Why Windows still has good sales figures

16:27:12 Customer Alan
Initial Question/Comment: I can’t find your laptops with Ubuntu installed
16:27:23 System System
You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
16:27:23 System System
Connected with Makrand_Karante
16:27:23 Agent Makrand_Karante
Thank you for contacting Dell sales chat. This is Makrand Karante,your Sales Advisor. In order to Help you better can you provide me with your email address and Telephone number incase we get Disconnected I can either come back to you by phone or email.
16:27:39 Customer Alan
16:27:50 Customer Alan
I am looking for laptops running Ubuntu
16:27:53 Agent Makrand_Karante
Hi Alan
16:28:03 Agent Makrand_Karante
we do not have that option available yet
16:28:15 Customer Alan
oh 🙁
16:28:32 Customer Alan
when will they be available, I don’t want Windows at all
16:28:53 Agent Makrand_Karante
we do not have the related information here
16:29:36 Customer Alan
that is a bit of a shame, I will have to go somewhere else to get a laptop then
16:29:53 Agent Makrand_Karante
is there any thing else that I may assist you with today?
16:30:07 Customer Alan
well not really. I just wanted a laptop running Ubuntu.
16:30:19 Customer Alan
Do you have any without an operating system at all?
16:30:28 Agent Makrand_Karante
I am afraid no
16:30:36 Customer Alan
16:31:23 Customer Alan
so if I want a laptop from Dell I have to buy windows
16:31:58 Agent Makrand_Karante
16:32:12 Customer Alan
ok, thanks for your help
16:32:29 Agent Makrand_Karante
Thank you for contacting Dell Sales Chat and allowing me the opportunity to assist you. Have a wonderful Day ahead.
16:33:25 System System
The session has ended!

Couple of updates. I am in the UK, so that was through the dell.co.uk site, I don’t want one from the US because it would have the wrong keyboard and I would be stung with customs charges and it would take a long time to get here and I like instant overnight consumer gratification.

If you are tempted to go ask similar questions of the Dell online chat thing then go right ahead with the following conditions:
1) You must take a credit card out of your purse/wallet, rest it on your keyboard and be totally prepared to use it, if they find you a suitable laptop.
2) Do it once, don’t repeatedly bother them.
3) Be polite and respectful, the Code of Conduct applies.


  • derande says:

    i’m not entirely down with bombarding their sales reps but i, myself, will take the time to do the same and express my dislike of being forced to purchase a system with windows. perhaps if enough people did the same it might change some minds of those who make these decisions.
    what a shame.

  • Kai says:


    Sadly, there’s not much one can choose from. But the Dell rep should know that these options do exist!

  • Alan Bell says:

    I don’t think people should talk to the sales reps, unless they have a credit card in hand and are prepared to use it if a suitable laptop can be found. If you can satisfy that condition then go right ahead, but be polite and respectful at all times, the code of conduct still applies.

  • morlockhq says:

    I’ve done this in the past (in the US) and when I specifically asked for Ubuntu and/or Linux, I was pointed to the Latitude Z line that comes with the option of Ubuntu or Free DOS in the customizations area.

  • Bought my sister a Dell Inspiron with FreeDOS about a week ago. Maybe you can find something with FreeDOS, you don’t pay license then. 🙂

  • Alan

    Funilly enough I did exactly the same thing last monday for a laptop for our sales engineer. I’ve ended up buying one anyway, and will try to claim the windows tax back. wish me luck!

  • Berber says:

    Some nice UK tips:
    1. It’s better to call Dell and talk to customer support. If you get to a dead-end, ask to ‘escalate’ the issue. This means either to talk to the manager or talk to someone higher in the customer support food chain.
    2. If you can get a laptop as part of your work (including University), you can talk with the Dell Business Sales people. They are more knowledgeable and you can ask for a naked computer or a computer with FreeDOS. Have company information handy when they are requested.
    3. If you can call landlines for free, then look at http://saynoto0870.co.uk/search.php and search for Dell. Find a local number (such as switchboard) and ask to be redirected to pre-sales or business sales, etc.
    4. (To blog author): Email me if you want me to forward the e-mail of the Dell person I got my refund from.
    5. Windows 7 has a different EULA that makes it on purpose more difficult to get a refund. Be bullish and respectful and test how Dell responds. If you can buy with Vista (wow!), you can get your Dell refund nice and well.
    6. Be willing to stay on the phone and talk (respectfully) for long.

    • Alan Bell says:

      Well at the moment they are turning people away. If they want to sell Ubuntu laptops over the phone then fine, they should update their web pages to reflect that, they should tell the online chat people to give out the phone number to people enquiring about Ubuntu. Right now they are not. They are turning down sales, and at the end of each quarter someone somewhere will get a report and see artificially poor sales figures for the Ubuntu laptops because the sales structures within Dell are telling people like me to go away, or buy Windows.

  • ethana2 says:

    I’ve made the mistake of buying two Ubuntu Dells. Their Ubuntu assortment makes an utter mockery of what our platform is capable of. Buy System76.

    • Jef Spaleta says:

      Does System76 materially support Ubuntu development? Are they helping to pay for Ubuntu infrastructure? Or they helping to staff Ubuntu development manhours? Are they contracting with Canonical for OEM services or support services that would allow them to indirectly support Ubuntu manpower and infrastructure through your consumer purchasing dollars? Do you really want to support an OEM which is _profiting_ from the effort going into building Ubuntu but not driving part of that profit back into continued Ubuntu development?

      For all the shortcomings Dell has in its product portfolio… they are actually materially supported Ubuntu development. They even staff people who are on the Ubuntu development team. What other OEMs do that?


      • Alan Bell says:

        I don’t know that much about System76, they don’t seem to be selling to the UK market. I would love to support Dell through my consumer purchasing pounds. Really. I want to do it. They won’t accept my money.

        • Jef Spaleta says:

          thats a bit hyperbole. They’ll accept your money.. you just have to be willing to live with their factory installed featureset and accept that what you want is a special interest which you’ll have to take care of as an aftermarket mod.

          In some ways its like walking into a car dealership and asking if you can get the car from the factory with a Kenwood stereo system and finding out that they only provide the car from the factory with really crappy Sony stereo systems. Most people simply accept that this sort of customization is possible and easily done as an after market modification. In fact specialized audio retailers make a business out of doing this sort of install as a business to help people out who don’t want to do it themselves. But very few people think its wrong that Kenwood stereos aren’t a factory install option in their Prius or whatever. Audiophiles have come to expect to have to do this sort of mod aftermarket to get what they want. They understand that their interests are _special_ interests and there is a niche marketplace or retailers that caters to them. The original stereo is just a sunk cost to get the 95% of the car they want.

          I use the car stereo example because the car stereo is pretty much the most used user interface and most widely customizable piece of functional gear with wide brand recognition that a car owner will desire to change regardless of the make and model of the car. The stereo is a commodity element to some car owners, and a highly personal choice to audiophiles. There are other elements that are increasingly niche in nature…all of them after market options. How many people in a year buy a car? How many aftermarket stereos are installed every year as an aftermarket upgrade (not as a a replacement for a broken unit)? Want to wager that the numbers look a lot like the number of people running linux on consumer laptops compared to total laptop sales?

          Maybe at the end of the day, Ubuntu is one of those after market mods that people who care about software are expected to perform… just like an audiophile replacing their car stereo. What really matters is making sure its possible to do. Can you imagine how crappy it would be if your car stereo unit version was locked to a your specific make and model of car.


          • Berber says:

            I’ve heard of the car analogy in different variations such as ability to choose different tires, etc.
            The problem is that these types of analogies miss the issue.

            We are quite a few consumers that want to buy computers and we do not plan to use Windows. In a natural market economy, you would expect to be able to freely buy a computer with at least Ubuntu (if the manufacturer is able to certify Ubuntu compatibility), FreeDOS or no operating system at all. However, this thing does not exist; the market is distorted because Microsoft is forcing manufacturers to ditch non-Windows computers.

            The trick that Microsoft does is that they have a base OEM price for Windows, and if manufacturers want a much sweeter deal, then they need to advertise Windows and go all the way with Microsoft for their product range. Is this anticompetitive? You betcha!
            Microsoft continues to have extreme profitability because people need to buy computers, and all computers come with Windows.

            In developing countries it is possible to buy computers with FreeDOS because these markets are not core markets for Microsoft. In addition, for business customers, it is possible to get a computer without Windows, if you insist a lot.
            Manufacturers are happy to sell computers without Windows if they end up selling more computers. It’s Microsoft that depends on all computers have Windows pre-installed that causes the problem.

          • Alan Bell says:

            Buying a Dell with a legacy operating system installed isn’t supporting Ubuntu in any way. I would rather make them aware that they have lost a sale because of their lack of suitable options.

          • Jef Spaleta says:

            Other than Dell.. what OEM has a contractual relationship with Canonical or is providing manpower or infrasturucture support directly? The hard reality is Dell is the best OEM partner that Ubuntu has right now.. hands down.

            System76 and ZaReason while popular as OEMs because they provide a better product selection than Dell do not materially support Ubuntu. None of the price you pay for a pre-installed Ubuntu system from either System76 or ZaReason flows back into Ubuntu development or infrastructure.. none of that money helps keeps the lights on and the release process flowing. If the goal is to make sure your dollars are being spent materially supporting Ubuntu…Dell’s pretty much the only consumer OEM that actually does that.

            You can get as upset as you want about how limited that support is..but going off and spending your money with another OEM that has a wider range of Ubuntu pre-install selections doesn’t mean your money you are paying(and its typically a higher price point than an equivalent Dell system with windows) is going back to support Ubuntu at all. If you care about materially supporting Ubuntu with cash, demand the OEMs tell you how they support the costs of keeping Ubuntu going.

          • Homer says:

            I’m sure Dell’s support of Ubuntu is very useful, but how much of my money would go towards helping Ubuntu … by purchasing a Windows laptop from Dell UK (the only option over here)?

            Certainly that money helps Dell (internationally) in general, so in a very round about way it could be said to help Ubuntu, as it’s helping one of their partners. But I think you’ll find that money helps Microsoft more … a whole lot more, as it’s their OS I’m paying for (in part), not Canonical’s.

            Given a choice between benefiting Microsoft with my money, for an OS I don’t want and will never use, for the sake of also benefiting one of Canonical’s partners (maybe, in a very indirect way), or going elsewhere that benefits neither Ubuntu nor Microsoft, I’ll take the latter option every time. No contest.

            Sorry Dell and Canonical, but Microsoft is simply not getting my money, ever, no matter how much you think it might “help” either one of you. It doesn’t help me.

            I’d sooner glue together my own computer from AirFix parts, and install Linux From Scratch, just on principle.

  • Berber says:

    Dell on the news for Ubuntu laptops,

    They claim that they sell Ubuntu laptops, over the phone.

  • Chris says:

    I decided to pose as a novice to computing looking to buy a ubuntu pre installed PC or Laptop. Like someone you may know would do if you got them to take a drink of the ubuntu premium coffee.

    After searching the site, I found the OS choice page which is a U turn on the Dell statements, and a list of printers and storage. I know linux is embedded, and the printer most likely runs on linux. But I doubt you can hook a monitor, mouse and keyboard up and use as a pc.

    Deciding to look further, I contacted their customer support live chat. Following is the conversation with an operator who does not know anything.

    09:15:48 Chris Initial Question/Comment: I was told Dell sell’s computer’s pre installed with ubuntu and your website even confirm’s ubuntu. But when searching I can only find printers and storage.
    09:16:03 System You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
    09:16:03 System Connected with Sherrell_Long
    09:16:08 Sherrell_Long Thank you for contacting Dell chat sales. This is Sherrell, your sales advisor. In order to serve you better, may i have your telephone number & email address, just in case of disconnection i can either call you or email you back.
    09:16:52 Chris Would rather not since its a quick question
    09:17:17 Chris Do you have any Ubuntu PC’s?
    09:17:33 Sherrell_Long You are looking for a system which comes with Ubuntu?
    09:17:39 Chris Yes
    09:18:06 Chris A friend told me about ubuntu and I am looking for a new computer anyway, so I want one with ubuntu instead of windows
    09:19:23 Sherrell_Long A laptop or desktop?
    09:19:40 Chris Preferrably a desktop, but a good laptop would suffice
    09:20:00 Chris Need one mainly to get work done, browsing the internet and possibly play a few games
    09:20:18 Sherrell_Long ok
    09:20:48 Sherrell_Long Ubuntu is available in desktop and not laptops
    09:21:12 Chris Can you give me the link to your range of desktop’s then?
    09:21:23 Sherrell_Long Sure
    09:21:56 Chris Also is ubuntu available on all or just certain ones?
    09:24:24 Chris Do you have the link yet, the desktop’s I am looking at dont mention ubuntu
    09:24:30 Chris just window’s
    09:24:44 Sherrell_Long Which desktop are you looking at?
    09:25:15 Chris Inspiron 570
    09:26:49 Sherrell_Long ok
    09:26:54 Sherrell_Long Checking for the link
    09:27:32 Chris http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/to…hs1&l=en&s=dhs thats the one I am looking at
    09:27:39 Sherrell_Long Sorry, the OS is not available on desktops or laptops
    09:28:24 Chris Then why did dell state ubuntu was safter than windows before, and even has a page mentioning ubuntu on OS choices?
    09:28:52 Chris Do you know any other companies who do ubuntu pc’s then?
    09:29:14 Sherrell_Long The other option is to have the OS installed on the PC once you receive delivery of it
    09:30:03 Chris I dont know how to install the OS, I am not technically minded
    09:30:21 Chris thankyou for being of no use though. dont back ubuntu when you dont sell it ok

    In short, first they don’t do ubuntu on laptop’s, only desktops. Was it not the other way around. Then the operator could not find the PC I had chosen. Then dropped the bombshell that ubuntu was no longer available.

    Maybe Ubuntu should be pushed at more competent manufacturers. For instance HP / Compaq, Ubuntu works out of the box with every compaq laptop and pc I have tried. Maybe even look at pushing at Sony, Seimens, Fujitsu.

  • Andrea R says:

    Try asking them for a Latitude n-series.

  • Well I looked on their website and found: http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop-latitude-2100?c=uk&l=en&s=bsd&cs=ukbsdt1 which is a netbook and which you can apparently get with Ubuntu.

    I got my Dell XPS M1330 laptop pre installed with Ubuntu and it is still working great. Unfortunately it looks like Dell no longer stock the kind of laptop I would want to get if I wanted to replace it with Ubuntu pre-installed.

    • Roshan says:

      That was a good laptop for Dell to put Ubuntu on. Out of the box, everything is supported except for the fingerprint reader. They didn’t have to do _anything_.

  • Roshan says:

    How did you get the conversation to display like that? Is it a wordpress plugin or did you have to format it that way manually?

    • Alan Bell says:

      I just copied and pasted from the web page, then fixed all the relative links to the images to point to the server that the chat was on. I made one of the cells a bit bigger to add some space to the name column.

  • Berber says:

    Buying a Dell with a legacy operating system installed isn’t supporting Ubuntu in any way. I would rather make them aware that they have lost a sale because of their lack of suitable options.

    Currently Microsoft dominates over the computer manufacturers so any new computer comes with Windows pre-installed. In our effort to get computers without Windows, we might have to refine our position so that we get wider support.

    There are students that have access to Microsoft Academic licenses and Windows, that would not need to buy a new computer with Windows pre-installed.

    There are users that prefer some other operating system (apart from tested-Ubuntu), wish to accept some unsupported hardware, and want not to pay for pre-installed Windows (available in non-European markets already).

    And there are users that want manufacturers to test their hardware on Ubuntu, and we want a first-class experience when we buy a new computer. When we customize our new computer with Dell, we want to pick and choose the operating system, either Windows, Ubuntu Linux or FreeDOS for those who want to do it on their own.

    • Berber says:

      Ergo, as consumers, we want computer manufacturers to offer the option for products without Windows.

      Whether the computer will come with FreeDOS, Ubuntu or something else is something we can discuss on. What we do not want is pre-installed Windows. For our computers we do not want pre-installed Windows on them.

  • Luc Bollen says:

    I had a similar chat with Dell Belgium in October 2008. At this time, the guy told me they had no Linux PCs in Belgium, but this could come in 2009. I let them know that I bought 2 MacBooks instead of the usual Dell laptops I was buying (I bought 14 Dell PCs in the previous 4 years for my small enterprise) because I no longer want to buy Windows PCs. After that, I bought 3 additional MacMini.

    By the end of 2009, the Dell Latitude 2100 netbook was available with Ubuntu in Belgium (for small enterprises only). I bought one in Feb-10. Since then, the Latitude 13 laptop is also available with Ubuntu.

    So, I think that it is worthwhile to let Dell know if you are interested by Ubuntu PCs. If enough people ask for Ubuntu, Dell will provide Ubuntu on some of theirs PCs (at least for the professional market – they still have no Ubuntu offering in Belgium for the home market).

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