What about pre-installed Linux with no support?

What about pre-installed Linux with no support?

Summary: Pre-installed Linux with no support - would customers be happy with that?


Here's an idea.  One of the reason that Dell isn't happy about providing a PC with pre-installed Linux is because of the support costs.  But what if Dell offered PCs that had Linux pre-installed but didn't come with any support?

How would that fly?

[poll id=101]

Topic: Dell

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Besides not being legal their are customer ...

    ... perception problems galore. People don't buy anything for $ 299.00 or more without expecting some level of support. Their are state and federal laws that require companies provide support. A tech call as expensive as it can be is still prefferable to a return that takes a brand new system and turns it into a used computer that must be sold for $.75 on the dollar. Your suggestion is totally impractical.
    • Blinkered USA viewpoint

      [i]"Their [sic] are state and federal laws that require companies provide support. "[/i]

      In the US perhaps, but not everywhere.

      If there was a box that could be sold with a distro that had guaranteed hardware compatibilty and was sold up front as "no support" then you could still sell it. One of the factors that prevents some people from making the jump are worries over hardware compatibility (drivers etc). If that could be eliminated then so much the better.
      • I agree

        I certainly would like to purchase a machine with pre-installed Linux. If I could see a demonstration, so that i knew it would do all that I want, I'd buy it. Support comes from the Linux community.
    • Most things I buy come with out support

      There is warranty but that's entirely differnt than support. If the hardware fails that's warranty. If I don't know how to set the clock on VCR that's support. My Home theatre has so many setting I don't even know what 90% of them are for. If something get screwed up I'm on my own in figuring it out. When the digital diplay goes I take it back if it's still under waranty.

      I'd say most things leave the buyer with RTFM and no support beyond what one can find on newgroups or what one is willing to pay for. Like my home theatre system. I paid $3000 for it and no support there.
      • It's perception and precedence

        Nobody expects their home theater system to come with 24/7 phone support, but they do a PC. There is a few decades of precedence that says that's what they should expect. When you start talking about newsgroups for support, you've left out a very large segment of the population and Dell would probably not see it as profitable. For a while there would be people buying Linux(the cheaper one) that didn't realize they weren't getting Windows is my bet, as well. That means a ton of returned systems.
        • Have you had a Looooooo....tts of experience with support?

          That many problems? That's what it sounds like.

          Next time you call your support, just try telling them that it's your perception that they must supply you with support and somebody you heard tell of got support from them so that set the precedence, and see what their answer is.

          I have had excellent hardware support several times from several sources, but have NEVER called software support once, BECAUSE... I know software support only provides good (or not so good) excuses why their software doesn't work like it's supposed to.
          Ole Man
    • Support Questions

      Does MS or yourselves provide the support? When it is a Windows problem, do you redirect them to Windows support or do you eat the cost?

      Where it comes to the average user, heck, before my Linux only policy, I was doing support virtually every day. It just doesn't happen anymore. That said, here are a couple of ideas on support.

      1) You make it extremely clear that Linux is not Windows, is only for the very tech savvy user and
      2) You sell them with (pre-installed) or certified Linux version such as Xandros or Linspire or Mandriva. They support Linux directly.

      • re: Support Questions

        >>>...1) You make it extremely clear that Linux is not Windows, is only for the very tech savvy user and...<<<

        By all means make it clear that Linux IS different. However, for most users the transition to Linux will be relatively painless. The gui will be familiar and it is all point and click.

        2) You sell them with (pre-installed) or certified Linux version such as Xandros or Linspire or Mandriva. They support Linux directly...<<<

        Not a terrible idea. Almost all of the mainstream distros come with a support option. How hard would it be for Dell to strike a support agreement with Mandriva or Linspire or etc.
      • We supply the support.

        one of the reasons besides the volume of licenses we buy that we get a discount is because we agree to supply the support. If you read the agreement that ships with an OEM copy of Windows you can verify this. When something doesn't work the average consumer doesn't know if it is hardware or software. They call the person that sold them the computer for help or worse they return the product.
    • What laws?

      There are laws regarding merchantability, but none that require the manufacturer supply support, unless you're referring to the number of years that replacement parts be made available for sale.
      Dr. John
      • The laws that require us to warranty the product.

        We do the support to prevent a return. Do you see how that is related?
    • Required by law??

      You should really learn to read and write.

      There are no Federal laws that require support for software products. Maybe some states have sucj a law, but I've never heard of it. There are state and federal laws that apply to waranties, but that is limited to replacing a defective product and when you use most software products, if you take time to actually read the EULA, you will find in most cases that you agree not to hold the developer or publisher liable for any losses related to software failure.
  • Do they no longer support that "instaplay" feature?

    Or whatever they called it. that's Linux

    Who is the worlds largest, in terms of unit sales for Linux?

    Dell or HP or someone else?

    Support could be far easier with Linux.....
    • Certification needed

      Dell needs to work through the vendor certification process.
      That will reduce support costs.

      I am inclined to agree that Linux support will be overall easier once certified equipment is being sold.

      Problems in Linux tend to be easier to isolate and resolve as compared with Windows.
      D T Schmitz
      • What did Dell call that feature?

        (they had there own name)

        Is it still available?
        Would installing Vista destroy that?

        I realize you prefer Suse....
        It was the best commercial distro from the beginning.
        And SLED/SLES is the slickest....but Because of the MS/NS deal I would not use or recommend it.

        Not to be partisan, but interested in your take....

        Also certification (I think/feel) is unnecessary for standards compliant hardware. True Plug-n-Play.
        • Dell feaure? I don't recall

          Hopefully someone else will reply with an answer to that.

          Truthfully I don't know that Plug-n-Play is even an issue.
          The biggest part to deal with is Distro-specific--alot of 'variations' running on the kernel.

          As for the MS/Novell 'deal', thus far, I haven't seen anything that would cause me to switch away from SUSE.

          The 'covenant' is a clever mechanism to avoid direct confrontation on IP grounds.

          It suits Novell's purpose to have prepaid subscriptions.

          It suits Microsofts' purpose to have 'entre' to accounts where Linux solutions are being given serious consideration (via the sale of subscriptions by MS).

          Only a select few know or have seen the actual agreement.
          In the meantime, speculation abounds.

          MS has more than a keen interest in Linux and ultimately might acquire their 'own' Distro.

          For Novell, it's 'business as usual'.

          Thanks LazLong!!
          D T Schmitz
          • Hopefully......

            Best I could find was Media Direct (Of course QuickPlay)
            I am almost sure there was another marketing name for that function that I had seen in the recent sales season.

            Odds are better than good that it was MediaDirect.
            Found it funny it was Linux and is now XP embedded.
            Guess MS bought the companies and now the tech is no longer available or common.

            Anyway.... Just like those, marketing terms like "plug -n-play" may belong to yesteryear. Yet still really mean a great deal more.....

            While there are many distros, the kernel is really the same. Over Specialized variations only serve those who wish to make things Distro-specific. Not unlike what happened to Unix.

            In some ways MS may have already aquired their own Distro.......
          • thx

            D T Schmitz
  • Nothing to do with Support...

    The MAJOR problem with LINUX loaded PCS is going to be higher cost DUE to less crapware (norton / mcafee / spyware scanners / adobe readers etc..) which provide a valuable price reduction because they are PAID to be there. Its basically advertising on your PC, if you get it you pay less for the hardware.

    Thats my thought on it.. then again SUPPORT for dummies is another thing. Who won't realize what support for linux distros is like.
    • Yes... But still really an artificial or false economy.

      Same with non-standards based hardware, Cross-licensing, ad co-opt, product placement & Rebate schemes... or even certified, or Vista capable or "we recommend". Deals which rarely benefit the customer (not consumer) unless they are aware.

      But Agreed nothing to do with support as Linux is far easier. As they could not hide the corporate dealings.