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Dell starting to sell Computers with Linux 82

I_am_Rambi writes "Dell is starting to sell PCs with RHEL WS. The trio of workstations come with either a P4, or Xeons (Dual capable). Prices range from $759 to $1263 (after rebates). Linux Desktops has more information." From the article: "Dell spokesperson Jeremy Bolen said the company basically defines a workstation as a heavy-duty desktop or notebook that is certified to work with various ISVs applications, including those for computer-aided design, video editing, modeling software for the gas and oil industry and other similar applications. Bolen argues that companies will purchase workstations for those specific jobs versus buying them as desktops for so-called knowledge workers, who spend time emailing, word processing and creating PowerPoint presentations. "
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Dell starting to sell Computers with Linux

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  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Saturday February 25, 2006 @02:50PM (#14800932) Homepage Journal
    ...does it run Windows?
  • That is great, but didnt they do that in 1999 ? Also I love linux, but my Olympus c3030 won't work with it.
    • Also I love linux, but my Olympus c3030 won't work with it.

      It's on the list of gphoto2 [] supported cameras.
      • Re:Yeah! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 2.7182 ( 819680 )
        Well that may be, but even my system administrator eventually gave up.
        • Weird. For the Olympus C5050 it was just a single line mounting the USB device as a drive and it worked great.

          Used to have a roommate with the C3030(and 2020 before it) that convinced me to go for it.
      • Doesn't Linux have some kind of a driver API to support cameras? Does Gphoto2 contain camera support or use external drivers via an API. Building in support rather than keeping the driver and app seperate is a bad idea since it makes it more difficult to use other apps with the camera.
    • I owned a C3030Z and it worked great for me with Gphoto2. Keep trying until it works. I have used both USB and RS-232 to connect to it and both methods have worked. One of my colleagues took it and never returned it, hence the "owned" bit.

      LANG=C gphoto2 --port "usb:" --camera "Olympus C-3030Z" --folder "/DCIM/100OLYMP" --get-all-files

    • I have a C3030Z and was able to get it working with gphoto2 back in Fall 2000ish when I got one as a birthday gift.

      The process was a bit convoluted though, I eventually moved to using a Smartmedia to CF adapter because it was MUCH faster than the Olympus USB link under Linux or Windows. I'm sure things have improved in the nearly six years since support for that camera was added.
  • again (Score:5, Informative)

    by GenKreton ( 884088 ) on Saturday February 25, 2006 @02:52PM (#14800937) Journal
    We've seen this many times over the past few years. Dell has always sold linux on some machines. Sometimes if you dug enugh you could find it on workstations. Just last year this happened (again) and it was much higher priced than the exact same machine selling windows. I wonder if they will put some serious push behind it this time and make an effort ot pss the savings on (and yes I know other software vendors pay to have their products on the windows machines too...but still.).
    • Re:again (Score:3, Interesting)

      Actually, Dell workstations generally offer a direct-choice between Windows and RHEL Linux, and the prices are exactly the same (except for the fact that RHEL subscriptions are more expensive than Windows).

      Dell also offers most of their desktop machines as "bare" (FreeDOS). These are the machines that are "buried" on the website. Sometimes these machines are cheaper than the Windows versions, sometimes the same, sometimes more expensive. Apparently this is because vendors like Real pay Dell to bundle their
      • I've been shopping for machines, and the only time I've seen machines w/o Windows were the ones w/o any OS - in the server section for Small Business. I just figured I'd get one with a DVD and install Linux.

        Anyway, how do you find those burried ones?

        • by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Saturday February 25, 2006 @03:46PM (#14801153)
          They are called "Open Source Desktops" or "n-Series" -- I see a link right on the Small Business Desktop page.

 spx/desktops_n?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd []
          • by Trelane ( 16124 ) on Saturday February 25, 2006 @04:33PM (#14801343) Journal
            Interesting. Things to note:
            1. This option is only available via the "Small and Medium Business" web page. Linux is not offered at all to consumers.
            2. No laptops will come with anything but Windows.
            3. This page is only available by clicking a separate, lower link, in a special section entitled "Dell Open Source Desktops". Clicking the top (seemingly complete) product lineups will not give you access to Linux computers--only Windows.
            4. Exception: A special link in the "Dell Precision Workstations" section (entitled "View Linux Workstations") will take you to the Linux Precision workstations. Again, clicking on the top link (which seems to indicate that it has the entire linup of Precision workstations) will not get you any Linux offerings .
            5. Clicking on the series' pictures will not show you any Linux offerings, but has the appearance that it would contain all of the series' offerings.
            6. Each series's Linux offering consists of precisely three machines.
            7. The Precision workstation series consists of six machines--three Windows (670, 470, 380); three Linux (670n, 470n, 380n). Linux content: 50%
            8. The OptiPlex workstation series consists of six machines--three Windows (GX620, GX520, 170L); three FreeDOS (GX620n, GX520n, 170Ln). Open Source content: 50%-- Linux content: 0%
            9. The Dimension desktop series consists of nine machines--six Windows (XPS 600, 9150, 5150C, 5150, 3100, 1100); three FreeDOS (5150n, 3100n, 1100n). Open Source content: 33.33%-- Linux content: 0%
            10. You'll note that only the Precision workstations come with Linux--two of the three "Open Source" desktops don't come with Linux.
            11. Additionally, FreeDOS is not even installed (note the small print around the FreeDOS description.
            12. Dell describes the Precision Linux offerings as "Dell PrecisionTM open-source n Series1 workstations deliver maximum workstation performance. Smart for businesses with proprietary software images or special Linux needs, these systems are available with factory installed Linux." (emphesis mine)
            13. Dell helpfully adds the following cheerful text on their "Open Source Desktops" page: "he open-source n Series desktops feature select popular models from the DimensionTM desktop, OptiPlexTM desktop and Dell PrecisionTM workstation lines available with a copy of the FreeDOSTM open-source operating system included in the box, ready to install. It is not a Microsoft operating system and is not qualified for Windows licensing use under any existing Microsoft Volume Licensing Program (OPEN, Enterprise, etc.) Customers interested in a Microsoft® Windows® solution should purchase a Dell desktop pre-loaded with Windows XP Professional. Select n Series systems are also available with Linux.
              In order to boot this system, you must install an operating system. A FreeDOS media kit has been provided which will allow you to boot your system once installed. Please note that many common applications will not run and/or fully function using FreeDOS, and in order to run these applications, you will need to install the appropriate operating system and/or device specific drivers. Consult or your chosen operating system vendor for compatibility details." (boldface theirs; italics and sarcasm mine). No such text appears on any of the Windows pages. Indeed, Dell recommends Windows XP Professional. No similar recommendation supporting Linux exists.
            • Let's summarize those 13 points: "Most people want Windows on their computers. Therefore, only buy these if you are really certain you don't want Windows."

              Is anyone here going to argue with that? Ultimately Dell doesn't care, they're just moving boxes.

              Dell recommends Windows XP Professional.

              Even "IBM Recommends Windows XP Professional". Gotta get the OEM discount.
              • Let's summarize those 13 points: "Most people want Windows on their computers. Therefore, only buy these if you are really certain you don't want Windows."

                Nice summary, but incorrect.

                The statistics above directly contradict your assertion:

                Dell also offers most of their desktop machines as "bare" (FreeDOS).

                Additionally, it was to provide background on why people find the non-Windows offerings to be "buried".

                Even "IBM Recommends Windows XP Professional". Gotta get the OEM discount.

                Indeed. I neve

                • Dell also offers most of their desktop machines as "bare" (FreeDOS).

                  I don't know if that means all that much. Once they have absorbed the startup costs of "Open Source Desktops", there is not much cost in offering additional models in that configuration (especially because they are nearly identical internally).
                • Dell also offers most of their desktop machines as "bare" (FreeDOS).

                  The word on the street is that Dell pays Microsoft per unit sold, regardless of what you get from them. So you're paying for a Windows license but not getting it.

                  And since many of the Dells can't be ordered without Windows XP (I picked 3 at random, none had a FreeDOS option) you often can't even pretend you're not helping Microsoft fight legal battles against linux companies if you're buying from Dell.
                  • The word on the street is that Dell pays Microsoft per unit sold, regardless of what you get from them.

                    Yeah right. I'll bet your "inside sources" are a bunch of slashdot conspiracy theory dumbasses. Microsoft has been legally prohibited from doing this since 1993.
                    • Microsoft is also legally prohibited from bundling Internet Explorer with Windows... oh, wait...
                    • Well, first he said word on the street not inside sources. But, i have heard that from different vendors since before i came to slashdot or even started playing with linux.

                      You see i had a copy of windows 98SE i bought for a desktop that couldn't run it. Unfortionatly one of the application i wanted to run needed Windows 98SE so i tryed to puchase a desktop to use my OS with. I did find one or two vendors willing to sell me a desktop with freedos but there was no price reduction. The excuse given to me by di
                    • Interesting article. I won't deny that MS makes it difficult to have "ala carte" OSes -- the vendor pretty much has to identify a different brandname etc.
            • Whew! Glad there's no <blink> tag on Slashdot.
            • Yeah, and at this point, I just get fed up with it all and build my own linux machine from the ground up.
      • As far as Microsoft is concerned, antitrust law is a paper tiger.

      • Anyone who thinks the price disparity is due to MS kickbacks is on crack, because such a practice is totally outlawed by the antitrust decree.

        Yeah, this lady I was talking to said her son was murdered, but I told her that she must be mistaken, because murder is illegal.
    • Re:again (Score:3, Interesting)

      by robthebob ( 742982 )
      It's short sighted to claim immediately that there are *any* savings to pass on at all. It's not as though these machines magically appear with an OS on once it's been decided. From my experience in the industry (and this in a much smaller company than Dell even), you will require a very efficient scheme for installing the OS to the machines remotely. These kinds of systems don't just appear overnight - they need planning, development and exectution. Critically, they will need to evolve over a period of tim
  • by The evil non-flying ( 947059 ) on Saturday February 25, 2006 @02:53PM (#14800940)
    It seems every once in a while, like when contracts with Microsoft expire, we hear Dell is selling Linux computers and then as soon as the stories appear the computers end up buried in some hard to find place on their website.
    • It seems every once in a while, like when contracts with Microsoft expire, we hear Dell is selling Linux computers and then as soon as the stories appear the computers end up buried in some hard to find place on their website.

      Very true. No one takes Dell systems with Linux seriously, your better off with Sun hardware that runs Linux, cheaper and faster too as Sun uses AMD X2 processors that blow away anything Dell has.

  • You can run linux on a toaster!, those prices are outrageous for a pc I would just use an old machine for linux, I picked up an old IBM laptop for nothing and it runs linux fine on 192 mb of ram and a pentium 3 400 mhz.
    • I have P2 266 with 256 megs of ram. Linux runs, but it chugs along a little slowly. I run KDE which I know slows it down, but also gives me a lot of stuff i'm going to run anyway, like Kopete and Amarok. If I'm going to load the KDE modules, I might as well use KDE for the desktop. I'm also running mandriva 2006, which makes things slower than using an older distro, yet I shy away from using older distros because things have started to run much smooter in the last few years.
      • Try Gentoo if you want to go faster. It's very easy to install, although a bit time-consuming, yet doesn't require much RAM to run KDE. As a matter of fact, right now with Seamonkey, apache, 6 OpenOffice documents of 6-200 pages, and postgres running in KDE it takes up 125MB RAM. It has really good community support too.
      • I'm also running mandriva 2006 ... yet I shy away from using older distros because things have started to run much smooter in the last few years.

        I've been a long time Mandriva user and finally gave up after installing 2006. Sadly, Mandriva has never been able to shake the "every other release is a piece of crap" syndrome. I had high hopes that a yearly release cycle would fix things, but it didn't. I was also got really tired of trying to find an update mirror that worked. I finally called their US nu

    • I do not know what desktop you run, and which applications, but I can tell you that you might feel happier with more memory. CPU power has not been a big issue for most for years now.

      KDE 3.3, eclipse,kmail,,tomcat, mysql database, OpenOffice, Firefox at the same time open with 256 was slightly impossible (-:
      • I was going to make the same suggestion. Although it will run fine with 256MB, 512MB would be far better if you are going to use a current distro, like Mandriva 2006.0 + KDE + Lots of higher powered (bigger) applications
        • Slackware-based distros are a lot faster, by the way – my laptop (233MHz, 96MB RAM) would likely choke on Red Hat, I know my old laptop (133MHz, 80MB RAM) did. But using Ultima Linux [], my own Slack-based system, even running KDE, Enlightenment, Firefox, OOo, and even an NES emulator doesn't seem to break the system. Which is a good thing. I like NES games ;-)
    • I picked up an old IBM laptop for nothing and it runs linux fine on 192 mb of ram and a pentium 3 400 mhz.

      That's a really facinating story, but most people who buy workstations are looking for computational machines and don't care about your old crap.
    • those prices are outrageous for a pc I would just use an old machine for linux, I picked up an old IBM laptop for nothing and it runs linux fine on 192 mb of ram and a pentium 3 400 mhz.

      If you don't need a dual P4 Xeon or other high end computer you obviously are not their target market, so don't worry about it. If a PIII-400 suits your needs, fine. I run Linux on a 200MHz ARM in an embedded system because that's all it need to run (more, actually,) but I do the development on a P4-3GHz notebook and i

    • My 1994 Honda civic purchased for $2,000 runs fine. Gets me to work and back reliably.

      My other car, 2005 BMW M3 is a hell of alot more fun though.
  • With it comes Dell's 3-Year On-site Economy Plan for support. This plan includes 24x7 phone technical support, online technical support, and if needed following phone-based troubleshooting, next business day on-site service.

    Heh, I know what I'm going to suggest next time the Grandma-Types ask what kind of computer they should get. Have fun, Dell...
  • Our company bought Linux machines from Dell 4 years ago with RH 7.1 on them.
  • I think one thing that affects how Dell does Linux is simply support. If they use Windows, it's really only two versions they have to worry about supporting. There's really only Windows 2000 and Windows XP, and Windows 2000 is quickly fading from view. With Linux, Dell may put on one distribution and version, but with how many Linux distros there are, it would be hard to get enough people to support each one to fullfil the Dell warranties. Different distros require different drivers, different ways of d
    • Nonesense, Dell only supports the OS the machine ships with. Every OEM does the same thing. If you load Pro on a box that came with Home vendors will not support software issues, let alone 2000.
    • Re:Support? (Score:2, Insightful)

      As shaitand points out, Dell itself would only be responsible for supporting the distro they have shipped originally. However, you do have a point in that the diverse nature of Linux (and pretty much all open source type software) is sometimes a barrier to adoption.

      Dell may be reluctant to start shipping Linux (or at least shipping it as a regular thing) because they fear that the effort of offering a variety of distros is too much (as you point out), and simply offering one distro is probably not going
    • Re:Support? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Dell support shipped multiple machines to us with RHEL and 24" widescreens. Not one of them had the video at a widescreen resolution, let alone the monitor's native resolution. Their support personal were also unable to fix the problem. Fortunately I was. Though they are still happy to charge for this support.
    • Don't be a moron. Dell has no responsibility to support software it does not sell with the machine. They are selling RedHat version something-or-other. This does not mean they have to support anything else that happens to have the letters L,I,N,U, and X in it's name.
  • What I want to see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gooman ( 709147 ) on Saturday February 25, 2006 @04:26PM (#14801315) Journal
    I don't care if Dell ships with Linux (any distro).
    But, I DO care that Dell makes hardware support available for at least the big distros!

    Give me supported hardware and drivers!

    Hey all you hardware vendors out there, it's 2006 already!
    I've decided this year that any manufacturer that will not at least make drivers available is behind the times and I will no longer buy from them.

    I'm tired of reverse engineered hardware support. It should not be this way anymore. I choose to vote with my $$$ and I will plainly tell any vendor why I will not choose them. No support for Linux, no support from me.

    • Specifications are more valuable than drivers. I don't think most Linux users want support, they just want hardware that has a chance of working.
      • In that light I don't understand Dell's meager discount on the n-series desktops (that is, desktops that ship with no MS Windows and instead have free DOS.) People always say "well duh, Dell only pays $35 or so for each copy of Windows, so you can't expect much of a discount." True, but the real cost of Windows for Dell is supporting it. They know if they ship an n-series, they won't get calls about "my Roxio's not working" or "my computer crashes instantly after I turn it on" or "I keep getting a bunch of
    • Give me supported hardware and drivers! ... I'm tired of reverse engineered hardware support. It should not be this way anymore.

      Yes, things should not be the way they are but binary drivers are not a good deal. "Reverse engineered hardware support" is often better than the driver provided by the device maker. How can that be? Easy, the maker can only afford so many hours of programming for any device but free drivers will be brought up to spec eventually. More importantly, free drivers never go away.

    • buy a sun or IBM workstation. Just tried on the IBM website, all workstations except power come with windows preinstalled (cannot deselect the option), adding redhat enterprise incl. 1 year support adds $300 to the total costs. The power workstations you can either buy with AIX or no OS at all, but they claim to be supported by SUSE and redhat, you'd have to buy those seperately I guess.

      lenovo doesn't mention linux as an option when selecting a laptop/pc, but after using the search function one finds the

  • Is anyone else tired of hearing that term?

    By the way, this is hilarious: []

    • No, not at all. Knowledge workers are distinct from other types of workers, such as production workers, and there is a need to distinguish them.

      For one thing, it makes it easy for management to identify them for pink slips during downsizings, since they do not tangibly, immediately contribute to the bottom line. They can always be rehired as consultants later.

  • I guess they figured out how to run a bunch of Crapware on it on startup.

    Dude, stop buying Dell.
  • Who are they kidding ? I just bought AMD 64 X2 at the price it takes to upgrade one Dell to dual core / processor ? Actually I bought two, upgraded memory on each to 2GB, added 6800GS to both, added 300GB to one of them ( 550GB together ) and I'm still under one Dell with comparable configuration? Dell servers can be nice, got very nice deals on those but desktops/workstations? Maybe their laptop - haven't tried one for a while. I just hope to get one to run Linux ( and VMWare, whatever for virtual machines
    • I got a Dell P-III 900 Mhz laptop with 256MB of ram for free after the owner tried "upgrading" it to Windows XP. It ran like such shit, he decided to buy a new laptop instead. I wiped it, installed Ubuntu, and now I have spare laptop that works just fine.
    • But you can't get a lease on individual parts of a system that you build yourself ;-) You can go to dell for business leasing. It isn't terribly cheap in the long-run, but its great if you prefer to have a monthly bill, rather than a big up-front purchase (esspecially if you need a lot of machines, or have few liquid assets)
  • They've been on again / off again with the linux offerings. I purchased a couple of workstations in 1997 with Windows installed (only option), formatted the drives and installed RH 5.0. A few months later they started offering the machines with RH linux pre-installed. A year or so after that they stopped offering it... and so on, and so forth. Fickle.

    As an aside, I believe they're offering the systems with FreeDOS because some people do want to install linux, but don't want RedHat (I run Suse now).

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.