Dell readies Linux Ultrabook for autumn release
Windows 8 refuseniks form an orderly queue
If you're in the right neck of the woods, you'll be able to buy a Dell Ultrabook pre-loaded with Linux this coming autumn.
The PC giant last night said it was moving its Project Sputnik - a scheme to create a developer-friendly Linux laptop - from pilot to product.
The machine in question is an XPS 13 with a custom build of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS installed, presumably in place of Windows. No doubt to avoid irritating Redmond further, the Sputnik laptop will only be "available in select geographies".
Likewise, the constant references to "developers", even though we think a fair few ordinary folk would quite like one of these. The Ubuntu-based XPS will be out in the same - broadly - timeframe as Windows 8. Perhaps Dell really has its eye on Metro refuseniks.
Dell's Project Sputnik was launched in May, and reached the stage earlier this month when Dell began asking coders to apply for early, pre-release hardware samples at reduced cost. That request seems to have gone so well - gee, cheap computers, you'd never guess… - that Dell suspended the pilot program and decide to release the machine as a product instead.
There's no word on exactly when the Linux-running laptop will go on sale, or how easy it'll be to find on the Dell website and order. ®
I have tried a couple of time to actually buy a Dell machine with Linux, but they make it so damn hard. Really, I wonder if the sole purpose of this is to negotiate a better Windows price with MS rather then actually selling any Linux boxes.
Not this again
Look, we keep getting stories about "X will sell a GNU/Linux system" where X is Dell, HP, ASUS or someone else and you know what? They are only ever on sale in certain territories, to corporate customers, not linked correctly on the website and on shitty hardware or for an insane price.
I hope Canoncial can pull it off - but this is the same company who crowed about ASUS selling Ubuntu pre-installed, then couldn't tell me where I could buy one! So I will believe it when I see it frankly.
And I'll believe it when Dell list this on their UK site, allow UK Joe Public to buy it and have the XPS 13 with an OS option combo. Until then I'll go with a manufacturer/seller who actually supports GNU/Linux in a proper manner; System76, ZaReason, ThinkPenguin, EmporerLinux, Fit-PC (there may be others).
Re: "rebuilding your Linux OS to try to get wifi working, or sound, or getting your video driver .."
My HP printer installs much more easily on Ubuntu than Windows. You plug in the USB, wait a few moments, and it's ready. Getting it to work on Windows 7 is a pain in the neck.
Rebuild your Linux OS? If you're a huge techie, fine. Otherwise that's the type of thing I was doing about 15 years ago. No need to do it today. But at least you CAN do it. You can't do it with Windows because you don't have the source code.
Both operating systems have their pluses and minuses, but Linux isn't bad at all; it's not as bad as people make out.
"rebuilding your Linux OS to try to get wifi working, or sound, or getting your video driver .."
FUD - some people may indeed have trouble but I've installed OpenSuse 11.4 to 3 very different laptops/netbooks in the last year and had NO problems at all - not just with the built-in hardware but also 3G dongles, printers, DSLR cameras ( controlling them NOT just downloading pics), USB headsets, webcams etc
I don't hold out much hope for a good deal
For *years* people have been regularly posting to www.ideastorm.com, begging Dell to put Linux on their machines, but whenever Dell does it, it sets out to deliberately make the Linux purchasing experience hard and often more expensive:
* They don't Linux as an OS choice for any of the models that they sell with Windows - this would be the easiest way for Linux to get some sales, but Dell are too scared of MS (e.g. losing volume discounts) to do this.
* They put the Linux machine well out of the way of the normal model list. Instead of just being another model in the appropriate section, they put it as a well of out of the way link called something like "Open Source Desktops" or some such vague description.
* They don't do an identically spec'ed Linux machine to the equivalent that comes with Windows. The reason for this one is obvious - users will be able to deduct the price of one from the other and work out how much Windows costs to the end user.
* Because of the difference in specs, you'll often find worse specs on Linux machines despite the selling price being roughly the same as Windows machines.
* All the endless short-term offers (50 quid off, extra RAM, bigger hard drive etc. etc.) seem to only every apply to Windows machines and never to Linux ones.
It's now wonder that previous Dell attempts at selling machines with Linux have failed - they've deliberately designed to fail from day one. I hope that these XPS machines buck that trend, but I don't hold out much hope to be honest. Any bets that it'll be more cost effective to buy the Windows XPS 13 and dual boot it to Linux instead? All I'm asking is that the Linux version costs the same as the Windows (doesn't have to be cheaper, though that would be nice) one and has the same hardware spec too - is that too hard to ask?