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January 12, 2004

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MozillaQuest Op-Ed

Does Dell Support Linux?

Mike Angelo -- 12 January 2004 (C) -- Page 4

Article Index
To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Summary and Conclusions

At the time this article is being written, Dell's support of the GNU-Linux operating system and other Open Source and Free Software appears to be token support at best. Moreover, it seems to be somewhat anti-Linux, anti-Open-Source Software, and anti-Free Software.

We asked the Dell spokespeople what Dell does to contribute to Linux kernel, GNU-Linux operating system, and other Open Source and Free Software development and infrastructure. Their overly terse and woefully insufficient answer there was that Dell sponsors OSDL and FSF. However, they would not say just what Dell actually contributes in so sponsoring OSDL (Open Source Development Lab) and FSF (Free Software Foundation).

Therefore and all in all, we feel constrained to put Dell in the GNU-Linux operating system and other Open Source and Free Software exploiter category rather than the supporter category at this time.

What perhaps is and will be more interesting than Dell's current exploitation and merely token support of the GNU-Linux operating system and other Open Source and Free Software will be whether Dell moves from such token support to real, solid support for the GNU-Linux operating system and other Open Source and Free Software.

Hopefully Dell will make a selection of good desktop GNU-Linux distributions available as a pre-installed OS on most if not all its Dell computers. Moreover, hopefully, Dell will list and promote the Linux OS options just as prominently as it lists and promotes the MS-Windows OS options. And hopefully Dell will tell the readers of its print ads and the viewers of its TV commercials that GNU-Linux is available on all its computers.

Figure 4. Screen shot of part of Dell Desktops Web page. Please note the only operating system listed in the Recommended Systems descriptions is Windows XP.

Also and importantly, Dell hopefully will educate its sales force about the GNU-Linux OS plus Open Source and Free Software. Moreover, hopefully whenever a caller asks about an OS or whenever a Dell salesperson discusses OSs with callers and customers, that salesperson will make sure the caller/customer is made aware that Linux-based Dell computers can be ordered and purchased. Hopefully, Dell will have that item accomplished by the time you read this article.

Perhaps this is too much to hope for. However, Dell's rather limited, token, GNU-Linux system offerings and its sponsorship of the FSF and the OSDL are a small step in the right direction. The question now is whether Dell will step all the way up to the plate and fully support and promote the GNU-Linux operating system and other Open Source and Free Software.

Dell's spokespeople seem to make it clear that Dell is not going to promote Linux. Rather Dell only will respond to consumer demand for Linux-based systems. One problem with that is, will Dell's anti-Linux sales force let the Dell powers that be know if there is a demand for Linux-based computers?

  • Books


The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, Martin Fink, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-047677-3. $27



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