The Worm (Dell) Has Turned

“Dell is releasing another Ubuntu powered laptop aimed at the consumer market. I say “another” because the announcement comes less than two weeks after Dell began shipping a similar Ubuntu offering. Interestingly, these offerings come just ahead of the release of the “much anticipated” Windows 10, a move that probably isn’t to Microsoft’s liking.It’s important to note that neither of these are high dollar top-of-the-line laptops requiring deep pockets to buy, but affordable Inspiron 14 3000 Series laptops priced for the rest of us. The laptop announced two weeks ago comes with a 15″ screen and sells for somewhere between $250 and $350, depending on the configuration. The laptop announced today, which defaults to slightly lower specs and comes with a smaller 14″ screen, is priced at $219 and up.”
 
See Dell Bets On Ubuntu
Dell has had an interesting relationship with GNU/Linux for many years. Michael Dell and Shuttleworth started a relationship long ago which brought on again/off again production, distribution and promotion of GNU/Linux PCs. For all those years, Dell’s “search” function brought Hellish results. Searching for “Linux” or “Ubuntu” would bring forth a few good items but always a mess of PCs with That Other OS.

Prompted by an article about increasing flexibility of offerings, I calmly searched again today and nearly fell of my chair finding screen after screen of relevant products. Both “Linux” and “Ubuntu” give results that any rational human being would expect. There’s not even a “Dell Recommends TOOS” string on the search page for “Ubuntu” or “Linux”. It’s a perfectly rational search result. 😉

This is on Dell.ca, BTW, always the sad sister to Dell.com in the past.

Amazing. Wonders never cease in 2015, The Year Of The GNU/Linux Desktop.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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17 Responses to The Worm (Dell) Has Turned

  1. ram says:

    All this stuff about Microsoft “Service Packs” reminds me of IBM’s OS/2 and its “corrective service facility” — also a proprietary jail!

  2. oiaohm says:

    http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/2/8704191/is-windows-10-ready
    kurkosdr is a person who thinks they can read. Who really cannot. Testers are reporting broken drivers.

    Kernel mode drivers need to be Microsoft signed and compatible with hypervisor enforced code integrity
    This line is in fact two statements.

    That’s part of Device Guard, and on the very next line it says “Only available on Windows 10 Enterprise”
    So people are miss reading it just like kurkosdr .

    The two statements that one line shows is. “The fact the driver has to be signed is Windows 10 Enterprise only.”
    The driver ABI changes to support driver being secure loaded into a Hyper-visor is every-one problem so causing shattered drivers that testers are seeing. As normal Microsoft spec sheets of what they have changed contain a error or two. Yes the driver ABI change should have been put in the area effecting everyone.

    You should have asked for calcification before insulting my handle kurkosdr as normal when insulting my handle recently you are absolutely and completely wrong. Most people reading the list of changes having missing the driver ABI change so not understanding that the fix to the driver issues Windows 10 is having is not coming. Only fix will be new drivers.

    If you download the SDK for making windows 10 drivers it also becomes very clear.

    Unsubstantiated and implausible non-sense. Windows 8.1 was essentially a service pack for Windows 8.0, much like XP SP2 was to XP SP1. Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 is an upgrade to new major.
    Someone has not read lifecycle.

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows/lifecycle
    “Latest update or service pack” is the key words. Since Windows 10 upgrade is being pushed out as Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 update the Windows Lifecycle rules apply as a update. Most people . If Microsoft enforces the rules as state it will 12 months from the Windows 10 release.

    Microsoft did not formally call the windows 8.1 a service pack to 8.0.

    Windows 8.1 was essentially a service pack for Windows 8.0
    This in interpretation is wrong. Windows 8.1 took a 3G download to update 8.0 just like Windows 10 will take a 3G download to update 7 and 8.1 why because both 8.1 and 10 are full installs.

    kurkosdr you do not understand the finer points of Microsoft Licensing. 8.0 to 8.1 was basically the trial run for 7 to 10 and 8.1 to 10. Due to the terms of Microsoft Lifecycle we should presume 7 and 8.1 are now going to end with the release of 10 unless Microsoft clearly states otherwise. The terms between users of windows 7 and 8.1 users allow a complete new version of the OS to be made the min for updates and support from Microsoft as long as it provided for Free. Yes Free Upgrade 12 months Window exactly matches the terms of Windows Lifecycle.

    Please also note windows 8.1 free update you had to use Microsoft store todo it. Microsoft was unable to end Windows 8.0 support until they allowed users without Microsoft accounts to install the Windows 8.1 update by the store. Yes if you go back there was a time-frame when 8.0 and 8.1 were listed independently on Windows Lifecycle page. 8.1 is so far not a service pack its not funny.

  3. kurkosdr says:

    Uh, then how come “7” is way more popular than “8.*” and there are still folks running XP by the million?

    Because there is no icon asking them to upgrade. You have to search for it.

  4. kurkosdr wrote, “Most users will want the Latest and Greatest and be lured by Microsoft’s promises of better performance and free Metro games, and they will happily click the upgrade icon themselves, breaking hardware and software right and left. This is gonna be fun.”

    Uh, then how come “7” is way more popular than “8.*” and there are still folks running XP by the million? If support is killed in a year, M$ is doomed, at least with consumers. Business took forever to migrate from XP to “7”. They sure as Hell are not going to dance over to “10” any time soon. This is June, 2015…

  5. ram says:

    Not much “room” (as in financial room) for Microsoft products when PC hardware is dropping to below $100 a unit even at retail. Wholesale prices are as low $35 and moving downward. Prices will probably stabilize at around $15 to $20 next year.

    This is also giving rise to dedicated devices. A little PC that only has a browser, that is all it does, turn it on and you can browse by WiFi. Will be sold (cheaply) in blister packs at your local stationary store / news agent / convenience store / supermarket. Others will just have an office suite, or perhaps an office suite and browser. Others will be media players (starting to see them already). Turn them on and they are ready to go.

  6. kurkosdr says:

    Kernel mode drivers need to be Microsoft signed and compatible with hypervisor enforced code integrity

    That’s part of Device Guard, and on the very next line it says “Only available on Windows 10 Enterprise”

    Your ohioham-ness is showing. Please read your own links next time. Or at least the line after the piece you are quoting.

    29 July 2016 will be the end of support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as all those users should be migrated to Windows 10. This will be a great cost reduction for Microsoft.

    Unsubstantiated and implausible non-sense. Windows 8.1 was essentially a service pack for Windows 8.0, much like XP SP2 was to XP SP1. Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 is an upgrade to new major.

    Not that it makes any difference. Most users will want the Latest and Greatest and be lured by Microsoft’s promises of better performance and free Metro games, and they will happily click the upgrade icon themselves, breaking hardware and software right and left. This is gonna be fun. Sure, API and ABI compatibility helps (aka it won’t be like the Dellbuntu PulseAudio debacle which doomed Desktop Linux just when it was given a chance), but still, MS won’t get every driver and app from 2010 to work.

  7. ram wrote, “all the functions of a PC will be on a single chip”.

    Certainly but the device and connectors must still be of human size or they’re useless. That puts a limit on what Moore’s Law can do for the cost of IT. A few years back, CPU-packages held size while the chips shrank. That’s a similar phenomenon. Essentially, the chips will converge to nearly $0 while other parts remain large for practical/human reasons. Keyboards may eventually be replaced by microphones but the microphone will still have to have some size to respond to audio frequencies properly. Mice/pointers may be replaced by cameras that see what we’re looking at but a camera can’t shrink much more and still have an image. Everything will be cheaper for a while longer but the good old days of higher performance without limit are gone. Another effect is that CPU without RAM is almost useless. As software becomes more sophisticated RAM must increase, offsetting what Moore’s Law has given us. If you shrink CPUs but keep adding RAM, you don’t gain nearly as much as in the old days when RAM in a system doubled or more every few years.

    In the short term, boxes will disappear into mice/keyboards/monitors and the need for Wintel will just about disappear. Out of sight, out of mind. FLOSS on ARM/MIPS etc. are the way forward. They are like ants taking over the world because they can. Intel will have to accept lower margins to remain relevant just as M$ has. Without monopoly, Intel cannot demand an arbitrary price. Atom was their thin edge of the wedge in diversification but they can also do ARM really well. x86/AMD64 will retire gracefully in a few years. You can see the train-wreck happening in the prices Intel charges for chips. There are a few they still charge >$1K but there are many more <$100. Just about any consumer would be happy with an Atom for most purposes. Those Atoms are like Pentiums brought up to date. Nothing fancy but good enough.

  8. ram says:

    Robert Pogson said: “Chippery is one business, PCs are another.”

    Yes, but the trend in all electronics is to greater and greater integration. Soon all the functions of a PC will be on a single chip. Already there are “Systems on a Chip” that duplicate all the functions and speed of a Pentium Pro, with tiny power consumption, and costs around ten bucks in quantity. The Intel Compute Sticks and NUC’s are only the first of a series of tiny low power consumption (Linux) PCs. No doubt, other manufacturers of other architectures will jump on the bandwagon. In fact, they HAVE, even if what developers get now are raw tiny boards.

  9. ram wrote, “the so called “OEMs” such as Dell don’t stand a chance”.

    That’s nonsense. Chippery is one business, PCs are another. The economies of the two are quite different. For many years OEMs had ~2% margins while M$ and Intel were pushing 80%. Intel is entering the lower margins regime with the NUC. It’s about diversification and working for a living instead of being a monopoly. Intel still has a higher price than OEMs using ARM because ARM costs less to make. Intel has some advantage with Moore’s Law stage, but that’s temporary. In the 10nm regime, everyone’s the same, running on air. PCs several steps back are perfectly capable. My Beast, for instance, is 45nm and doing well for two users simultaneously with some servers. So, Moore’s Law benefits are mostly price these days not performance. x86 benefits over ARM are few in this regime. ARM is now well-supported at 64bits and is widely available on servers and clients. It’s beginning to be available on really nice desktop boxes too with lots more RAM and storage. I expect this year I will replace Beast with an ARMed system mostly to save space in my home. Beast is 20 times larger than I need him to be and ARMed systems are coming on line that are as capable for a fraction of his cost and size. Dell could sell his replacement but I doubt they will. There’s still too much money for them in the big box department.

  10. lpbbear says:

    “You know why they don’t do it? (and instead pre-install placeholders like FreeDOS) Because preloading Desktop Linux is a support liability. OEMs know that Desktop Linux will start breaking drivers and maybe apps after it politely asks the user to upgrade, which means they have to take the machine in the repair center for a system reset (not all users can do it by themselves). Wham! Instant support liability.”

    Hmmmmm, guess that E1505 laptop I bought from Dell preloaded with Linux back in 2006ish should be doing that any day now…..right?

    Wonder why its still working?!

    Maybe I should call them and ask for support. I suppose they will be expecting my call. Hope they haven’t forgotten who I am since I haven’t spoken to them since I bought the laptop.

  11. oiaohm wrote, “29 July 2016 will be the end of support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as all those users should be migrated to Windows 10. This will be a great cost reduction for Microsoft.”

    I think this is M$ trying to be a gentle bully. Many, many users of TOOS don’t want to be IT people constantly updating stuff, say 90% of China for instance. What will happen is that a huge chunk of the market for PCs will be lost to M$ as they switch to Android/Linux or GNU/Linux and get off the Wintel treadmill. “8.1” is already stagnant even though that’s all that’s on retail shelves. “7” is all that M$ has going for itself and those folks were ticked off to be pushed away from XP in recent memory. New buyers have the GNU/Linux or Android/Linux option. So do M$’s established slaves. M$’s hope to have a billion users of “10” soon is delusional. Giving away “10” as an inducement shows how real M$ feels the danger. They are walking on the edge of a cliff. I like it. They are behaving more like a real business instead of a monopoly every year now. Expect huge layoffs and greater diversification in client PCs. I read the mini-PCs and motherboards are doing well so there’s yet another choice that involves cutting Wintel down to size. Small Cheap Computers are now mainstream. You can bet bloated TOOS is deprecated.

  12. oiaohm says:

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-specifications
    Kernel mode drivers need to be Microsoft signed and compatible with hypervisor enforced code integrity
    Say hello to failing drivers for people migrating from Windows 7 or 8 or 8.1 to 10.

    Next it gets better you know the 12 months to upgrade for free. Lets point out a nasty clause in the LTS support agreement of Microsoft. Windows 8.0 users should be aware of it. When 12 months passed after 8.1 was released Windows 8.0 updates stopped. When ever a service pack is released or anything equal you have 12 months to migrate before support terminates.

    So 29 July 2016 will be the end of support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as all those users should be migrated to Windows 10. This will be a great cost reduction for Microsoft.

    kurkosdr did not learn this from Windows 8.1 free upgrade to 8.0.

    Reality Windows users will be on the same treadmill system as Ubuntu right? No even less LTS years.

  13. Mats Hagglund says:

    kurkosdr: “OEMs know that Desktop Linux will start breaking drivers and maybe apps after it politely asks the user to upgrade”

    You mean staying in pre-installed system like Ubuntu 14.04/Mint 17.1 without upgrading it will solve this puzzle? Ubuntu 14.04/Mint 17.xxx have still almost 4 years support time left.

  14. ram says:

    I still don’t trust Dell. After decades of dirty tricks I don’t expect them to change their stripes. It is pretty much over for them anyway. With Intel selling Linux NUC boxen and Compute Sticks directly (and also at very low prices to wholesalers) the so called “OEMs” such as Dell don’t stand a chance. Some genuine OEM’s that actually add value due to special form factors, thermal handling, and other real (but niche) features, most of them will survive — but they provided Linux and other “Unix like” operating systems from the beginning — e.g. to industrial and embedded markets.

  15. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr
    You know why they don’t do it? (and instead pre-install placeholders like FreeDOS) Because preloading Desktop Linux is a support liability. OEMs know that Desktop Linux will start breaking drivers and maybe apps after it politely asks the user to upgrade, which means they have to take the machine in the repair center for a system reset (not all users can do it by themselves). Wham! Instant support liability.
    Windows 8+ has the same problem of broken drives this is why OEM now sell Windows as is. If you ring up with a problem with Windows 8+ the answer is please reset the machine to how it was provided to you.

    It will allow MS to upgrade Win8.1 users to Win10 without wreaking havoc (and without having to care if the drivers are Free or whatever). Linux’s problems are not technical.
    Sorry Windows 8.0 to 8.1 left some people without their USB keyboards and Mice working. Now you think 8.1 to 10 is going to be issue-less you have to be kidding. Windows 7 service packs have also broken drivers.

    They are political. ABI and API stability takes a back seat, it’s all about experimenting with new technology (yeah!). The world doesn’t want that, because they use computers to actually do work, run hardware and run apps. Sorry.
    ABI stability when ever I mention using items like 0install that give ABI stability to applications under Linux or even using the Steam Runtime.

    Yes the Linux world issues are kinda political its more Application developers are not providing applications in volume by any of the major stable API paths.

    The binary driver idea turns out to be bust. XP lots of drivers broken when NX was enabled. Yes as new features are added to Windows you need to get new drivers anyhow. This has been the case since Windows XP. Yes the year 2002 yet people like kurkosdr over look when they claim Linux breaks drivers.

    The reality is shocking Windows in fact by updates breaks more drivers than Linux Distro users have to put up with. Why does Linux have lower driver break is majority of drivers ship with the Linux kernel so are updated with the Linux kernel. Only issue with Linux is that a driver that has been update was broken by a coder.

    Linux kernel developers have accepted the reality kernel space is a down right touchy place that at times will be forced to change things for security reasons and not all those changes can be done in a binary compatible way so its better off in kernel space only to have source compatibility. Even Microsoft has came very aware of this and is attempting to get more and more drivers out of kernel space and into user-space. User-space Linux drivers don’t fail between updates.

    It would cost them NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING to replace FreeDOS with Ubuntu, Mint, Debian or whatever Desktop Linux distro rocks your boat.
    That is wrong. It costs time. It never costs nothing. Also a FreeDOS machine may not have Linux compatible parts, Heck some of the FreeDOS machines from dell turned out not to have Current Windows compatible parts.

    I like how FOSSies think it’s a conspiracy that OEMs don’t sell Desktop Linux machines.
    This is a comment kurkosdr need to drop. Microsoft has been caught doing deals with ODM/OEM only to supply Microsoft products or only give discounts if the OEM/ODM does that. Intel has been as well.

    So yes there have been conspiracies not just against Linux machines but against anything non Microsoft or Intel. Due to this stuff having happened and Microsoft is still being caught taking part in bribery and other illegal means its not possible to rule out that there is no some deal that Microsoft is doing that is intentionally done to prevent Linux from getting foot hold.

    Really only 2 lines of your post was true kurkosdr please try to do better in future.

    1) The same OEMs have no problem preloading Linux in servers, tablets and phones.
    2) The same OEMs sell machines with FreeDOS pre-instaled (so much for the Windows Tax(tm)).

    These two lines.

    FreeDOS is the minimum they can do in order to not have the “no system disk” error message appear.
    This is wrong. A freedos machine from Dell Hp or lenovo and others is sent out with blank hard drive. They put the freedos installation disk in the box it is up to you to install it. So no system disk message kinda does appear if you power it on.

    So the only reason these OEM put a freedos disk in is so Microsoft cannot complain about the computer been sold with No OS. It also gets funny some Freedos machine have wifi cards that have no dos drivers. Mostly because freedos wifi support is crap.
    http://www.freedos.org/wiki/index.php/WiFi

    The reality here is most Freedos machines to have a functional OS with them would be better off having a Ubuntu/debian disc even if the user never updates it. One Australian firm did Knoppix discs.

    Lot of the Linux world would understand if OEM took the same method with Freedos with Linux distributions of just dropping it in the box and leaving it up to us to install. Just seams complete insane to ship with Freedos when at times these days the machine is unable to connect to Internet due to Internet being provide by wifi yet the machine could have accessed Internet if it had been shipped with a Linux live cd.

    Note Livecd do not update. So all those issues about Linux updating and breaking drivers OEM can use the same answer kind of answer Windows 8+ of please insert the livecd we provided if that works the machine is not borken and it your problem. One major difference the livecd method of Linux has not forced to format the hard-drive to fix the OS as the current Windows reinstall causes.

    This is the problem to us Linux users Windows machines should have a Livecd option with the Livecd being the tried and tested drivers for the hardware to isolate if you are dealing with a OS problem or a hardware problem.

  16. kurkosdr says:

    I like how FOSSies think it’s a conspiracy that OEMs don’t sell Desktop Linux machines.

    Let’s look at the facts:

    1) The same OEMs have no problem preloading Linux in servers, tablets and phones.
    2) The same OEMs sell machines with FreeDOS pre-instaled (so much for the Windows Tax(tm)). FreeDOS is the minimum they can do in order to not have the “no system disk” error message appear.
    3) It would cost them NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING to replace FreeDOS with Ubuntu, Mint, Debian or whatever Desktop Linux distro rocks your boat.

    You know why they don’t do it? (and instead pre-install placeholders like FreeDOS) Because preloading Desktop Linux is a support liability. OEMs know that Desktop Linux will start breaking drivers and maybe apps after it politely asks the user to upgrade, which means they have to take the machine in the repair center for a system reset (not all users can do it by themselves). Wham! Instant support liability.

    Dell? They are just using Ubuntu as a bargaining in Microsoft negotiations, every time Microsoft hints they ‘ll have to start paying normal OEM license for the Windows they pre-install (hence the “on again/off again production”).

    See, these are the advantages of a (mostly) stable ABI and API. It will allow MS to upgrade Win8.1 users to Win10 without wreaking havoc (and without having to care if the drivers are Free or whatever). Linux’s problems are not technical. They are political. ABI and API stability takes a back seat, it’s all about experimenting with new technology (yeah!). The world doesn’t want that, because they use computers to actually do work, run hardware and run apps. Sorry.

  17. Mats Hagglund says:

    Takes a long time when those machines are in my country and i doubt are they really going to sell 14″ laptop with price of 200 € + tax = 250 €.

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