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Dell Offers FreeDOS With New PCs 488

Posted by timothy
from the on-again-off-again-baker's-man dept.
Zed writes "Showing a distancing of itself from Microsoft, Dell now offers businesses a chance to purchase computers without a Windows operating system. The N-Series computers start at $319 from Dell's website and ship with a FreeDOS CD in the box."
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Dell Offers FreeDOS With New PCs

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  • Is this new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsharitt (580506) * <brandon AT sharitt DOT com> on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:39PM (#8095463) Homepage Journal
    I may be wrong, but didn't they start this a long time ago?

    • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SubTexel (715118) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:40PM (#8095489)
      Nope, you are right. They have been doing this for quite some time, they also offer Linux as an alternative as well.
      • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JPriest (547211) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:50PM (#8096199) Homepage
        And were are not without /. saying Dell is trying to "distancing of itself from Microsoft". Myabe Dell is only one small step away from throwing down the windows flag and offering only Linux as an option? No, I don't think that is it. I think someone is just spouting off at the mouth. Zealots are blinded by the way they want things to be, not the way things are.
        • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AstroDrabb (534369) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:45AM (#8096896)
          While I cannot stand MS, I'd have to agree here. Dell is so far up Billy boys butt, it isn't even funny. I think Dell just offers a few poorly packaged PC's without MS software in the same manner that a teen would rebell against his/her parents.

          I personally think that only HP, IBM and Sun are any of the big boys PC makers that offer real non-MS products. We just got in some multi-million dollar SANS from HP and they threw in a bunch of dual Xeon 3.2 GHz w/HT, 2GB, 136GB U320 Raid 5 Linux servers. HP has Open Source drivers for the Gig cards and even drivers/software for thier HP Lights Out management app for the Linux servers. With Dell you don't get any of that.

          • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Informative)

            by scott_davey (552885) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:09AM (#8098059)
            We just got in some multi-million dollar SANS from HP and they threw in a bunch of dual Xeon 3.2 GHz w/HT, 2GB, 136GB U320 Raid 5 Linux servers. HP has Open Source drivers for the Gig cards and even drivers/software for thier HP Lights Out management app for the Linux servers. With Dell you don't get any of that.

            Actually, last year we bought a bunch of Dell PowerEdge 2650s with RedHat 9 (and then had to purchase RHEL only six months later because of that end of life bullshit...but that's another story).

            Anyway, Dell has a really good installer that asks a couple of questions, then installs RedHat with all the right options for the hardware, including Dell's drivers for their gigabit ethernet card and RAID 5 config. It even included a custom hardware PNP lookup file with identifiers for all the components in the server that aren't in the standard distro.

            Dell also have their management interface for linux, which does everything the windows version does.

            I was quite impressed with Dell (Not so much with RedHat over that end of life thing)

          • Re:Is this new? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rhadamanthus (200665)
            "I personally think that only HP, IBM and Sun are any of the big boys PC makers that offer real non-MS products."

            Out of curiosity, when you purchased these servers, was a windows CD included? Numerous times I have bought a "linux" server from HP or Dell, only to find out I payed for a Windows OS anyway, it just was not installed...

            YMMV, of course

            --rhad

        • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Xabraxas (654195) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:55AM (#8096958)
          From the FreeDOS website:

          Chuck found that US customers can purchase Dell systems with FreeDOS: Perhaps this is old news but browsing on Dell's Small Business site, I noticed that they are now offering select systems bundled with FreeDOS. From the web site: The n series features select popular models from the DimensionTM , OptiPlexTM and Dell PrecisionTM desktop lines sold without a Microsoft(R) operating system. Offered for IT professionals who want control over operating system development and installation, n series desktops are available with a copy of the FreeDOSTM open-source operating system included in the box, ready to install. Update: (16 Jan 2004) This may look like a repeat, but it's not. Before, FreeDOS on Dell wasn't available to US customers - it was Canadian customers only.

    • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Informative)

      by frdmfghtr (603968) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:41PM (#8095497)
      Yep, back in 2002...

      http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=1534
    • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jlevitsk (198160) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:41PM (#8095505) Homepage
      I thought so too. I just bought one of these. Came in 5 days from when I ordered it too. Very spiffy and then I threw Debian on it.
      • Re:Is this new? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chuck Bucket (142633) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:56PM (#8095688) Homepage Journal
        I just found out about this a few weeks ago, it changed my plans of rebuilding my current box; for 319$ (or a little more) I can have a ~2.6Gig box with those nice/quiet Dell cases. The fact that I don't have to buy MS on it turned me around, it'll be our new main workstation running Gentoo Linux.

        Next I'll think about replacing my server! At ~300$ I can't afford not to upgrade!

        CB
  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by pyite (140350) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:39PM (#8095467)
    Because 8 bits are better than none?
    • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by runderwo (609077)
      DOS, and the 8086, are fully 16-bit in design and operation. The only thing 8-bit about them is the 8088's peripheral bus. The decision to use the 8088 rather than the 8086 in the IBM PC was made in order to cut costs for peripheral manufacturers.

  • I for one (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iswm (727826)
    Am glad someone made the move.
  • FreeDOS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vwjeff (709903)
    OK, what can I do with it??
    • Re:FreeDOS (Score:5, Funny)

      by NanoGator (522640) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:47PM (#8095573) Homepage Journal
      "OK, what can I do with it??"

      You can operate your disc system. Duh.
    • How about putting the OS you purchased a license to use on your old boxen, that's not currently being used?
    • Re:FreeDOS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Howard Roark (13208) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:04PM (#8095778)
      You install Linux on it.

      If you read the fine print carefully, you will discover that the N series systems actually ship with no operating system installed. They include a FreeDOS media kit in the box. This way you don't have to pay any Microsoft tax on the machine. I suppose you could use the FreeDOS to test the machine before you installed the Linux distro of your choice,
      • Re:FreeDOS (Score:3, Informative)

        by C10H14N2 (640033)
        The Microsoft tax appears to be $109. The cheapest stripped down Dimension 2400 I could build was $428. The Windows version upgrade license is $99. Personally, if I WANTED Windows pre-installed, I'd prefer to be charged $200 for a full copy non-vendor-locked copy, thankyouverymuch.
    • Re:FreeDOS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by foonf (447461)
      What will actually happen is the vast majority of buyers will install pirated copies of Windows. In fact, Dell probably assumes that will happen, because there aren't that many people who want to run Linux on cheap desktops, who would actually buy prebuilt machines, but there are many more who would love to save money on software they can easily download or "borrow" for free.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:12AM (#8097057)
        most customers who buy n-series are buying because they are some kind of retail chain, like hollywood video for example, that uses a text based dos terminal or some such interface that is not windows. They usually buy these boxes by the hundreds, and getting them w/o an OS has nothing to do with Dell distancing itself from microsoft. the only reason freedos is there is so they comply with their agreement with microsoft not to ship a system without an OS. it doesn't have to ship with a microsoft OS, just some OS. posting AC because I work at dell
  • FreeDOS? (Score:3, Funny)

    by placeclicker (709182) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:41PM (#8095500) Journal
    What kind of home user uses a command line only OS?
  • IMO, This is great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HappyCitizen (742844) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:41PM (#8095501) Homepage Journal
    Its good to see at least one PC Retailer distancing itself from Microsoft. I thought that I read somewhere that Microsoft will not allow you to distrubute windows if you distrubute another non-microsoft OS as an option. Maybe it was just Linux. That connects with my second question:
    Why FreeDos Opposed to Linux?
    If its because of some MS rules, then I understand. If not, they should include more options.

    Eather way, they are allowing an OSS OS to be bundled. GOOD LUCK TO DELL!
    • Element Computer (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deraj DeZine (726641) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:44PM (#8095544)
      They're not exactly Dell (referring to the size, not the quality), but Element Computer [elementcomputer.com] has a strict no-Microsoft policy to avoid paying expensive licensing fees to Microsoft. All the computers they sell run Lycoris Desktop/LX (a Linux distribution). They've got some pretty nice computers for the price... now if only I wasn't so cheap...
      • by thedbp (443047) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:28PM (#8096009)
        Plutonium 1000 [elementcomputer.com]
        - Harddrive Upgrade to 60GB
        - Internal Optical Combo CDRW/DVD
        - Memory 512MB
        - Model 17" LCD
        - Processor Upg. to 2.66 Ghz P4m
        - Software ProductivityPak,GamePak,SolitaireAce
        - Wireless None
        $1,938

        iMac 17" [apple.com]
        512MB DDR333 - 2 DIMMs
        80GB Ultra ATA drive
        Keyboard/Mac OS X - U.S. English
        17-inch flat panel LCD
        1.25GHz PowerPC G4
        4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
        NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
        Apple Keyboard
        Apple Mouse
        Apple Pro Speakers
        $1,899.00

        iMac is cheaper, has a dedicated graphics card, a professionally supported UNIX OS, a better processor for any sort of media, better built-in software, a 4x DVD-R, and 20GB more HD space, not to mention the better design and compatibility with all sorts of other devices. Plus options for internal bluetooth, etc.

        And people say Macs are expensive?
    • Why not Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Morosoph (693565) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:46PM (#8095562) Homepage Journal
      Why FreeDos Opposed to Linux?
      Simple. Every linux distibution is readily available, and attracts zealots. Why offend them thorugh favouritism?
      • Re:Why not Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:55PM (#8095674)
        I think the answer may be even simpler than that.

        In one word, "Support"

        It's a lot easier (i.e. cheaper) to support FreeDOS than linux. You are still free to wipe the drive and install your OS of choice. ...I'm pretty sure that's what they expect you to do anyway. ...but this way, Dell doesn't get stuck supporting anything more complicated than FreeDOS on it's low end PC's.
    • by piznut (553799) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:50PM (#8095603)
      Supposedly, you can get linux pre-installed. My assumption is that it will cost extra since it is Redhat Enterprise WS.

      Their website seems pretty light on the details about linux but this page [dell.com] tells you what systems it is available for. Then again, anyone who actually wants linux on a desktop machine probably knows how to obtain and install their favorite distro anyway.

    • by afidel (530433)
      Because FreeDos requires zero setup, configuration, or implied promise of driver support. It would be very unlikely that someone could come up with a support call resulting from shipping with FreeDos but very likely that one might result with the inclusion of a Linux distro. There isn't any margin in a $300 PC for support.
    • Wal-Mart has had a cheap workstation for sometime that you can purchase without an OS, or get it with Lindows (I think). They aren't available in stores, only on their website, but its good that there are options out there.

      It'd make a great little server to play with

    • by kindofblue (308225) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:34PM (#8096066)
      The real reason, as quoted from a CNet article [com.com] on Aug 13, 2002:

      The new desktops appear to be a slick interpretation of Microsoft's new licensing terms and a way to navigate customer demand for PCs without an OS installed. The Microsoft licensing terms, which were put in place on Aug. 1, specify that PC makers must ship PCs with an operating system. The new policy exists to prevent piracy and to better track OS shipments.

      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:36PM (#8096517) Journal
        Someone give him a point for the good, relevent article. One quote did bother me tho...

        N-series PCs will cost the same as PCs that ship with Windows, a Dell representative said.

        Which means they are technically charging you MORE for the computer, since they do not incur the cost of the Microsoft license. Or you can look at is as: "We charge you the same for FreeDOS as we do for Windows", which is kinda expensive for FreeDOS (I have installed it, its a mediocre DOS 3.3 clone by their own admission).

        This does mean bigger profits for Dell, but it doesn't represent a better value for customers.
    • Why not Knoppix? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poopie (35416)
      If companies want to ship a computer with a free OS, I believe tossing a knoppix cd in the box would be a good move...
      • Re:Why not Knoppix? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:42PM (#8096558) Journal
        I was thinking the exact same thing. I have been getting distro happy the last few months, trying several, and I have personally burned and given out several Knoppix CDs, including mailing them to relatives. Its the best for trying Linux, without having to install anything. I have used it a more than a few times to recover data, check disks, copy data, etc. from win9x disks. Wanting to find out how to modify and reburn it, to run it more in 'expert' mode rather than desktop mode, but loving the completeness of it.

        I just downloaded featherlinux (70mb i think) to test it. Its supposed to be the best lightweight utility bootable CD version.
  • I swear I've never had a freedos installation actually work for more than 5 reboots. Its kinda sad :(.
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:43PM (#8095531)
    Do they at least still ship with the spyware? If there aren't 78 desktop shortcuts pre-installed, it's not a Dell!
  • This is news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Orien (720204) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:44PM (#8095539)
    I know this isn't exactly new info, but if you look at freedos.org [freedos.org] you will see that they have a news post about it. It has been available for a while now, but only in Canada. The news is that it is for US also now.

    FreeDos is a cool project. You should check it out if you haven't yet.

  • by bc90021 (43730) * <<ten.12009cb> <ta> <12009cb>> on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:44PM (#8095540) Homepage
    Since Dell has half the market cap [yahoo.com] of IBM [yahoo.com]. which makes it a sizable company in its own right, Microsoft (granted, which still has a larger market cap than both combined [yahoo.com]) should realise that two of the biggest computer makers are trying to distance themselves. If they weren't already afraid of the free movement (whether it be Linux or FreeDOS!) they should be paying a lot more attention very soon!
  • justice dept. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by millette (56354) <robin@miBALDWINllette.info minus author> on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:44PM (#8095541) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if it has anything with this January 16th document [usdoj.gov]...
  • What is the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ryanmoffett (265601) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:45PM (#8095546)
    While it's nice to see that there is an option, this seems like an empty gesture. Not to knock the FreeDOS project, kudos to you, there are SO many better offerings out there that could be packaged. What are businesses or home users going to do with FreeDOS? If anything this comes across like a message that says, "Here's your other choice, it's not really an option at all, is it?"
  • Wee! (Score:5, Funny)

    by NanoGator (522640) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:45PM (#8095554) Homepage Journal
    A small handful of people rejoice!!!
  • More precisely (Score:5, Informative)

    by ScottSpeaks! (707844) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:46PM (#8095564) Homepage Journal
    Here's a better link [dell.com], from the FreeDOS.org site.

    According to their news entries, this is new for US customers, but it's been available to Canadians for a while.

  • I think that most of that computers will run MSWindows by companies that already have a windows license for their current computers and plan to trow their computers away.
    I've seen that: a company bougth 50 computers that came with XP and installed W2K on it
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:46PM (#8095570)

    When Dell stops this [cypherpunks.ca] bullshit, and offers a windows delete credit across their entire product line (without invalidating warranties), then you will finally know that you aren't paying a full microsoft tax when you order a computer with Linux or some other operating system.
    • That [cypherpunks.ca] "bullshit" link you posted contains a really interesting story from a few months ago called "Dude, you're getting screwed" about how Dell screws over the customer wrt license agreements and has no ability or understanding of what they are even asking their customers to agree to. Take 5 minutes and read it.
  • Uh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SinaSa (709393) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:47PM (#8095571) Homepage
    When I first read this article, I thought to myself "What use is FreeDOS to a current business user? Is this a flashback to 10 years ago, when DOS was still useful?"

    Then it occured to me that obviously Dell is still just as scared of Microsoft as it was two years ago when they attempted to ship Linux. Microsoft doesn't care if Dell ships with an OS that isn't a threat really. They just don't want Linux in the mainstream.

    Shame on you Dell!
  • Was anybody else totally unable to find the reference to FreeDOS from the supplied Dell link? Or am I just dumb?

    I have no clue which computer is a "N-series"- all I see are dimensions, precisions, optiplexes, and the like.

    And, for some reason, whenever I clicked on a PC's "Customize it" button, it just refeshed the page. Happened on Moz 1.5 and IE 6.

    Yeah, I believe it, but it'd be cool to see it, too :-/ .
  • by ayeco (301053)
    They are required to provide an OS with the computer systems they sell. This is an OS, and saves the end user a buck or two. This is great.
  • by hoasis69 (745617) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:51PM (#8095622)
    Could be a brilliant Dell ploy to sell more systems to pirateers of Windows OS's since they'll save a bit with a free OS.
    • Read their own words. "Ideal for companies with proprietary software images"

      Remember the *double Microsoft Tax*? A large company pays to purchase a system (which has Windows), then they pay again for their special corporate image of windows? If they buy a system like this one, then they've got a single Microsoft tax. It makes sense.

      And it makes sense for people who run alternative OSs, of want more of a kiosk, or perhaps have a MAME box they want to get going. For $320 with free shipping, that's one hell
  • Dell *is not* distancing themselves from MS, just doing what all OEMs should, offing a wide variety of solutions. And really, FreeDOS? How is this huge ore even measurable? Are big companies still buying DOS machines? Not for long, because these same companies will soon migrate their old DOS apps to... VisualBasic (joke, sort of...)!
  • FreeDOS. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Oliver Defacszio (550941) on Monday January 26, 2004 @09:53PM (#8095645)
    FreeDOS! Great! Now I can run Telix 3.15 on my new 7 Flabblehertz PC!

    Back in the real world, FreeDOS is about as useful as a deep-freeze in the Arctic circle. Are people supposed to learn to install an OS on new computers? What is this, 1987?

  • ``DellTM DimensionTM 2400 n series1 desktops offer affordable, everyday small business computing power. Extra economical because they come without a Microsoft(R) operating system; a copy of FreeDOSTM open-source operating system is included in the box, ready to install.''

    'nuff said.
  • 1. Buy computer with FreeDOS
    2. Install warez windows xp
    3. Profit!!

    That's the whole point of this promotion. So people can use their wared copies of windows. I doubt it will help linux much.
  • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:07PM (#8095805)
    I mean the choice is simple... This one CD has almost everything an average $400.00 computer purchaser would want. The 1 disk distro. has it all ready in "start from scratch" wrapper.

    Nothing for grandma to get messed up with either. Tech support is dead simple.."hello, Mrs. Smigh? Does the computer boot from the CD?...you're OK"

    This wouldn't even require formatting the drive....

    FreeDOS is a cop-out...... If it's a "cost" issue on Dell's part...I could burn CD's at my house! I'm in for a stack a week.

    Let's put together a special Dell CD distro. and ask Dell to distribute it with their OS-less systems. It could show real "good faith" towards a heartless company. It could also suck them into the SCO fun!

  • by vnv (650942) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:07PM (#8095808)

    I would expect Darl will be on the scene shortly, perhaps within a week, claiming that FreeDOS is also owned by SCO.

    I will enter my official guess as February 2, "Groundhog Day". If Darl appears and claims more IP, then six more weeks of IP winter will be upon us.

  • Price difference (Score:5, Informative)

    by ScottSpeaks! (707844) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:16PM (#8095905) Homepage Journal
    Dell's offering a $200 rebate on the comes-with-Windows model at the moment, but if you set that aside, roughtly equivalent sample configurations are priced as follows:
    • Dell Dimension 2400N: 2.4GHz Celeron, 256MB RAM, 80GB HD, CD-ROM, no monitor, FreeDOS: $369
    • Dell Dimension 2400: 2.4GHz Celeron, 256MB RAM, 80GB HD, CD-ROM, no monitor, Windows XP: $599
    The arithmetic is left as an exercise for the reader.
    • by DietFluffy (150048) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:11AM (#8096745)
      Why should that $200 rebate be set aside in your comparison? Anyone who frequents the bargains websites knows that Dell always has these types of promotions for their windows boxes.

      If you take into consideration the rebate, and the fact that dell charges tax on the 2400N (because it can only be purchased at dell business versus dell home for the 2400), you are actually paying the exact same price for the 2 configurations.

      Don't be mistaken, you are still paying the Microsoft tax.
  • by MadAnthony02 (626886) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:31PM (#8096039) Homepage

    My guess is that a decent number of these will be bought by companies, schools, or other organizations that already have some sort of Microsoft site license. They will still pay microsoft, but won't have to pay for a machine with an OS, then pay more to install something over it.

    The college I work at has an MS site license through a college consortium. We would buy PC's with one version of Windows then overwrite them with images of another, usually because we weren't ready to deploy whatever the latest and greatest OS yet. I'm sure a lot of businesses have site licenses for NT or 2k and aren't ready yet to deploy XP, and don't want to have to pay for XP licenses when XP would be wiped off 5 minutes after opening the box.

  • BIOS FLASHING! (Score:3, Informative)

    by solios (53048) on Monday January 26, 2004 @10:46PM (#8096167) Homepage
    For all you froods who are all OMFGWTF WHAT IS THE POINT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!1, well... that's it.

    Motherboard BIOS. Updates? DOS floppy or DOS onboard generally required. Not always, especially these days, but geeze. FreeDOS, I assume, will work just as well as DOS for this purpose.

    I'm a Mac user and I know this! What's your excuse? ;-D

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