Many people, myself included, have praised Dell for going back on years of marketing tactics and choosing to offer a desktop Linux distro as a standard option for people buying their machines. With their choosing and backing of Ubuntu, they took a well-known and well liked distro and made it much more readily available, along with increasing their own appeal to those looking to use something other than Windows.
But are they making it easy to choose? We all know companies may, out of obligation, support or offer a particular service or product – but not necessarily want to. It seems several people are less than pleased with Dell's online store, particularly those in the U.K. It seems those trying to acquire a Dell running Linux are finding it difficult and bug-ridden, often finding themselves being redirected. Is Dell worried? You wouldn't think so, especially if there is so little demand for Linux as they claim:
A Dell support person, let's call her Pat, told us that it was very unusual for anyone to request a machine that doesn't come loaded with Vista or XP. She reckoned that "out of 500 customers only one person wants Linux."
The same representative only mentioned a Red Hat offering, which actually cost more than the same machine with Vista – completely omitting Ubuntu.
However, some say the criticism isn't warranted. Dell has created several offshoot sites to support fans of Linux on Dell. On top of that, it didn't take me long at all to find an Ubuntu machine on the UK Dell site. Bugs aside, I think it is wrong to criticize them so early in the game. The Linux community as a whole has been struggling for a long time to get vendor support like this. It may not be perfect – but it is improving. All things aside, Dell has been responding more to the requests and polls on their IdeaStorm site, which is a good sign.