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June 1st, 2015

Dell Bets On Ubuntu

Every time we run a story on FOSS Force touching on Canonical’s financial health, such as Larry Cafiero’s notice a week or so ago about Shuttleworth’s musings on a potential IPO, the Ubuntu naysayers come up from their basements to express the opinion that Shuttleworth is finally getting tired of flushing money down the toilet and is getting ready to put a padlock on the door and go home.

Inspiron 14 3000 Series Laptop Ubuntu Edition

Dell labels this on its website as “Inspiron 14 3000 Series Laptop Ubuntu Edition.”

That’s not going to happen, because that would be snapping defeat out of the arms of victory. Shuttleworth knows the smell of victory — that’s how he came to be worth $500 million — and Ubuntu finally seems to be primed for success.

Anyone who needs proof only needs to look at what Dell is doing these days. It’s cutting the chain that has bound them exclusively to Redmond and placing heavy bets on Ubuntu.

This morning Softpedia reported that Dell is releasing another Ubuntu powered laptop aimed at the consumer market. I say “another” because the announcement comes less than two weeks after Dell began shipping a similar Ubuntu offering. Interestingly, these offerings come just ahead of the release of the “much anticipated” Windows 10, a move that probably isn’t to Microsoft’s liking.

It’s important to note that neither of these are high dollar top-of-the-line laptops requiring deep pockets to buy, but affordable Inspiron 14 3000 Series laptops priced for the rest of us. The laptop announced two weeks ago comes with a 15″ screen and sells for somewhere between $250 and $350, depending on the configuration. The laptop announced today, which defaults to slightly lower specs and comes with a smaller 14″ screen, is priced at $219 and up.

That’s not the only good news for Ubuntu coming from Dell, which also announced today the release of the Dell IoT Gateway for Internet connected devices, also running Ubuntu. Add to this the fact that Dell also includes a complete step by step guide for installing Ubuntu on its computers, and it becomes clear that Dell is slowly getting on the Linux — or at least Ubuntu — bandwagon.

Why? I think the mobile revolution is at the core of this change. Consumers aren’t as afraid as they once were of straying away from the Windows farm because Android has taught them it’s not necessarily difficult to learn to use another operating system. This is easy to see from the sales figures from last Christmas, when Chromebooks greatly outsold laptops running Windows — a fact that doubtlessly opened a lot of eyes at all of the OEMs.

If I were Microsoft, I’d be worried. Very worried.

Indeed, the legendary “year of Linux” might sneak up on us and get here when we’re not looking.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

12 comments to Dell Bets On Ubuntu

  • Jim Anderson

    You forgot to mention something i think is especially noteworthy: Dell is displaying these models on the main Inspiron webpages, right alongside their Windows models and not burying them somewhere as “developer models!”

  • So are HP, and they are even targeting business. At the ebuyer website (uk) you can get a quad core HP laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed for £200, or £100 after a cash back (cash back only for businesses)

  • pressHere

    🙂 What would be really good would be if Dell followed it up with Ubuntu on their Venue 8, or better still, if they built a convergence-capable phablet.

    I’m excited by your analysis – Micro$oft ought to be worried! Mr. Shuttleworth has got something, and the era of the proprietary model might be coming to an end.

  • Brian

    I have tried both Linux Mint and Ubuntu. I like their interfaces. I hate that so many real world products (e.g., many VPN services) are difficult to impossible to implement on the Linux platform and that there is such limited support for peripheral devices. One recent example for me was that neither Mint nor Ubuntu had any easy way to adjust the display to work with my SONY Bravia large screen TV. Windows had no problem.

  • nothing_new_here

    Yet another Ubuntu laptop doomed to failure. They keep on doing this once and once again.

  • You also forget that users are users. They are not and they will not change. When you’re d… Errr not versed in computing technology. You don’t want to change. Plus, who will provide the helpdesk support ?

    Therefore, except for people surrounded by Ubuntu geeks, you might not want leave your (M$) jail. Even if that mean piracy and cracking softwares for keeping up with the M$ updates…

  • I haven’t used MS (or its prohibitively expensive cohort Apple) for 2 years and will never consider either again. I’m a LinuxMint user and recognize its Ubuntu base but still bought a SYMPLE Ubuntu desktop recently (now dual booting Ubuntu and LinuxMint) just for the pleasure of buying a pre-installed Linux machine. Learning that Dell is now offering inexpensive Ubuntu laptops I am seriously considering replacing my 3 year old Lenovo with a Dell Inspiron with pre-installed Ubuntu so I visited their Website, Sure enough Dell is offering Ubuntu pre-installed laptops. The one thing I found particularly objectionable though was the the banner at the top of the page stating ‘Dell Recommends Windows’. This coupled with the fact that I had to actually enter Ubuntu in their search bar to find their offerings suggests that Dell is not quite as enthusiastic about their Ubuntu offerings as perhaps they could be.

  • littlenoodles

    Interestingly, the 2 GB low-end models cost just slightly less than the Windows 8.1 (with Bing) equivalents. But the 4GB models are significantly less. I guess Microsoft is giving away Windows on 2GB systems, or is the ‘with Bing’ version otherwise crippled – other than being saddled with Bing, that is? 😉

  • tracyanne

    @Brian

    Perhaps the problem is SONY who did what was necessary to make sure their product worked well with Windows, but never bothered to make sure it works well with Linux.

    My Kogan Large screen TV works just fine with my Linux/Ubuntu based Media controller, so perhaps the real problem is you simply purchased the wrong TV

  • wes3333

    Having used RH 6 ~ 9, Fed’ 3 ~ 12, Solaris, Suse, and Ubuntu 10.4 thru 14.04, I don’t find the arguments of the others hard to explain,[currently on 14.04 lts], The huge “where fore all ” will come from peripherals like printers, HP has a grab on that with their HPLIP linux installer method, but for others , it will still be the old
    ./configure …. make ….. sudo make install…. method of compiling drivers. As an OEM . installing from CD was install.exe. for M$ apps, Right?
    So new-comers to linux would expect the same methodology …. Not happening…. and so it shouldn’t, but to teach an old dog security and new tricks ,needs a new sense of reasoning here. What is needed from the likes of Dell etal , is a brief “how to” describing the diffs between linux and M$ systems so that the buyer can utilize the system. In that retrospect, Dell,[or others], should have a CD along with the new Linux unit explaining the methods for updating, installing programs etc in a generic form, and then a tutorial which pertains specifically to the unit that the buyer has purchased. in a few years when everyone s up to speed, the tutorials will be dropped . Also ,it appears that Mr Shuttleworth is pushing the wrong OS- distro on people, He should send it off with Lubuntu or Xubuntu . with an option to upgrade the unit to unity if needed. He might also get rid of that purple desktop that has been the bane of many would be converts and settle with something in a blue shade,
    The long and short …Nix the purple ….. Sell the units as basic , pro ,advanced ,, ie xubuntu, lubuntu, ubuntu-unity, or some such, and the ones that don’t sell, do an OS upgrade and remarket but the clincher her is a ‘how-to CD’ with each sale for the noobs.

  • wes3333

    If on the other hand Mark is out to, “show up” windows with something flashy and glitzy, the KDE desktop which out-shines windows Vista might be marketed. But then again as marketing goes, starting off simple so as not to scare the clientelle while you are letting them know that that malware is a thing of the past. Seriously, LM is not my choice, Lubuntu [with a diff DT backdrop] or LXDE or XFCE are my firsts. As many users have reported, LM has updating issues, as did I when using LM
    So…… nuff said on that.
    If Dell wants to market said Linux lappies to the masses, they had better be strong on marketing help in the linux field, they had better have good connections to the people that write the code for the peripherals that people use, and the help forums had better be held in the USA_Canada areas, not India
    Nuff said

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