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If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

This Guardian article argues that selling Linux-installed systems is not as easy a thing for Dell to do as one might expect. "Cost savings also come directly from Microsoft and Intel in the form of discounts and cooperative advertising support for the use of logos, and so on. These schemes don't exist for Linux. But will the tens of thousands of Linux supporters 'Digging' the idea on IdeaStorm ever turn into paying customers? I can't speak for Dell on this, but I suspect very few will. Worse, those few are mostly the sort of buyer no-one really wants."
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If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 15:40 UTC (Thu) by mmarq (guest, #2332) [Link]

"" Cost savings also come directly from Microsoft and Intel in the form of discounts and cooperative advertising support for the use of logos, and so on. These schemes don't exist for Linux. ""

Cost savings ??

If that were the reason Dell would have Linux pre-installed years ago. I belive the reason is the same why IBM dont have a Linux distro... even so IBM couldnt avoid a SCO agressor.

So the trade off is between Dell having a terrific cost saving and financial gain with Linux and avoiding a very expensive total agressive war by the powers in goverment of the actual IT paradigma, namely Microsoft.

And to reenforce my point, would anyone belive that the most convicted entreprise in terms of IP litigation, is seeking justice claiming IP loses and condemning Open Source ?... shame was erased from MS dictionary long time ago!

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:10 UTC (Thu) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

I have no idea how to parse the above.

Dell gets paid by Intel and Microsoft to display their logos etc. So does every large manufacturer. In the cut-throat business of making computers, these 'subsidies' are what differentiates profit from loss. As someone at IBM told me in 1999.. it was the only way they could justify doing laptops/desktops (which I guess they eventually couldnt do anymore and sold it to a Chinese manufacturer).

These could be looked as bribes etc from monopoly companies.. but it is doubtful that it could be prosecuted in any country (the EU might, but they would have to add further subsidies to their own local companies that get similar payments...)

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:41 UTC (Thu) by AJWM (guest, #15888) [Link]

> Dell gets paid by Intel and Microsoft to display their logos etc.

No doubt. The Intel thing is a red herring, since we're talking software, not hardware.

The real question is: is Dell's (cost_of_windows - msft_logo_rebate) less than (cost_of_linux) or not? If Dell goes with a free Linux distro, then clearly not -- unless MSFT is actually paying Dell to preload Windows, which raises all sorts of anti-trust flags.

And don't talk about support costs either: as an OEM vendor, Dell is stuck with supporting Windows anyway.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 17:09 UTC (Thu) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

The way to get costs low is to do mass production, and have all products be the same. Doing anything differently has a cost. Supporting customers has a cost.

Microsoft charges Dell or HP about $50 per Windows license, but then it gets money back not only from Microsoft, but also from other companies in exchange for bundling their "30-day trial" anti-virus programs, AOL, Earthlink and the like. In the end, it's not that far from free to them, after all the subsidies are included.

Meanwhile, bundling Linux is not free, because it has to be supported.

We should not expect to save money by buying a machine from a large manufacturer with Linux instead of Windows (unless it's a large order for a company where all the machines are identical, allowing the seller to save on the custom work).

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 17:31 UTC (Thu) by pheldens (guest, #19366) [Link]

What about selling them without software support? Or let a specialized company do it optionally, like with extended warranty bundles.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 9, 2007 3:20 UTC (Fri) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Plus Dell doesn't realy _do_ Microsoft support.

You call them up, they make sure it's not hardware, then they tell you to call Microsoft.

That's how these places do their business, not that I ever called Dell for anything, but that's what I understand.

What would be smart is for Ubuntu or Novell to tell Dell to bundle free (no cost) versions of their software with the Dell PC. Then Dell should have a option to purchase software support. Maybe 'Pro' versions.

Novell/Ubuntu gets the the money from the support contracts and Dell gets it's kick back.

Customers get their support if they want. Dell gets it's kick back. Ubuntu/Novell gets more business.

Everybody is happy, everybody gets a good chance to make money and ultimately Ubuntu/Novell gets more experiance dealing with real-world end users and their complaints and problems and eventually the quality of the software improves.

Then people can use that experiance to find out what would be required for general home use for Linux.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 19:50 UTC (Thu) by mmarq (guest, #2332) [Link]

"" Microsoft charges Dell or HP about $50 per Windows license, but then it gets money back not only from Microsoft, but also from other companies in exchange for bundling their "30-day trial" anti-virus programs, AOL, Earthlink and the like. In the end, it's not that far from free to them, after all the subsidies are included. ""

It would be very interresting being able to do that accounting clearly. But guess nobody will clearly manage to do it, because trade agreements are reserved, not public...

Nevertheless 10.000 boxes a year at 50$ is 1/2 million for license. Subsidies for the CrapOS world, are lets say 40$ a box. So the year cost is 100.000$ (500k $ license - 400k $ subsidies) for the software part of the business ?...

In Linux camp lest suppose that subsidies can be arranged at close to 4$(10 times less than for MSFT world) a box, say 40.000$ a year for 10k boxes. Cant Linspire, Mandriva, Suse, Red Hat, Xandros, Ubuntu... say to Dell:- * We can manage a special distro repository for you Dell, with full support for say 35.000$ a year * [??] So the year cost is - 5.000$ (35k $ repository - 40k $ subsidies) for the software part of the business ?...

Ok this is speculation, but the funny thing is that Dell would be receiving 5K $ a year for the software part of the business, and could be saving more in support cost than with windows!... Go for 30k boxes, and the same exact machine could be easly 30 $ cheaper with Linux pre-installed than with windows and still Dell would be making a larger profit with Linux than with windows !

--------------------------------------------------------------------

In the same line of thought for 1000 boxes, meaning a small regional OEM retailer, in the same conditions and *keeping the same price points as with the Dell example above *, the software part of the bussines would cost them 31.000$ a year with Linux pre-installed and 20.000$ with windows pre-installed. Aparentelly windows has an advantage here.

And i say aparentelly because i doubt that they can keep at least the double of the price points of Dell in the MSFT business world, that is, 10$(license-subsidie) a box for Dell, and at least 20$(license-subsidie) for the small OEM/retailer.

But in here, doubling also the price points of Dell in the Linux camp could only be logically for the subsidies, that is, they get half the amount of Dell for a box (2$), because repositorys(less stuff) prices and support tend to be cheaper and not expensivier as in volume licenses discounts. Nevertheless for the sake of argument, lets say as reference that the box price for a small OEM/retailer is 33$(repository-subsidie) for an equivalent Linux machine and for a *Top Special Repository*.

So continuing in that price line of thought, requires a Linux distro to arrange an offering of a special distro repository with support for less than 23k $ a year for them(the small OEM/retailer) to have an advantage using Linux.

The distro repository price dosent seems to be a problem at all if proper conditions are arranged. The problem is that those small OEM retailers really lack some Linux expertize (i think LPI)... and have lots of fear !

------------------------------------------------------------

* In the end is not cost savings that are stoping HP or Dell from Linux pre-install, is *other* reasons. *

The other funny thing is that the lesson that the old unix world learned very late(no offense), is that is the small guy that is *pushing foward by adopting* the IT paradigma since computers start to be ubiquitous.. meaning that if HP and Dell starts selling only Linux boxes that wouldnt translate in a imediate *world domination* for the Linux camp.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 19:52 UTC (Thu) by AJWM (guest, #15888) [Link]

> Meanwhile, bundling Linux is not free, because it has to be supported.

Go back and re-read what I said about support costs. I'll wait.

Now, if you need that explained to you: part of the deal that Microsoft has with OEM vendors is that the OEM vendor is the first line of support for Windows on those platforms. I rather suspect that's not a cheap prospect, either.

If Microsoft is giving more money to Dell for putting Windows on the hardware (whether it's nominally for logo stickers or whatever) than it is receiving from Dell in payment for the OEM copies, then they've got some 'splaining to do to the DOJ. (Or would, if the antitrust division cared.)

Third party branding subsidies (AOL, etc) are an aside. I'm sure if Dell were interested they could get some bucks for throwing those logos onto a Linux desktop too.

Owning the operating system is not profitable says Microsoft

Posted Mar 10, 2007 0:32 UTC (Sat) by hozelda (guest, #19341) [Link]

Linux is a superior platform on which Dell and anyone can make money. The only problem is that Dell is not ready with a plan. Companies that are much smaller than Dell sell reasonably priced Linux pre-installs. How could that be that Linux pre-installs would be so expensive? Excuses by Dell are because of the Microsoft connection and their lag in preparation/investments on Linux.

There are many companies that would pay Dell to advertise on a Linux desktop. I'll be more precise, there is a lot of money to be made selling local and global advertizing space on a pre-install. Dell may just not be amongst those most able and willing to take advantage of those opportunities. Google, with their actual engineers, is a lot more capable. Consider the localization of advertizement. That involves a certain amount of technology to make it cheap. Dell is so out of shape after so many years of dealing with only a few large partners that provide it with all the ad deals it uses.

This is all about the actual company having all the tools ready and for them to be willing. The timing is great for someone to go in if they were ready. The market is young. Perhaps too young for a Dell but not for a young "Red Hat" [or for an old Red Hat]. Dell will wait and then try to buy out such a young "Red Hat."

A Linux pre-load allows a lot more (good) software to be packed in than with Microsoft. A Dell customized OpenOffice and desktop well-integrated allows Dell to cut Microsoft out of the scene. Rather than Microsoft getting MSN exposure for free, it would now have to pay Dell. Sure, MS pays Dell rebates, sure, but MS was able to make so much money in the first place to pay those rebates and make huge profits.

***There is no way that controlling the operating system and its real estate is worse than paying a monopolist.***

Of course, Dell may not be the one to take up this challenge. Don't expect anything but excuses from them and writers representing them until Dell has a plan ready to go and suddenly claims they are the most Linux friendly company in our solar system.

[It is sickening almost, all the ways that Microsoft can make money only because they control the operating system. This extends to their portfolio of products which includes XBox, MSN and website ads and users, other Microsoft products and the supposed advantage of easy integration. To think that it would ever be better to defer to Microsoft's judgement and lead instead of seizing the bull by the horns is laughable [LOL]. If Dell was anything but MS's plaything, they would have MS on their knees trying to compete with Google, OpenOffice, etc. Of course, it is true that MS could threaten to go with HP.. oh, wait, didn't they do that already. Oh and let's not forget Novell. Maybe Microsoft can survive and share the desktop space (including upcoming marketshare loss to Linux) with their partner Novell. A duopoly is not as good as a monopoly, but is about the best opportunity Microsoft has right now.]

One more thing, a Linux experience with actual useful local ads and no trojanware and more stability and lots more free applications is likely to result in much happier customers who will come back and spend their saved dollars with the same company, except on higher margin services and products (including more non-MS software) and customized Linux add-ons...

Dell is lost and out of it. Look for any of the groups with growing expertese customizing distros and who have a lot of automation and deep knowledge to be the next Red Hat. Dell will try to buy them six months to 2 years into the future.

Disclaimer: the preceding involves information uncovered in part from crystal balls that have been known to fortell the wrong future.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:48 UTC (Thu) by mmarq (guest, #2332) [Link]

The point is

"" Dell gets paid by Intel and Microsoft to display their logos etc... "

Couldnt they have an even greater profit from *cost of software minus marketing incentive (logos etc)* with Linux than with Windows ?

Linspire, Mandriva, Suse, Red Hat, Xandros, Ubuntu... can also provide marketing incentives, though those incentives are probabily much smaller than Windows ones, nevertheless the software and support cost can be much smaller than Windows, making the difference worthwhile for the Linux camp.

So Dell anounces Linux intentions to raise those 'subsidies' values, while MS treatens IP law actions, to keep Dell and others from 'greedy' and to keep them inline... (gush!)

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:28 UTC (Thu) by mmarq (guest, #2332) [Link]

well i was reading superficially... but Jack schofield did worst, because he never seriously tryed to work with Linux. He is reciting from the same old bible written by the same old corrupted priests.

"" The most obvious is deciding which version of Linux to offer. There are more than 100 distros, and everybody seems to want a different one - or the same one with a different desktop, or whatever. ""

.- LSB *is* a standard, though it could be better.

.- Nevertheless why is that every Linux distro has to be exactly the same ? what is the point ?

.- Does or does not every commercial intended distro, like Linspire, Mandriva, Suse, Red Hat, Xandros, Ubuntu... offer every app needed incluiding possibility to network install, in a no *user hassle*, even closed source comercial ones ?

.- Couldnt Dell just pick one(or maybe more than one), and work with it, which it thinks is the best, and avoid the cost of trying to push an over standardization ?

"" The less obvious problem is the very high cost of Linux support, especially when selling cheap PCs to naïve users who don't RTFM (read the friendly manual) and wouldn't understand a Linux manual if they tried ""

Obviously Jack Schofield never tryed to sell a PC in is live and provide support for it. "naïve users" can be so marketing brainwashed unaware, that they are a gold mine for MS, taking blame for Windows(R) crap, and at the same time be a liability for MS good name by providing thounsands and thousands of *Zombie Drones* for crackers to launch DDOS attacks.

.- which PC selling entreprise, in the low level retail business, has lost count of the costumers that read manuals upon buying a Wintel machine(they are soo few) ?... Cant Linux help in here by reduzing support cost in incidents, because it is much more secure with SELinux and tough network security than Windows ?... sure it can!

.- which PC selling entreprise, in the corporate business, has never found in a reasonably good IT department anyone that could manage Linux and understand manuals !??... (bahh... the same old TOC FUD mantra)


If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:34 UTC (Thu) by epeeist (guest, #1743) [Link]

> but Jack schofield did worst, because he never seriously tryed to work with Linux

Jack is the UK equivalent of Rob Enderle. His tongue is a bit longer, but that is because of the distance between the UK and Redmond.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 17:15 UTC (Thu) by michaeljt (subscriber, #39183) [Link]

> .- LSB *is* a standard, though it could be better.
Having worked in technical support in my student days, I could well understand if Dell did not want to try to "support the LSB". Providing support for any OS is quite an undertaking, and even the configurability of Windows XP over its predecessors makes it quite a bit harder for support people. "The LSB" is a very configurable operating system.

> .- which PC selling entreprise, in the corporate business, has never found
> in a reasonably good IT department anyone that could manage Linux and
> understand manuals !??... (bahh... the same old TOC FUD mantra)
I thought that Dell were already selling Linux to companies (servers of course, but then I don't think that most companies are ready for Linux desktop PCs - they are at least familiar with the drawbacks of Windows and risk-averse). I thought that we were talking about selling to end-users here.

Perhaps what Dell might be able to do would be teaming up with one (or more) Linux distros who were willing to take on the entire support side - including making sure that the hardware on the systems sold worked well with the distro - for a fee per system. That would save them at least the retraining costs. The question would then be how high that fee would be, as compared to the price of Windows minus sticker subsidies minus "crapware" kickbacks (to use the authors terminology). Perhaps Linspire would also be able to provide some "crapware kickback" on the Linux side, but I honestly wouldn't count very much on that one.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 20:34 UTC (Thu) by mmarq (guest, #2332) [Link]

"" ...servers of course, but then I don't think that most companies are ready for Linux desktop PCs - they are at least familiar with the drawbacks of Windows and risk-averse). I thought that we were talking about selling to end-users here. ""

Well you are right if the idea is to do a complete transition at once... but that could go in a *very manageable* piece meal fashion.

With end users that could be much more faster and radical.

The problem is the Small Medium Business, with very small IT departments and whose IT suppliers tend to be smaller and expertize lacking at many levels. Nevertheless i belive with the proper arrangements (Linux XP as example) those SMBs can gain financially and technically from a parcial transition to Linux.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 20:53 UTC (Thu) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

> > .- LSB *is* a standard, though it could be better.
> Having worked in technical support in my student days, I
> could well understand if Dell did not want to try to "support the
> LSB". Providing support for any OS is quite an undertaking, and even
> the configurability of Windows XP over its predecessors makes it
> quite a bit harder for support people.

Having worked in support at a high level over multiple companies over many years, I have say I cannot undestand this position at all. Limiting support costs doesn't come down to "everyone read off the same cuecard", it's about providing a clear demarkation of what you do and don't provide for the customers, and which parts are yours and their responsibility. By having this demarkation you avoid doing all the unnecessary work that foolish support departments waste their time with. The LSB is exactly such a demarkation.

You can take a problem description, look at the LSB spec, and look a the behavior in the wild, and easily decide if this is a problem in the implementation or a problem in the usage. Thus, it because a A Simple Matter of Code for the platform provider, or the customer must complain to the software vendor, or their own inhouse staff who have obviously screwed up.

There'll be some gray cases for sure, but programming interfaces which define a boundary of responsibility are the support department's FRIENDS.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:08 UTC (Thu) by stumbles (guest, #8796) [Link]

These schemes don't exist for Linux

So lets see if I understand this right. The theory as postulated by the Guardian and appears to be supported by Dell is that the only way Dell can make money selling PCs is by kickbacks from Microsoft? That's how it sounds to me.

So again lets see something. It would cost Dell nothing do download a Linux distro and doesn't matter which one they choose. Ok, it would cost them a small about of employee time/network connectivity but really those are already there so in my view that cost is really a wash.

Now they have a distro, lets say Redhat. They certify it works on some line of PCs. Is Redhat going to kickback some money for Dell to do this? Not likely. Why would they, it's free advertising. Ok so maybe Redhat charges them 10 bucks or what ever. Is Redhat going to demand some kind of licensing fee for Dell to use their logo? Umm, maybe but I don't see where Redhat would really mind all that much so long as Dell uses it for just that. So I'm still wondering just how it can cost Dell more when there is zero cost or substantially less in the OS to start with.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:18 UTC (Thu) by charlieb (subscriber, #23340) [Link]

What you are missing is that Micro$oft is making so much extra money for software through lack of effective competition (because of their illegal monopoly) that they can subsidise hardware via kickbacks (sorry, advertising).

Does Dell still pay the Windows tax even for computers sold without Windows?

FTR, I don't want Dell installed linux, I just want:

1) not to pay the Redmond tax
2) hardware which works with linux

The kickbacks don't come from Microsoft

Posted Mar 8, 2007 17:13 UTC (Thu) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

If you buy a Windows PC from a big manufacturer, it will come, typically, with a 30-day license for an anti-virus program, and a bunch of offers from Internet service providers as well as who knows who else. There may be a variety of cheapie bundled programs that contain ads to buy some other, more expensive program. Dell or HP has to pay Microsoft about $50 for the OEM license. If they can recover $50 from all of the people who want to bundle their crap on the box, treating the desktop as advertising, then they've obtained all of the software for zero cost.

In practice, they probably won't manage to recover the full $50. But the point is, they aren't going to save money by going with Linux instead, not unless they turn your Linux desktop into the same ad-covered bunch of crap that you get when you boot up a Windows PC for the first time.

The kickbacks don't come from Microsoft

Posted Mar 8, 2007 21:27 UTC (Thu) by kh (subscriber, #19413) [Link]

I believe Dell pays MS per computer shipped, not per Windows license shipped, irregardless of what is on the hard drive (servers are different I think). To do anything different would put Dell into a position where the per license fee would skyrocket to something very near retail cost, and the accounting and auditing from MS would probably push it even closer to retail.

Personally, I wonder if this is not exactly why IBM got out of the pc business, it's the only big guy in the US that is not under Microsoft's thumb anymore. It must feel really nice.

The kickbacks don't come from Microsoft

Posted Mar 9, 2007 1:50 UTC (Fri) by rahvin (subscriber, #16953) [Link]

Assuming for a moment that they are reimbursed for additional programs advertised on the desktop to a level that compensates them for the cost of the windows OS doesn't make windows free. The same argument about support costs that applies to Linux also applies to Windows.

Dell's arguement about the cost of Linux has never been the cost of the product, it's always centered on the support costs. Running dual, triple or quad support centers for the different vendors/OS's simply to try to diagnose hardware problems would quickly make them non-competitive. Not only that, but all their support software and script systems for the level 1 techs (who invariably handle 90% of calls with simple fixes) would need to be customized to another OS, and then a seperate group of techs would need to be trained on those scripts.

To address the myriad of differences between the different vendor versions of Linux in troubleshooting is quite cost prohibitive. (ie. if you are having a boot problem, is it system V or BSD Init, is it Redhat System V, or Debian Init, or Gentoo, or any of the other distributions that use completely different startups, then how do you identify if it's hardware or software related?) Frankly windows provides a common platform, and has generally simple (albeit unhelpful) steps to narrow down a problem. All of Dell's support infrastructure is built around the windows system. Adding even a single Linux OS to that system would nearly double their support costs just because they need a whole separate group to troubleshoot the problem the Linux way (or the Redhat way, or the Debian way), let alone adding 3 or 4 different systems that even though they can run the same binaries and kernel's are completely different operating systems. And not just in the tools included, but the entire structure of where files are, and the privileges different tools run under.

Support costs are the straw that broke the possibility. Dell might go the HP route and offer Linux pre-installed on desktops to corporate customers that handle their own support, but I doubt you will ever see it in the residential sales (an area DELL is actually quite weak in) as the complaints would damage the brand more than the not selling Linux would be.

The kickbacks don't come from Microsoft

Posted Mar 9, 2007 6:42 UTC (Fri) by rqosa (subscriber, #24136) [Link]

> To address the myriad of differences between the different vendor versions of Linux in troubleshooting is quite cost prohibitive.

Then they could just pre-load only one distro and refuse to support any other.

The kickbacks don't come from Microsoft

Posted Mar 9, 2007 14:44 UTC (Fri) by akumria (subscriber, #7773) [Link]

Dell's arguement[sic] about the cost of Linux has never been the cost of the product, it's always centered on the support costs. Running dual, triple or quad support centers for the different vendors/OS's simply to try to diagnose hardware problems would quickly make them non-competitive.

Or, alternatively, they could simply ship a hardware diagnostic CD/USB key/etc. with each machine. Yes, there are issues about people not having it handy but those are separate issues.

Not only that, but all their support software and script systems for the level 1 techs (who invariably handle 90% of calls with simple fixes) would need to be customized to another OS, and then a seperate[sic] group of techs would need to be trained on those scripts.

I'm not sure how often you've used Dell support but those 'scripts' are invariably out of date anyway. And I'm just talking about Windows here (e.g. Windows XP SP1 -> Windows XP SP2).

Generating the 'scripts' is a one-off cost that Dell have to pay for multiple versions and variants of Windows (2003, XP, Vista + various service packs); so they ought have the infrastructure to be able to generate and handle that.

And generating 'scripts' for Linux is no different than for Windows.

The kickbacks don't come from Microsoft

Posted Mar 9, 2007 8:59 UTC (Fri) by tzafrir (subscriber, #11501) [Link]

Such nagwares don't work well with the standard Linux desktop, and the support cost which they cause will probably be higher than the kick-back.

However you can sure sell space on the defalt bookmarks, default hommepage, and other stuff.

For an ISP: ISPs that are "certified" by Dell (for a fee) will be guaranteed to be included on the various network setup wizards.

I'm sure that there are some useful services you could try to sell through a Linux desktop.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:36 UTC (Thu) by jimmybgood (guest, #26142) [Link]


Worse, those few are mostly the sort of buyer no-one really wants.

I have no experience or insight that would allow me to evaluate this claim. I could speculate, of course. I love to speculate. It would have been more appropriate, though, for the author to have provided some sort of support, explanation or rationale for the claim.

Really, why would a business not want one of those Linux supporters to buy a computer? I'd love to hear something from someone who understands the logic that large businesses use to make marketing decisions.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:52 UTC (Thu) by tetromino (subscriber, #33846) [Link]

> It would have been more appropriate, though, for the author to have provided some sort of support, explanation or rationale for the claim.

The author did provide a (flawed) explanation.
quote: "Look at how Dell works. You see a headline for a fantastic deal for only £299 or whatever, go to the Dell site and end up buying something for twice the price. It only takes a minor upgrade here and there, a bigger hard drive and a bit of software. Then you treat yourself to a camera, add three years of support and it's done. All the profit is in the up-sell.
What Dell really needs are more high-end gamers who buy top-spec PCs in fancy cases for £2,500 or more, not low-end Linux users looking to save £25 on Windows."

In other words, Schofield is arguing that the only reason anyone would want buy Linux would be to save £25. Which is of course total b.s. I think this may be a side effect of the "open source is cheaper" publicity that the community has been pushing. Uninformed outsiders now think that "Linux is cheaper than Windows" instead of "Linux is *better* than Windows (and also cheaper)".

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 20:56 UTC (Thu) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

Yeah, Linux customers can be trivially upsold as well. I'm living proof.

Hard customers

Posted Mar 9, 2007 7:05 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

So the problem is that Dell's customers are idiots who are up-sold because they don't know better? Frankly, I have several times browsed their site and those "up-sells" get to my nerves, especially when they charge something like 100 € for 1 GB of RAM (in a laptop).

But that is not how it works. You have a budget, you add things until you blow it: those 50 € you save on Windows will usually be spent on something else. If you build your own machines you know what I mean! It is a pity that you cannot buy a decent laptop from parts.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 19, 2007 9:52 UTC (Mon) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

Except most Linux-users are at this point highly technical, heavy users who go for above-average desktops and laptops.

Saving $25 on Windows is completely beside the point.

  • Getting hardware that I know will work with Linux is a point.
  • Avoiding sending money to companies that actively works against my interests is a point.

I'm more likely to go for the $1999 laptop than the $999 one, and I think if you took a survey on for example this site, you'd find that the population here spends a lot more than average on computers and add-ons.

too smart and picky generally

Posted Mar 10, 2007 10:48 UTC (Sat) by gvy (guest, #11981) [Link]

"Pro" customers tend to be troublesome, especially if one decides to choose something from lower-end segment and finds absolutely no satisfaction for the money paid (including quite thin margin for the vendor usually).

Those who are both pro and higher-end customers usually just don't bother vendor for support since they're way more qualified to support themselves (I kid you not -- it's, for example, the case for Linux server hardware support by one of local vendors for one of local mobile operators). So the vendor might as well not know (especially in marketing dept) that another heavily solicited customer actually does run Linux (but doesn't ask stupid questions).

I guess it's an important point that Guardian seems to have missed, but in general their warning about Linux users being minority and bad customers is pretty valid to me. With the above amendment ;)

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 16:38 UTC (Thu) by tetromino (subscriber, #33846) [Link]

This really is not that hard.

Selling Linux systems will get Dell more sales and more money - say $X per year after subtracting manufacturing costs.

However, selling Linux systems will require Dell to teach their tech support drones a whole new series of scripts for dealing with common Linux problems on Dell hardware. They may even need to hire more people. That costs money - say $Y per year.

Finally, some of the Linux systems will cannibalize Dell's Windows sales - which means no kickbacks from Microsoft and all the crapware vendors that bribe Dell to preinstall their useless products. So that's $Z less kickbacks per year.

Seems that for servers, $X - $Y - $Z > 0, so Dell sells Linux preinstalled.

But for desktops, the result is different...

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 8, 2007 23:53 UTC (Thu) by JohnNilsson (guest, #41242) [Link]

Wouldn't it be against the GPL to ship pre-installed Linux? I mean you can't really get a workin laptop without som non GPL-compatible componetns, right?

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 9, 2007 3:28 UTC (Fri) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

""Wouldn't it be against the GPL to ship pre-installed Linux? I mean you can't really get a workin laptop without som non GPL-compatible componetns, right?""

Absolutely not.

I have NO non-GPL drivers on any of my machines and I have wireless, 3D and 2D acceleration, network, SATA MD raid. etc etc.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 9, 2007 3:35 UTC (Fri) by neilbrown (subscriber, #359) [Link]

My laptop works just fine with no closed-source code (Well, there is the
BIOS...). Even my previous laptop with NVidia graphics did OK.

Of course it isn't all GPL - e.g. the X server is under a separate license. But it is still free.

So no, it isn't against the GPL to ship pre-installed Linux, just as long
as you don't include illegal binary-only kernel modules.

If any laptop manufacturer sells hardware that is guaranteed to run Linux
with no closed drivers, I suspect they would get a big slab of the dollars
spent by free/open enthusiasts.

Certainly the Open driver is what made me choose Intel graphics for two
recent purchases, and the fact that Dell would sell me a Latitude with
no OS made me look a lot closer at their offerings, and eventually buy
one (I love a 1920x1200 screen!)

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 11, 2007 17:25 UTC (Sun) by dps (subscriber, #5725) [Link]

I personally would not buy a linux compatible PC to save money (but *do* object to pay M$ for a copy of windows which I do not want). Linux works the same way a SUN hardware and is compatible with many large cluster, an area in which I hope to get paid to play :-)

I might buy skewd systems with a recent, but not the latest high premium, processor and lots RAM but minimal graphics. I understand this might reduce the profit margin.

I also unlikely to buy a display or value anything wireless as wires are just as convenient, faster and not affected by walls or RF noise.I do have a 4 way KVM switch and 8 port wired switch (10/100) but no wireless base station, so my judgement might be clouded.

If you think selling Linux is easy, why not beat Dell to it? (Guardian)

Posted Mar 12, 2007 9:34 UTC (Mon) by amikins (guest, #451) [Link]

I've found that for almost all of my workloads, save moving multi-gigabyte files and benchmarking, close range 802.11g is effectively indistinguishable from 100mbps ethernet. The latency is effectively the same, and with good transcievers on each end, walls aren't as big an issue as you might think. At a previous residence, the WAP was in the BASEMENT of a two story house. The basement door was nearly always shut, and laptops all the way in the upper floor worked just fine, albeit at reduced speed. Machines on the ground floor functioned with nearly no performance loss.


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