What to Expect from Dell's Ubuntu Machines (Hint: It's Fantastic for Linux Users Who Don't Buy Dell)

Illustration for article titled What to Expect from Dells Ubuntu Machines (Hint: Its Fantastic for Linux Users Who Dont Buy Dell)

Now that Dell's on the verge of shipping Ubuntu-installed computers, potential Linux converters could have some questions as to what they're getting when they buy the package. Dell's got some answers.

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First off, Dell's going to be shipping the default install of Ubuntu. However, when it comes to drivers, they're going to be supporting a subset of other OS installations, and using some closed source drivers when it's necessary—as in, when there's no equivalent open source version. For you, this means better compatibility.

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However, the fact that Dell is entering this Linux game means they're going to push people hard to make drivers compatible and/or open source. Fantastic for Linux users.

As for peripherals, Dell is going to set up a wiki page so you can see which ones are supported and what problems they have. This includes printers, which they recommend you buy from Dell (shocker).

For other hardware, Dell is working on adding support in conjunction with other manufacturers, which means it's actually great news for Linux fans since a big manufacturer like Dell will lean hard on peripheral makers to provide Linux compatibility.

The bad news is they're not going to support any "proprietary audio or video codecs" like MPEG 1/2/3/4, WMA, WMV, DVD, Quicktime and others. If you want those, you're going to have to install them yourself.

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Ubuntu 7.04 Offering—Technical Details [Direct2Dell]

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DISCUSSION

Agreed, this is nothing more than Dell marketing. They will not be selling a whole bunch of Ubuntu boxes - most people can't even pronounce it, let alone know how to use it.

Speaking of dumb people trying Ubuntu — I dual booted by IBM Thinkpad a while back and run both Ubuntu and XP, and I have to say that I rarely use Ubuntu. Sure, it is pretty, but it is not a particularly user friendly operating system. Having it use (read and write) an NTFS partition is a nightmare, getting it to use a DVD or play an MP3 file is torture — it simply does not do 'out of the box' what most people will want it to do. I will fully admit that it my be my own stupidity, but I am going to bet that the majority of computer users are in my category and would find using Ubuntu a frustrating experience.

That said, I am still glad Dell is doing it, if for no other reason than to raise awareness.