to upgrade it themselves.

So to all users out there scared to try Linux or have tried it and gave up rather quickly, I say try it again. If my 65+ year old parents can do it on a daily basis, then I'm sure you can too!

pylorns said...

Interesting, I know a bunch of people that work at Dell so it is very curious. You'd think that living in Round Rock things would be easier....

Anonymous said...


They don't recommend it because they don't want to support it.

95% of their customer service people are familiar with Windows. If Dell *really* started selling Linux systems, they'd get thousands of calls from Joe Plumber and Jane Electrician, wondering how to "make it work".

No, I'm not saying that Linux is harder to use or inferior to Windows. I'm saying that people are set in their ways. Especially the folks that call for basic phone support. They aren't going to Google or the Ubuntu forums to look up the answer to their problem. They're going to call the manufacturer.

These people won't just be calling to get their Internet connection running... no, they'll call because they want to burn a CD and can't find the program to do it. They'll call because they want to know what that weird dance program called "Samba" is.

All those cute little names that open source programmers come up with for their code, like Gimp, XSane, Ekiga, Pidgin, and Brasero? They're going to confuse the crap out of the type of person that calls Dell for help... and Dell doesn't want to deal with that.

I don't blame them. I wouldn't either.

Anonymous said...

Get a life... so someone doesn't like your chosen OS, there are bigger things to worry about. If you are happy then fine... People pushing Ubuntu, OSX etc are becoming like people pushing religion down your throat...

Anonymous said...

Hi, previous anonymous poster here...

I also wanted to say that I'm not anti-Linux. In fact, I worked as a Linux sysadmin and software developer for nearly 10 years. I love Linux and would love to see it on everybody's desktop... but unfortunately, I can also understand why Dell doesn't recommend it.

Anonymous said...

And then there's this:

"Schubert says she never heard of Ubuntu until learning that she accidentally bought it. She called Dell the very next day and says the representative told her there was still time to change back to Windows.

But she says Dell discouraged her.

'The person I was talking to said Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, it was compatible with everything I needed,' said Schubert."

Anonymous said...


No one wants your crappy OS, leave it on the servers. A normal person should be able to perform all the tasks they require without having to touch a command-line EVER nor spend hours configuring every last detail.

Call back when it's as user-friendly as Windows 98.

Anonymous said...

Dell and other OEM's are heavily pressured by Microsoft to offer their products only, and they do get a respectible amount of compensation from Microsoft for it. Microsoft is large enough, powerful enough and profitable enough to bully (blackmail?) OEM's. This is how Microsoft maintains its monopoly postion and from our view, stifles advanced.

OEM's are the key to keeping Microsoft's monopoly business.

Anonymous said...

Dell was never serious about selling "open-source" PCs. It's all been a marketing tactic devised to get people to buy more Windows Licenses.

Ethan Anderson said...

Attention, anonymous:

Call me back when windows doesn't need twice its code mass in third party code, drivers and otherwise, to perform basic desktop functions.

My grandma, mom, and sister all use Ubuntu. My mom and I bought Ubuntu Dells. Ubuntu is easier to use than Windows, and the average user really has no reason to touch the command line, unless something else goes horribly wrong. And where does that same magnitude of situation leave you on Windows?

A reinstall.
In conclusion, select your ignorance and forcefully place it where the sun declines to luminate.

Anonymous said...

This article is very one sided. Why not look at it from Dell's point of view? If there is problem for example one of their favorite programs isn't working on Ubuntu, because it's not supported, who do you think will get blamed? Dell. I know there are many ways to make program work on Ubuntu and by using google a little it easy to find the solutions but do you think an average joe or even a typical baby boomer will go that far? No. Trust me no. I have dealt with those type of people. I am sure that Microsoft is pressuring Dell to playdown Linux but hey if you had a big business wouldn't you do the same?

@Greg P: I have the same feature for my Window XP Home at home. A lot of companies does that...please research before you speak. Imo it's a helpful feature.

Anonymous said...

Loz put fingers to keyboard and brazenly stated:

"It's all very nice for Firefox/Thunderbird but as soon as you want to run any industry standard software you're pretty much screwed."

And who declared this "standard"? You? Microsoft?

And why is this software "standard"? Because you're required to submit resume's in DOC format, and you think you need your precious Microsoft Word to save it in that format?

Any manager who falls for that claptrap isn't worth my effort, neither in interview, nor in relieving him of his ignorance. I'll just make sure to recommend that nobody buy stock in his company.

For the record: I use Bluewhite64, my mother uses Fedora, and my father (the most technophobic of all) uses Slackware.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but you are making a mountain out of a mole hill here.

First off, I want to make it clear where I stand in my information on the subject. I am an employee of Dell's and know their line up and what they recommend and why. it is my job, so I'd hope I'd have a better idea on the subject then the blogger here.

Now, I think it is important to mention the computer you are using in your argument with the Ad is a Inspirion Mini 9. It comes in both the Linux and XP version. I have never been told to recommend one over the other. Only recommendation I have been told is to recommend a regular laptop over a mini. Why? not because of some secretive OS killing partnership, but because its more profitable for Dell to sell higher brand laptops than minis. Very logical regular business practice if you ask me.

I'd also like to point out that according to your blog your friend said Dell did not recommend Linux when he bought his computer almost a year ago. Why do I bring this up? The offering of Linux as a regular option for such "laptops" as the Ins. Mini 9 (which is not really a laptop) where not offered as standard until only a few months ago. The Mini 9 is less then 5 months old on the market, so I can fully understand why when your friend purchased his before this example product was even offered, Dell would not be thrilled to put Linux on a machine.

why? Dell is about customization. They focus their sales on making the right machine for each person. Although they would install Linux, what else does that mean they have to do along with offering this option?

Come on, I'd hope some of you have taken some basic business or accounting courses right? Well, for the clueless, it means it requires extra support that comes with offering another OS option. This support costs more money, because more people have to be hired and/or trained to handle problems people might have.

It is true Dell has a partnership with Microsoft, but like any other business, Dell works with Microsoft to keep their relationship good. Meaning if Microsoft offers more support options to Dell for Vista and XP then it makes perfect for Dell to focus on that in their options for customers. Why? Because if a customer gets a Vista machine and has a problem, who are they going to blame? Dell. So when they call Dell, at least they can receive a good amount of helping solving their problem. If someone who purchased Linux before it began to be regularly offered ran into a problem and called Dell for support, Dell might find it harder to keep the customer satisfied due to a lack of support.

But like you've shown, Dell NOW is offering Linux as an advertised option on their new machines such as the Mini 9. So obviously they have invested towards backing up this option with support and so forth.

What that means to me is not that Dell is trying to help kill of Linux, but rather they are giving Linux a bit of new life by actually offering it in advertisements. They are helping support Linux use, not destroy it. So how about cooling it with the accusations if you don't have the proper evidence.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a simpleton. Dell don't recommend it precisely because newbies clog up their customer lines asking why XYZ software doesn't work or why they cant run itunes or whatever other crap people run on their windows machines. These aren't my random guesses. I know people who have to suffer through this crap. Apparently you haven't met the angry dad who got tricked into buying a linux PC by the friendly neighbour and is now angry at the sales rep as to why it doesnt "work" and his son cant do his homework.

Its mildly entertaining how every linux user acts victimized by t3h evil M$. If linux wasn't free you could afford some marketing campaign to get people to care. if you want to get free publicity through dell or other vendors for free then that is a dead end. tough luck..

Unknown said...

Anonymous said...

Call back when it's as user-friendly as Windows 98."

Please publish your name and contact details. I have a job as a comedy writer available and I think you'd fit the bill nicely.

Unknown said...

Was it ever considered that perhaps Dell CSR's don't recommend Linux distros because most people don't know anything about Linux and Linux is not supported by most services? I mean c'mon, most estimates still place Windows on 90% of the computers in this world (

I run Linux at home (Ubuntu) and I would never recommend Linux to the average user. Most people just simply don't know enough about computers to run Linux. Face it, the support base for Linux is far to small for the average home user.

Soccer moms don't want to have to search a forum and compile code to add WPA support to their laptop so they can surf the net from Starbucks while watching their kids play in the park (not being literal here, just an example, so please don't lecture me on how Starbucks does or does not use WPA for their wireless).

Simply put, Linux is not catering to the id10T userbase the same as MAC and MS do. I mean, come on, just read this news article here about a Dell CSR that actually DID recommend Ubuntu: and tell me again how tragic it is that Linux is not recommended (and how much do you want to bet this rep gets fired?). Please, have mercy on support personnel such as myself and let the non-resourceful (read computer illiterate) users out there continue to be bilked out of their money.

Oh, and btw, how hard is it to install your personal flavor of Linux over a pre-installed OS? Most companies will charge you the same price for a laptop with Windoze as one without an OS, not because they charge you for the OS even when you don't get one, but because they DON'T charge for the OS to begin with, but because it's thrown in as a package deal for buying the hardware.

Anonymous said...

It's all very nice for Firefox/Thunderbird but as soon as you want to run any industry standard software you're pretty much screwed.

No, what you are saying is that it won't run YOUR industry standard proprietary software. I am an Admin for a fortune 500 company and have talked my folks into letting the entire finance floor into using Debian. I admin the machines, I do the hand holding and by golly what do you know? I have several "Industry Standard" applications in the trashcan now because several Open Source apps have matured to useable levels. MyBooks pro, while not purely open source, meets our payroll and double ledger needs nicely. Simple Invoice is an open source app and our field techs use it to bill customers on the spot.

You can't run your particular app...waaaaa.

The several we need run nicely either in emulation or via wine.

Somebody just likes to pay MS their licensing fees it seems.

Dennis Bowles

Unknown said...

woops. didn't notice until just now that the blog article already included that news link. apologies.

on a side note, switching to Linux to avoid antivirus 09 spyware is a bit extreme don't you think? i mean jeez, just tell the guy to stop downloading pr0n from questionable websites, and quit installing things if you don't know what they are.

I remove antivirus 09 from about ten machines daily as a support tech for the ohio state university, and the only way this particular virus gets on your machine is if you allow it, normally as supposed "video codecs", so yeah, quit trying to stream questionable pr0n and you won't get it.

And, btw, to remove, just use Mbam.

Anonymous said...

No switching to linux isn't extreme. The point the author has made for years is why should you have to deal with ANY virus or spyware threats at all? Do you "pay" for your antivirus like most computer users? I am guessing not...most don't know there are free alternatives. Conversely, many of them don't stop antivirus 2009.

You are being forced to buy or use an application so the applications you've already bought will work.

Smart guy you.

Anonymous said...

Obviously they tell people to use Windows. not only is Windows better at everyday applications such as mail and internet, it also supports advanced gaming under DirectX 10. I'm sorry that your Linux distros are hard to use and make everything more complicated than it has to be, but maybe if they were more like Windows (which they all incidentally try to copy) more people would use it. But just face it. Linux isn't something everyone is going to use and for most people who want to use their modern PC to the maximum effect they're going with Windows. Windows 7 especially is going to drive people away from Linux based simply on the fact that it's a streamlined version of Vista with a neww kernal, loads of new features and has been basically built for netbook compatibilty.

Unknown said...


You are right, i do not pay for my antivirus software. And again, antivirus 09 only gets on your machine by allowing it (as video codecs usually), so it's really an issue of an uneducated userbase (psst, as i said in my previous post, I use Linux) just as getting people to switch to Linux is posing a challenge in education of the userbase.

The simple fact is, people don't know much about Windoze, what makes you think they would fare any better with an OS that gives them MORE administrative control? You;re going ot end up with the equivalent of windows 3.1 users deleting autoexec.bat. Are you really so blind in your love for Linux that you don't see this?

I'm all for people switching to Linux, if they;'re ready and willing to put in the time it takes to learn it. The simple truth is, Linux distros give you much more administrative power over your machine, which is great for those who know how to use it, but is terrible for those who don't.

As Roosevelt said, "With great power comes great responsibility" and we must not forget this, even in computing. If you are not educated enough to use Linux, then you shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Hey Richard, hows that DX10 gaming going under Linux? Oh wait...

Shannon VanWagner said...

Actually I was very surprised today to find that you can get an Ubuntu GNU/Linux preloaded Dell netbook from the FRONT page of the Dell website.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a pretty good indicator that GNU/Linux popularity is surging(at least in the netbook sector anyway).

You can duplicate my findings by doing this:
Go to, under "For home" click Laptops, scroll down then click the picture of the Dell Mini(on the left side), then click "Continue" under 'INSPIRON Mini 9'(left side), then click "Build Yours" under 'INSPIRON Mini 9'(left side)...You should be at the "Choose your color" page - now notice on the Right side of the page...under 'My Components' it says "Ubuntu Linux version 8.04.1", if you click "Add to Cart", congratulations - you now have an Ubuntu GNU/Linux powered netbook.

As far as finding other Ubuntu systems, the easiest way to get to that page is to "search" for "Ubuntu".

GNU/Linux popularity is gaining momentum, and what's good about that is that it will continue make the GNU/Linux user experience even better!

Oh and as for the story for the woman who got Ubuntu "by mistake", you can see that here.

And after getting thousands of website posts and many phone calls, the news station ran an update to their story here.

Shannon VanWagner

Anonymous said...

quote::Dell is about customization. They focus their sales on making the right machine for each person.

Intersting, I have never yet been offered a Dell machine that has been customised to my needs/requirements, and they are actually quite simple, either No OS (which means no install at all for Dell to do) or Linux, any Linux, I don't care, I'll replace it with my preferred Linux anyway.

What does Dell tell me?

They tell me I can't have No OS or Linux either, as the machines come pre installed with Windows... my choice of Windows.

So much for customisation.

Unknown said...




Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Scott, tracyanne lives in Australia, where the official Dell line is "there's no market for Linux." Well, duh, never mind that, without a Linux offering from Dell, they'll never see any Linux system sales.

Dell's public-facing behavior through all this appears to offer Linux only so that they can claim they offer Linux, but they'll do everything they can to steer customers towards Windows instead. That's the whole point of helios' original posting. In tracyanne's case, they don't even make that pretense of an offer.

Anonymous said...

In a moment of playful jest, richard said:

"The simple fact is, people don't know much about Windoze, what makes you think they would fare any better with an OS that gives them MORE administrative control? You;re going ot end up with the equivalent of windows 3.1 users deleting autoexec.bat. Are you really so blind in your love for Linux that you don't see this?"

The problem with that thinking is that it presumes the total absence of a real privilege system. Unix had such a system from its inception. Windows on desktops didn't get anything of the sort until W2K, when it became painfully obvious that system security and privilege management were an afterthought for Microsoft.

I'm not saying the Unix privilege system is perfect, but Unix application development has always required the assumption of a privilege system. Name any application that required admin privs in Windows 3.1, 95, 98, ME? Like I said, afterthought.

Neal said...

I find this interesting since I just read an article out of Madison WI where a lady accidentally ordered and Dell with Ubuntu and when she called Dell to change her order she says they talked her out of getting Windows instead.

I wonder how much of this is Dell policy and how much is the personal preferences of the Dell employees?

Link to article:

Anonymous said...

I know you linux fanboys don't want to hear it but...

Linux is a horrible desktop OS. It's almost worthless. Really, it is. Just pay a visit to That guy went out of his way to explain everyone why Linux is crap.

What you are facing is not Microsoft. It's not Dell. It's not a monopoly. It's called reality.

That's it. I know you will go on living in denial believing it's the best thing ever... but that won't change reality.

Anonymous said...

"I know you linux fanboys don't want to hear it but...Linux is a horrible desktop OS. It's almost worthless"

Oh, sorry, did I fall asleep there? My apologies. I was just in the middle of reading something when I must have nodded-off. Did someone write anything worth reading? No?

Oh well, back reality.

Anonymous said...

Nice denial in action there. Thank you for proving me right.

We'll talk again in another 10 years. You'll still be blaiming OEMs, Microsoft, the weather, aliens, or whatever.

Anonymous said...

... but that won't change reality.

Let me tell you what IS changing reality. It's guys like the author of this blog. Are you aware of what he does? The dude has an organization that builds and gives Linux computers to Kids. He did over 300 last year alone. Now that doesn't sound like much but when you consider that people all over the world are starting to take his model into consideration and are doing it to, you start seeing the expotential factor. THAT is reality. He's even started a successful company called HeliOS Solutions that installs Linux on Peoples computers. That is what funds his charity mostly.

He isn't going to change the world to Linux. That isn't his aim. He just wants people to know they have a choice.

How much reality do you want?

Drew Magnus
Austin Texas

Anonymous said...

Yep, I've read the front page of

If Microsoft wrote something like that about Linux, they'd be called FUD-spreaders, monopolists, or far worse. When it's Linux apologists who do that then it's fair game.

Anyway. You can't blame Dell for telling the world and its clients that Linux is not recommended. Maybe if what it's written in was actually true and Linux was a better choice for most people, they could endorse and recommend Linux. That, my friend, it's reality, not the alternate dimension where Linux fanboys live.

Oh, and it's funny reading that Linux is that new free operating system. Maybe they don't want to ackowledge that Linux has been there for 17 years now without getting anywhere. See? More delusion and lies at work.

Anonymous said...

First off, if you are going to accuse someone of lying, post your real name...

Second, There has been no real advertising machine for Linux. The way Linux is made and spread just doesn't allow for it...not by conventional means. Linux hasn't really been ready for the desktop until maybe the last two years. Helios asks a question often. I've attended his talks enough to know.

Why would you buy software to make the software you've already bought work like it's supposed to? Are you a Windows user? I am guessing so. You may not have problems with it, obviously not. How many antivirus programs and spyware tools do you run to keep your machine safe? One too many is my guess. You shouldn't have to do that. Most people check their email and look at a few websites. No one should have to pay for a system that is going to give them viruses just to do that.

And yes, you are absolutely right. NO one is picking up on Linux. Absolutely no one.,2933,297501,00.html

What was really funny is a recent news clip that panned the NASA control room...the KDE desktop was obvious on the computer screens the camera caught.

Just go on and renew your antivirus subscription. And again. Publish your real name if you are going to libel people. I want you to come see me personally and tell me I am a liar. I aided helios in writing the verbage for that website.


Andrew Magnus
Austin Texas

Anonymous said...

Don't call them lies, then. Just delusional propaganda.

Of course there are problems in Windows-land. What do you expect? For every PC running Linux full time, there are about 90-95 running Windows. If it was the other way around, Linux would not look good, I assure you.

Of course, since that it's never going to happen, it's not something we're going to see. That's why you push Linux for consumer desktops, but when you post links to demostrate Linux success, they are always about servers, supercomputers, and NASA. No surprise there. That's not new either, the same way people telling the world how the Linux final breakthrough is near is not new.

By the way, I don't pay for antivirus software (because I don't run one, besides the usual scan that Windows Update performs), nor do I pay for antispyware software(because I use Windows Defender, which comes with Windows and it's free).

Truth be told, I've never had a problem with that, and I'm not the only one. People work with Windows every day, and people get their job done with Windows. That's why 90% of the world does use it, not because we are all stupid, or blind, or ignorant.

By the way, have you scanned your computers with rkhunter or similar? Trojans, rootkits, and malware... they are not something which first appeared on Microsoft's platforms. You know that, don't you? Are you telling people that too, or only what you want them to hear?

Unknown said...

@comment #53: So you're not even running Clamwin, Avast, or AVG? Then guess what? You've got spyware, viruses, and trojans.

If you don't now (and that would be a miracle), you will at some point. Btw, it was systems running on top of the Unix kernel, not Linux, that fell to an attack from the first Internet worm (and it was the send mail program), which was of course not intended at all (the person who wrote it wanted to see how large the Internet was, and due to a miscalculation, several networks tanked). Again, we're talking proprietary Unix systems, not systems based on top of the Linux kernel.

If you use the MS platform for your day to day tasks, hey, more power to you. What helios is saying in this instance is this: universities shouldn't limit students on what operating systems they can run on a campus network. I know I'd be upset if I was told that I could only run Windows and OS X at my local campus.

Anonymous said...

I bought a high end laptop from System76 almost two years ago -- and Dell started to offer Ubuntu on a high end laptop just a couple months after that. Just for grins, I went to the Dell online shop to price out an equivalent system - the System 76 Serval Pro was about $50 less and had slightly better specifications.

But the real difference between the two offerings (this was true then, but is even more true, now) the helpfullness, knowledge, and dedication of the System 76 folks (especially their public face in the System 76 support forum - Thomas Aasron) goes far beyond what my Dell Ubuntu using friends have experienced. So -- more for less - that's an easy equation to solve.

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Medyum said...

Ken, again an excellent post. There was a balance to this that I can appreciate being a former Dell employee. And you are right. There is a tendency to recommend Windows and while I cannot lay hands on it, I can tell you that there are "internal memos" dealing with this. Dell doesn't want the support issues. It comes down to dollars. There may be some influences from Redmond, there probably are but good luck getting any proof of it.