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More on Dell Dropping Linux Support 392

Posted by timothy
from the company-politics dept.
coolgeek writes: "In this previous Slashdot story, we discussed Dell's claims of slow sales as their reason for dropping Linux support. (article on c|net News.com). Today, this article on Reuters news reports: 'Citing internal Microsoft memos, the nine states also said that in 2000 and 2001 Microsoft pressured Dell Computer Corp. into dropping plans to offer the open-source Linux operating system on some machines it sells.'" Update by HNQ: eWeek got more details about the memos. Update: 03/19 12:26 GMT by M : I think Hetz accidentally changed this story's setting when he added the update above. Fixed.
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More on Dell Dropping Linux Support

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  • Dell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @05:14AM (#3185881)
    Dell is dropping most of its support staff PERIOD. I was just laid off as a Dell Outsourcer, I had been working there 2 years putting myself through college. At least 10 sites of hundreds of techs just got laid off. As outsource agents, there was no big stink on the board and among stockholders because we were contracted, they probably don't even know about it.

    If you buy from those thieves (oh, the corporate memos I could recite), expect a nice long wait for tech support now..
  • by Johnny O (22313) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @05:23AM (#3185897) Homepage
    [...snip...]
    Microsoft warned that the sanctions sought by the dissenting states would cause havoc in the computer industry and force the company to withdraw its Windows operating system from the market.

    "It will have a devastating impact on Microsoft. It will have a devastating impact on the PC ecosystem and particularly consumers," Webb said.
    [...snip...]

    Why? It's not like they have a monopoly on the PC OS market?!? Is it?!? :-) *insert heavy sarcasm here*
  • huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@da[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @05:25AM (#3185901)
    I ordered probably around 8 rackmountable dell machines with redhat preinstalled in 2001. If M$ was pressuring them to avoid using linux, then they obviously didnt do a good job.

  • by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @05:31AM (#3185914)
    First they quietly introduce Linux on desktops so that even their own salespeople don't know about it. Of course they only sell to the U.S. and not to Germany where Linux marketshare is several times higher.

    Then instead of quietly removing Linux-support, all online-newspapers are running a story about Dell dicontinuing Linux on the desktop.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is fishy?

  • Re:Preloads... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @05:40AM (#3185927)
    2/3 of Windows users are still running Win98, a 4 year onld OS, which is just a minor step up from Win95, a 7 year old OS.

    People are not interested in paying for updates and they sure won't be delighted when their "ultra-stable" (LOL) WinXP box dies and they find out they won't get any activation code anymore. (Microsoft didn't guarantee that they will send out codes in 5 years, did they? - Hell they didn't even make a worthless promise.)

    PC-makers are not interested in sending an ever increasing share of their revenue directly to Microsoft. 10 years ago, DOS made up less than 2% of a computer's total price, today that number is over 10% and rising every year.

    It's just a matter of time, and the first signs are already observable [yahoo.com].

  • Re:Preloads... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Znork (31774) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @05:49AM (#3185948)
    Because even if it's getting more stable, people wont pay that much extra for it. As long as they can collect money off the preload buisness they get a revenue stream where they dont have to get the money out of the customer, but can rely on someone else to do it for them. If they lose the ability to control the distribution channels and people can get a cheaper PC as easy with Linux preloaded, preconfigured, and supported, Microsoft will start losing sales, and when they start slipping they wont stop, because Microsoft is the only who wants Microsoft around in the entire computer industry.

    Everyone, their partners, their vendors, the content providers, the competition, everyone, fears and hates them, because they know that Microsoft will 'cut off their air supply' and give it to their competitors (or take it themselves) the moment they like someone else better. Microsoft has made clear that there is only room for one company in the PC consumer market, and that is Microsoft.

    Look at the former east block to see how that works out. When you start losing control, things fall apart.
  • Re:Preloads... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:00AM (#3185962)
    Exactly [yahoo.com]

    Some people don't realize that the incentive not to install Windows increases every year because Windows makes up a higher and higher share.

    Eric Raymond is right, cheap PCs will kill Windows, it's just a matter of time.

  • by Arimus (198136) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:02AM (#3185966)
    I'm running an old poweredge 6300 with RH 7.2.

    Under NT it is a pig to get going with juggling raid driver disks - even though this PEdge has just a standard Perc-2Si raid controller...

    With RH7.2 - no problems, 30 mins after starting I had a fully working linux box, 60 mins later a fully working PDC, DNS etc - normally with NT its the best part of a day getting the OS and all patches etc installed and working together (and then put exchange on and watch the whole thing vanish into a big pile of junk).

    Wonder whether Dell might reconsider and agree to provide linux on their servers given MS is such a pig to work with.
  • by IroygbivU (534043) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:07AM (#3185976)
    "It will have a devastating impact on Microsoft. It will have a devastating impact on the PC ecosystem and particularly consumers," Webb said.

    An 'ecosystem' implies biodiversity. The world operating system market is verging on monoculture. If anybody is the *weed* in this technological ecosystem, it would definately be Microsoft Windows. I say - bring on the devastation!
  • others besides Dell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unsinged int (561600) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:11AM (#3185980)
    I realize Dell has pretty huge exposure in the PC industry, so whatever they do people pay most attention to, but the fact is other companies have started offering Linux pre-installed on their computers. I'll cite Monarch Computer [monarchcomputer.com] as an example, from which you can get RedHat or Mandrake preinstalled as well as customize your entire order. There are several other companies like this...so stop complaining about Dell dropping Linux and start buying from other places that do offer Linux. If these companies start making enough profit off selling Linux computers, Dell and others will take notice and perhaps start offering it again.
  • DNARD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by T-Punkt (90023) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:23AM (#3186007)
    Does anybody remember DEC's [compaq.com]
    Digital Network Appliance Reference Design aka "shark"?

    Microsoft pressured DEC to not sell it - otherwise they would drop support for NT/alpha (which they did anyway...). See here [nytimes.com] for the details.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:26AM (#3186010)
    for an enterprising small company.

    Build a low end box and preinstall Linux on it so that it fully supports all the hardware. Aim at the $400.00 market, and a complete computer. This is very important, you need to demonstrate that you are cheaper than the competition. Charge for shipping but not handling.

    An Athlon 850 with 256MB of RAM, DVD Drive, 32MB nVidia video w tv out, 16 bit sound card and a 40 GB HD would be good. A network card, modem card and TV card would be nice too.

    Put open office on it so that it was 99% office compatible. Hell, that's all the early IMB clones were and they did alright. Build every package from source fully optimized for the platform. Build the kernel to fully support all hardware that comes with the box.

    Make it so that all anyone has to do is turn it on, fill in a few blanks, answer a few questions and they and their whole family each has a new account.

    Offer game packs of all the old Loki games for $50. (Or a transgaming game pack, anything to hook the kids.)

    Finally, have an update service to keep their software upto date and secure. You could also sell them TV and radio listings monthly to use to record their favorite shows. This box could be connected to a monitor and to the TV at the same time and show a DVD while someone did their homework on the monitor.

    The great thing is that you will only need to spend about $20,000 setting up the first box, then you can build as many boxes as you want for just the cost of the hardware and the manpower to assemble and test each one. No more license cost. That alone will save the user $75 per box and gain the manufacturer $25 per box extra income... The $100 that would have gone to Microsoft.

    If it ran Lindows, even better. Anything to ease people off their old machines, the better. Oh, and you need a utility to connect the new machine and their old machine with a serial cable, run some software on the old machine and transfer over all their old program files to be ran under Wine or Lindows.
  • Actually....you have it the wrong way around. Windows (mostly the NT incarnations) are the de facto standard in companies. This is not because of the OS (tough I tend to like NT4), but because of the Office suite. I have a lot of banking experience and many, many transactions are still done with simple terminal screens to big irons protected from the outside world. Heck, I had to make front-ends for these things and the users wanted to have the same look and feel (don't ask!)

    Now the point is here that history has made the x86 platform as home computer because back in the days when a an XT was 5000$, the only people who could afford it were the bussiness men who wanted to do a bit of Lotus 123 at home. Of course these bought IBM machines that came with MS-Dos (I'm not kidding you...my dad was one of those loonies..tough it was a PS/2 in later times) All other computer *enthousiasts* were on Commodore 64, Sinclairs, BBC's....heck I'm probably even mixing decades here.
    Later on when computers got cheaper (think 486, but were still expensive enough), people started to buy those for home use. You know the primary excuse for a home PC (bought by adults) was back then to do a bit word processing and spreadsheeting. Guess, what that is the stuff they (eventually) did at work and so the choice was clear: buy a PC. Yes, and the computer enthousiasts still used their Amiga's.
    Now one could say that times have changed: now people admit they buy the computer for entertainment (surfing/games). I'm not sure if people still select at home what they use at work or if the tides have turned and home usage infuences work usage now. Now imagine businesses would massively switch to Linux (because MS gets even worse with licencing than it now is, and decision makers have the *balls* to say no...which I personally highly doubt) Woudn't this refect automagically into a higher demand for Linux home machines? I think so! People buy what they are used to, not what is good... Joe users dreads to learn about PC's.

    I agree that W2k is a fine OS (tough I still prefer NT4), but I woudn't put it on a server....not anymore, I got the feeling of *BSD and for me a good Unix server is a *BSD server. For home usage W2K it's okay: you turn on the puter a couple of hours a day and it's stable enough for that: uptimes simply are not important for home usage. Win 9x kernels however were never suitable for anything... I don't know XP enough (only used one PC with drivers problems at a friends place), but it seemed very very bloated to me. (even more than W2K!)
    Personally I have changed, I was an MS-Dos man, hated Win 1.0 to Win 3.xx and loved OS/2 (which died an absurd death). I had to get over to Win 95 and hated NT4 until I learned the strengths of it. Lately I have learned Linux, but I saw the light withing OSX. For me OSX is the machine for home use, if you're not into gaming of course...the only reason I now have to use a Windows incarnation are games and fortunately I'm not a big gamer.

  • by ciryon (218518) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:39AM (#3186038) Journal
    We only have Dell machines here at work and of course I've installed Linux on mine. I use it as a desktop workstation and as a database/http server. It has performed very good. No downtime since last summer (except when we had to cut the power globally).

    As a matter of fact I think Dell is a really good choice for running Linux (if you must go for a brand computer). I have also tried installing Linux on some Compaq machines. Many many hardware related problems. Stay away from those Compaq machines! That's a warning.

    Ciryon
  • by weave (48069) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @07:04AM (#3186081) Journal
    Dell never made it easy to find how to buy a computer with linux preloaded. Right now, for example, you pretty much have to know to go to www.dell.com/linux first.

    The way it *should* have been done was to put Linux into the OS choice drop down list with something like * Red Hat Linux (-$100).

    Even now, if you go configure a Precision 340 workstation, you can't do this. You have to go to a start page like www.dell.com/linux and choose from the initial menu you want Linux. I have never seen a order page that gives a choice between Linux and Windows on the configuration screen. I'd love for someone to show me a URL to prove me wrong...

  • by TheLinuxWarrior (240496) <aaron@carr.aaroncarr@com> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @07:45AM (#3186138)
    I ordered some servers from Dell with Redhat preinstalled. The servers were great, but I was unimpressed with the installs. I think Dell packed way too much crap on the server. Essentially everything was checked during install, so I had to go through and do a lot of ripping out to get it cleaned up.

    The best thing was that all of the driver support was there for the servers and everything worked right the first time.

    Bottom line is that I love Dell machines, but I'd rather install the OS myself anyway so that I know exactly how it wass installed, and what went on to the system.

    But that's just me...

  • Servers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DarkWarriorSS (518859) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:01AM (#3186171)
    I was just pricing servers for my uncle's business that he's starting up, I happen to see that the servers(now we're talking Itainium (sp?) or large 4+ way Xeon servers) are selling with Linux, mainly RedHat 7.2 on the OS list. Yes, they still have the Win2k, and WinNT OSs listed, but they also have RedHat, or the No OS option. So on the server side, yes, they still have some linux in there. On the workstation/home machines, I think you can forget about it.
  • Re:I doubt it, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rseuhs (322520) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:16AM (#3186201)
    OK let's assume that this is correct (of course it isn't, they could just hire one guy to install some Linux distro and then make HD-images.), but OK let's assume.

    (rhetoric pause)

    Why do they have to ** FORCE ** you to buy Windows?

    I can also buy a computer from Dell without monitor why shouldn't I be able to buy one without OS?

  • Not as fishy as ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NZheretic (23872) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:43AM (#3186268) Homepage Journal
    Posting an article to a non microsoft.* usenet newsgroup from news.microsoft.com before it was published on the web [google.com]

    I assume that posting and follow-up access to other newsgroups must be only for for "internal" Microsoft users.

    This is fine if he is just using it for providing support for Microsoft users in the local nz.comp newsgroup - but using it to post Anti-Linux FUD?

    Does it qualify as astroturfing? [tuxedo.org]

  • Buy IBM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Khazunga (176423) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @09:19AM (#3186396)
    IBM has just surpassed Sun in server sales, and sells pretty good Linux boxes. I have a datacenter of IBM xSeries servers, and apart from a severe disk problem, now gone, I find IBM servers fantastic.

    The top two players in the server market sell Unix based solutions. Dell is playing M$'s game, hoping to ride the Microsoft rollercoaster to the top. It *is* a smart move, since the alternative involves doing some real effort to provide some real service.

    I don't know how is Dell in the US. Here (Portugal), I asked for a quote on their site (when purchasing the datacenter hardware). They took the better part of two weeks to answer, sending me a proposal in MS Word format and written in Spanish. No excuse for the delay, and no excuse for not using my native language or English. By that time, I had narrowed negotiations to IBM and Sun, and was closing contract with IBM. I dropped Dell, didn't answer them, and overall came out with a very bad impression of their service.

  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @09:25AM (#3186434) Journal
    I have bought several Dell machines through work. You know: "workstations" for engineering and scientific applications. If that isn't where you would run Linux, I don't know where you would.

    That is where "you would run Linux". That is also where a few hundred scientists for whom I work run Linux ... on Dells. For a few years now, my employer (a hard-science research institution with about 1000 employees) has been recommending Dell workstations for scientists who want to run Linux. We continue to do so, and Dell continues to ship Red Hat 7.2 on Precision Workstation models and PowerEdge servers -- up to and including the highest-end systems such as the PowerEdge 8450.

    The whole "Dell quits shipping Linux" deal has applied to "some machines [Dell] sells," to quote the Reuters article. Specifically, Dell has dropped Linux on "desktop" systems such as the OptiPlex and Dimension models. It has not dropped Linux support on workstations or servers, which you can still quite easily purchase with Red Hat preinstalled -- or with no operating system at all, or even with Novell (ick) -- through Dell's online store. It's true that these workstations cost more than Dell's desktops; this is because they're faster and don't use cheap WinHardware (which doesn't work well in Linux anyway).

    (Looking over the number of Dell trademarks in this post, I feel compelled to make it clear that I don't get any money from recommending Dells. I just get fewer support hassles when my clients buy the same hardware rather than going to Joe's Discount PC Clones and Bait Shop.)

  • by bonius_rex (170357) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @09:54AM (#3186618)
    We bought some Dell poweredge machines about a year ago. The server setup CD has 3 OS options:
    • Windows 2000
    • Noell Netware
    • Red Hat Linux 6.2
    So yeah, they did make an effort in the server space, at least.
  • by nordaim (162919) <nordaim@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:02AM (#3187016)
    When I bought my Inspiron 8000 from Dell right when they were released, at the peak of Dell's Linux push, I had a conversation with the Customer Service rep that went something like this:

    Me:Um, can you ship that with Linux on it?
    DS:No, due to a contractual obligation all
    personal machines must be shipped with
    Windows.
    Me:Can I have it shipped without an operating
    system? I am a student and want to be able
    to have linux on it so that I can program
    with it.
    DS:No, we can't do that.
    Me:Are you sure? I do not want to pay for
    windows since I am not going to use it.
    DS:Sorry, the best thing I can do is ship it
    with Windows ME, which will be the cheapest
    option.
    Me:Ah, hell, give it to me with ME and I will
    just wipe it when it gets here.

    It get's frustrating when companies that I have dealt with for ages, both personally and in business relationships, cannot give me what I want.
  • by MrIcee (550834) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @12:38PM (#3187906) Homepage
    The other day a friend of mine tried to buy a new computer from Dell. He had their latest brochure. In the brochure there were a number of systems listed with Windows 2000 as the OS... and a number more with Windows XP as the OS. Furthermore, their latest ad campaign also says *if you ask we will be happy to install XP* (or something of that flavor).

    I warned him against XP (spyware) -- he is just a normal user and not a programmer. So he asked them if they would please install Windows 2000 or 98. They refused. He said.. "but what about these models in your brochure that say the COME WITH 2000?" -- the Dell person on the other end of the line hemmed and hawed and then finally said "I don't know anything about that".

    He placed his order with IBM instead - who was pleased as punch to install Windows 2000 for him.

    Again, sounds to me like Dell is in the belly of the beast with MS - and that MS has learned nothing from the court case and is continuing on in their merry old way to force everyone to use XP and Passport and their other evil spyware.

  • Re:Dell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @01:50PM (#3188485)
    nice little story but you probably got mod'ed down because it has nothing to do with how Dell refused to support their hardware if another OS was on it.

    It reminds me of RoadRunner having a DNS server down but them not supporting me as soon as I told them I was NOT running Windows. Microsoft paid for RoadRunners support. I have feeling that Dell is paid by Microsoft also for such support. It sure looks that way, doesn't it?

    LoB

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