To Be An Innovator Or Not To Be An Innovator? Dell Computers And The Ubuntu Desktop

I first got interested in Dell computers when I saw on the Ubuntu website that Dell sells computers tailored for Ubuntu with the operating system pre-installed from factory. For me, personally, it was a reason to believe that I would finally have a computer that has a hardware entirely compatible with my software, beautifully integrating the features of my software with the capacity of my hardware. Those who have already worked on a Mac certainly understand how important this is. I was also excited about this partnership because Ubuntu would really need the support of a big hardware vendor to really be able to spread GNU/Linux among average users. There have been much discussions on the Internet lately about this partnership being over or about the partnership getting stronger (both versions can be found) so I decided to take a look into it myself.

First thing I did was to check the links provided by Ubuntu to the Dell site where, supposedly, I would find the computer models with Ubuntu installed. The links took me to the main page of Dell with no particular mention of Ubuntu or any other GNU/Linux distribution. So I searched for Ubuntu on the Dell site to end up on a list of hardware that mentioned Ubuntu on their description. Apparently none of them actually proposed Ubuntu as main operating system. After some browsing I found a link specifically aimed at Ubuntu and another list of computers. Although they had the option to be shipped with Ubuntu, I couldn’t find this option in my shipping cart.

So I decided to dig a bit deeper and called my Dell local vendor, registered an account with them and asked about the Ubuntu partnership. They told me that there is actually one computer available with Ubuntu and that they were not proposing all their computers with Ubuntu pre-installed. The salesperson said though that their computers were designed to be compatible with Ubuntu but you had to buy it with Windows first and then install another operating system if you wish. I pushed it a little further asking the salesperson if I could be refunded the price of the Windows license once I uninstalled it. Actually, the alternative was to order the computer with no operating system at all but that would cost me more money since I would have to pay for the labor of uninstalling it in the factory.

Today I just confirmed something I already knew, namely that Windows is really everywhere and it is difficult to switch to GNU/Linux, as a company or as an individual. Windows is indeed the standard operating system these days. I’m not against Windows nor for a massive adoption of GNU/Linux, I just want (everybody) to have a choice. Doesn’t this make sense to you, independently of the OS you chose?