Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 21st May 2007 23:32 UTC, submitted by SEJeff
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Dell has given an overview of what customers can expect from their initial Ubuntu offering. "The default software from the Ubuntu media will be installed on the system, including kernel and applications. The peripheral options offered with Ubuntu will be a subset of what is offered with other operating systems. We're offering the hardware options on each system that have the most mature and stable Linux driver support. These hardware options have been thoroughly tested by the Linux team here at Dell. We configure/install open source drivers for hardware, when possible. We use partial open-source or closed source ('restricted' in Ubuntu terms) drivers where there is no equivalent open-source driver. This includes Intel wireless cards and Conexant modems."
Order by: Score:
Cool!
by Ventajou on Mon 21st May 2007 23:43 UTC
Ventajou
Member since:
2006-10-31

Way to go Mr. Dell!

Reply Score: 4

pretty impressive
by spikeb on Mon 21st May 2007 23:49 UTC
spikeb
Member since:
2006-01-18

So far, they've done everything right with their upcoming rollout.

Reply Score: 3

RE: pretty impressive
by Stock on Tue 22nd May 2007 08:12 UTC in reply to "pretty impressive"
Stock Member since:
2005-08-31

You mean apart from limiting it to the US.

Of course the rest of the world doesn't matter according to Dell.

It's a good job a European alternative exists.

http://www.linuxlaptops.eu

Reply Score: 5

Carefully avoiding Free
by John Nilsson on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:01 UTC
John Nilsson
Member since:
2005-07-06

It seems that they are carefully avoiding making promises about free software.

They don't say that they'll pick hardware with free drivers over hardware with non-free hardware.

They don't say that they'll pressure hardware vendors to publish specs or free drivers.

In general it seems that they are more focused on "Linux" as a system then on issues regarding freedom.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Carefully avoiding Free
by sbergman27 on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:11 UTC in reply to "Carefully avoiding Free"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
In general it seems that they are more focused on "Linux" as a system then on issues regarding freedom.
"""

If they weren't, I'd be *highly* suspicious.

We, the community, sold them on this by convincing them it was a business opportunity.

You can't expect Michael Dell to dress up like St. Ignucious and refuse to talk to you unless you agree to say "Free Software" instead of "Open Source" just yet.

Let's give them a bit of time to adjust before we pull the rug out from under them and start making demands.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Carefully avoiding Free
by MamiyaOtaru on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Carefully avoiding Free"
MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

>> It seems that they are carefully avoiding making promises about free software.

> If they weren't, I'd be *highly* suspicious.

We, the community, sold them on this by convincing them it was a business opportunity.


As it should be for a business. I just worry about the following:

>> They don't say that they'll pick hardware with free drivers over hardware with non-free hardware.

They don't say that they'll pressure hardware vendors to publish specs or free drivers.


I'm not as interested in seeing them approach this from some sort of software purity standpoint, but I would appreciate hardware with open drivers. If I bought one of their machines it wouldn't be to use Ubuntu (I have other distro preferences) and I'd like the assurance my hardware would work with any distro. If it doesn't, if it has binary drivers for the supplied kernel from Ubuntu only, I might as well get a machine elsewhere: it offers me zero advantage.

Again, this isn't a purity thing, but I think it might help their business if customers had the assurance they could use any distro they please with the hardware delivered. They have a good opportunity to ask for specs or open drivers, and it would be a shame for non Ubuntu users if they didn't leverage it at all. Whatever floats their boat^H^H^H^H business I guess ;)

Edited 2007-05-22 00:24

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Carefully avoiding Free
by Cass on Tue 22nd May 2007 01:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Carefully avoiding Free"
Cass Member since:
2006-03-17

Id be happy enough with Dell just offering the Ubuntu distro with hardware that works and works well .. Id be happier if they also included a sort of terms of reference to Joe purchaser to tell them what they can expect in the way of support and where to go when they run into trouble ... A cookbook on how to get the features that they would expect on a Windows style system would be nice also ... Lets hope Dell does not over cook the message of what they are supplying and have a potentially good business and lets face it some good exposure for the Linux community go down the pan for overstating exactly what the user is buying with these boxes .... If they blow it mabey Joe user will never hop on board ... its up to them now to showcase what Linux can do !

Reply Score: 3

RE: Carefully avoiding Free
by butters on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:38 UTC in reply to "Carefully avoiding Free"
butters Member since:
2005-07-08

They don't say that they'll pick hardware with free drivers over hardware with non-free hardware.

True, but they do say:

We configure/install open source drivers for hardware, when possible. We use partial open-source or closed source ("restricted" in Ubuntu terms) drivers where there is no equivalent open-source driver.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

They don't say that they'll pressure hardware vendors to publish specs or free drivers.

From the horse's mouth:

For hardware options not offered with this release, we are working with the vendors of those devices to improve the maturity and stability of their associated Linux drivers. While this may not happen overnight, we do expect to have a broader range of hardware support with Linux over time.

I suppose this could result in better proprietary drivers instead of better free software drivers. Some might argue this is a regression. I don't think that improved proprietary drivers significantly impacts community efforts to develop free software drivers. I think that the quality and reliability of free software drivers, for the hardware features they support, speaks for itself. Proprietary drivers are basically a temporary workaround for the chicken-and-egg problem. Eventually all major drivers for Linux will be free.

While Dell has surely left the purists some stuff to complain about, I don't think that we could have expected any better. In fact, I'm impressed at the extent to which they seem to understand the sentiments of the free software community, even where they have no realistic means of accommodating them. They're using the right words and communicating in the right manner. Whether they will become the ultimate ally of the Linux community is highly debatable, but "getting it" is usually the first step to being a productive member of our community. I think they get it.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Carefully avoiding Free
by archiesteel on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Carefully avoiding Free"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

While Dell has surely left the purists some stuff to complain about, I don't think that we could have expected any better. In fact, I'm impressed at the extent to which they seem to understand the sentiments of the free software community, even where they have no realistic means of accommodating them. They're using the right words and communicating in the right manner. Whether they will become the ultimate ally of the Linux community is highly debatable, but "getting it" is usually the first step to being a productive member of our community. I think they get it.


I completely agree. They'll never be able to make everyone happy, but so far they have shown a remarkable sense of how to communicate with the community. I think it's already winning them some direly-needed "street cred" with the Linux community - which, we shouldn't forget, overlaps with a good portion of the tech community.

I know they've made at least one customer - me. My next laptop will be a Dell.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Carefully avoiding Free
by John Nilsson on Tue 22nd May 2007 06:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Carefully avoiding Free"
John Nilsson Member since:
2005-07-06

I would be satisfied if they at least said they'd choose harware with free drivers if it makes sense.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Carefully avoiding Free
by Bit_Rapist on Tue 22nd May 2007 18:51 UTC in reply to "Carefully avoiding Free"
Bit_Rapist Member since:
2005-11-13

It seems that they are carefully avoiding making promises about free software.

I don't blame them, they are in business to see if these machines will even sell with this OS. I wouldn't make any promises about anything beyond what they've already committed to doing.

They don't say that they'll pick hardware with free drivers over hardware with non-free hardware.

Looking for hardware with free drivers sounds like re-engineering the product and is likely to be costly. Instead they are trying to match free drivers with their existing hardware, which makes sense imho.

They don't say that they'll pressure hardware vendors to publish specs or free drivers.

If there were a business case for it I'm sure they would.

In general it seems that they are more focused on "Linux" as a system then on issues regarding freedom.

Exactly and I wouldn't expect anything less.

Reply Score: 2

Nice one
by raver31 on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:03 UTC
raver31
Member since:
2005-07-06

Set out the support boundaries from day one.
I don't know how many times we get customer calls asking for support with a product we did not supply them with.

Dell made a great decision by not supporting the multimedia codecs. They or Ubuntu did not supply them in the first place.

How many Windows users call Microsoft when Photoshop does not show the correct colours ? Or when PowerDVD cannot play a DVD from a different region ?

Edited 2007-05-22 00:04

Reply Score: 5

They're really treading carefully here
by flav2000 on Tue 22nd May 2007 00:07 UTC
flav2000
Member since:
2006-02-08

Quote from the site:
[quote]
At this time, we are not including any support for proprietary audio or video codecs that are not already distributed with Ubuntu 7.04. These include MPEG 1/2/3/4, WMA, WMV, DVD, Quicktime, etc. We are evaluating options for providing this support in the future.
[/quote]

That would make a lot of people unhappy campers me thinks. [here comes the flames]

Reply Score: 2

archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

Not really...it'll be trivial to install that software, either using current methods (Automatix and the like) or - in a more "legal" way - with CNR's Ubuntu service (which will be available pretty soon).

I wouldn't be surprised if the CNR deal was not partially motivated by the Dell one. On top of the Ubuntu distro, Dell offers hardware, Canonical provides support and CNR easy-to-install software, as well as proprietary offerings (such as DVD software and multimedia codecs).

Reply Score: 3

Stock Member since:
2005-08-31

I'm looking forward to finding out how Dell plans to educate the users on things like Automatix.

Do you think Dell is going to put any time and money into a manual explaining how to use Linux that's going to be included with every computer. Just like the Windows "Getting Started" guide?

I suspect a nice empty box and lots of bemused and unhappy newbies.

Reply Score: 3

flav2000 Member since:
2006-02-08

I don't think Dell is going to actively support Automatix. If Ubuntu themselves don't "recommend" Automatix, why would Dell? Besides, Automatix has been known to bork systems between Ubuntu releases.

This initial Linux rollout is gear towards business users.

I doubt systems admins for businesses would give their users sudo rights to install software. I am not sure how admins are going to define rights uniformly as there is no equivalent of a Windows "Power user" account in Linux.

Reply Score: 1

Constantine XVI Member since:
2006-11-02

Actually, 7.04 (feisty) will automagically download the appropriate software for anything you try to run without the proper codecs/programs/etc. It works like this:
1) User attempts to play a MP3
2) Ubuntu pops up gnome-app-install with a message saying you don't have the codecs to play a MP3, then suggests the proper package (in this case, ubuntu-restricted-extras).
3) User clicks OK, types in password, and installs the package.
4) User plays MP3

Reply Score: 4

archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

Yes, that works for MP3, but I don't think it words for WMV or Quicktime/Sorenson codecs, unfortunately. It also doesn't work for libdvdcss, as far as I know.

This is why CNR is a welcome alternative to the current method of installing win32codecs and libdvdcss (which was to use repositories whose legal status is in a gray area).

Reply Score: 3

Quake Member since:
2005-10-14

Nah, I don't think people are going to be unhappy since Ubuntu 7.04 comes with an automatic codec downloader when you try to play a media whether it's AVIs or MP3s.

Which is a heck lot better than when you try to view those Divx/Xvid's videos in XP/Vista. And I've had people ask me on what they have to do to view those AVIs!

So I think Ubuntu 7.04 is on the right track here...

Reply Score: 3

siki_miki Member since:
2006-01-17

That is why you get all those supported out of box when Windows is installed....oh wait?

Reply Score: 3

Constantine XVI Member since:
2006-11-02

Actually, the only major media WinXP doesn't play OOB is MP4-AAC, OGG and DVDs

Reply Score: 1

Bit_Rapist Member since:
2005-11-13

Actually, the only major media WinXP doesn't play OOB is MP4-AAC, OGG and DVDs

Windows also does not support DivX or any of the spinoffs of this codec.

I can buy DVD players at the store that support DivX so it appears to be mainstream.

Reply Score: 3

jimbee Member since:
2007-05-05

Actually, the only major media WinXP doesn't play OOB is MP4-AAC, OGG and DVDs

And Quicktime.
And Flash.
And ...

Reply Score: 3

Quake Member since:
2005-10-14

Basically, they only support THEIR formats (and mp3). And they have NO EASY way like Ubuntu to download other codecs required to play Quicktime, divx/Xvid... You'll have to go to the respective codecs website.

While with Ubuntu, it OFFERS you to download those required codecs with a simple dialog that lets you download the required codecs like Quicktime, mp3, divx...

so I think the Ubuntu way is easier.

Please I'm not saying that Ubuntu is absolutely newbie proof. I'm just saying that they are getting there.

Reply Score: 2

Bit_Rapist Member since:
2005-11-13

Basically, they only support THEIR formats (and mp3). And they have NO EASY way like Ubuntu to download other codecs required to play Quicktime, divx/Xvid... You'll have to go to the respective codecs website.

Amen brother.

As a user of both Ubuntu and Windows I feel that I had an easier time getting my codecs installed and working under ubuntu then I did under windows (back when I had no clue what codecs were etc.)

Getting all the needed codecs in place for the majority of popular media on windows is only easy if you've been there and you know exactly what you need to get.

at least with ubuntu you hit the forums and someone has a nice post with the proper apt-get commands you can just cust and paste.

With the new version of ubuntu its damn near idiot proof imho.

Reply Score: 2

Good Begining.
by abhaysahai on Tue 22nd May 2007 07:24 UTC
abhaysahai
Member since:
2005-10-20

Dell has done a good begining by venturing into Linux Desktop.
The support is from Canonical, so they also make money.
Ubuntu has a great repository of documentation and a very active community. Good for any novice.
As far as Media codecs is concerned, Installing these on Ubuntu is a breeze- with their automatic codec installer.
For users, who do not like Ubuntu, if this hardware can run on normal Ubuntu- it will be equally at ease with most modern distros.
Just try out your fav distro.

Ofcourse they are a profit making company, so would promote their hardware like "Dell printers that have PostScript engines".
Don't just yet discard your old hardware, Ubuntu is equally at ease with most of the periferals and might auto configure it for you.

I hope this initiative makes people believe that Linux on desktop can be equally productive.
Would love to see my father buy a Ubuntu laptop.

Reply Score: 1

TusharG
Member since:
2005-07-06

The important thing is hardware that is used on the notebook and desktop will be well compatible with Linux hardware database and that is what really interests me most.
When I'll buy next time my notebook or desktop I'm definitely going to consider DELL irrespective of which Linux distro I use. The reason is if the Ubuntu can support the hardware I'm sure other distros will work as well or else I can at least think of making it work.

Reply Score: 4

fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

Honest to God truth, if I hit the sleep button and it goes to sleep, and then I hit another key and it wakes up...

I may cry!

[p.s., I know some of you already have this working on your Linux laptop, so far it hasn't for me with several laptops and many distros. Please don't report the wonderful news of "it works for me!"]

Reply Score: 3

The interesting thing...
by systyrant on Tue 22nd May 2007 13:46 UTC
systyrant
Member since:
2007-01-18

aside from the fact that Dell is supporting Linux, is that it will give Linux more credibility with corporate America. Don't get me wrong I don't expect business to just start dropping Windows in favor of Linux because Dell offers Linux on a laptop, but at least it might put it in their minds.

You know this has also got to chap Microsoft's ass as well. It just another boon for Linux. Now Linux has notable support from a big hardware reseller.

I would like to think of this as something like the Butterfly Effect. A butterfly flaps it's wings today and sometime down the road we get a tidal wave.

Reply Score: 2

Codec support
by google_ninja on Tue 22nd May 2007 17:11 UTC
google_ninja
Member since:
2006-02-05

The reason dell doesnt offer those codecs OOTB is because they arent legal. Mp3 is only legal on linux if you go the fleurendo way, DeCSS and w32codecs are only legal if you live in a country that doesnt uphold any kind of copyright law, because one flat out cracks an encryption, the other blatently copies dlls from other programs, which openly violates their liscence agreements.

You can get mp3 with fleurendo, real with Real Player, and the only way to legally play dvds on linux is with linspires dvd player. There is currently no legal way to view quicktime.

imho, ethically you are in a grey area, you could easily argue wether using something like w32codecs is "right" or not. On the one hand, these things are given away for free on other platforms, and there simply is no alternative on linux. But on the other, they are only given in company sanctioned, branded, and controlled players, and using that player is the price you pay to use their IP. Same with decss, on the one hand, CSS was only really put there so the MPAA could prosicute rippers, and fix prices per region. On the other hand, DeCSS has pushed the MPAA to create a whole new level of evil with the DRM in HD-DVD, while boycotting would have forced their hand to give DRM free media.

There are good arguements on both sides. However, legally, this is no grey area, and dell simply cannot ship that stuff.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Codec support
by qwerty2k on Tue 22nd May 2007 17:26 UTC in reply to "Codec support"
qwerty2k Member since:
2007-04-08

actually fluendo offers LEGAL (although paid for) wmv codecs amongst various others.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Codec support
by google_ninja on Tue 22nd May 2007 17:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Codec support"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

I stand corrected. Looking at the site, fluendo offers pretty much the whole pack of microsofts formats legally for linux.

My last post still stands though, and while both this and the linspire dvd player options exist, the standard course used by linux users is to go for w32codecs, MAD, and DeCSS

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Codec support
by archiesteel on Tue 22nd May 2007 19:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Codec support"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

...which is why I believe the CNR/Ubuntu deal was connected to the Dell/Ubuntu deal. They wanted to get the first one signed before giving the greenlight to the second one, so that Dell Ubuntu users will be able to watch/listen to any media format, as well as play DVDs, all in complete legality.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Codec support
by google_ninja on Tue 22nd May 2007 20:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Codec support"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

That would make alot of sense. What would be even nicer would be if Dell anted up and distributed a modified ubuntu with legal codec playback out of the box.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Codec support
by anda_skoa on Tue 22nd May 2007 20:01 UTC in reply to "Codec support"
anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

Mp3 is only legal on linux if you go the fleurendo way, DeCSS and w32codecs are only legal if you live in a country that doesnt uphold any kind of copyright law...


This is a very simplified presentation of the situation.

First, there are more than one vendor with fully licenced codecs, for example Real's implementation for their Helix engine.

Second, using a clean room implementation like ffmpeg is also fully legal for non-commercial end users in all countries where the patent law has an exclusion for non-commercial use, e.g. Austria (could be al,so true for most other European countries)

And since a clean room implementation does not violate copyrights, there is no problem with this part of the legal system either.

Using DeCSS is a legal gray area, since anti copy protection circumvention laws usually apply only to effective copy protection mechanisms and then there is the question if CSS can still be considered effective.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Codec support
by google_ninja on Tue 22nd May 2007 20:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Codec support"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

I did mention Real, and if more people used the helix engine the whole thing would be a non-issue.

As for the non-commercial use exclusion, I was completely unaware of this, and I stand corrected. However, this does not allow for something like w32codecs, even in those countries. You would have to live somewhere with extremely lax IP laws for it to be legal.

As for DeCSS the only country I know of that has ruled in that direction is sweden. Unfortunately, the DMCA kind of lends itself to be abused in that kind of way, and Sweden is in the minority of countries, in that it actually has a governament that does its job right. AFAIK the DMCA does not require effective protection, it just requires protection.

What I said about going the way of DeCSS instead of boycott giving us the latest round of DRM from the MPAA still applies, even sweden would be hard pressed to argue that the measures arent effective now.

The majority of my post still stands, the reason that Dell did not include codec support has to do with the illegality of the majority of the methods used for media playback in linux.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Codec support
by anda_skoa on Tue 22nd May 2007 21:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Codec support"
anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

I did mention Real...


Well, you wrote "real with Real player", so I thought I'd additionally point out that Real has implementations of other codecs as well. IIRC Novell Linux Desktop uses this codec pack for MP3 and friends.

However, this does not allow for something like w32codecs, even in those countries.


Right, however there is usually no need for w32codecs since there are free software implementations of almost all codecs available.

The majority of my post still stands, the reason that Dell did not include codec support has to do with the illegality of the majority of the methods used for media playback in linux.


I don't agree.
First, most methods are in fact legal for a lot of the customers.

Second, they reason they do not include the codecs by default is that it would cost them some money.
Money they rather see as part of their profit margins.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Codec support
by google_ninja on Tue 22nd May 2007 22:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Codec support"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

A quick perusal of the most popular FAQs of the three biggest distros (http://www.fedorafaq.org, http://ubuntuguide.org/, http://susewiki.org/), all of them instruct users to use w32codecs, MAD, and DeCSS. None suggest the linspire dvd player, or legal alternatives (such as helix based apps).

Both ubuntu and fedora FAQs mention the illegality in most countries.

The money would be negligable, the reason that they didn't include them is the easy availablity of free (as in beer) alternatives that are easier to deal with and work accross the board. All it takes is one person saying "Automatix" and w32codecs, MAD, and DeCSS will be on the users machine, dispite the warnings given.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Codec support
by anda_skoa on Tue 22nd May 2007 23:17 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Codec support"
anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

A quick perusal of the most popular FAQs of the three biggest distros [...], all of them instruct users to use w32codecs, MAD, and DeCSS.


Well, just because they suggest it, doesn't mean one needs it. The free software codecs are usually sufficient.
But I guess it can't hurt to have all options installed in case they aren't.

None suggest the linspire dvd player, or legal alternatives (such as helix based apps).


Maybe the FAQ authors didn't know about them. Or maybe they just didn't care.
If someone cares they can surely request appropriate changes.

The money would be negligable...


If it would be negligable, they would install them, because without codecs their product looks less attractive (there are already several articles about this negative point in the offering).

...the reason that they didn't include them is the easy availablity of free (as in beer) alternatives that are easier to deal with and work accross the board


By that reasoning they would have never installed Windows, because of the easy availablility of free (as in beer) alternative sources for Windows install media.

We can be quite sure they didn't do it because they would have gotten into troubles with the licensers of the software in question and I am quite sure they will have a codec solution before the first unit ships also because they don't want to get into troubles with the licensers of said codec technologies (in some cases that would even be the same entity)

They will install one of the available licenced codec solutions for the very same reason they won't install the free as in beer alternatives: legal certainty.

Reply Score: 2

The issue...
by kaiwai on Wed 23rd May 2007 04:19 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

The issue as I see it, isn't so much the need to use closed source drivers - its an unfortunate reality these days with companies unreasonable paranoia when it comes to opening up specifications.

The issue I see is whether there will be the same degree of integration between the operating system, hardware and middleware which is loaded ontop of it - a DVD player for instance? how about paying royalties to the necessary companies to allow playback and encoding in popular formats? how about buy out Fluendo and use their relationship with Microsoft to provide a degree of compatibility between Microsoft audio/video technologies and Linux.

Anyone can dump Linux on a cd and then dump it onto a computer - there is nothing particularly value added about that approach; the whole point of purchasing off a large vendor like Dell is not only the supposed superior level of support, but the value added features which they couple with their computers they sell.

Even so, they still wouldn't win me over; they need to improve the quality of their hardware, improve the price/performance/features of their products, and most importantly, they need to realise that the consumer market are those who purchase through retail channels. Joe and Jane average likes to go into these shops and see the product before they purchase it; you also get benefit of those 'impulse purchases' which people make when interest free deals are dangled infront whilst window shopping.

Reply Score: 3