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Dell PCs with Ubuntu Are A Little Less Expensive 388

Chandon Seldon writes "Contrary to many earlier reports, it turns out that Dell's prices for its Ubuntu PCs are cheaper than similar Windows Vista PCs for all three Models. Ars Technica reports: 'So it turns out that not including Windows saves the consumer $50 from the regular list price. This amount is not too far off from what a large OEM like Dell would pay for a volume discount for Windows Vista Home Basic (the regular OEM price is about $95). Many value PC sellers try to make up for the cost of a Windows license by bundling demo and trial versions of software such as AOL (affectionately known as "crapware"), for which they receive money from software companies looking to increase their distribution levels. Dell is no exception to this practice, although on their web site it allows customers to select the option of not including various applications.' For direct comparisons, Nat Tuck of Umass-Lowell has put together a simple page showing prices for Ubuntu and Windows-based PCs."
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Dell PCs with Ubuntu Are A Little Less Expensive

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  • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:30PM (#19271551) Homepage
    What will be the most important marker of Dells little Linux venture is product placement. If these linux systems end up on a back page people may not hunt for them.
    • by tb()ne ( 625102 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:39PM (#19271701)
      They are on a back page. If you go to Dell's web site and navigate to buy an E1505 laptop, Ubuntu is not an OS option anywhere along the way. I had to type Ubuntu in the search box to find the page where I could see/configure one.
      • by Poppler ( 822173 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:09PM (#19272199) Journal
        I was about to post a rant about how it was obscured as well, but right now, Dell has a promotion for Ubuntu PCs on their front page. OK, so it's one of four images shown seemingly at random, but having a promotion shown to 25% of people who visit isn't bad.
      • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:19PM (#19272379) Homepage
        I tried to find it this morning too.

        1. There was a page on Dell's site saying displaying photoshopped pc's with a brown ubuntu splash screen, but the link took you to freedos systems. (?)

        2. Search the phrase Dell linux and one of the links will take you to PC's with Red Hat.

        3. Going through Dell's front door gets you absolutely zero indication they have Linux, much less ubuntu as an option.

        I found the link to buy a ubuntu/dell pc in an article. This suggests some combination of typical corporate inertia and maybe, just maybe a Microsoft distribution agreement that discourages alternatives.

        • by buggi22 ( 1060024 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:47PM (#19273921)
          Here's what I've found:

          1. There's an "Ubuntu Has Arrived" image that cycles through with the other advertisements on Dell's front page. This takes you to a page where you have the choice to shop for Ubuntu PC's and FreeDOS PC's.

          2. The Ubuntu/FreeDOS PC's are not available through the obvious route (ie, by navigating through "Notebooks for Home and Office" -> "Inspiron" -> "Inspiron E1505", for example). There's an entirely separate navigation tree for Ubuntu orders.

          3. Fortunately the navigation tree for ordering non-Windows PC's has an easy-to-remember URL:


          Which is good for spreading the word the old-fashioned way.

    • by C_Kode ( 102755 )
      I agree. If I go to Dell's site and select Home System->XPS->XPS410 I only get the option for Windows when it ask me to choose an operating system.

      I guess I just didn't find the back page that actually offers Ubuntu.
  • by vivaoporto ( 1064484 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:31PM (#19271573)
    After all the comments that Dell should sell Linux machines, and that they shouldn't charge more for them than the Linux one, it is time to put your money where your mouth is and start buying these beauties. I, for one, know that if they ever offer it here on good ol' Europe I'll be buying one as my replacement laptop. Not only buy them, but recommend them for people that are buying their first computers and never had contact with Windows. If they are going to give any serious use for the computer (that meaning, no mass marketed games), they will not miss anything on Windows. Peace.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by N3WBI3 ( 595976 )
      In a way it might have been better if it were placed at the same price point as windows. A better profit margin on the Linux PC's might inspire dell to give them a very visible face..
    • Provided they start selling in Norway before I find that my present system is insufficient to meet my needs I will with high probability get a notebook from a vendor with good Linux support. If the price is fair that may very well be Dell. So, well, IF they ship to Norway, and IF they have better Linux support than my alternatives here, and IF they are priced fairly I will buy one. However, lets get one thing clear. We owe them nothing. If their Linux machines are good and fairly priced they will sell on th
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      After all the comments that Dell should sell Linux machines, and that they shouldn't charge more for them than the Linux one, it is time to put your money where your mouth is and start buying these beauties.

      I'm not buying a laptop until quad-core units roll out.

      It's not enough to put Linux on a laptop I don't want and expect me to buy it.

      If you want to pay for me to buy a laptop I don't want, though, that would be okay.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jerry ( 6400 )
      I checked out the XPS 410n and added my preferences.

      The total bill was $948.

      Then it struck me... How am I to connect this box to the Internet? NONE of the offerings included either a NIC or a modem, wireless or phone.
  • Comparisons? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:33PM (#19271605) Homepage
    Comparing identical models is interesting, and it's good to know the size of the 'Windows Tax' is around $50 (as many suspected), but this figure isn't an objective truth, for several reasons:
    • Ubuntu can run well on cheaper hardware than Vista (mainly RAM and video, if you want Aero). So comparing the same hardware means one OS will run better than the other. (Note: on the other hand Ubuntu needs more expensive hardware in some areas, like Wifi, due to lack of good drivers for cheap Broadcom devices. But this is negligible, and also drivers are now coming out.)
    • Comparing to Vista Home Basic may not be entirely fair, if most users in fact purchase Home Premium ($30 more via Dell, I believe). Indeed some have said that Home Basic is hopelessly crippled. But this is of course debatable.
    • by Ravnen ( 823845 )

      Ubuntu can run well on cheaper hardware than Vista (mainly RAM and video, if you want Aero). So comparing the same hardware means one OS will run better than the other.
      I don't think Vista Home Basic includes Aero, which is why it has lower hardware requirements, including half the RAM and lower video card requirements, than the more expensive versions of Vista.
  • windows users have the option of configuring their PC so it's more expensive. that makes me feel a lot better about the price of a prebuilt with Ubuntu.

    no wait, no i'm still pissed that the default windows prebuilt would be cheaper.
  • by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:35PM (#19271639) Homepage
    What you pay for is garanteed hardware compatibility.
    • by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:51PM (#19271903)
      And one way they achieved compatibility with Ubuntu was to pull out the modem!
      As far as I can see, there's no way to configure a modem into the non-laptop models.
      • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:57PM (#19271997) Homepage
        As far as I can see, there's no way to configure a modem into the non-laptop models.

        A what?
      • by Nimey ( 114278 )
        Dell should have a link to buy an external modem if you really need one /that/ badly.

        Ideally an RS-232 one.
        • I'd be just fine with a softmodem so long as Dell can provide a Linux driver for it. Of course that's the issue at hand.

          And Dell does offer an internal modem in the FreeDOS version of the E520N.
          • by Nimey ( 114278 )
            Intel's softmodems work well in Linux. I have direct experience with the 536EP, and I expect the 537EP would be the same.

            Proprietary driver, though. That's why I'd prefer an RS-232 modem if I was still stuck on dialup; then at most I'd just need to know the proper initialization string.
      • If it's not a laptop, you can add a modem later for five bucks. Big dealy, yo.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by schwaang ( 667808 )

          If it's not a laptop, you can add a modem later for five bucks. Big dealy, yo.

          The whole point is guaranteed compatibility (i.e. "hassle free"). We want Dell to use their might to improve the driver situation for Linux.

          BTW, I totally understand that in the amazingly short time-frame Dell launched this, it's not realistic to expect that they could solve a problem that the Linux community has been just living with for years. Kudos to Dell for what they've accomplished so far.

          But I still hope they find a sane

  • by tanguyr ( 468371 ) <> on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:37PM (#19271671) Homepage
    Once you start adding the price of office and other commercial software with a solid foss alternative the gap widens even more. Of course, that's if you don't count the cost of your time spent managing your computer and its software. Depending on how familiar you are with one OS or the other, that could be a lot. Most importantly, linux should not be promoted as " just" a low cost alternative to windows. Keep in mind that it's also higher quality ;) (i can hear the hackles rising from here)

  • by edxwelch ( 600979 )
    Dell has being offering Windowless PCs for a long time, but only from their US website.
    Just wondering if this is also the case for the Ubuntu deal?
    • by levell ( 538346 )
      This is US only at the moment. Hopefully they'll roll it out to the UK and elsewhere soon!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by umStefa ( 583709 )
      Well I know for fact that Dell's with Linux are NOT available in Canada.
  • I'm glad that Nat had to use Vista Home Premium in most of his examples -- I imagine that most people would want Home Premium if they were going to use Vista.

    I also wonder what the price difference would be if XP Media Edition or XP Pro were still available.

    The nice thing about Ubuntu for the home user is that most everything you need is either available or easy to install. I have been using Ubuntu dual boot with XP Pro on my laptop, and the only complaints I have is that wireless support could be better (

  • who's not seeing these products for sale at ? Also, as someone else has mentioned, a measly $50 saving is pretty worthless unless you're trying to cram the price right down. I which case you'll be buying the cheapest computer. Which they're not offering Ubuntu on; clever.
  • by Manitcor ( 218753 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:53PM (#19271927) Homepage
    First it's

    "wahhhh no OEM vendor will put *nix as an option on machines, whaa we have limited support, waahhh if we were more mainstream regular users would see how great *nix is"

    Then it's

    "Yaaaa go Dell, offering us what we want, give us the choice and we will show you that there is a market for linux."

    Now it's

    "Who cares if dell is offering linux, i can install it myself for free anyway or I can put together a better computer with bubble gum and bailing wire and make it run off a watch micro-processor. Regular people don't want linux blah blah blah"

    You folks need to make up your minds. I think this is a great thing personally. I run both Windows and *nix systems and I used to be all about putting together my own PC's but now I have a life and other priorities rather than piecing together a custom system or digging up the information necessary to install some obscure video driver to make my selections work with my distro. I welcome being able to buy a pre-build and compatible *nix system from a vendor whom I can choke and yell at for anything gone wrong (hardware wise).

    And you know what? That's what average folks want. In order to adopt linux as a home platform in Joe 6-pack's home you need that brand, you need that support and you need that gaurentee. Yes some people are afraid of changes and upgrade issues but its only more aggravated by the whole "the Internet is your support" mantra. Joe 6-pack doesn't want to read a 5 message boards to find out he needs to hand install some driver or app to get the feature he wants or to fix his machine. Granted a properly configured *nix environment should be rock stable but Joe 6-pack has been living in an MS world and needs to feel comfortable that he will have the same level of support he always has had.

    Right now dell is offering these machines on a limited basis and is targeting the market segment that asked for these machines in the first place. If we don't step up to the plate and show Dell that this is a worthwhile idea then it will be scrapped before it has a chance to get going.

    Personally I've been in the market for a new box and getting one ready to go with a warranty and a single support department to deal with makes the decision a lot easier and a lot less time consuming.

    Yes I did save some money over a windows machine but that was never really the point of getting Dell to sell these things.
    • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:01PM (#19272071) Homepage
      Thats the thing about a community, they seldom speak wit hone unified voice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danbert8 ( 1024253 )
      I have this same qualm to some degree. I think it's stupid to put Ubuntu on desktops. Anyone who is interested in Linux will most likely be interested in building their own computer. Where it gets interesting is on the laptop. I can't build one of my own, so I am interested in buying one that supports Linux. Since I would have to buy a manufactured one anyways, the Dell is quite attractive for its compatibility. Unfortunately, I would like to see some more powerful laptops in the lineup. The current
      • I can certainly agree with your sentiment about their single laptop offering. I am throwing my wallet in the ring on one of the desktop systems for now and will patiently wait to see if they offer more options on laptops. My current system has about 1 year of life left in it and then it will either be a Linux based laptop or an Apple. Here is to hoping Dell actually sees the support they are expecting and expand the line.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by f00man ( 1056198 )
      Make up OUR minds? The only thing we slashbots agree on is that free beer is good.... unless it's that watered down American swill. In that case, we'll brew our own, thank you.
  • I'll buy one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonnyj ( 1011131 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:53PM (#19271931)

    ...when they're offered for sale in the UK. It's a no-brainer. Dell's laptops are usually priced competitively and the $50 saving will add to that competitive edge. But, most of all, it'll take away the anxiety... Will the wireless work? Will I struggle to get the screen resolution right? Will the onboard ethernet show up? What about suspend?

    In the light of this announceent, it'll be hard for me to justify buying my next laptop from anyone other than Dell.

  • I would just like to step away from the conversation for a moment and just focus on one thing. DELL is selling Linux! This is a milestone for FOSS and I just wanted to point that out.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Dell Has Been selling linux that isn't news. What's news is that the coolest most hip linux is now being sold on home user class hardware (As opposed to the workstation class hardware on the business side)
  • by Tharkban ( 877186 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:57PM (#19272009) Homepage Journal
    When I looked at the same configuration for the laptop 1505N vs 1505 the price difference was about $100 but was explained more by the lack of the ATI graphics card in the linux model. The hardware differences are that the linux model does not include the ATI graphics card and includes the more expensive Intel wireless card.
  • Not just $50 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:00PM (#19272059)
    I don't care very much about saving $50. What I care about is that it is Ubuntu Linux that just plain works out of the box.

    "Linux is only free if your time is worthless." Remember that? Well, that goes for Windows too: you need to figure the cost of your time into the cost of Windows. For me, the real savings here is to just buy a laptop that will just work, and I won't need to buy antivirus and antispyware software, and run them faithfully, and administer that Windows box.

    I love Ubuntu because once it's set up, it just works. Now we can buy computers already set up. Sweet.

    Now you have a reasonable alternative to a Mac for relatives who aren't computer savvy. Anyone who is intimidated by administering antivirus and such, this is perfect.
  • by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:02PM (#19272093) Homepage
    People are already commenting on how everyone should be able to choose between Vista/XP or Ubuntu so they can see the $50 savings on the configuration part of the process. That is not a good thing for Dell/Ubuntu because it will only cause problems. This deal was made to sell Ubuntu Dells to people who wanted that, not to give people a money saving option.

    Know this...A ton of people buy dells everyday and out of those, many are buying their first computer or are generally considered novice users. Now Dell is also a sort of bargain type place, so people may be more frugal, not all, but certainly a good amount. Stay with me here...

    So now you have people customizing their computer, choosing Ubuntu to save $50, $80 whatever it is, getting the computer at home and then having the realization they just got what they paid for. They will not be happy. Dell will have to field that support call from people who are CLUELESS to what Linux or an OS is. Many of those support calls will end with, "you probably want to buy Windows" and as a result, that computer user just had a nightmare experience and will never consider a Linux distro again. This is not a 'what if' scenario, this will happen and happen often if people are given the choice right off like people here want to see.

    The point is this, if they list Ubuntu at $50 cheaper than windows to everyone with soliciting the Ubuntu option, it will be the end of this deal and it will not take long. The only way it would work is if Dell could manage to turn a profit from selling a machine loaded with Ubuntu, fielding all the support calls and then selling Windows at a higher cost to unsatisfied customers for a net gain that is worth that effort. So please, stop asking for equality in the OS choice screen during customization. If you get greedy like that, the whole program is probably going to go under. Be happy they are selling the boxes to you, not to your neighbor who does not know how to spell Linux.
    • technical support .. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:36PM (#19272691)
      Customer: My computer won't bla, bla, bla

      Dell says: Reinstall from the restore CD and hangs up

      "choose between Vista/XP or Ubuntu so they can see the $50 savings on the configuration part of the process"

      They get an equivilent GUI desktop for roughly $100.00 less.

      "getting the computer at home and then having the realization they just got what they paid for. They will not be happy"

      The get a GUI, a browser, email client, word processor and media player.

      "Dell will have to field that support call from people who are CLUELESS to what Linux or an OS is"

      I would guess that they get less support calls for Ubuntu as given hardware failures Linux is more stable over the long term. It doesn't go sluggish like Windows does and you have to reinstall every six months or abouts.

      "Many of those support calls will end with, "you probably want to buy Windows" and"

      The should do something like the one button restore [] Levovo offers. Or put a base diagnostic system that can be invoked at boot time. Besides which there's only one thing more futile that working in a call center, that is working in one.

      Im seeing a lot made of the price difference
  • The headline price for the different operating systems are the critical steps in deciding which one to go down and look at.

    Vista E520 - s.aspx/dimen_e520?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19 [] - $369
    FreeDos E520n - ?c=us&cs=19&kc=6V440&l=en&oc=DDCWAN3&s=dhs [] - $679
    Linux E520n - ?c=us&cs=19&kc=6V440&l=en&oc=DDCWAV3&s=dhs [] - $
    • They don't offer a Linux model configured comparably to the $369 Vista model, but by customixing donwn you can get the Linux version to $409. So for $40 more than the Vista model you get:

      CPU: Celeron D => Core Duo
      GPU: GMA X3000 => GMA950
      RAM: 512M single channel at 533 => 1GB dual channel at 667
      Disk: 160GB => 250GB
      Net: 10/100 => 10/100/1000

      Apart from the GPU, the Linux version is better in every way... but if you're looking for an entry level computer you're really looking for the unavailable $329 E520 with Ubuntu.

      On the other hand, trying to configure a Vista box to match the Linux box, the best I can do is not $459, but $549... the following things are included in the price and can't be removed:

      * Microsoft Works 8. DOES NOT INCLUDE MS WORD
      * Starter pack - Yahoo! Music, Corel Photo and Dell Games
      * 56K PCI Data Fax Modem
      * 6 Months of America Online Membership Included

      The difference between the Intel X3000 and the older Intel GMA950 in the Linux box is presumably balanced by the 10/100 ethernet versus the 10/100/1000 in the Linux version.
  • competition is a good thing. I hope this works out well. The company I work for is a big backer of Linux, but I am stuck with WinXP because that is what I am told to use. I am sure that some of the apps I have to use would not work. Ubuntu distro is soon to be on my box at home and my employer is promising training in Linux this October.
  • I went to the page a UMass-Lowell, and then priced out the Dimension E505 at Home Premium and 1GB ram at $429, and $399 w/ Home Basic. I don't see where the extra cost he reports comes from. (I confirm his other prices -- it costs roughly $50 to add Vista to any of the others.)
  • Where is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:35PM (#19272675) Journal
    I go to and I do not see anywhere to select Linux. Can anyone even get to it from the main page?

    It may be a bait and switch. "Here you can get a Linux desktop by following this link." Posts link on a few sites, "Look we only had 50 sales, no one wants linux."

    Can anyone get to the page from the main site?
  • by eck011219 ( 851729 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:57PM (#19273073)
    Honestly, even if I wanted a Windows box, I'd consider buying one of these and then ordering an OEM Windows disc. The math works out to paying about $25 more and ending up with a Windows box without any of the crapware.

    'Course, I'd do at least a dual boot anyway, but this might still be a good option for users who want a clean installation of Windows.
  • What you get. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChardWreck ( 1107173 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:18PM (#19273397)
    PROCESSOR Intel® Core(TM)2 Duo Processor E4300 (1.8GHz, 800 FSB)
    OPERATING SYSTEM Ubuntu Desktop Edition version 7.04
    MONITORS No Monitor
    MEMORY 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
    HARD DRIVE 250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
    OPTICAL DRIVE 48X CD-RW/ DVD Combo Drive
    VIDEO CARD 256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache
    SOUND CARD Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
    KEYBOARD & MOUSE Dell USB Keyboard
    WARRANTY AND SERVICE 1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor - Next Business Day
    Mouse Dell® 2-button USB mouse
    Network Interface Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet

    $459.00 Not Including Shipping

    Not all that bad really. And there is a 3d card. Not the best but its something.
  • by dom1234 ( 695331 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @04:11PM (#19275151) Journal
    Please choose an operating system :
            o Ubuntu (included)
            o Windows Vista (+50$)

    That would be great.

    After choosing the +50$, a pop up should warn that extra memory is required for the same level of performance.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard