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Ubuntu 7.04 Offering—Technical Details

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Before we announce the availability of Ubuntu 7.04 on select Dell client systems, I'd like to give an overview of what customers can expect from our initial Ubuntu offering.

Availabile Software and Hardware

  • The default software from the Ubuntu media will be installed on the system, including kernel and applications.
  • The peripheral options offered with Ubuntu will be a subset of what is offered with other operating systems. We're offering the hardware options on each system that have the most mature and stable Linux driver support. These hardware options have been thoroughly tested by the Linux team here at Dell.
  • We configure/install open source drivers for hardware, when possible.
  • We use partial open-source or closed source ("restricted" in Ubuntu terms) drivers where there is no equivalent open-source driver. This includes Intel wireless cards and Conexant modems.
  • We will have a wiki page on our linux.dell.com website that gives technical details of the supported systems, information on the device drivers used for system peripherals, details of our Ubuntu factory-installation, and information on the problems we found during our testing, with their fixes/workarounds.
  • We recommend Linux users buy Dell printers that have PostScript engines in them. The previous hyperlink lists those printers. You can also check in the Tech Specs tab for each printer on Dell.com show if it has PostScript or not.

Software and Hardware Not Offered

  • For hardware options not offered with this release, we are working with the vendors of those devices to improve the maturity and stability of their associated Linux drivers. While this may not happen overnight, we do expect to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time.
  • At this time, we are not including any support for proprietary audio or video codecs that are not already distributed with Ubuntu 7.04. These include MPEG 1/2/3/4, WMA, WMV, DVD, Quicktime, etc. We are evaluating options for providing this support in the future.

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  •  

    I'm seriously appreciating this Linux push by Dell.  Certainly looking forward to the day I can install a Linux, and not have to worry about wrappers, unsupported hardware, unavailable proprietary drivers, and other compatibility issues.

     


  • At this time, we are not including any support for proprietary audio or video codecs that are not already distributed with Ubuntu 7.04.

    .. which will work quite nice if you're following the information published eg. on the official Ubuntu website or one of its many country-specific headquarters.

    A very good example for this is the Ubuntusers-Wiki and message board. Using their how-tos and install guides I could install those evil proprietary codecs almost without problems. The only thing that made a crapper was the audio output, but when I installed the alsamixer-package, it started to work flawlessly, so I guess some drivers were missing.

    cu, w0lf.

  • Does anyone else find it ironic that this blog is syndicated on Fedora People?
  • @Bob:  it's syndicated on Fedora Planet because I asked for it to be, and I post to this category (Linux) about things that impact Fedora as well.  The Fedora Planet aggregator carries lots of people and posts that aren't necessarily Linux or Fedora-specific even.

     

    @BWZT: you don't have to buy the components that have proprietary drivers.  With the exception of the modem in the notebooks for which no open driver is available, all the systems can be configured with components with only Free drivers.

    @Ricky: yes, our Linux Engineering team has people who develop and contribute to the drivers.  And yes, Dell has given hardware to a number of developers who are working on specific issues and features on our behalf.

    Thanks,
    Matt
     

     

  • The OEMs are the only ones with enough power to pressure the chip vendors to release their documentation!

    Vendors: we don't want your source code and we don't want NDAs. All we want is the complete documentation of your hardware so we can build our own stable and maintainable opensource drivers!

    If Dell wants to let its customers satisfied with its new Linux PCs offering, it MUST make vendors provide full and free (both in the sense of freedom - i.e. not under NDA - and in the sense of price) documentation. The rest (hardware support and opensource drivers) will come along.

    Cast your vote for free hardware documentation! Dell's Linux PCs offering will be completely useless without proper hardware support...

    http://www.ideastorm.com/article/show/64498
  • For hardware options not offered with this release, we are working with the vendors of those devices to improve the maturity and stability of their associated Linux drivers. While this may not happen overnight, we do expect to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time.
    That is really awesome and one of the main reason I'm so enthusiastic about this deal.
    At this time, we are not including any support for proprietary audio or video codecs that are not already distributed with Ubuntu 7.04. These include MPEG 1/2/3/4, WMA, WMV, DVD, Quicktime, etc. We are evaluating options for providing this support in the future.
    That doesn't matter that much as they use Ubuntu Feisty which makes their installation way easier, but if they would be providing this support in the future that would be even better!
  • The original May 1st announcement said: 

    "These systems will be available in the coming weeks to customers in the United States."

     I've read that this meant May 24th.  When will it also be available in Canada? And why exactly do you not offer the systems at the same time in the US and Canada?

    Apart from using Ubuntu as the support arm, what kind of technical resources has Dell invested in to solve low-level system problems (kernel or Xorg related)? Have you hired some kernel/Xorg hackers? Have you provided the hardware you will be selling to kernel/Xorg hackers?

  • Disappointing. Using proprietary drivers implies that your customers cannot replace the Ubuntu installation with a competing distribution of their preferred choice.
     

     

  • "For hardware options not offered with this release, we are working with the vendors of those devices to improve the maturity and stability of their associated Linux drivers. While this may not happen overnight, we do expect to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time."

     
    :) 

  • I can understand the problem with wireless manufacturers (in the US at least); it's just so odd that today there are still companies using closed source modem drivers. ;)  I remember people complaining about them in 1996.

    Anyways, I was very curious about this so thank you for posting.  I will definitely be looking for a laptop with Intel graphics, since both ATI and nVidia closed drivers have not been smooth experiences on my desktop and laptop computers with Ubuntu.  The only ones that really worked well was my old ATI card that was open spec'd by ATI, and my other older ATI laptop that used the reverse engineered open r300 drivers.  New ones aren't supported by those drivers, though.
  • "For hardware options not offered with this release, we are working with the vendors of those devices to improve the maturity and stability of their associated Linux drivers. While this may not happen overnight, we do expect to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time."

     

    Good call, Dell. Looks like you're making a lot of the right moves. *thumbs up* 

  • Thanks for update. Any updates on final release date would be a great addition. What about international customers?
  • I think you'll find that LEGAL proprietary codecs and DVD players are shortly (hopefully very shortly), going to be a lot easier for Dell to supply.  CNR.com have committed to release CNR for various distributions, allowing Dell to supply the required codecs and DVD support via CNR. :)

    CNR.com states that the first distributions to be supported will happen in Q2 2007.  Ubuntu should be among those (as Freespire and Linspire are now based on Ubuntu), so there shouldn't be a very long wait at all!!!

    I have to say, it does rather appear there is case of good timing going on here.

    This is all very exciting, come on where are the Laptops for the UK?!!!

  • Thumb up for Dell.

    I believe Dell decides to include some 'close source' driver is because the nature of Ubuntu requires Internet connection very much. And I hope that Dell will push the vendors to open the driver in short time.

    And the decision not to include proprietary codecs also a correct move IMHO.

    Dell will work with hardware vendor is the best news to all the Linux users I think.

    The last important thing is , the price. Dell, give the customer  a lower price (at least 50 USD )  compared to the same spec preinstalled Windows.
     

  • This is awesome news, I know where I am going to get my next laptop!