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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 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.
  • by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:35PM (#19271639) Homepage
    What you pay for is garanteed hardware compatibility.
  • 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 Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:39PM (#19271693)
    Well, getting the same laptop at $599 instead of $649 is a nice little savings. It's not huge. The real reason that this is important however is that there needs to be some incentive for people other than those of us who already use Linux to buy a Ubuntu PC from Dell. So now the choice is you can either a.) stick with the familiar Windows system or b.) save a little cash. If they were priced the same there would be very few new people trying the Ubuntu PCs and sales would be too low for it to really be profitable to Dell to offer them at all, and they'd probably eliminate them from the lineup again in a year or two.

    That's my take on it anyway.
  • 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.
  • Re:Anyway (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jomas1 ( 696853 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:40PM (#19271725) Homepage

    As I see the situation: those are are technically minded and wanted to taste something different have experimented with Linuzzz at this time and are able to download and install the thing /almost) without help, so they are not the target of this new item.

    Those who are not so technically minded and buy the thing candidly thinking that they will come home and install World of Warcraft or Photoshop and use iTunes will be having a hard time with this...

    So really, why don't pay, say 10 USD more to get Windows and THEN if you like to be cool, get the Linuzz pain and install it?

    I must say that I'm really skeptic about this whole thing.... but who knows... After all we all know that THIS is the year of Linuzzz on the desktop.

    I can now buy a 64 bit computer with 4 gigs of RAM that is guaranteed to work with Linux for $1000. This will allow me to have one machine that can comfortably run 1 desktop-friendly virtual machine and several developer-friendly virtual machines using Xen or VmWare. Last week I would have to wonder if my $1000 "bargain" would have caused me lots of grief because of Linux incompatibilities. Dell just eased my mind and made a grand off of me.

  • by blindd0t ( 855876 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:43PM (#19271765)

    "Who fsking cares" is exactly the right question. My parents, grandparents, and many of my peers who know very little about computers don't care what operating system they are using on a computer. To them, a computer is a computer just the same, regardless of the operating system. The bottom line for them is the costs involved. How reliable is the computer? How long will it be until another computer must be purchased? How much up-front cost is required for the initial purchase?

    To my mother, who I am proud to say has been using Linux since Ubuntu 6.06 was released, Linux seems more reliable. She still clicks on those goofy advertisement images that look like they have real buttons, but guess what - her machine doesn't need to be reformatted within a week after that takes place! So in her eyes, the machine is more reliable.

    To my grandmother, she only wants to be able to talk to family via email. Why does she need to spend any more than the bare minimum? Will this machine be more likely to be usable until she is no longer physically capable of using a computer? That is more likely to be true with Linux than Windows while keeping the OS up-to-date.

    And why not take this a little further... What if I'm a small company in need of some "thin client" computers. Why should I pay even a little extra for an operating system on 20 computers, when I can get it for free and completely avoid those fees (which would be a significant price difference, no doubt).

    (Though this does not apply to the dell desktops directly, these could be used for this purpose...) John/Jane Doe wants to start a new business where a web-based application with a database is required. Why should he/she need to pay for a Windows server environment and Microsoft SQL Server licenses? The benefit here is clearly that a good deal of additional money can be focused on the business requirements, and not initial licensing costs.

    Of course, I could present many more real-life examples I'm aware of... While that may not be a majority of the market, it is a solid start to appeal to these constituent groups, and it could to be quite lucrative long-term. Your needs are one thing, but I'm merely suggestion not being egocentric and suggesting we think of others' needs instead. Doing this will clearly benefit the entire community long-term.

  • Re:Anyway (Score:2, Insightful)

    by icebones ( 707368 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#19271855) Homepage
    this is the main reason I'm havn't switched. I put together an old dell cpx for my new business and wanted, really wanted to just install Ubuntu on it and be done. You know, start the biz on open source from the start. But my primary application was going to be dreamweaver which doesn't run on linux. I looked for a good linux alt, but there isn't one. the best i could come up with was NVU and it doesn't come close. So I installed an old copy of 2000 on it and went on, wondering just how much longer i will have to wait to finally rid myself of M$.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#19271857)
    Well, that and the 'Dell recommends Windows Vista' line at the top of every page....
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:56PM (#19271989)
    Why is 50 bucks such a big deal?

    Well, if for no other reason, it's interesting because the ol' "Microsoft Tax" canard is one of those foundation building blocks of MS hatred. How many times have you read, right here, that even if a major direct-to-consumer dealer/manufacturer WERE to ship boxes with Linux onboard, that Teh Evil Micro$oft would still be making sure that machine sold for MORE than an OEM-Windows-equipped box would. This is interesting because it lets some of the hot air out of that particular troll.
  • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:58PM (#19272015)
    I think the goal was to have good open source drivers, ATI and nVidia haven't quite stepped up to the plate on that yet. I hope this may cause them to put a little more effort into either open sourcing their drivers, or improving their closed source ones.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:59PM (#19272045)
    Right, and then every pleb will pick Ubuntu cos its cheaper. 10 mins after pleb gets their new machine and plugs it in they are on the phone to Dell support moaning that they can't install MS Office, their games or whatever software they have.
  • 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.
  • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:01PM (#19272073)
    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 single model isn't really up to par.
  • Why -- can't you spell "sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop", or something?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:23PM (#19272461)
    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 schwaang ( 667808 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:28PM (#19272555)

    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 way to offer a compatible modem.
  • by paulpach ( 798828 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:45PM (#19272843)
    OpenOffice works both in windows and linux.
    It is unfair to include the cost of office when comparing the cost of windows vs linux.
  • by norminator ( 784674 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:45PM (#19272861)
    If you know enough about Linux to be an anti-Gnome snob, I'm sure you know how to
    A) Install KDE, or XFCE or IceWM or Enlightenment or whatever or DE/WM you want or
    B) Install whichever entire distro you want.

    Personally, I like Gnome, after switching to KDE and back a few times... but I know not everyone does, so to each his own. But Gnome is a great place for people who are new to Linux to start. And if you don't like it, this is Free software, on pretty standard PC hardware, which means you can replace it without losing any real value (with Windows if you want to).

    Two of the major good things about this product is that a) a major PC company is making Linux available pre-installed for everyone, and b) all the hardware in those machines is guaranteed to work under Linux. Not always with open source drivers, but it will be able to be Linux-compatible. Therefore, anyone who doesn't like the default configuration can install whatever Linux flavor they want, or any other x86 OS, or they can change the default Desktop Environment.

    Can we please have people stop complaining because Dell isn't offering a default setup in exactly the l33t configuration you would have set it up on your own?
  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:59PM (#19273091) Homepage
    ... But you can get even better deals on Dells by hunting around at Edealinfo or Fatwallet. I just ordered a Dell laptop yesterday that ended up being significantly cheaper than the e1505n, and yet it comes with Vista Home Premium (it was some kind of educational/affiliate/whatever discount that I found on Fatwallet).

    Also, it bugs me that none of the Ubuntu systems have AMD processors! Most of us who run Linux want 64-bit these days, since 64-bit "just works" under Linux, and gives a pretty good performance boost. And among Intel Desktop processors, only the Core 2 Duo support 64-bit, while *ALL* the AMD processors now support 64-bit, from the lowly Sempron on up.

    Anyone know if Dell will offer an AMD system with Ubuntu?
  • Re:Comparisons? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by norminator ( 784674 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:01PM (#19273135)
    My 3 year old 2.6 GHz Toshiba laptop (from work) with 32 MB NVidia handles Ubuntu with Beryl just fine. It's a pleasure to use. When I installed Vista (Ultimate) on the same machine, Aero was not even an option because the graphics card wasn't supported. Also, the Vista Media Center refused to play videos at all (which would play under WMP), citing missing files. It would suggest a reboot, but of course that never fixed it.

    The whole Vista interface was sluggish, especially in Media Center. Now, Ubuntu, on the other hand, was great. And I could install the Myth Frontend to watch TV I had recorded on my backend at home. It all works great, and is very responsive.

    Really this argument is probably somewhat offtopic, because I'm sure most currently selling PCs will handle Vista just fine, and Dell isn't selling 3 year old PCs. But as far older hardware goes, you really don't need to worry as much about system resources as much with Ubuntu as with Vista... and when you consider options like XFCE, the requirements go down even further.
  • Re:Piracy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by chris_mahan ( 256577 ) <> on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:04PM (#19273171) Homepage
    The few that will have the foresight to get the windows networking driver before they wipe the drive. (I don't think dell will put a windows drivers disk in the cardboard box).

    Besides, it'll boost the ubuntu sales, MS doesn't get the cash for the sale, and Dell definitely does not have to give them Windows support.

    In any case, it's illegal to use a pirated copy of MS software. Bad Karma.
  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:33PM (#19273663) Homepage
    Yeah, I agree with the idea of sending a message. But it has to be "worth" sending that message: would I rather pay $600 and get a Windows license that I don't want, or choose from a more limited selection, and pay $800 to get a nearly identical system without that Windows license?

    Of course, I made the choice that is most personally advantageous to me. I suspect this is a big reason why desktops bundled with Linux haven't caught on: small companies that try and sell Linux-based desktops don't have the same purchasing power and economies of scale as behemoths like Dell and HP which bundle their systems with Windows. So us Linux geeks buy the systems with Windows bundled and just discard it. We save money, but we pay Microsoft as well, so we're not saving as much money as we could in theory.

    I think this is a pretty bold and impressive move by Dell... I just hope that they extend it across their entire product line. If the Customization options for every Dell system included a choice like, "Operating System: Ubuntu Linux (subtract $50/$100 from price)", you'd bet there'd soon be a *lot* more people running Ubuntu. Maybe a rough adjustment for those users and for tech support at first, but I believe the Linux community would come out far ahead in adoption in perception in a short amount of time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:48PM (#19273935)
    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.

    Per your narrative, they did not consider Linux the first time. Also, per your narrative, someone that knows they wants Windows but doesn't know about Ubuntu may not be the target market. Perhaps a complete noob would be better. Regardless, Dell will have similar and more insurmountable problems with various flavors of Windows to say nothing of the growing limitations of DRM. At least they can solve Ubuntu problems over the phone. You can't upgrade a Windows install so easily nor can you circumvent its limitations legally (Dell can't, at least).

  • by cparker15 ( 779546 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:02PM (#19274157) Homepage Journal

    Not always with open source drivers, but it will be able to be Linux-compatible.

    While the Dell/Ubuntu deal is definitely a major victory in the name of “Linux” and Open Source [], the inclusion of proprietary drivers will still prevent many people who value freedom []--including me--from purchasing one of these machines. I run gNewSense [], which is a distribution of GNU+Linux based on Ubuntu, minus the proprietary components (drivers, firmware, etc.) When I can purchase a machine that doesn't force me to use proprietary software in order to use any piece of its hardware, then I'll make a purchase. Until then, as some may say, “Close, but no cigar.”

    From yesterday's direct2dell blog post [] on the topic:

    For device types where a choice exists between a component with a non-Free driver and one with Free driver availability, in our Linux offering we'll opt to bundle the component with the Free driver. Wireless network adapters is one such example; Printers are another. We recommend Linux users buy our printers which have PostScript engines in them, as opposed to those which don't and for which no Linux drivers are yet available. The Tech Specs tab for each printer on show if it has PostScript or not.

    Some components, particularly some video cards, have working 2-D open source drivers, open source 3-D drivers actively being clean-room written by the community, and closed-source 3-D drivers available from the video card manufacturer. In these instances, while we continue to encourage the development (by all parties) towards open source drivers, we will provide the closed-source drivers for people who wish to use them.

    The last category is devices for which no open source drivers are available at all, such as software-based modems. In our desktops these are add-in cards, so you can substitute a hardware-based modem available from your local electronics store quite easliy. However, we can't substitute hardware-based modems in our notebooks without redesigning and significantly increasing the price of the system. If it's important to you to have a hardware-based modem, you would add one into your PC Card or ExpressCard slot.

    My bone of contention comes from several decisions Dell has made:

    • Opting to go with ATI and NVIDIA instead of Intel [] for 3D graphics.
    • Using softmodems that don't have free drivers in these machines. There are softmodems available that have free drivers. For the desktops, hardware modems could've been used “out of the box”. Dell still chose the proprietary softmodem route across the board. While it is true that I could purchase one of their desktops and replace the modem, I would still be giving my money to the manufacturer of the proprietary hardware. I simply won't do that.

    On the bright side, however, Dell did state the following directly after explaining the three “categories” of drivers (emphasis mine):

    Dell recognizes the importance of open source, GPL-licensed drivers which are maintained upstream in They allow users the widest choice of Linux distributions, effectively taking the specific hardware and distribution out of the decision-making process and let you focus on solving your business problems. We will work with our hardware partners to develop, test, and maintain Free drivers, and continue to make progress towards that goal for all drivers. Most drivers are in good shape now, but there's clearly longer-term work to be done. Work that we're doing now at the driver level will pave the way for more Linux offerings in the future. There's no way to please everyone, but I'll continue to shar

  • by DarkTempes ( 822722 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:27PM (#19274465)
    The Ubuntu promo has nothing to do with operating system, browser, or user agent (well for the most part).

    If you look at the page source you'll see they have a javascript array of urls, one of which always includes the Ubuntu promo link/image. These arrays are all sent to their 'montage' function which is supposed to cycle through the different promos (open the dell home page in IE and you'll see the desired function in action).

    In Firefox 1.5.x for whatever reason (they have too many errors for me to even bother trying to track it down) the page will load the first random image which could possibly be the Ubuntu one. This is why you have to usually reload the page to get it. However, if you have NoScript enabled (or javascript disabled, take your pick) you will never see the Ubuntu promo as you will always get the default image.

    So Dell did put an advertisement for Linux on their front page, and if they purposefully targeted anyone it was IE users, the people least likely to be informed about Linux.
  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:46PM (#19274739) Homepage
    Well... they all offer 64-bit if you upgrade the processors, but the default processor for the laptop is a Pentium Dual-Core (rebranded Intel Core Duo with half the cache). You have to pay about $100 extra to get 64-bit and virtualization. Whereas for $500 they offer the Inspiron 1501, a Windows laptop, with the Turion 64 X2 TL-50 processor which has both those Linux-hacker-friendly features: /inspn_1501?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd&~ck=FamCustom []
  • by Luft08091950 ( 1101097 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @04:10PM (#19275121)
    " No, you'd have to manufacture that interpretation, given the context, out of sense of over-defensiveness."

    LOL. Amazing! Not only have you claimed that I "manufactured that interpretation" but you claim to understand my motivation for the alleged conduct!

    No, I am not defensive at all. My conclusion that your comment was unnecessarily insulting comes from the fact that you engaged in name calling and cutting remarks.

    Or perhaps you can explain how labeling Open Source advocates as "hippy-types" and saying that they are "growing up" and suggesting that they don't have real jobs is not being insulting?

    Although your intent may have been to make the points you made in your last post to me the delivery of the original post was insulting. Maybe you didn't realize?
  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @04:20PM (#19275255) Homepage

    Not every computer user is a gamer. In fact, gamers are in the minority.

    It's true that computer gaming is one of the few tasks for which Windows is obviously more appropriate than Ubuntu, but that's not enough reason to say that Ubuntu is inappropriate for most people. Ubuntu even works pretty well for the occasional gamer - UT2004 online is a lot of fun.

  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @06:02PM (#19276499) Homepage

    1. Hey, my windows office that I copied from my buddy doesn't install!

    You copied it from your buddy? Must be that DRM copy protection.

    2. Hey, why doesn't the shockwave player play my video clips on myspace?

    Have you ever seen shockwave work anywhere? Have you seen

    3. How do I get that iTunes working? My iPod needs it.

    It's already installed, but it's called "Rythmbox Music Player" in the menu for some reason.

    4. Where's Photoshop? What, this GIMP thing?

    GIMP is a more advanced version of Photoshop. Don't you hate it how new versions of software change things around?

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