Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has spoken up on his personal blog what he feels about the recent happenings with Dell, and the possibility that users will be offered the chance to have some distribution of Linux (such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, or Fedora) pre-installed on a new PC.
His article explains a lot of things that is important for some people to realize. I’ll recap a few of the things that caught my attention:
This means that one of the biggest issues a computer manufacturer or reseller faces in considering Linux pre-installations is the impact it will have on the Microsoft relationship, and hence bottom line.
That is very true, and I’m sure Microsoft gives discounts to OEM’s who sell a large quantity of their products such as Windows and Office. If Dell pursued the Linux PC’s then Microsoft might increase the pricing of Windows which will cause Dell to have to increase their prices. I think that the impact might not be as drastic initially, but I’m sure Microsoft isn’t too fond of Dell offering Linux systems.
Here’s another quote:
The worst-case scenario is a customer who buys a computer at the lowest price off your website, assuming it’s a Windows machine, and then calls, infuriated, because it “won’t work with the game they are trying to install”. One customer who accidentally gets Linux without knowing what that means is an expensive proposition for a company that makes relatively little on the low-end product range.
This is going to be one of my biggest fears as well. People seeing this “great deal” on the Dell site and impulsively purchasing it. Then I receive the call one night asking why none of their Windows programs can be installed on the computer. I’m hoping in a case like this Dell would simply let users pay a little extra to get a version of Windows shipped to them.
And now for the last quote:
Second, we free software fans are a fussy crowd, and very hard to please. You know what you are like – you sit and configure that Dell system down to the finest detail, you want a specific model of HP laptop, you want the one that has the Intel graphics chipset not the other chipset because you prefer the free driver approach from Intel… you are in short an expert, demanding customer. This means, that in order to reach us with Linux, a reseller has to offer Linux EVERYWHERE, not just on a few select models.
Yes, Linux users in particular are often very knowledgeable about their computers and want to choose exactly what they are getting. In this case, however, I’m sure a lot of users will just build their own PC’s. By Dell offering computers with Ubuntu pre-installed I think it will possibly attract some new Linux users that may have not previously tried out Linux. The biggest benefit by Dell doing this is that a user is sure that all of the hardware in the system functions well with the operating system itself.
I’m still skeptical about the number of people who will actually purchase Linux PC’s from Dell, but maybe I’ll be surprised in the end. I think it also depends on how much Dell actually tries to promote Linux, and I don’t think that will really be done since their real revenue will come from selling Windows PC’s.
Note: The image used in this article is from DeviantArt, and is freely available as a wallpaper (1600×1200 resolution).