Preinstalled Open Source: The Next OS Battleground?
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The consumer response to Dell's request for product suggestions showed alarge interest in PCs preloaded with open source operating systems and applications. Negligible financial benefit has often stood in the way of such offerings. Unknown interest among consumers has also been an obstacle, but now that Dell has asked them directly, can it afford to ignore their replies?Read more @ TechNewsWorld.
My opinion: No, they can't ignore it. Dell asked directly, and for them to ignore the consumer's wishes now would hardly be in their best interest. Offering FreeDOS, on some of their computer systems is a step in the right direction, but really just a small step (considering the systems are actually more expensive!). If any PC vendor wants to be successful in the future, they are going to have to embrace open-source and Linux. Some people just don't need Windows, and to make those people pay for it as a price included in the system... well that's just wrong, and people are realizing it! Consumers need a choice, and ironically that is what Dell thinks it is all about. But having just one operating system to chose from... well, that doesn't qualify as choice in my book! Recently, I read an article discussing why hardware vendors won't do Linux pre-installation. I find their "reasoning" of "one size doesn't fit all" is really just a lame excuse. If Dell, or other PC vendors loaded Ubuntu defaultly on the machines, and then offered a few other options as well (SUSE, Red Hat, Fedora, etc), everything would be just fine. Any competent user can, if they wish, load a different distro later, and for those who can't, Ubuntu is an EXCELLENT option. When it comes down to it, its about the money. Dell can't make money off of something that is free! Or so it seems... for as more people are realizing that open-source is the way to go, if PC vendors did go with Linux pre-installs, there would be a larger crowd to appeal to, perhaps offsetting the "losses" of not selling Windows on their systems. Also, a happy costumer may become a returning customer or refer friends. More sales = more money. However, there is another point, discussed in afore mentioned article, that is perhaps THE opposing factor for Linux:
Although it might make sense for Dell to start offering Linux preinstallations for regular consumers a few years from now, most people wanting to make the switch from Windows to Linux at this stage should do so with the guidance of a Linux enthusiast who can perform the installation and help them make the transition, or by purchasing from a shop that specializes in Linux preinstallation.I had to laugh out loud the first time I read this, I mean... that's Dell for you! On second glance, it made me rather sad. In a world where we are all dependent upon computers, there is still so much ignorance about their use. Most people would find an excuse for why they can't work a computer, but really, it just comes down to the initiative it takes to learn something new. An initiative some people just don't seem to posses. Training employees to support Linux would most likely be a one time thing. For the basic user, Linux is not that difficult to learn! If PC vendors focused on offering Linux compatible hardware, there would really be no cause to worry at all!
I'm not saying this because I think that Linux isn't ready for the desktop. I'm saying this because I don't think that Dell is capable yet of providing full technical support for desktop Linux. Dell has a hard enough time as it is supporting Windows.
Even if pre-installing Linux is not an option, please, at least offer open-source software for pre-install! Thousands of people using, and paying hundreds for, Microsoft office would fair perfectly well with Open Office. There's an open source alternative for nearly everything. The applications are there... use them!
It's time for a paradigm shift in the world of computers and operating systems, a shift towards the adoption of open-source. Its not just a nerd thing any more, its real, and for the masses.