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Thread: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

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    News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Consumer PCs no longer available online with open-source option.
    Read more.

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Ubuntu + New Users = Hell, Panic, Disaster.

    Done, tested, proven.

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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    My experience is different.
    When a new Ubuntu machine has been set up correctly for a new user (mp3 codecs, flash etc), and you spend a little time explaining how it works (ie 30 mins max), it's very straightforward.
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nelsaidi View Post
    Ubuntu + New Users = Hell, Panic, Disaster.

    Done, tested, proven.
    emoticon says it all.

    Ubuntu isn't any more difficult for a real newbie (as in someone who's not been brought up entirely with Windows) to use/configure than Vista. Yes, there's the usual problem of codec support, but you've also got that (to an extent) with Windows unless someone's been nice enough to bundle suitable DVD players etc with the build image. In fact in some cases, the "brown mess" (and before I get flamed, yes I know purple is the new brown) is easier than Windows - I really struggled to get a Huawei 3G stick working with XP, whereas the same stick was operational with Ubuntu Netbook Remix in less than 5 minutes.

    If I was Dell (etc) then it's laughably easy to make sure that the Mediabuntu repository is in place and the relevant codec support packages are installed. On the new install I did recently that took about 15 minutes to find the relevant commands in the online support and run them to completion. Yes, it's a faff, but Windows folks have the same deal with the anti-virus software that they require.

    My eight-year old daughter just moved her laptop from Vista (because it was slow and clunky, which annoyed her greatly) to Ubuntu 10.04 and she's really happy with it, with no major problems. She's even able to play Peggle, Bejeweled etc courtesy of Wine, (easily installed from the Ubuntu equivalent of the Add/Remove Programs)

    Getting back to the article, I'm sad about this action, but it's not entirely unexpected. Dell has always said that Linux take-up on the pre-built stuff was low, and they didn't actually go out of their way to actually make it obvious that it was an option. HP are worse - you really have to know where to hunt down the Linux option, and even then it's really a "business only" item.

    Strangely enough, if you look on the various forums, it would appear that quite a few folks have subsequently either dual-booted with Linux or (as I have) replaced the Windows install with an Ubuntu, Fedora or Suse one.

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    If you're the sort who'd be happy with Ubuntu then chances are you're more than capable of downloading and installing it yourself.

    The only negative is that there is no longer an easy way of cutting the cost of those particular laptops (though Ubuntu wasn't free apparently, as they still had to offer support for it). I suppose you could still try to call them up and recover the cost of a Windows license, which has proved successful before, if not apparently easy.

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    emoticon says it all.

    Ubuntu isn't any more difficult for a real newbie (as in someone who's not been brought up entirely with Windows) to use/configure than Vista. Yes, there's the usual problem of codec support, but you've also got that (to an extent) with Windows unless someone's been nice enough to bundle suitable DVD players etc with the build image. In fact in some cases, the "brown mess" (and before I get flamed, yes I know purple is the new brown) is easier than Windows - I really struggled to get a Huawei 3G stick working with XP, whereas the same stick was operational with Ubuntu Netbook Remix in less than 5 minutes.
    So there's some stuff about XP (dead, 10 years old) and Vista (dead, replaced by Windows 7). All well and good but at least draw comparisons with the current version of Windows! As for easier to use - i'm not convinced - the help/diagnosis stuff in 7 is pretty darn good (in fact show me where it's done better - the built in help is actually extremely good) and as for hardware support that's an easily won battle period. Nothings perfect (no doubt) but Linux has simply failed to take off at all on the desktop in the past decade simply because MS managed to address the chief reasons why people would *want* linux (security, stability, performance) in successive updates. All that's left now is 'price' and given that people don't even see that (as it's included in their dell/hp/blah) it's not a real issue (sadly I might add). So yes, XP sucked and Vista was horrible on laptops - absolutely agree - but times have changed. Heck, it even failed on netbooks too..

    I'd like to say I had a greater use for Linux other than splashtop and gparted but really I don't. OTOH Android is alrighty [just said that for DirectHex obviously].
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Lindows anyone?

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Geeks have been advocating pre-built Linux systems for years and years. We're perennially told that this year will be the year of desktop Linux. Now a major OEM has tried it, and it clearly wasn't financially worthwhile. Looks like Linux still has a long way to go before it's fit for the mainstream.

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mattus View Post
    Looks like Linux still has a long way to go before it's fit for the mainstream.
    I dont think that you can extrapolate that Linux (and in this case Ubuntu as the OS) isnt good enough / ready. There are a great many factors but most obvious to me are marketing and familiarity. Canonical are obviously throwing lots of money to the development and marketing of its OS but its not a patch on MS. See the issue of Dell not offering great machines at significantly lower cost (ie £70 cheaper, the cost of a Windows licence to the consumer.)

    But clearly people also go with what they know, 'just in case'. Whenever i have put Ubuntu (typically NBR) onto work colleagues laptops, and given them brief demos, they are really happy.

    That said, I always thought that 'the year of Linux' idea was too naive and simplistic, and would always come back to bite whomever said it / repeated it. It's a bit like 'the war on drugs' - a fairly meaningless phrase that has no definitions, allows the reader to interpret whatever they want, and doesn't specify how you can tell if it succeeds. I'd argue that the growth of Android on mobile handsets is probably the most visible success of Linux, but I hear that it is very strong in the server environment. For me, i'm also happy with it on the desktop / laptop environment, so it's already 'succeeded' by giving me a genuine operating environment that does what I want.
    Last edited by MSIC; 28-07-2010 at 07:03 AM.
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    So there's some stuff about XP (dead, 10 years old) and Vista (dead, replaced by Windows 7). All well and good but at least draw comparisons with the current version of Windows!
    Sorry, XP and Vista are still for sale - especially Vista. So surely it's more correct to say "latest version of Windows" rather than "current version". (pedant mode off)
    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    As for easier to use - i'm not convinced - the help/diagnosis stuff in 7 is pretty darn good (in fact show me where it's done better - the built in help is actually extremely good) and as for hardware support that's an easily won battle period.
    Well, a quick scan of what I wrote will show that I was saying that I had a better hardware experience in one case (and it was XP rather than Win7 - but that's because Win7 was still RC at the time). Best diagnosis tool for Linux is still - unfortunately - a Google search, but like Windows 7 it's also getting much better.
    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    but Linux has simply failed to take off at all on the desktop in the past decade simply because MS managed to address the chief reasons why people would *want* linux (security, stability, performance) in successive updates.
    NO - totally disagree. Firstly there's a shedload of Linux desktops out there. If you meant that there's been no "mainstream" (as in you can buy it in PC World) then I'll agree. There's a whole load of businesses and public orgs that are using Linux for their desktops - but they don't make a big deal of it. (I work for a very large computer services company, which is why I know about Linux desktops). Still at least the "this is the year of Linux on the desktop" crap has died down - that always annoyed me.
    And irrespective of how good Windows 7 has got - and yes, I'll be the first to give kudos to MS for a job well done - a Linux system is STILL more secure "out of the box", it's a function of the low-level design. Windows has too much baggage from the old "everything as administrator" days, whereas Linux/Unix has privilege separation in there - also at a low level.
    It interests me that the current recommendation for eCommerce use - especially eBanking - is never to use Windows, and instead use Linux, or more specifically a Linux "LiveCD". The "experts" (like Steve Gibson) surely wouldn't be doing this if Windows was "safe".
    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    So yes, XP sucked and Vista was horrible on laptops - absolutely agree - but times have changed. Heck, it even failed on netbooks too.
    I actually quite liked XP - I still use it on my main Windows system, (but that's because it's so old that I'm waiting to get more horsepower before switching to Windows7).
    Vista on the other hand, I've never heard anyone get positive about it - everyone I've spoken to merely "puts up" with it, and a lot moved to Windows7 at the first opportunity.
    As to netbooks - my Acer unit had some brain-dead Linux distro (Linspire?) on it as standard. Needless to say, it got flashed with Ubuntu Netbook Remix when that became available, and it's been quick, long-lived and eminently usable.
    I'm quite looking forward to the time when my main box is upgraded to be powerful enough to run Windows 7 Pro at a decent speed, (I bought my Win7Pro last year when the special deals were running - because I was impressed with the RC I tried for a couple of months). Like I said above, I genuinely think that Microsoft did a good job with "7", and I think it'll prove to be a good platform for my PC gaming and the odd bit of DVD ripping and Photoshop Elements, (I use Linux for everything else).

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    Sorry, XP and Vista are still for sale - especially Vista. So surely it's more correct to say "latest version of Windows" rather than "current version". (pedant mode off)
    If you're going to be pedantic, at least be accurate too - the current version of Windows is 7 (it's not debatable, it's a cold hard fact). It replaces Vista, which in turn replaces XP. Being able to buy old versions of software doesn't distort that (weird argument!).
    Heck, I can downgrade to Windows 2000 - but what's the point in debating that? Should we use an old creaky linux distro for comparison too?

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    NO - totally disagree. Firstly there's a shedload of Linux desktops out there. If you meant that there's been no "mainstream" (as in you can buy it in PC World) then I'll agree.
    Great, we agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    And irrespective of how good Windows 7 has got - and yes, I'll be the first to give kudos to MS for a job well done - a Linux system is STILL more secure "out of the box", it's a function of the low-level design. Windows has too much baggage from the old "everything as administrator" days, whereas Linux/Unix has privilege separation in there - also at a low level.
    Vista introduced UAC which makes it quite possible (I do it every day) to run as a standard user rather than admin - whilst I agree MS' philosophy of everything as admin hamstrung XP and it's users they've gone the opposite direction since. NT always supported the idea of separation but it's only been enforced on developers in recent years - our software (for example) is fully UAC compliant as a result of that change. MS have even pushed drivers out of ring 0 in Vista - and ideas such as ASLR, DEP, signed drivers for x64 and kernel patch protection don't exactly smack of lack of security. My point is (and was) that MS have focused on weaknesses (perceived or otherwise) rather dramatically in recent years and this has had a massive effect on security overall. With XP there was no choice at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    It interests me that the current recommendation for eCommerce use - especially eBanking - is never to use Windows, and instead use Linux, or more specifically a Linux "LiveCD". The "experts" (like Steve Gibson) surely wouldn't be doing this if Windows was "safe".
    I've no idea what Steve Gibson recommends - but i'd warrant that browser choice has a greater effect on eBanking. LiveCD's are hardly convenient and thus absolutely nobody is likely to be doing this in reality - first rule of security is your weakpoint is the *user* and thus they'll stuff things up by CBA (can't be arsed)

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    I actually quite liked XP - I still use it on my main Windows system, (but that's because it's so old that I'm waiting to get more horsepower before switching to Windows7).
    Vista on the other hand, I've never heard anyone get positive about it - everyone I've spoken to merely "puts up" with it, and a lot moved to Windows7 at the first opportunity.
    As to netbooks - my Acer unit had some brain-dead Linux distro (Linspire?) on it as standard. Needless to say, it got flashed with Ubuntu Netbook Remix when that became available, and it's been quick, long-lived and eminently usable.
    Yes, Acer did (like others) ship Linux for a while - and then switched to XP along with everybody else (which was what I was on about - not your personal choice!).

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    I'm quite looking forward to the time when my main box is upgraded to be powerful enough to run Windows 7 Pro at a decent speed
    Well seeing as it runs fine on a celeron M based laptop for me.. shouldn't be much of a leap! It also runs wonderfully on my acer netbook
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    I've no idea what Steve Gibson recommends - but i'd warrant that browser choice has a greater effect on eBanking. LiveCD's are hardly convenient and thus absolutely nobody is likely to be doing this in reality - first rule of security is your weakpoint is the *user* and thus they'll stuff things up by CBA (can't be arsed)
    CBA - ooh I like that, (well it made me smile anyway).
    Gibson (et al) are recommending the use one of the slew of (Linux-based!) fast booting LiveCD's - either on actual shiny disk or on write-protected flash. Note, not for general use - merely for stuff that's very sensitive. My query on those is - apart from using the flash option or perhaps CDRW - how are you supposed to keep them patch-current?
    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    Well seeing as it runs fine on a celeron M based laptop for me.. shouldn't be much of a leap! It also runs wonderfully on my acer netbook
    Take your 'system 002', cut it in half and then downclock and you've pretty much got what I'm using. Heck my laptop (Dell D620 with 2.16GHZ C2D) is more powerful. I want to be able to access all the features of 7Pro - which includes XP Mode - so I need to update from my Athlon64 to something with virtualization support (something with a shedload of memory and quad-core or better also desirable - I'll probably defect from AMD to Intel). I was using the Win7RC on a VMware instance on the laptop with little fuss - just allocated it a gig of memory and a core and it was quite nippy, (even when I put AV on). Yes, despite despising Vista as a poor excuse for an OS, I really quite like Windows7 - I wouldn't have bought it 12 months before I could realistically use it otherwise (okay, saving a shedload of cash didn't hurt).

    Getting back to the article, yes, I see what you're getting at - that Dell are merely following the herd in dropping the Linux option (whether this is because of demand, or pressure from elsewhere, I'm not going to speak about). It still doesn't stop it being disappointing because (and this is where we differ in opinions) I think Ubuntu is eminently usable as a day to day OS - both my laptop (which is my VMware host for work!) and my netbook use it with little in the way of problems. And, whilst appreciating and agreeing with what you're saying wrt Windows security (would have been nice to see more of VMS's security model in NT perhaps?) I still feel more comfortable with my Linux boxes for bank access.

    Best to agree to disagree I guess - nice to have a "discussion" and not end up with the usual (a la Reg) "you're a smelly Linux geek", "you're a witless Windows fanboi" name calling.

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    CBA - ooh I like that, (well it made me smile anyway).



    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    Gibson (et al) are recommending the use one of the slew of (Linux-based!) fast booting LiveCD's - either on actual shiny disk or on write-protected flash. Note, not for general use - merely for stuff that's very sensitive. My query on those is - apart from using the flash option or perhaps CDRW - how are you supposed to keep them patch-current?
    Problem is, people won't bother - heck rebooting *at all* to do one task is a PITA and the concept of live CDs or flash booting is beyond the average user. But yes, you've hit the nail on the head - patching becomes a problem. OTH of course there's a live windows PE environment which does much the same thing without the unfamiliarity of linux - of course it's just as irrelevant to average joe.


    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    Take your 'system 002', cut it in half and then downclock and you've pretty much got what I'm using. Heck my laptop (Dell D620 with 2.16GHZ C2D) is more powerful. I want to be able to access all the features of 7Pro - which includes XP Mode - so I need to update from my Athlon64 to something with virtualization support (something with a shedload of memory and quad-core or better also desirable - I'll probably defect from AMD to Intel). I was using the Win7RC on a VMware instance on the laptop with little fuss - just allocated it a gig of memory and a core and it was quite nippy, (even when I put AV on). Yes, despite despising Vista as a poor excuse for an OS, I really quite like Windows7 - I wouldn't have bought it 12 months before I could realistically use it otherwise (okay, saving a shedload of cash didn't hurt).
    Just a heads up but MS dropped the hardware virtualization requirement for XP mode

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    Best to agree to disagree I guess - nice to have a "discussion" and not end up with the usual (a la Reg) "you're a smelly Linux geek", "you're a witless Windows fanboi" name calling.
    Hexus is pretty good for that (mostly) - and I always maintain everybody gets to make their own decision. Slavishly following anything is plain dumb - and i'll switch camps very easily (be it gpus or phone OS' of late for example).
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    ....

    Problem is, people won't bother - heck rebooting *at all* to do one task is a PITA and the concept of live CDs or flash booting is beyond the average user. But yes, you've hit the nail on the head - patching becomes a problem. OTH of course there's a live windows PE environment which does much the same thing without the unfamiliarity of linux - of course it's just as irrelevant to average joe.
    Setting up a flash boot might be beyond the average user, but using a LiveCD hardly is, surely. And even if creating it from an ISO image were, it could be distributed by banks, already on disc, for their customers - shove this disk in your drive, boot and do your banking and only your banking, following these (included) instructions.

    I agree there's a potential CBA issue, but that's as much about educating users on the importance of security especially in relation to banking, and surely banks have a strong interest in reducing banking fraud? It seems to me to be a good idea.

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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    Setting up a flash boot might be beyond the average user, but using a LiveCD hardly is, surely. And even if creating it from an ISO image were, it could be distributed by banks, already on disc, for their customers - shove this disk in your drive, boot and do your banking and only your banking, following these (included) instructions.

    I agree there's a potential CBA issue, but that's as much about educating users on the importance of security especially in relation to banking, and surely banks have a strong interest in reducing banking fraud? It seems to me to be a good idea.
    Depends what you set your entry level at - try explaining 'burning a CD' or 'ISO images' or even the fact the Internet Explorer is the browsers name not "Google" (because it's their home page). The problem is for most on here that our POV is way off base with the average user and I'd wage between "lack of knowledge" and "CBA" we've covered the vast majority of folk out there. Heck, I CBA using this method either and it ignores the point raised about patching (vulnerabilities in browsers can be just as important) unless you're constantly updating that live CD (in which case see CBA). Any developer worth their salt will tell you the user is the biggest problem in the mire of security problems out that and draconian (or seemingly) changes like UAC give you an idea of how big a stick in necessary to push people into securing systems (and even then swathes of 'experts' will disable said security features because of the CBA rule, or worse the 'i'm an expert' perception). Vicious circle n'all that.

    We all know people stick with what they're used to - it's hard to get people to switch versions of Windows (see XP luddites) let alone to something entirely different. Couple that with few tangible benefits and it's a hard sell - even if the alternative is free (and I suppose MS' answer to that one is that OS costs are effectively hidden when you buy a PC). If Windows was still stuck in the XP era linux would be far more interesting - as it is I still think it's struggling to play catchup on the usability side (IMHO - i've no problem if you think otherwise). It's come a long way - problem is, so has Windows..
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    Re: News - Dell dropping Ubuntu option from its laptops?

    I agree patching for updates is an issue, and I certainly agree about the user being the problem. It's astonishing how often you still find passwords on a PostIt stuck on the side of the monitor .... or for the security conscious, taped to that slide-out platform on most office desks.

    Mind you, that's as much about lousy management for letting them get away with it as it is about poor users.

    There ought to be a way to solve the patching issue though, if banks devoted some time and effort to it. Perhaps a little flash drive supplied to account holders and some automated and encrypted update process, a bit like the user updating their AV by letting the software do it for them .... but with stronger controls and protection. Perhaps an encrypted exchange between bank and user, using one of those number generators some banks use for authentication, or something similar. It just seems that it ought to be doable in a way that's both practical for "average" users, and yet secure.

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