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Best Buy to sell Ubuntu for $19.99

Canonical, along with software distributor ValuSoft, have come together to push a boxed version of Ubuntu 8.04 into Best Buy retail stores. The catch, it'll cost you $19.99.

Canonical, along with software distributor ValuSoft, have come together to push a boxed version of Ubuntu 8.04 into Best Buy retail stores. The catch, it'll cost you $19.99.

Best Buy to sell Ubuntu
So, what do you get for your twenty bucks? The retail box contains "Ubuntu 8.04 CD, a Quick Start Guide and 60 days of support from the ValuSoft team, trained and backed by the Canonical support guys. The support covers installation and getting started using Ubuntu and is priced at $19.99."

Hmmmm ... I'm going to be honest and say that I'm finding it hard to get enthusiastic about this. Yes, it brings Ubuntu to a whole new audience, but I wonder whether the audience that needs to have Ubuntu sold to them on a CD is actually ready for Linux.

Best Buy to sell Ubuntu for $19.99
  

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On the face of it 60 days of support sounds like a lot, but in my experience of running Linux two months is a drop in the ocean - I'm still clueless about some aspects of Linux after months of exposure. Sure, the smaller your needs (and expectations) then the less time it'll take to get Linux to do what you want, so that's a plus for a lot of people (the learning curve is steeper for those wanting to do more with the OS).

Another problem that I can see coming is that while it's easy to predict and therefore plan for the top dozen or so questions that the support team are going to get ("Where's the Start Menu?" "How do I get XYZ bit of software working?" "How do I get XYZ bit of hardware working?" "Why doesn't iTunes work?" ...), problems exist for which there simply aren't solutions. My guess is that if it works, it works, but if things don't work then users are going to get a really sudden crash course in Linux.

Bottom line, I don't think that 60 days of support is enough for the average user.

Also, something to be aware of is that this is version 8.04 and not 8.04.1, so any users stuck on dial-up are going to have to sit through hours of updates. Selling Ubuntu on CD for those who are bandwidth-restricted is a good idea on the face of it, but in my experience, updating Ubuntu is a pretty bandwidth-intensive operation in or itself (although, to be honest, it's getting pretty hard for dial-up users to keep up with updates no matter what the OS nowadays).

That said, this does give Ubuntu (and Linux in general) some much-needed publicity.

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