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1 of 3 Dell Inspiron Mini Netbooks Sold With Linux 230

Posted by timothy
from the for-their-patients-who-chew-gum dept.
christian.einfeldt writes "According to an article in Laptop Magazine on-line, one-third of Dell Inspiron Mini 9s netbooks are sold with the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Dell senior product manager John New attributed the sales volume to the lower price point of the Ubuntu Linux machines. And the return rate of the Ubuntu Linux machines is approximately equal to that of comparable netbooks sold with Microsoft Windows XP. Dell spokesperson Jay Pinkert attriutes the low return rate to Dell's good communications with its customers, saying 'We have done a very good job explaining to folks what Linux is.'"
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1 of 3 Dell Inspiron Mini Netbooks Sold With Linux

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  • Netbooks and Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paranatural (661514) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:54PM (#26971219)

    Netbooks are the prefect place to introduce people to Linux. Because they generally don't expect to play games (Other than flash games and the like) or use them for a lot of officework, Linuxes major flaws are not apparent, while its advantages (Free, faster) are.

    If I were involved in the Linux community I'd be pushing hard for a lot of development of drivers and the like for Unbutu (Linux needs some name recognition somewhere)

    That's why the previous story about difficulty with the EEE and Linux was disturbing to me.

  • Re:"HP's Linux" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:03PM (#26971399) Homepage Journal

    Its a crippled kernel that only recognizes 1 GB of RAM. They also rebranded Firefox 3 as "Web Browser" and installed a Yahoo! toolbar by default, and had Yahoo! as the default search engine by default. The crapped up Firefox some other way so that the trackpad scrolling worked HORRIBLY. If you have one of these machines, spend $20 on a 2 GB stick of RAM and install the vanilla version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix from:

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UNR [ubuntu.com]

    You'll have a MUCH better experience. I have one and now love it, I hate what Dell did to "their" ubuntu though. They added no value and imposed artificial limitations to the hardware. Its really slick on that lowend hardware without Dell's cruft.

  • OS X (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ponraul (1233704) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:04PM (#26971413)

    I'd conjecture that most of those are getting OS X installed [uneasysilence.com] on them.

  • Re:"HP's Linux" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:17PM (#26971661) Homepage Journal

    I believe the stock kernel always has, since the hardware always has. IIRC Dell's modified kernel only supports 1 GB of RAM (and they provide NO updates in their repos) so that their marketing agreement with Microsoft that they not sell an item that can support more than 1 GB of RAM on it is abided by.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:21PM (#26971783)

    Not to rain on the FOSS parade, but the Dell Mini 9 is a huge favorite among the Hackintosh crowd. No doubt a lot of them are buying the Linux version (after all, it's cheaper, why pay for XP?), but then immediately reformatting to install OS X.

  • Optimistic at Best (Score:5, Interesting)

    by leeosenton (764295) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:26PM (#26971883)
    Some points to note as a Mini owner and occasional contributor at www.mydellmini.com: 1)Minis are capped with a 16gb solid-state drive if you choose WindowsXP; you can get up to a 64gb drive if you choose Linux 2)Many geeks are buying bare naked Minis with 512mb memory and 4gb drives for $250, and then equipping them with aftermarket runcore 64gb drives and 2gb of memory (another $200 for upgrades). To get the price low, they buy the Linux system and then load Windows or OSX (I know, kinda sick but they are talking about it on mydellmini.com) Bottom line: I think these numbers are skewed by geeks and bargain hunters.
  • Re:"HP's Linux" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:32PM (#26972015)

    Bought the Dell Mini w/Linux for my wife, she loves it.

    It has a very nice easy-to-use-and-manage launcher and the desktop pics are also nice. You can still access the Gnome menu and synaptic is installed; though it is pre-set targeted to dell's mini repository. You can activate the ubuntu repositories without hassle though.

  • Re:So.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:32PM (#26972017)
    Haha, good guess! Actually, believe it or not, I personally have seen one of these Dell netbooks running linux in the wild. That's the first time I saw someone other than myself running linux on a laptop. I got a chance to screw around with it some and as somebody else mentioned above, Dell messed up their Ubuntu install with about 400 MB or language files and other crap you don't need, which is especially weird since the thing only has a 4 GB hard drive. Other than that and the glossy screen, these netbooks aren't too bad looking. The hinge is pretty well designed and I don't mind the keyboard like the guys at laptopmag did.
  • Re:"HP's Linux" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:53PM (#26972367) Homepage

    I can't really blame them for altering their version of Linux, at least not as an abstract rule. At the very least, they're going to want to re-theme it for branding purposes, to give it a distinctive look, or at least to get rid of the Ubuntu brown. The probably should make sure that it has any fixes relevant to their hardware, assuming the distro doesn't accept their patches or just hasn't accepted the patches into the "stable" version yet. On top of that, of course they're going to want to add value if they can think of a way to do that.

    Of course, that assumes that they have people at their company who are qualified to do this. The theme has to be good. The value-adds have to actually add value. That's not as easy as it seems. And then, these companies will unfortunately also try to protect their additions by trying to make it so their competitors can't use them. That's going to run afoul of the open source community even if not violating the GPL.

    Here's something I'd love for Dell to do: create their own apt repositories (and repositories for any other package managers are used by distros they support) that provides drivers and any other software (e.g. openmanage) for all of their hardware. Servers, desktops, netbooks, everything.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:05PM (#26972567) Homepage

    We're seeing Linux have 33% market share on a general-purpose computer.

    A general-purpose consumer model, Tier 1 OEM computer, no less. FFS, what does it take to make someone happy these days? If you could have sent word of this back in time to me in 2000, I would have shit a joyous brick just to know such a future was possible.

    I'd love to live in a world where Linux had 33% market share on general-purpose computers. I think that trading one monopoly (MS) for another (Linux) is not a good thing, even if I like Linux.

    A Linux "monopoly" really wouldn't be the same thing as the Windows monopoly -- aside from being mostly POSIX, it's also open source, so interoperability isn't a big issue, and there can be competition just amongst linux distros. But yeah, I tend to agree. I'm not that worried, since I don't see a situation where Linux eats all of Window's marketshare, but MacOS doesn't take any for itself.

  • Re:Hackintoshes ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bconway (63464) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:18PM (#26972829) Homepage

    Yes, it works well, it's fast, and all hardware is supported. Installation is done with a retail Leopard disk, so it's a lot cleaner than most hackintoshes, and it's safely updateable.

    How To: Hackintosh a Dell Mini 9 Into the Ultimate OS X Netbook [gizmodo.com]

  • It definitely does (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:22PM (#26972893)

    VS 6.0 works like a charm.

    Oh, if you meant a SPECIFIC VERSION, you should have said so (and I note that you were one of those who said that Vista Capable was right: it COULD run Vista. That it couldn't run *any* version was irrelevant. So in this case, VS *does* work under wine. The version is irrelevant. Right?)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:37PM (#26973085)

    The problem with Linux only having 33% is that it is obvious that Dell is pushing XP. Obvious, you say? Well yes ... when you can pay $20 less Cdn and receive an XP machine with an 8GB SSD instead of the 4GB SSD with Ubuntu.

    Don't believe me? http://www1.ca.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop-inspiron-9?c=ca&cs=cadhs1&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:02PM (#26973445) Homepage Journal

    To my friends in the Apple Fanboi community I would like to offer a warm welcome to the install-it-yourself operating system slums.

    No one cares what operating system your computer actually runs. They only care about the operating system you PAID for. This fact has worked against desktop Linux for years. When you install OS X on your Dell Mini all you are doing is making it less likely that Dell will have to offer support. Dell loves folks that install their own operating system on its hardware.

    Not that I expect that there is a whole lot of raining going on. I would bet that there might be as many as 1,000 hackintoshes. There's probably twice that many Macbooks running Ubuntu. No one cares.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:48PM (#26973987)

    Dell Netbook with XP $379ca
    Dell Netbook with UB $379ca
    The advantage of free seems to be working pretty well for Dell.

  • by Patch86 (1465427) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:02PM (#26974215)

    The post is "1 of 3 Dell...sold with Linux".

    The numbers aren't skewed. The numbers are exactly right. The interpretation that 1 of 3 Dell netbooks are running Linux might be skewed, but thats not really in question.

    How many netbooks run XP/Linux/OSX is pretty impossible to work out. You're right to point out that Linux models are cheaper and so are bought as bare-bones PCs (good for Hackintosh, pirated XP, Win7 betas, BSD, whatever). Its also been pointed out that all Dells reconditioned netbooks seem to ship with XP, so that muddies the water even more.

    We just have to take the omens we're given.

  • by Zantetsuken (935350) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:08PM (#26974307) Homepage
    Because Asus basically gave their original target audience the finger.

    Asus's Eee is a large cause for the attention netbooks have received, and was originally meant to run GNU/Linux only. The trouble started when they saw they were getting so much attention, they would make a Windows version, beefing up the machine and going from hardware that had great Linux driver support to mediocre.

    The Eee was supposed to be so cheap and yet so good, and then they started making announcements that, "No, it will not only no longer come with a 4GiB internal SSD, it will be 2GiB AND cost more."</rant>
  • by Immerial (1093103) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:23PM (#26974487) Homepage

    Why else would they have a deals in place with Dell to nerf the netbooks, spend the energy to bring down the Windows 7 requirements, and keep Windows XP around just for netbooks?! If you aren't in the Microsoft OS you lose all the lock-ins they worked so hard for- Office formats, multimedia DRM, workflow ecosystem.

    Microsoft Office sales start to go away when people realize that Open Office works for most folks and more files that aren't using proprietary formats means they need to start working with them better... which means other formats become viable... you no longer need MS Office and the cycle is broken.

    They need people to stay in their ecosystem!

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:50PM (#26974837) Homepage Journal

    I am not saying that Microsoft doesn't care about Linux on netbooks. Microsoft absolutely cares. It's last quarter total sales were up but revenues were down 8% because a significant portion of Microsoft's sales are for the heavily discounted Windows XP netbook SKU.

    Dell's numbers basically confirm the trend. People are looking for less expensive options. Even with a heavily discounted XP a third of Dell's mini sales are not putting any money at all in Microsoft's pocket because Linux is cheaper. If the economy gets worse then this trend is only going to accelerate.

    If enough people find out that they can get their work done with Free Software then Microsoft is done. Almost no matter what happens the Free Software genie is out of the bottle now. Microsoft's hardware partners know that people will buy Linux-based gizmos, and they know that Microsoft will cave on price if the alternative is to let Linux take over a niche. Things are bad enough that Microsoft is apparently going to be selling Windows 7 Starter edition in the first world.

    My point was that no one (not even Dell or Microsoft) care about the folks that have installed OS X on these machines. The only company that cares about OS X on Dell Minis is Apple, and you can bet that they are looking into ways to shut these people down. The Apple fanbois can think that Hackintosh sales matter if they want, but all Hackintosh sales do is strengthen Linux on these devices.

  • Re:"HP's Linux" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:53PM (#26974877) Homepage Journal

    the package was called firefox3 in apt-get/aptitude/dpkg/synaptic/Add/Remove Programs, but the icon was changed as was all branding inside the browser. Might even be in hot water for distributing a changed binary called firefox.

  • by loudmax (243935) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:07PM (#26975041) Homepage

    Hear, hear!

    This is exactly the attitude we need. I run Gentoo Linux on my Acer netbook, but I'd be insane to say that Gentoo is for everybody. What's frustrating about Windows isn't the OS itself, it's the proprietary APIs and protocols that have become de facto standards. It isn't just open source that's locked out. There simply isn't any competition from commercial software vendors in the generic hardware market. (OS X isn't supposed to run on generic hardware, and Microsoft allows interoperability by selling the office suite for macs.)

    Firefox made a huge impression on the web, even when it had less than 10% market share. Safari, Chrome, Opera, Konkeror, all of these can be pretty much expected to just work thanks to open standards that were largely forced on the web by Firefox adoption.

    The promise of Linux isn't that everyone will run Linux, it's that regular users will have a real choice who they buy their system. Bring on the BSDs, Haiku OS, and more commercial derivates, and life will be much easier for us Linux users as well.

  • by RobBebop (947356) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:38PM (#26975389) Homepage Journal

    not-insignificant? You found a clever way of saying significant. You sly dog.

    But I disagree that a significant percent of Mini 9 owners are running OS X.

  • by kwandar (733439) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:47PM (#26975481)

    Mod this up. Not only does the XP machine cost $20 less and have twice the size SSD, it also comes with a full gig of memory versus a half gig for the equivalent Ubuntu version.

    By my estimation that puts the same XP machine at $100 less than the equivalent Ubuntu machine? What weird economics are at work at Dell?

  • by ld a,b (1207022) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:27PM (#26975831) Journal
    I am very happy with my Dell Linux laptop. True, it included an Intel Wireless for which there is no freely distributable firmware, but that is a minor nuisance.
    Most of the hardware is common and well documented. This allows me to use OpenBSD as my main desktop with everything perfectly supported.

    The included Ubuntu is not perfect but it is good enough and with wine and proprietary addons can be run as a drop-in Windows replacement if one so wishes. I replaced it with Xubuntu which looks a lot better, and the wife loves it.

    Here's to Dell. Keep the good work.
  • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mallie_mcg (161403) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:43PM (#26976019) Homepage Journal
    Same for Australia - nothing but Microsoft Windows from Dell for any consumer grade machine, which is frustrating as a customer, there is no way I'm going to be paying for something I don't want.
  • I want [Windows] to die die die die die!

    Actually, so do I. I was just being moderate to whore karma ;-)

    On a serious note: I'd like to see free software be able to give everyone an optimal* computing experience so that I can justify wanting everyone to use only free software.

    That happening would mean the death of Windows. The death of Windows is just in itself not very high on my list of priorities.

    * No, not just good, but optimal: I'd be disappointed if there's a trade-off is between quality and freedom. For a certain kind of computer user (the /.-reading kind), there isn't. Apparently, for 33% of $(dict minilaptop) users Linux is the best deal too. I think we as a community have earned a pat on the back :)

  • by sulfur (1008327) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:13PM (#26977475)

    But if I refuse to give the unskilled users a root password, the risk of that toolbar causing problems is much less. Unix is fundamentally more secure than NT. In order to get to root, you need to have the user enter their password. This is a well defined problem, and if a way shows up around it, it can be fixed.

    Well, if I refuse to give the unskilled users an Administrator password, malware would not cause much problems to a Windows computer either. I guess that you would respond that it is impossible to use Windows as a non-admin user. Wrong, when I did desktop support for a large corporation almost none of our users had admin rights (mostly because our packages were tested and modified in order to allow that). The problem lies with third-party apps that assume that the user has admin rights, and write to system registry areas instead of %appdata% or other user-owned places.

    Anyway, you can't really compare corporate and home environments. In a centrally managed environment, competent IT support can secure both types of OS'es. At home, the user needs to have root/admin access to their computer anyway.

  • by kwandar (733439) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:35PM (#26978011)

    Thought train was rolling and I'll buy either:

    1) subsidized by Microsoft (I think its called anti-competitive behaviour); or
    2) Cowboy Neil setting prices.

    It would be hard to convince me that 1 yr support(outsourced to Canonical or whomever) is the cost of XP AND the $20 difference in price. Equally hard to convince me that rolling a version for your laptop is any more difficult with Ubuntu (where I'm sure they'd get free assistance from a Canonical for support) than it is with XP.

    As for large scale advantages with Windows boxes, the only one that I'm aware of is being paid by MS.

    Good news is that Ubuntu is 1/3 of sales, although I'm not sure why? What idiot wouldn't take better hardware and a $20 discount - Microsoft can be uninstalled.

    Microsoft must be frightened to have to buy market in this fashion - that is about a third of the computer's price they would be rebating?!

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:24AM (#26979673) Homepage

    I thought I agreed with you on your comment, but then I thought about it for a moment. People who do the whole "warez" thing, and who have been doing it for years, know how to work stuff like this.

    As a teen, I was pretty heavily into warez. Everyone who was 'into' computers was. It's just what you did, and how you got your software when you were a kid. So how would a person go about putting XP on a laptop that has no CDROM?

    I've installed Windows (2003) on a system with SATA but no floppy drive. I don't remember exactly how I did it, because I seem to recall that USB was not available within the setup, either. But I do remember it was a huge pain in the ass.

    Things have gotten easier since then, much easier, with the widespread use of LiveCDs. Windows fans have learned a lot from the Linux community, and BartPE helped a lot in that regard. A cursory look at various torrent sites tells me that there is "live" XP for installation on USB media.

    This would, I believe, make the installation of Windows to the internal disk on a netbook fairly trivial. In fact, one of the first search results was "Windows XP sp3 Lite for ASUS eee PC". Seems like XP is getting a fairly wide acceptance/installation on netbooks to me.

  • by howlingmadhowie (943150) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @05:39AM (#26979969)
    oh i'd love to see a gnu monopoly on the desktop and servers. if all computers out there had a working gnu userspace, working with them would be a lot easier. for purely technical reasons windows just doesn't cut it for me. i cannot do the things i want to do with it. i say gnu userspace because i rarely interact with the kernel directly.

    as for the monopoly, i can't see a gnu monopoly being a bad thing. much like a state monopoly on the rail network is actually a good thing (as we have seen in great britain)

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