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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.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:35PM (#26972081)

      Drivers are for the kernel, not for a distribution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ld a,b (1207022)
        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 t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DiegoBravo (324012)

        Most people (except maybe slashdotters) expect an OS that "just works" without dealing with modules nor their parameters. Yes, the drivers are part of the kernel, but distros differ a lot in the way or the capabilities for automatic hardware discovery and automatic module configuration. I think that's what the GP is referring to.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's disturbing is that Asus chooses hardware that has bad drivers and a manufacturer that just does not want to co-operate... Some Eees have a pretty good wireless chip but for some reason they are now using the awful Ralink hardware that A) sucks on every platform and B) has linux drivers so bad that they're not even enabled on the default kernel build.

      • RAlink more like RAstink, right? RIGHT?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zantetsuken (935350)
        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 no
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Greyor (714722)
        The rt2x00 project has to a certain degree solved Ralink chipset problems. I access the internet with a Linksys WUSB54GC USB adaptor which runs the RT73 chipset, and I use rt2x00's legacy rt73 driver since rt73usb in the mainline kernel is 1) lacking in features and 2) not as stable IMHO.

        That said, I don't know how Ralink's chipsets work on netbooks. I have a Dell Inspiron 1525n with that Intel wireless chipset mentioned above (no problems there, either). If you're having problems with the Ralink drivers
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

      Linux's major flaws...

      Heathen!

    • So 1/3 of the netbooks are running Linux. Fine. That's pretty amazing actually as I still can't get one without XP from the Dell site.

      That's in the Netherlands (you know, Amsterdam and stuff), by the way.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by rbanffy (584143)

      Just curious: apart from playing games designed for Windows, do you know of any significant disadvantage of Linux?

      Drivers are not usually a problem with devices that come with the OS pre-installed as the integrator makes sure that everything that ships works too.

      So, where are the disadvantages you see?

  • The problem are the other two thirds. What are they made up of? XP and Vista or what?!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      well dell currently offers the xp version with more ram at less cost (after a $150 "rebate") , so i think i'll just be putting on ubuntu after market. (only problem i can see is getting rid of the stupid microsoft sticker from the bottom without it becoming all gummy

    • The problem are the other two thirds.

      What? I'm sorry, What???

      We're seeing Linux have 33% market share on a general-purpose computer. Yes, I know, it's a certain class of computer but what I driving at is that it's a machine that is suited for a wide variety of tasks (as opposed to only being a router, phone, DVR, text reader, etc.).

      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.

      What I'd much rather see is a wider variety of OSes and no one kind having a dominant position. That way, we can have more competition, more attention paid to being cross-platform and (hopefully) more interoperability.

      I don't much care what everyone else uses as long as I have a good experience with Linux. As long as I can't make people stop hosting their videos in stupid flash wrappers (and gnash doesn't work very well) I'm dependent on flash working well enough on Linux. As long as there are no fast graphics cards with open-source drivers, I'm dependent on the proprietary ones.

      So, I want the people in control of the software I have to run to be happy to treat the platform I run with some kind of respect.

      But I don't want my choices imposed on anyone else. To healthy competition!

      • 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.

        • "FFS, what does it take to make someone happy these days?"

          Maybe if it were easier to find?
          Mini 9 Series Page:
          http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop-inspiron-9?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd [dell.com]

          No mention of MS-free systems.

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:06PM (#26972587) Homepage

        But I don't want my choices imposed on anyone else. To healthy competition!

        I agree with this. I may be in the minority here, but I don't want Windows to die. I just want Microsoft to be in a position where they have to fight fair because they don't have the influence to rig the entire market.

        Global software monoculture wouldn't be such a good thing. It's always good to have valid competitors, so long as there's actually a level playing field.

        • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:22PM (#26975225) Journal

          I don't want Windows to die. I just want Microsoft to be in a position where they have to fight fair because they don't have the influence to rig the entire market.

          They don't seem very capable of adapting, and adapting is the only way for them to not die without being able to rig the market.

      • by impaledsunset (1337701) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:24PM (#26972917)

        I think that trading one monopoly (MS) for another (Linux) is not a good thing, even if I like Linux.

        Just to remind you that there is a difference between a free system and a proprietary one when we are talking about monopoly.

        First, the word monopoly is connected to the market, and is tied to the vendor, not the program in question -- claiming that GNU/Linux has a monopoly would be like claiming that electricity has monopoly in the power market. It simply doesn't lead to any of the problems usually associated with monopoly in economics that I've studied or read about. It's about the _vendors_, not about the products, goods or programs.

        However, if there was a monopoly of a single vendor of services for GNU/Linux (for example, Canonical), which is, given the nature of free software, impossible, it would still cause a lot less trouble than what you get from monopoly with abusive anti-competitive practices and vendor lock-in. In your hypothetical situation, you aren't replacing your broken leg with a broken arm, you are replacing it with a painful bruise.

      • What? I'm sorry, What???

        We're seeing Linux have 33% market share on a general-purpose computer. Yes, I know, it's a certain class of computer but what I driving at is that it's a machine that is suited for a wide variety of tasks (as opposed to only being a router, phone, DVR, text reader, etc.).

        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.

        So long as we have Gnome and KDE, not to mention the myriad of distributions; there will always be competition in Linux.

      • I think that trading one monopoly (MS) for another (Linux) is not a good thing, even if I like Linux.

        I think, that by definition, Linux can not become a monopoly. There will always be multiple kernels/forks/patchsets, user spaces, desktop environments, office suites, and so on. You can always fragment as much as you want. I'd even take BSD and MacOS X into that group.

        I think under GNU/Linux, a monopoly emerges, when there is something so good, that everybody uses it. In that case a monopoly is good.
        If this would make attack on those systems more easy, it would not become a monopoly in the first place.

        And t

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by loudmax (243935)

        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 b

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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 brit
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Vista is way to bloated and inefficient to run well on a netbook, so the other 2/3 is all XP.
    • by bconway (63464) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:20PM (#26972859) Homepage

      A not-insignificant chunk is running OS X, as well.

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

      • by stevel (64802) *

        As a Mini 9 owner and participant in the mydellmini.com forum, another not-insignificant number are running Windows 7. Oh, and Vista runs fine there too.

        I will agree, from what I see, that there are a lot of Mini 9 owners running Ubuntu. But an equal number, I would estimate, buy the smallest, cheapest configuration (which is available with Ubuntu only) and then add their own memory, larger SSD and OS install - which might be OS X, XP, Vista or Windows 7. Someone has even managed to boot BeOS on a Mini 9!

      • by Jason Earl (1894)

        To my friends in the Mac Fanboi community I extend a warm welcome to the install-it-yourself operating system slums. You get no support, your sale counts as a sale for an operating system you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot barge pole, but you get to run the operating system you want on the hardware you purchased. That assumes, of course, that someone in China hasn't switched out a wireless chipset or a memory card reader for something 10 cents cheaper, that your operating system doesn't support, without c

      • by RobBebop (947356)

        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.

  • I have tons of XP licenses available, any time I can save money and not get another useless license is win-win. And yes Ubuntu is great, but I need Windows for a few things.
  • I recall the screenshots of Linux on the HP netbooks being very good-looking. Is Dell doing such a thing or are they just sticking plain'old Ubuntu on their Inspiron Mini 9s?

    edit: holy hell, either Slashdot's CSS is messed up or something's wrong with Safari 4. I'll guess the fault is with Slashdot since it's the first website out of 50 where I see any problem.

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by gid (5195)

        The 1 GB limitation is probably due to the way they have the kernel compiled. The Linux kernel has a 1 GB limitation unless you have High Memory enabled. If I remember correctly, the kernel runs faster if High Memory is disabled, which is why Dell probably has the kernel configured that way. Linux mini 9s come standard with 512MB. Way too much information that I don't understand can be found here: http://kerneltrap.org/node/2450 [kerneltrap.org]

        As for the yahoo toolbar junk, I can't defend Dell on that one...

        Thanks fo

        • by jgrahn (181062)

          The 1 GB limitation is probably due to the way they have the kernel compiled. The Linux kernel has a 1 GB limitation unless you have High Memory enabled. If I remember correctly, the kernel runs faster if High Memory is disabled, which is why Dell probably has the kernel configured that way.

          Doesn't sound quite right -- unless you're doing really weird things, very little CPU is spent in the Linux kernel. Spending 0.2% or 0.3% of your CPU in the kernel isn't noticeable.

        • by feranick (858651)
          Initially the kernel was compiled without the High memory enabled. Now it is. https://bugs.launchpad.net/dell-mini/+bug/286258 [launchpad.net]
      • They also rebranded Firefox 3 as "Web Browser"

        Here's a tip if you use Ubuntu:
        sudo apt-get install abrowser.

      • It came with an update almost two months ago. Check your facts before you post.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MarkKnopfler (472229)

      I would really prefer Dell to ship the standard xfce or gnome interface for their machines, rather than trying something 'cute' like HP. A pretty layer would entail developing a whole new layer over the existing UI. This layer, inevitably would have bugs and irritating traits because of one simple reason -- It takes a lot of time and talent to create a good user interface/desktop environment. I would think that HP has slapped on a pretty but buggy and quickly developed layer over gnome to make it look c

      • 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.

  • So.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:08PM (#26971501) Homepage Journal
    What proportion of Dell Inspirons are running pirated XP? My guess - around 32%.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 netb
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I use one as my work computer, to be fair I am a linux sysadmin. I do plug a mighty IBM type M keyboard into it, and have an external monitor.

        If you get one install ubuntu or another normal distro, then add a 2GB stick of ram.

    • by SysPig (63656)

      In all seriousness...there are likely many that were bought with XP, to be replaced with Linux.

      Reason being - there have been some tremendous sales in the Dell Outlet Store over the last couple of months, but they are usually loaded with XP. The refurb I picked up, was far cheaper than a new Ubuntu Mini 9, with more options - but came loaded with XP.

    • What proportion of Dell Inspirons are running pirated XP? My guess - around 32%.

      Doubtful. All that anti-piracy work that MS has put into Windows really pays off in cases like this - only the relatively hardcore are going to go to the effort of getting a pirate copy of XP and then trust that it is not compromised with pre-loaded trojans and the like.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:31PM (#26971991)

      Oh no, maybe .001% of people are doing that.
      The number of hackintoshes on planet earth is probably in the hundreds total.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jason Earl (1894)

      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 t

      • 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

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jason Earl (1894)

          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 t

  • 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.
    • by tknd (979052)

      Correct. I'm one of the first owners of the first eee 900 (mine has a celeron). I purposely bought the linux version because it came with a larger SSD for the same price. I have the stock linux install a shot but it was too anemic for my needs. Later I tried ubuntu but it was too slow. Now I mostly use windows XP on it.

      Dell also probably has a somewhat more tech savvy crowd since most of the sales are through a website. These aren't the same people that walk into bestbuy and don't know the difference betw

    • Assuming that it is true that loads of people are installing Microsoft Windows XP on their Linux-powered Dell Inspiron netbooks (which I'm not sure is true, since the original article didn't mention that), it doesn't really matter. A Linux sale is a Linux sale. When the Dell managers evaluate their future strategies, how much will they consider whether XP was installed post-sale? Very little.

      And the same is true for Dell's competitors. If Dell's competitors see that they can move product in a down market by installing Linux on the machines, will they spend much time contemplating whether XP is installed on the machines? Probably not.

      Most OEMs have small margins on their sales of all but the upper-end machines. Volume is what matters. Hence the power of Microsoft Windows. At least until today. For OEMs and pretty much everyone in the channel, volume is what matters. As of today, they will know that Linux distros have proven that they can drive one-third of that volume. That is what really matters.

      And it gets better. As Linux-related desktop sales increase, you will see more and more third party vendors, such as 2dBoy, port their products to Linux, as maker of the popular indy game World of Goo [slashdot.org] has recently done.

      Volume is king. And now Linux is seeing some significant volume sales.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Patch86 (1465427)

      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 sh

  • Got my wife an Ubuntu Mini 9 (up-spec'd) for her writing. She loves it. She writes in OO.o on it, NeoOffice on the Mac, and Google Docs elsewhere. I recently started using it to do math work (python, octave, lyx), since it fits on the desk nicely next my texts and weighs less than most of 'em. Wow. I can't recommend it enough. If you have large hands though, wait for the Mini 10 or get the 12. The keys on the Mini 9 are pretty small ;-).
     
    -Ghostis

    • by ghostis (165022)

      Also, I zapped the cutesy Dell menu (it's a menu setting) and the yahoo toolbar package on day one.

  • Anyone using one of these as a hackintosh, I'd like to know about the experience.
  • It's not a distro responsibility to make sure all the devices have current drivers, it's the manufacturer's job to do that.

    DEMAND THEY DO IT.

    And accept nothing less.

  • the year of Linux on the nettop!
  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:49PM (#26974021) Homepage
    "1 of 3 Dell Inspiron Mini Notebooks sold with Linux"

    "1 of 3" and not "1 in 3"? Big deal. So Dell sold 1 notebook with Linux. How is that going to put a dent in Microsoft's market share?
  • by shermozle (126249) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:52PM (#26976833) Homepage

    No Linux version here in Australia. If it's accounting for 1/3 of sales, why the hell isn't it available?

    I certainly won't buy the Windows version, but I'd definitely consider the Linux version.

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