Dell to Expand Linux Options

Dell to Expand Linux Options


The Official Dell Corporate Blog

Dell to Expand Linux Options

Your feedback on Dell IdeaStorm has been astounding.  Thank you!  We hear your requests for desktops and notebooks with Linux.  We’re crafting product offerings in response, but we’d like a little more direct feedback from you: your preferences, your desires.  We recognize some people prefer notebooks over desktops, high-end models over value models, your favorite Linux distribution, telephone-based support over community-based support, and so on.  We can’t offer everything (all systems, all distributions, all support options), so we’ve crafted a survey ( to let you help us prioritize what we should deliver for you.

Taking a few minutes to complete this survey will help us define our forthcoming Linux-based system offerings. We will close the survey on Friday, March 23. From there, we’ll take some time to analyze your feedback and work to provide the platforms and options you choose.

Thanks in advance for your participation. More details soon.

Update:  We're overwhelmed by your responses, and we know the survey server is overloaded too.  We're working on it, and the survey will remain open until March 23, so you'll have plenty of time to make your vote count.


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  • Ubuntu need not be purely community-supported, as you can contract with Ubuntu to provide the software support.  This (software support parnering with Ubuntu, Red Hat, or Novell) should help make supporting Linux easier.  Linux isn't Windows; you're not stuck with the support of the software.  Just support your hardware and contract with another vendor for the software support.

     Could you please discuss with us what all of your partnering with Microsoft requires, and why your no-OS (let alone Linux) offerings tend to be buried and hard to find unless you know where to look?  I'm very curious why so many steps you've taken have been seemingly so half-hearted.

  • The choice of laptops, desktops and servers with linux/bsd is important to me. Specifically, I would like to be able to purchase laptops and desktops supporting Kubuntu. (I prefer KDE over Gnome)

    I would NOT want to see any "bleeding edge" stuff. It is too volitale. Fedora is a great example of this. Kubuntu is supported for three years from the date it is published (v6.06) and doesn't try to be everything to everyone.

    But I really want a choice. I do in the server area. Purchasing Windows 2003 is an option. This is not the case with desktops and laptops. I am "stuck" with XP/Vista. (Note: I will not buy Vista. I specify all purchases for my company.)

  • Dell could have a winner if these options are across the Dell product line and not just business machines.
  • Good evening,

        The greatest gains from Dell's use of linux will be that of hardware support.  The majority of us really don't have a preference of distro.  All that matters is that the underlying hardware is properly supported in the linux kernel (or via CUPS/ SANE/ XORG).

       Different linux vendors seem to have localization, language, and application support pretty well covered.

        In the spirit of choice, I recommend the following distro selection method.  Make a pie chart of all distros from's popularity rating.   Tape the pie chart to the wall.  Stand back approximately 3 meters.  Throw a dart at the pie chart.  You have now successfully selected Dell's OEM linux offering.


    Thank you for your time,

    Frank Russo

  • I am most interested primarily in budget-model laptops. My distro of choice would be Ubuntu. I was able to get Ubuntu 6.06 dual booting on my Inspiron 1100, but I could never get the modem working. However, I did have to edit the xorg.conf file before running install to get 1024 video. Using the install script only provides 640 resolution in the 1100.

     Although 6.10 will install and run, there are problems with video, so I dropped back to 6.06.

     I will be replacing the 1100 soon, and I would be interested in a low-to-medium priced laptop capable of running Ubuntu, including modem and wireless networking.

     Support would not be an issue for me as long as I knew the hardware was compatible with Ubuntu.


  • I don't care about Linux coming pre-installed.  I can do that for myself.  However, it will be nice when I can order a machine for family members with a linux flavor pre-installed though.  

    Please get your hardware vendors to cooperate with kernel developers and release specs that everyone can use.   I'm using a M65.  I can't get the mic input to work. The modem is useless without spending $20 on a driver, if it even works.  I don't expect everything to work right away with bleeding edge hardware, but I do want it to work eventually.  Sooner is better than later.


  • Suse an Fedora are the two most popular, select either. And The KDE desktop is the most popular

    among Linux users, not Gnome, don't listen to

    the Fedora Project on that issue. 

    It doesn't really matter, if the PC or Laptop has

    Linux compatible hardware, the user can install

    any version of Linux he wants, if the one installed is not to his liking.

    Most all Linux Distro's are easy to install anyway.

    Believe me if the units are bought by individuals

    they are going to experiment anyhow.

    If the units are bought by companies, Fedora and Suse are much easier to modify to fit there

    needs .

    Jim Tate 

  • Seems like you're listening after all, good job!
  •      I have been using Linux since 1993.

         Favorite distributions are Debian or Gentoo or any derivative of either.

         Red Hat is not worth bothering with. Fedora has no continuity, is just a beta for the overpriced enterprise version.

         Uses include Open Office, Flightgear, Mythtv.

         Desktop - Kde.

         Window manager - Enlightenment


  • The key for me is not the software.  I can handle that (I use gentoo linux).  Instead the key is that the hardware is supported.  So ati graphics are bad nvidia is ok.  I don't use modems, but winmodems are a problem.

     The broadcom wireless minipci are problematic (driver in kernel is ok but you must get other firmware and when difficulties occur, it is much harder to handle than truly open hardware.


  • DELL should concentrate it's efforts on ONE Linux distribution as supported and factory installed by DELL. Without any surprise today, "Ubuntu" is by far the Linux champ on Desktop as it's :

    • The world's most popular Linux desktop
    • The most user friendly Linux distribution 

    Beside that, Ubuntu represents the PERFECT balance between "Commercial and Community".

    Distrowatch and many other Linux magazines show that "Ubuntu" is the real champ, so they already did the survey for you about your last question 6). Pretty sure that on your Dell IdeaStorm "Ubuntu" was number 1.


  • The choice of laptops (xps m1210 notebook), desktops and servers with linux/bsd is important to me. Specifically, I would like to be able to purchase and support in laptops and desktops supporting Opensuse. (I prefer KDE) Please get your hardware vendors to cooperate with kernel developers and release specs that everyone can use.I can't get the mic input to work.and webcam. Thank you for your time,
  • Regardless of which Linux you choose to support (my favorites: Fedora+RHEL), the real issue is that there must be NO BINARY DRIVERS. Linux support means to me that everything works with free software and I think you will get negative feedback if you rely on binary drivers.



  • I would select PCLinuxOS ( It is by far easier to use and install than any other distro I have ever used. I know that it works well with Dell products as I have installed it on a variety of Dell hardware, all without issue. I can't say that for any other distro, including Ubuntu (it didn't like the video card) or openSUSE (it didn't like my audio card). The community support of PCLinuxOS is much more open and 'friendly' than that of other Linux forums, too. Peace be with you. +OD
  • My personal preference would go to this scenario:

     - "Linux-certified" hardware through the whole product range.

    - the choice of "no OS installed" through the whole product range (at a discount w/r to a WinXX pre-install) -- I don't object to FreeDOS being installed, or a minimal linux of any denomination, but it's not a requirement for me.

    - maybe the box could contain CDs or DVDs with the most popular community-supported linux distro (nice to have, not required).

    Regarding support:

    - phone-in support for the hardware is enough for my part.

    - I don't see Dell as needing to invest anything in linux application support (that's already more than covered by the community).

    - some form of mailing list / forum support (with Dell technicians on staff) for driver-related issues would be of considerable help.


    Ph. A.

  • I do believe that Ubuntu is the way to go here.  If Dell would take the trouble to make sure that their hardware worked well with Ubuntu, we're home free.  Remember that the Linux kernel community has offered to write drivers for any hardware at all.  The Ubuntu support and documentation community would certainly welcome any help they could get from Dell.  I for one would be overjoyed to see Dell systems preloaded with Linux.  I can't imagine but that Dell would garner a large and highly influential sales force by firmly and convincingly committing to preload and support Linux on their systems.

     My only caveat is that the Linux systems should reflect the license savings in the retail cost.  Pocketing the customary M$ tax instead of passing the savings on to customers would be tragically shortsighted.

      I can't tell you how much I hope that this is not just a bargaining tool for use against M$.  I await events with interest.


  • As long as the hardware is fully supported under the current Linux kernel, I would be fully satisfied. I'm simply tired of buying a laptop only to find out that I need to play games with ndiswrapper and  the windows driver.


  • I think a very important issue that hasn't been included in the survey is the importance of 100% free software compatible hardware. This is especially an issue with laptops, where it's not so easy to swap internal components, like modems, flash media readers, and most of all graphics cards. I think the right direction would be to make sure that the components used in Dell laptops and desktop PCs runs with a standard Linux kernel, without having to load proprietary modules. Based on their popularity and lack of vendor choice, you'll need to make an exception for graphics cards here, but for standard I/O like on-board network cards, on-board modems, PC card slots, wifi cards (the Centrino ones), flash media slots or finger-print readers it's actually very easy to get hardware with open source drivers. You only have to make a concious choice in favor of them. When I bought my last laptop (an HP nc6320, I might add) I selected it very much because it can run with open source drivers only. Actually I paid a bit more for this laptop than I would have paid for another one with nVidia or ATI graphics instead of the Intel graphics chip, but the trouble-free operation now is worth the additional selection effort by multiple times. Also, the high amount of ThinkPad buyers in the open source scene doesn't come out of nowhere, IBM has built a reputation for hardware that just works with Linux. So my suggestion would be as follows: - For all (or most) Dell models, place importance on the availability of open source drivers for the hardware. Don't deliver Linux on systems that need proprietary drivers (especially graphics) to work flawlessly, because those are the ones that are most likely to get you disappointed users and a million support calls. - Select a few models (a few Inspirons, a few Latitudes, etc.) that work perfectly with open-source-only drivers (integrated Intel graphics, Centrino WiFi, etc., as mentioned above), and preinstall your chosen Linux distribution on them. The Linux community will love you for that (hopefully). - If they prove successful enough, you can still broaden the Linux option onto other models, at the same time increasing pressure on the hardware vendors to ship open source drivers so that there is no risk of the user's system being messed up on potentially every upgrade. Which in turn gets you satisfied users and less support calls. Oh, and try to deliver properly working BIOSes. Many of them, including mine, are bug-ridden (which makes suspend fail, and causes the battery status not being updated most of the time) and contain erroneous ACPI tables. That BIOS issue is mostly a consequence of being tested on Windows only - it shouldn't be too hard to get the BIOS working properly on non-Windows machines (and non-Linux, like *BSD, would benefit from this as well), but it has to be done in the first place. So much from my side, I hope my input is helpful to you.

  • Polls like this a could make it look like they're just trying to "stir the pot" so that Dell can continue to claim that Michael just can't figure out which kind of Linux everybody wants -- so instead of making a decision (like he's never made a decision before?), Michael  can continue to talk the Linux talk, but fail to walk the Linux walk.  Which leads me to wonder -- is there an MS VistaBird in hand driving what appears to be a decision to make no decision? 



  • I agree with Frank Russo, Joe, and Allan Gottlieb. Let me start by saying that you should NOT preload Novell's SLED - you will get a lot of negative feedback if you do, and negative feedback means low sales.

    It's just possible that you know from my blog that I am a (some would say "vocal") Gentoo user. Despite that, and my misgivings on the distribution, I'm going to recommend that you install Ubuntu. It's not one of the ones that will get people uppity because they, through you, have spent money on a distribution they don't like; it's not "difficult" like Gentoo, and it's just possible that given the right hardware support, my qualms about Ubuntu will disappear. (People choosy enough to install another distro will simply be happy that you have chosen one that's not controversial).

    Don't get me wrong - it would be absolutely fabulous for me if you DID install Gentoo - but it's probably not something that should factor as your ONLY Linux choice.

    One other piece of advice, if I may. If you don't include proprietary codecs, I would advise customizing (or working with Ubuntu to customize) the desktop so that you have a link called "watch yer dvd movies 'ere" or something (obviously you're not going to call it that, but you get the idea). This would enable people to get started right away.

    Lastly, I agree with those who advise against the use of hardware which requires proprietary drivers.

    Thanks for letting me comment and best of luck with your Linux venture.

  •            Yes, it's about the hardware, but it's also about the drivers.  Just one major OEM and the iceberg will tip.  I'm sure Novell would love to jump on the pre-install support bandwagon.  This isn't the dot-com bubble.  Linux is getting ready to make the jump to the desktop and some astute low-end OEM is going with them.  Just when Vista is asking 400 bucks for a floundering system.
  • Since the actual survey site is hosed.....


    Preloaded Linux is important, especially on laptops.  Unless you like being flamed, you had better support one .deb based and one .rpm based.  Probably Ubuntu or Linspire for the .deb market and SUSE or RHEL on the .rpm side.  Fedora changes faster than Dell releases new models so that would be a nightmare.

     But if you do it you had better be prepared to really do it.  That means everything just works.  Modem, 3D video, suspend, WiFi.


    But longer term just doing preloads isn't  going to totally satisfy.  Yes, the preload will work for for many folks, but we want to be able to load OUR distro of choice.  Having everyone on one software load is a big win.  And we need to be able to load new distros/versions as they come out.  This means the availibility of drivers and tech information is where you need to focus.  In fact if you picked a couple of product lines and made sure they were all supported by drivers in the default kernel/Xorg, etc. all you would need to do is have a chart online stating which models worked with what versions.  Plus links to download any blobs.  Yes we would prefer no blobs but until that happy day.....

  • Felix Schwarz said:

    Regardless of which Linux you choose to support (my favorites: Fedora+RHEL), the real issue is that there must be NO BINARY DRIVERS. Linux support means to me that everything works with free software and I think you will get negative feedback if you rely on binary drivers.

    I am sure we will all agree that in the gnu/linux world binary drivers are bad but if a Dell System comes with an nvidia card then it needs those binary only nvidia drivers. The nv driver that xorg or the kernel provides will work but there will be no 3d acceleration etc. Some one who has been using gnu/linux for a while isn't going to care if the system even comes with an os but for the people who have never used gnu/linux then they are going to think something is broken. And even if dell was to explain that the card needs a binary driver and we didn't include it because the gnu/linux community might not like it the user isn't going to care there just going to be upset that there dell pc isn't working out of the box. All in all  it would be best if dell just does what they have to do in order to provide Dell Gnu/Linux pc's with out making the consumer mad because of a political decision on binary drivers.

  • A few suggestions (for the free Linux flavors only)

    Offer multiple levels of basic support, for example

    - free community support

    - per-incident and subscription email support

    - per-incident and subscription phone support

    Offer upgraded/escalated support in conjunction with vendors, for example:

    - Ubuntu - Canonical

    - openSUSE - Novell

    - Fedora - None? good job, RedHat! 

    Coordinate with Open Source projects that enable downloadable drivers, for example the Ubuntu printer driver download project ( ), which in practice work very much like Apple's OS X printer driver auto-downlader.

  • Sorry, one other thing:

    Please, Please, Please try to make sure your Linux desktops are as cheap or (better) cheaper than the equivalent Windows model.