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.