Dell Ubuntu Order Experience

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  • rhpot1991

Dell Ubuntu Order Experience

Submitted by rhpot1991 on Mon, 02/08/2010 - 20:16

Let me start off by saying hats off to Dell for giving us Ubuntu as an option. Any company that supports and contributes back to the community is always a good thing. With all that said I found the ordering experience to be quite frustrating.

So my story begins with someone giving me a coupon, which was set to expire at the end of January. I make my way over to Dell's Ubuntu site to have a look at their offerings. Their choices are Inspiron 15n, Studio XPS 13, and Mini 10v. I currently have an EEE 1000, and like the small compact size, but it is a little underpowered for some uses. So I decide on the XPS 13 and start to look at the customization options, I was impressed by the option for a WLED screen.

At this point I start reading reviews to make sure this laptop is worth the kind of money I will be spending. Eventually I end up at the main Dell Studio XPS 13 page and find a surprise there. They offer a Windows 7 version of the laptop that I want with the WLED screen upgrade for cheaper than the Ubuntu version with the screen upgrade added. On top of this the Windows 7 version has memory, video card, hard drive, and warranty upgrades and is still cheaper than the Ubuntu version with only the screen upgrade.

Now I have the laptop I want picked out but I want a simple OS substitution. Shouldn't be that hard, right? Wrong. I contacted Dell several times via chat and phone in an attempt to order the upgraded laptop and get Ubuntu on it. They can keep their Windows license and this should save them money. What is the issue? Apparently there is no way that this can be done in their system. With the coupon expiring I eventually gave in and ordered the Windows 7 version, I will wipe it and install Ubuntu when it comes. It is a shame that I wanted to support Dell's Ubuntu work but was unable to.

I would like to see Dell make some changes to fix this issue. I see no reason why Ubuntu cannot be listed as an OS choice. If I can upgrade to a different version of Windows, I should be able to upgrade to Ubuntu as well. I am also not sure why there is no option to special order this at all. I was hopeful that I would be able to talk to someone on the phone and get this request made, but the Dell agents seem to have their hands tied by the same web interface that affects the customers. I'd even prefer the option to install nothing on the laptop and throw in whatever Ubuntu software you have and I would have been happy.

I really hate the fact that this whole experiences makes the Dell Ubuntu team look bad. It seems that the entire issue is in the ordering process. The laptop has been cleared to be sold with Ubuntu on it, but for some reason that only applies to a very specific configuration, and to make matters worse it seems the sales team only discounts Windows configurations. Once again, if Ubuntu was an option instead of an entirely different product then these issues wouldn't exist. If there is anyone out there from Dell who would like to contact me about this feel free. Maybe you can accidentally drop some Ubuntu software into my box before it ships as well.

I should note that as of this writing the XPS 13 is no longer available with Ubuntu, and the configuration that I ordered no longer appears on the website either. Guess I ordered it just in time.

Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 20:33

You should do 2 things:
1. Request a refund for Windows. Unless I'm mistaken, if you don't agree with the EULA, then Dell needs to refund you.
2. Send in an official complaint.

Well the offer was to spend 40% more for the Ubuntu model for no good reason when it is just a configuration option. So I'll stand by my choice to install Ubuntu myself and hope that this article finds someone in Dell who can make a change.

Dell gets subsidies from MS that is why they can sell the windows machine with better specs for less.... unless dell wants to eat the cost of the ubuntu machine your not going to get anyone at dell to change anything...

what i would do... is ask for a refund on your windows one user mentioned... it may not be much but it will put money back into your pocket.. and take it away from MS.. plus you got the machine at a cheap price..

what you did do is support MS... and their marketing machine claim another sale of windows.. and gave dell more ammunition to claim that there is no demand for linux... asking for a refund will put a ding in this marketing machine..

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 16:15

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

As I stated and others too... demand the refund from Dell. If they can't sell a system that costs THEM less, to the consumer that costs the consumer LESS, then they need to. Maybe they will get the point eventually. It's too bad they are making the customer purchase software that the customer doesn't want. Nobody in their right mind is going to pay MORE for a PC to get software that is already free.

Definitely the best thing to do. They HAVE to refund you. In France and Germany, there are a lot of associations to help you along the refund path. I don't know how it is where you live.

Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 21:55

I own an Inspiron 1420N. ..and my mom has an Inspiron 1525N... so that's two Ubuntu Dells in my family.

My experience with Dell left me so frustrated, exhausted, and angry that I really think it would be best for Dell to just give it up, like, immediately. Their techs don't know what they're doing, they're hobbled by their marketing, their selection after what three years.. is still nothing compared to that of even APPLE. They don't offer an all-in-one, they don't offer decent support, they don't offer 64 bit.... I had to send my machine in literally 3 times, it's like they were replacing parts based on a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.

Ubuntu on Dell is a novelty. Grow balls or go home, Dell. System76 already offers like 3 or 4 times the hardware choice.. maybe with less of their customers going to a Windows company they could do an all-in-one or a tablet.

Dell is just making Ubuntu look bad.

Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 22:09


"South East Asia. HP discontinued its Linux SKUs beginning on November 18th. This is based on joint marketing effort that spans six months to promote low cost Windows SKU's with $30 extra channel incentives that focus on white box resellers. The goal is to enable the whitebox resellers to offer HP branded PCs instead of naked PCs."

"HP is not advertising Linux sku's in NA and EMEA. However, they are advertising Linux sku's in Latin America, Asia, China. There is one Linux sku on HP's NA web site today at $520. Their lowest priced $899 notebook ships with Windows XP HE."

"HP will launch lower cost desktop PC in January 03 targeting a $300-399 street price incl. cpu and monitor excl. OS Design target is material cost of $230 excl cpu, monitor and processor vs. today $350 up. Jed Callaway organization has decided to provide Linux preload images in all regions 1H '03. There will be no promotion of sku's in Mature markets but the Linux offering will be available in all regions on Evo Desktop D300. We also expect Linux preload on future notebooks and consumer desktop PCs."

There you go. Vendors discontinue, don't advertise, don't price the same, etc., all at the behest of Microsoft. Your Windows 7 license at work, too (they do it for the kickbacks).

Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 22:10

Buy from a Linux vendor. I bought my main server (meerkat dual-core nettop) from System76. I've heard good things about ZaReason, too; I just don't have practical experience with them yet.

If you want to have a Linux option, *don't* buy Windows!

Have you emailed them? I've always found them to be very responsive. Even if they can't do anything in the immediate future, at least then they *know* why you're going elsewhere.

Also, gauge how much you *need* the *exact* specs you state compared to having a Linux option in the future, because that's the exact tradeoff you're making.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 00:01

Another worthy Linux pre-install vendor is Eight Virtues which,
in my opinion should be mentioned in the same breath as system76 and zareason. Bought a desktop from them and the support was good.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 10:51

I had a similar issue getting my hands on a particular configuration of the Latitude E6xxx without Windows preloaded. I spoke on the phone with customer service (as a small business) and in the end they agreed to apply a discount of $80 (the price of Windows 7 OEM on newegg) to the notebook. I'll admit it made the order process a little more frustrating that it had to be, but it's much better than trying to get a Windows refund after you make the purchase!

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 15:09

Microsoft continues to proclaim that GNU/Linux system sell through proves that GNU/Linux is a failure. Because the pay off companies like HP and Dell, they continue to incent companies to obfuscate the truth.

The real number of systems running GNU/Linux is higher than sell-through statistics show, partly because of actions and activity such as that illustrated in this story.

Saturday morning we bought an ACER Aspire One 10.1" netbook with Windows 7 preloaded because it was on sale for $299, and the Linux version would have to be special ordered at a higher price.

So, when she got home, my wife (whose deskop computer is a Dell running Linux Mint 8 - I know, because I am the IT guy in our house, and we have NOTHING running any Microsoft software at all) gave me the netbook to load up with Ubuntu Netbook Remix. Last week I purchased a 2 GByte USB memory device onto which I loaded UNR from the UNR CD I downloaded and burned on my System 76 Serval Pro 2 -- the ACER Aspire One had no CD drive, and we didn't need one BECAUSE UNR can be loaded from a USB memory device (I don't know ... can that be done with Windows 7?)

After installation (I used the installer's partitioner to format the drive for EXT4 with a / partition and a /home partition, and a swap partition - the entire installation took about 15 minutes) I rebooted into UNR, opened Synaptics, and installed UBUNTU-RESTRICTED-EXTRAS and all was ready for her to take this neat little netbook to class for note taking (she's a graduate student, returning to school at 56 years of age) because she types better and faster than she can hand write.

Next, I stripped off the Windows 7 sticker, applied a "powered by ubuntu linux" sticker, and applied an Ubuntu logo dot over the Windows key -- so now my wife has a 100% Ubuntu Linyx netbook with only the Windows 7 license sticker on the bottom of the netbook.

My point is that this netbook sale is registering in the statistics as another sale of Windows 7, but it is not true that this is a sale of Windows 7 for use. In reality, this is an Ubuntu Netbook sale.

So how do we register this so that the world can see?

Maybe we need to ask the Linux Foundation to establish a registration web site where we can register our hardware, and our software (by Distro), and what operating system we installed over for all new computer sales.

Then, the Linux Foundation can send the database (with personal information obfuscated or deleted) to the hardware vendors, and to Microsoft, so that they can correct their sales through figures. This databse can also be made available to the various organizations that report sales through and use so that we can correct the misconception that Microsoft creates when they use their money to pay off manufacturers and distributors.

Had this laptop come with a separate license and CD (and not just a sticker on the bottom of the laptop which cannot be removed without damaging it and without risking scratching the computer) I would have gladly shipped them back to Microsoft for a refund as my wife and I have never agreed to ANY Windows 7 license agreement on any computer anywhere.

By the way, my Linksys Cable Gateway uses Linux, my personal media player uses Linux, my Tivo is powered by Linux, and soon I will have an Android Smartphone, too.

the best way to remove stickers from your laptop/desktop is by gently heating it with a hair dryer, and then it will peel away easily. this even works with the licence key stickers but use a craft knife on that to get it in one piece.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 15:17

Why is it so hard for OEM's such as Dell or HP to simply sell their hardware without Microsoft pre-installed? There really needs to be a crackdown on these Microsoft/OEM deals that preclude all other operating systems. The majority of consumers have no idea that they have a choice, and it's because 95% of computers are sold with Windows. It's time for the consumer to be offered real choices.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 16:12

This has been an issue with Dell for years. I've ordered systems from them only to find the exact same problem: configuring a system with identical specs, and the Windows system is cheaper. Why? The price of the system with Ubuntu should be about $60-70 cheaper, but it's the other way around. Somebody is paying for the copy of Windows that is supposedly bundled with the system, but who?

Anyway, the only way around this (and your mileage may vary), is to purchase the cheaper of the two systems that has Windoze. Then, when you receive the new PC, power it on, and do NOT accept the Windows license agreement. Follow the instructions on the screen, which says to contact the vendor for a Windows refund. I've done this a few times with Dell on NEW systems and they have honored the refund. It seems to average around $60. One time they actually sent me a return label, and asked me to return the CDs which I was more than happy to do. I have not had any luck doing this on any refurbished system. Each attempt was denied. I was told by Dell that this was because the original system was bundled with a Windows license, which is forever tied to that PC. I still do this day don't understand how this differs from buying a new PC.

Unfortunately, this is a problem at all PC vendors. When will the first one step up , and offer IDENTICAL systems with Windows and Linux, with the Linux system being $60-70 cheaper? You would think it would benefit Dell and other vendors to do this. It's too bad they are following the market, rather than being a little more innovative with marketing their systems.

In the meantime, demand a Windows refund from the vendors, maybe they will get the point. It says it clearly that you are entitled to pursue a refund when you first power up a new Windows based PC. Do as the instructions say, and hopefully you will be granted the refund.

Somebody is paying for the copy of Windows that is supposedly bundled with the system, but who?

The deal is, all of the 3rd party app vendors pay Dell to put their time (or functionality) limited demo versions of crap on the PC along with Windows. Think, for example, of AV software.

When the box ships with Linux, they have no such "products" to include so there is no 3rd party subsidy.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 16:25

I hate the fact of not being able to buy a OS-free laptop. I would like to see
the choices and chosse not to have Windows with a discount on the price.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:18

I have bought two Dell laptops with Ubuntu preloaded (15N and mini 9), and I have had good experiences with both. However, to get a good deal, I had to wait until Dell was running a special offer. Every so often, Dell seems to offer their Ubuntu systems in a particularly desirable way. It is a shame that they can't or won't do this all the time. In the past, I was able to buy from Dell when they were offering the kind of deal I wanted. However, this is probably not going to be the case every time, which could send me off to System 76, etc. If Dell really wants to sell Ubuntu systems, they should offer the kind of flexibility and competitive prices in those systems that they do in their Windows systems.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 02/10/2010 - 11:54

Why not just contact Dell and voice our concern, the end user has all the power, but so many of us are novice and fail when confronted with a bit of "techie talk" all designed to dance us around the issue.

When you get that pc say no to the licence, pack a lunch camp out with your phone and contact MS for a refund. You will not be the first to get a refund by saying no to their licence.

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 02/11/2010 - 09:28

I had try to buy an ubuntu machine from Dell (last summer) and I gave up. After several days of trying to get a fair price (because the Ubuntu machine get $200 box more expensive than the same Windows machine after updates). They tall me they won't ship Linux machines to Puerto Rico (where I lived), even when they have and Ubuntu section in their Puerto Rico web site. But the worst was that the Dell agent try to force me to buy a Windows machine during the whole process. What part of "I'm not interested on Windows" their do not understand?

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 02/11/2010 - 16:14

Not the first time they've had special deals on the Windows version but not Ubuntu version of a machine. If enough people bitch, they'll claim it was a glitch in the system and make the deal available on the Ubuntu version too.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 06:24

I totally agree with you post, I recently had a simular expereience , however lost the fight in the end and gave up such a shame its a great product. I think there sales people couls do with more telephone training

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 11/08/2011 - 18:22

Dell gets subsidies from MS that is why they can sell the windows machine with better specs for less.... unless dell wants to eat the cost of the ubuntu machine your not going to get anyone at dell to change anything...

what i would do... is ask for a refund on your windows one user mentioned... it may not be much but it will put money back into your pocket.. and take it away from MS.. plus you got the machine at a cheap price..

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 11/12/2013 - 00:32

Im really liking dell again for this change of heart and adding Ubuntu to their products. I have been using it for over 3 years and will never go back to windows. I actually bought a Dell XPS L502X laptop with 12 on it and this baby is fast!