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Dell stops offering Red Hat on desktops (fwd)

I sent this to silug-discuss this morning, and I thought that one or
two of you might be vaguely interested in my opinion...

----- Forwarded message from Steven Pritchard -----

From: Steven Pritchard <steve@silug.org>
Message-Id: <200108071640.f77GeGj23139@osiris.silug.org>
Subject: Dell stops offering Red Hat on desktops
To: silug-discuss@silug.org
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 11:40:16 -0500 (CDT)

You may have seen in the news stories about Dell dropping Linux on
desktops, apparently due to weak demand.  Today I noticed that the
opinion pieces about how this wasn't a surprise and Linux isn't ready
for the desktop have started to appear.  (Nevermind that these stories
are written by people in the business of selling Microsoft technology.
One author listed an email address at "mspros.com".  You do the math.)
Since I don't have some random website handy to post an opinion piece
of my own, I thought I'd just post it hear for discussion.

I can agree with these random Microsoft fans to a degree...  It was
probably a dumb idea for Dell to preload Linux on desktops to start
with, and I'm not at all surprised that they've dropped it.  Of
course, my reasons are totally different...

1) Dell was never serious about Linux on desktops.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't recall ever seeing a
Dell ad on TV that mentioned Linux as an option.  I don't recall ever
seeing it on their web site either.  You had to go to some special
Linux section of their web site to get the option, and it was usually
for just certain models (at least on laptops).  That special Linux
section was not readily accessible from their main web site.

In fact, I still sincerely believe that Dell only went this far in
response to "peer pressure".  For a while there, every hardware vendor
was bending over backwards to try to prove that they were supporting
Linux.  Dell was only hedging their bets, basically doing the bare
minimum they could do and still say "we support Linux".

2) Linux just isn't that popular as a *primary* desktop OS.

Yeah, we all like Linux, but I've come to accept that not everyone
wants to run Linux all day, every day.  I know many (probably most) of
you dual-boot your systems with some form of Windows.  Others don't
even run Linux on their primary systems, but instead have another
(usually older) box dedicated to Linux.

For people who are going to dual-boot, there's no point getting Linux
pre-loaded...  You get the box with Windows, wipe it, and reinstall
Linux and Windows, or you get a copy of Partition Magic and free up
space for Linux.  Either way, you want that license for Windows and
whatever software that is packaged with the system, even if you plan
to primarily run Linux.

Of course, servers are a completely different issue...  Nobody
dual-boots a server.  Servers are supposed to just run.  There's no
advantage to getting a Windows license that you'll never use for a
server.  (Plus that Windows license adds a *lot* to the price.)

3) Installation is a personal thing.

We all have our favorite distribution.  We all have our preferred
filesystem layout.  We all have a certain set of packages that we like
to have installed.  I could go on...  There are so many places where
we like to personalize our installations that I just can't see many
people wanting Linux pre-installed.

In fact, I don't remember anyone really pushing for the big hardware
vendors to pre-install Linux.  Most of us just wanted the big hardware
vendors to ship a box with no OS.  Oh, and it would be nice if they
wouldn't hang up on us when we said we ran Linux on a box when we
called for tech support.

When I was buying servers from Compaq, this is exactly what I got...
They shipped with no OS installed.  I did the installation myself, and
Compaq still let me call them for support.  (Of course, the call would
just get sent off to Red Hat, but that's OK.)  HP and IBM were
starting to do the same thing back when I was still dealing with their

So, again, this news is no surprise.  Is it a sign that the popularity
of Linux is waning?  I don't think so.  I'm certainly not alarmed.

steve@silug.org           | Southern Illinois Linux Users Group
(618)398-7360             | See web site for meeting details.
Steven Pritchard          | http://www.silug.org/
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