The story of Dell and Linux is a long and complicated one. In the past, Dell has gone back and forth, for a brief time allowing you to purchase a computer without windows (presumably so you can install Linux on it at home), but mostly (and most recently) not.
Since being outpaced by HP in total sales, and knocked down from it’s #1 spot in new computer sales, Dell has launched IdeaStorm, a website where users can suggest ways for Dell to
make money better cater to its customers. This is actually a great site. You can create suggestions, and then vote on which suggestions you think are the best. With over 50,000 people voting so far, Dell gets a pretty good idea of what people are interested in, and can tune their product line accordingly.
Now here is the most interesting part; 4 out of the the top 5 suggestions are to load Open Source software on shipping Dell computers:
- Provide a Linux Multiboot option
- Provide pre-installed Open Office
- Provide Linux Singleboot for laptops
- Ship with no OS
- Install Firefox as the default web browser
While this feedback does show how far Linux and other open source software has come in public awareness in the past few years, it should also come as a wakeup call to computer manufacturer: Try providing software to users that they actually want.
It’s worth noting that the next most-popular feedback Dell received is to stop pre-loading new computers with “crap-ware.” This is something that all current computer manufacturers are guilty of today, and if you’ve bought a new computer in the past few years you know what it means.
I don’t care how hip desktop search is in the media — I’ve never (not even once) had the need for Google Desktop. Nor for any other program that wants to run in my system tray, or add menubars to my web browsers. The only thing these programs do is slow down my [brand new] computer, so it’s slow even before I install anything.
Dell (et all), if I want to install RealPlayer — I will! Besides the fact that it provides no useful function, I do not buy a computer so that you can pre-sell it’s hard disk to software vendors.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t let the dealer put their stickers on my car when I buy one either.