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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.
  • 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.
  • Multiple reasons. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:34PM (#19271619)
    #1. It's $80 and why send money to Microsoft if you aren't buying Microsoft software?

    #2. It's Dell. They have nationwide support. If you move, you can still get support.

    #3. It'd Dell. They move a LOT of boxes. This will be incentive for those hardware vendors to support Linux to get in on this market.
  • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:36PM (#19271655) Homepage
    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..
  • by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:39PM (#19271697)
    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 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 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by mtippett ( 110279 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:05PM (#19272141) Homepage
    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 [] - $599

    The first pass, 'Damn, that Linux is expensive, even more expensive than Vista', the reflexive response is that these are the same models and to assume that you customize up, not down.
  • by Machtyn ( 759119 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:07PM (#19272149) Homepage Journal
    ah, shucks, I was hoping to spend some of my mod points on this thread. But I had to respond. You may not recommend Dells to your friends, but I, like you, have a lot of people ask me for recommendations. I will now specifically tell them about Dell Ubuntu machines and recommend them highly. Unfortunately, there aren't any good deals in my local area to justify a local pc/notebook recommendation.
  • Re:Multiple reasons. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ravnen ( 823845 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:07PM (#19272159)
    At least as important, I think, is if Dell actually work to ensure there are Linux drivers for the hardware they're selling. Linux hardware support on laptops is often so bad that it's effectively unusable. If Dell restrict their Linux offerings to a few specific hardware configurations that already have good hardware support, I don't think it will make much of a difference to the market.
  • by Interested Bystander ( 1106793 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:15PM (#19272307)
    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.
  • 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?
  • 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
  • by bvanheu ( 1028050 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:39PM (#19272735)
    What if people start buying with Ubuntu to save [50-150]$ then download a copy of Windows using bittorrent and install it ?
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:47PM (#19272893)
    it's not the community speaking... it's the microsoft shills pretending to be Linux users and dissing any real attempt to get Linux desktops to the massess
  • 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.
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:58PM (#19273081) Journal
    'the obvious advancement of Open Source shouldn't be talked about. It makes me feel like there is a "STFU" campaign.'

    I couldn't agree more. When I first started Slashdotting just about any pro Linux and pro Open Source comment would get modded up if it was coherent.

    Over time this has changed. A sure way to get up-modded now is to point out how zealots upmod pro Linux comments and Microsoft bash comments. Actually pointing out a strength of Linux or Open Source over proprietary software, pointing out flaws in typical proprietary software sympathizer arguments, or even Microsoft bashing that is ontopic is solidly grounded in fact will get you modded down now.

    I watch the moderation. Usually when the discussion is hot, an Insightful pro open source stance will get modded as such but a day or two after a story first hits the front page troll mods will come in. Actually, within the past couple months people see to have fallen in love with overrated moderations when there is no legitimate reason to downmod something. This way it is more likely to survive meta-moderation.

    Either a bunch of Microsoft and proprietary software fanboys have started to camp on Slashdot (an awefully strange place for an MS fanboy to hang out) or the industry has recognized that Slashdot is a critical front in the development of Tech trends and prevailing attitudes and there are now paid PR shills monitoring Slashdot.

  • Re:Piracy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by traindirector ( 1001483 ) * on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:59PM (#19273107)

    install a pirated copy of Windows

    This isn't easy for the typical user to do with Vista (yet?), as far as I know. Even with XP and activation, there were VLKs. Doing a quick search, I don't see any easy-to-find Vista activation circumvention without drawbacks.

    Maybe this has something to do with why Dell is finally selling PCs with a non-MS OS.

  • by fyoder ( 857358 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:37PM (#19273737) Homepage Journal

    Why -- can't you spell "sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop", or something?

    Cha, cha, cha. I would have modded this funny. Perhaps this is why Dell has buried these Linux machines on their site. If you know enough use the command line under Linux, you're probably somewhat committed. You'll ask them for it (or just search), and now they will be able to easily provide. To the person who can spell "sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop", Linux has been 'ready for prime time' for a long time now. But perhaps not for the general public who might just pick Ubuntu from a drop down configuration menu because it was the cheaper option, then freak when they got it because it isn't Windows.

  • Linux + Dell (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:39PM (#19273773)
    I'm a 'Joe Six Pack' that's oft cited here. I received a free upgrade to Vista, via mail, when I bought my new machine and I am deathly afraid to install it. I feel much more secure with my 'stable' XP system. So the disc just sits in my drawer.

    At the same time I am deathly afraid to install Linux. I love open source. I use Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, etc. I even have a Linux OS disc on the way in the mail. However, I also run a business and everything I have is Windows based, ie: Quickbooks.

    Maybe I am too chicken, but I cannot afford for all my business data be lost or caught up in some translation hell. And I am not savvy enough to set up a dual boot system. Remember, I'm a joe six pack.

    Will I buy a Linux system when it's time to buy again? Probably. If it's just for home use. I am glad the option is now available commercially.

    Joe six pack could care less, I think, of what OS is on his new machine. Just as long as it works. But as soon as he tries to set up his wi fi, or tries to install software he bought two years ago for his old Windows machine, he's going to be pissed. And all he'll hear is, "You have Linux on your machine. You need Windows to run that." He won't hear how he can get an alternative program or how to find a driver.

    Alas, this Dell deal should be seen as all good for Linux. The more the word is spread and it's use, the better. I just hope that Dell will help support Linux and it's use and not use it as a sales pitch to sell an extra copy of Vista when first time Linux users call in.
  • by ThreeDayMonk ( 673466 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:50PM (#19273963) Homepage

    If they are the same price, then what would the benefit of buying a box with Linux preinstalled be?

    As someone who doesn't use Windows: knowing that the hardware works with Linux. Not sending any money to MS is also a plus.

  • by beemishboy ( 781239 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:32PM (#19274559)
    For my 2 cents I think Dell initially is being conservative because this is an initial cost and a risk for them. They've had to do the research, set up the relationship, check on the drivers and such, set up the online store, etc. Then they set up the support options, however much that costs and however much that is their responsibility. That should stretch out over a period of time but it is a cost. In any case, it all might be a factor in this initial price that is worth thinking about since they're not at all sure that this is the wave of the future, but something that is worth trying. In fact, we've noticed that it is just a little less expensive than Windows, which I don't think is by accident - I'm not sure they're passing savings on to the consumer as much as the business team thinking - "What is the customer in this scenario expecting of the price?" and pricing it that way. I really think it's that way for now. For all of the above reasons, at least initially, as well as the crapware and deals with Microsoft, in all reality, it's probably more expensive, but they're trying to feel out the market, but who knows. I'm all for linux making gains, but I'm just trying to think about this stuff realistically at this point in the game.

    For consumers, I don't think Dell is really advertising well what they're getting yet - I went through the whole "Customize your computer" thing to get a Ubuntu laptop. Apart from first day online store oddness, I thought it was interesting that there wasn't the advertisement of free consumer software on there, such as free complete office suite comparable to Microsoft Office. Maybe I missed it with the laptop's several power addons or something. It does seem to have a remarkable amount of options/addons. I've become a Mac guy recently so maybe I'm just used to a lack of options now so I don't know :P. In any case, I think that maybe Dell is kind of just putting it out there and seeing what sticks for now because it's not going out of its way to sell the software - it's just there. If I were a new Ubuntu customer I would think that all of the free software as well as the whole reliability and security, as well as no tiered basic/ultimate/premium madness a la mac/pc commercials would be great.

  • Re:shared support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:48PM (#19274783)

    Dell has to support Windows just like any other OEM. Microsoft doesn't do it. If they did, they'd go bankrupt.

    People who order Dellbuntu machines likely need less support anyway. Even better, an individual is more likely to get support from the Ubuntu community than Microsoft.

    As for the pricing, perhaps Dell realized that their pricing scheme for the ill-fated N series was stupid (remember, the Linux machines cost more than the equivalent hardware with Windows?)

  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:52PM (#19274835)
    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.
  • 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$, a pop up should warn that extra memory is required for the same level of performance.
  • 40$ OS ain't bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sucati ( 611768 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @05:31PM (#19276161) Journal
    I'd take vista for $40 and (try) to run it under ubuntu on vmware, or the reverse If I ever need to run vista I have a license and wouldn't have to shell out $200 for the retail version. For me, getting Vista with a dell is a bargain.
  • by zitch ( 1019110 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @06:06PM (#19276551) Homepage
    I largely do this now with my current (non-Dell) laptop. I had installed Ubuntu on it a year ago, installed VMWare Server (from the download on the VMWare site, not the repository), and installed Windows XP Pro so I have access to some software that is extremely useful to me (I.E., the Windows only map software that I got a few years ago with a USB GPS device. Yes, VMWare will pass through the USB GPS into the guest operating system without issue.

    I'll probably be asking my company to buy the Dell Ubuntu laptop and an extra copy of Windows XP Pro sometime in the next week.
  • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @07:02PM (#19277313) Journal

    will go nicely towards games to play on those PCs. Oh wait....
    It has been noted by many that certain Windows-only games perform even better under Wine + Linux combo than they do natively under Windows.

    I've heard this and seen it for myself with World of Warcraft. The game does not freeze for a few seconds in a city like under a clean Windows XP SP2 installation on the same hardware and I even saw a 15fps increase under the Linux installation.
  • 64-bit advantages (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dolda2000 ( 759023 ) <fredrik@dolda200[ ]om ['0.c' in gap]> on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:55PM (#19279243) Homepage

    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.
    I'm curious -- not saying you're wrong -- but do you have any source/benchmark for that "performance boost" statement? My educated guess would be rather the exact opposite, seeing how 64-bit pointers all over the board will increase memory bandwidth usage, cache load (and therefore misses) and possibly even start to cause paging before the equivalent 32-bit system would. All without any obvious reason why anything should become faster.
  • Re:Apple vs Orange (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pH7.0 ( 3799 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:44PM (#19279549)

    Anyone know the list price for MSOffice, Photoshop, Nero and Norton Antivirus/spam/spyware etc. cost???

    Going along this line of thought, you can easily come up with however high a number you want. (i.e. "Blender replaces Maya, so there's $6000") The response you'll always get is that since most of the Free Software is also available for Windows, none of these savings are innate to Ubuntu.
    Ubuntu is the "Full Unlimited" version. People are comparing it to Vista Home!
    While some Free Software are also available for Windows, you may or may not be able to install them on Vista.
    For example, you can't use Virtualization with Vista Home. EULA limit.
    "PatchGuard" and other security thing prevent you (or at least make it very difficult) to install any free antivirus/spam/spyware and a lot of low level stuff like virtualization, vnc, samba on any version of Vista.
    Cheap Vista only supports 8GB of RAM.
    AFAIK SAMBA support umlimited users, vista home only supports 5-10 peers!
    Cheap vista don't have IIS, dual processor (two sockets) support and I'm sure a lot more stuff I don;t know/remember.

    Also Ubuntu have VNC and Xwindow is client server anyway, so compare to cheap Vista without terminal service is totally wrong.

    This basically never comes up. Large deployments use volume licensing, and home users mostly don't use remote desktop connections. Sure, it's useful for someone else to provide support for your system - but making the tech's job easy isn't something that people think of when they buy computers.
    if you have computers at more then one locations e.g. home/work/school/friends/families. You need remote desktop.
    What do you do when your mother have problems with her computer?

    Linux is multiuser too, which vista can really support multiuser??

    Even XP handles this reasonably well. I'm sure Vista does too.
    Not those cheap versions of XP and Vista. Amount other thing how can you do multi-users without terminal server anyway??

    Ubuntu is worth $1000 or more if you have to pay for every single utility etc.

    The actual number, in dollars, will be different for every user - and they're the only one who can really do a cost comparison for themselves. Enough to say that if you go with Ubuntu and the included software meets your needs, you're *done* with paying for big pieces of software and their upgrades for a very long time.
    True, just that people have to point out all those software are there. Pre-installed on the Dell Ubuntu PC and ready to use. Ubuntu is the full unlimited version. All software are full version not home and student version. So even excluded all applications Ubuntu is still much more than Vista Home.
    Let me put it this way. Is there any reason NOT to compare Ubuntu to a Vista Ultimate Server Edition?

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian