Ok most of you who know me will know that I’m usually an easy going guy, I like to get along with people and have a laugh, I don’t often get mad but a few people have brought something to my attention lately which has caused me to furrow my brow and considerably raised my blood pressure. It concerns the availability of Linux laptops from Dell UK, or should I say the lack thereof. Last year I bought an m1330n from Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed because I wanted to help support both consumer Linux and a company prepared to try out something new in standing up against Microsoft. Despite a few very minor gripes over the lack of a media remote in the Ubuntu model I’ve been nothing but happy with this machine, I’m typing on it right now. For almost a year it’s rarely left my side and it’s never let me down. Someone posted recently on the Linux Outlaws forums that they were looking for a new Linux laptop in the UK so I directed them to the Dell website. It turned out through the discussion that there are no longer any Linux laptops for sale on Dell’s UK website. There’s only 3 options, 1 desktop and 2 Ubuntu netbooks, the Mini 9 and Mini 12. They’re all nice machines but they used to also sell the m1330 and Studio 15 laptops with Ubuntu. So my question for Dell is this, what’s happened to them?!
I was even told by another forum user they were given short shrift on the phone to Dell UK when trying to order one of the XPS laptops with Ubuntu. Apparently the sales representative told them they no longer sold any XPS laptops with Ubuntu in the UK. When the customer persevered and asked if they could just order the hardware with no OS they were flatly told no. An American friend checked the US website for us and confirmed the Ubuntu options there still include 3 decent spec laptops: XPS M1530n, XPS M1330n and Studio 15n. This is on top of the Mini 9 netbook and a desktop pc. The netbooks are very nice and do their job well but I’m talking about proper desktop replacements here.
Now, I know some people will think this is just another ungrateful Linux hippie not understanding commerce but I know exactly how the world works and that Dell exists to make money. I appreciated their efforts in supplying a top of the range laptop like the m1330 with Linux and I still do. I’ve been very positive about Dell to everyone I know in the last year or so because of this and while I’ve been upset to see the Linux machines buried in some dusty corner of the website I’ve kept it to myself, well no more. Forgive my French but this is bullshit!! Pure and simple. If it’s just a matter of not enough sales in the UK to justify offering the machines any more then fine, I’d be disappointed but I’d accept it. I understand they’re not a charity but honestly how much extra work is it to install Ubuntu on a machine instead of Winblows Vista? Ok so there’s training of staff and so on, I can see that. We’re not even asking them to go that far, just shipping the machine with no OS and letting Linux users install their own software wouldn’t be any extra work at all as far as I can see. It’s not like we were getting any discount for the Windows license, the machines were the same price as their Vista counterparts and I never complained about this, I just put my money where my mouth was and bought one. A lot of people will say “just buy the Vista model if it’s the same price and wipe it” but for me this is missing the fundamental point. Why should I pay Microsoft for software I neither want nor need and subsidize their business? “Oh you failed again, never mind, here’s some more money for nothing”. You can decline the EULA and try to force Dell to give you a refund if you like but that’s far from easy. I want to support Linux and not be treated like a 2nd class citizen for doing so, my money is as good as anyone else’s, especially in a time of apparent economic crisis.
Ok I’ll take a breath now, I apologise for venting this in public but it had to go somewhere. It’s possible that they’ve removed the old offerings while they work on new ones which will appear soon and I sincerely hope this is the case. If it is I will hold my hands up and applogise to Dell 1000 times over but for now I simply want to know… what’s up??