A rant on Dell and linux/ubuntu

Scott Purcell scott at texastwister.info
Mon Jun 1 06:53:35 CDT 2009

Disclosure:  I'm a Dell employee but not a spokesman for Dell.  My thoughts
are my own.  I'm neither and an engineer nor an executive and have no
visibility to the decision making or deals or future strategy.  That having
been said, I'd like to address some of the things that have raised in this

    * Does Dell have a strategy to expand Linux on Desktops?  If you mean by
that to encourage more people to use Linux, then I highly doubt it.  Dell's
role is to try to give customers what they're asking for -- not to persuade
them they need what Dell thinks they need.  If you mean to expand Linux on
Desktops to other markets and other models, then I'd say it probably depends
on what the demand is -- if customers in significant numbers are asking for
it Dell will probably try to meet the need.  Additionally, if demand for
Ubuntu recedes in the markets where it IS offered, it wouldn't surprise me
to see the offering end -- Dell has done that before.  Sometime within a
year or two before or after 2000, Dell offered Red Hat on Desktops.  Not
enough were sold, so Linux on Dell became a focus for only servers and
workstations for several years.  (Note again -- I have no knowledge of
demand or plans, this is not a prediction but a historical observation)
    * Dell participation on this list and the wiki:  Just speculation here,
but any reduced level of participation could well be from changing personnel
and responsibilities cause by headcount reductions brought on by the
economic conditions we're in.  It's public knowledge that Dell, like many or
most other computer vendors, has had to reduce staffing levels. People end
up trying to do more work with fewer people and sometimes responsibilities
must shift people's assignments to areas where the need is perceived to be
greater.  Again it comes down to demand.  If large numbers of people are
clamouring for Linux on Dell, or for support for Linux on Dell then that
becomes a greater priority.
* Dell missing an opportunity to "grow the linux market segment" and be a
leader in the field:  Growing the linux market segment is not what this has
ever been about.  Dell is not an advocacy group.  As much as some of us as
individuals have this as a goal, Dell corporately will never care about
this.  But neither is it Dell's goal to "grow the demand for Windows".
Dell's goal seems to me to be to responsibly and profitably sell computer
hardware.  Dell will offer Linux when it contributes to profitably selling
computer hardware -- and that is all we should expect.  But as to leadership
in the field, I don't think enough credit is given -- or perhaps some are
unaware of all Dell is doing or has done...

Bottom line -- it's about demand, not conspiracies.

Just my two cents worth...

Scott Purcell
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