Dell sells 40K Ubuntu systems in 6 months

I note that The Register has an article up stating that “Dell has shipped close to 40,000 systems pre-installed with the Ubuntu flavor of Linux, according to multiple sources.”

But I’m going to call out the author of the article, Register editor Ashlee Vance, for also trolling with comments like:

“By most accounts, that’s a heck of a total for what remains more or less a fringe operating system.”

“more than 130,000 people promoted the notion on the company’s IdeaStorm web site. It would seem, however, that only a fraction of these zealots were willing to back their votes with cash.”

(emphasis added)

He defends his use of the term “fringe operating system” by defining it as an “OS [which] trails major desktop and notebook OSes by quite a margin” A hint to Mr. Vance: by your definition, there is ONLY ONE non-fringe OS: Windows XP. Look at the Net Applicatons OS stats (which I don’t fully trust BTW, but are good enough to illustrate the point) and you’ll see what I mean…

~79% Windows XP

[“quite a margin” here]

~8% Windows Vista
~6.5% “MacIntel” + “Mac OS” (a little confusing, so I lumped them together; most of that will be OS X though)
~3% Windows 2000
~1% Windows 98
~1% Linux
~0.5% Windows NT
~0.5% Windows ME
~0.5% Other

Why not define a “fringe OS” as one which doesn’t have a major OEM offering it? Oh wait…


His statement that “more than 130,000 people promoted the notion on the company’s IdeaStorm web site” is improperly drawn; note here that when Dell started selling Ubuntu systems in late May:”about 30,000 community members weighed in to support it, and over 100,000 of you completed the Linux survey to tell us more.”

I imagine that a good chunk of the 100K that took the survey (which was on NOT the IdeaStorm site) were from that 30K listed. Also, the current score on the idea is in “points”; initially it was 1 point per vote, but later they switched it to 10 points per vote. So really, his griping that the people who voted for the idea didn’t buy the computers is bogus.

Also, how often do you think most people buy a new computer Mr. Vance? Every month? Every two or three? no? Let’s say that people have more dollars than sense (pun intended ;) and fully replace their computer every two years or so. Its only been six months since the Dell Ubuntu systems went on sale; 6/24 = 25% Even IF 130K people had voted, that would mean that only 32.5K would have bought a new computer since then. Again, less than the 40K sold!

Also, up until August when Dell started to sell the Ubuntu systems in Germany France and the UK, they only sold these systems in the US. I’m in Canada and they *won’t* sell me one; search for Ubuntu and you’ll get a notice that:

Dell Canada does not offer Ubuntu
We currently do not offer Ubuntu or any other open source solution.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Check out the Dell Community forums for additional information.

Finally, Vance does an apples-to-oranges comparison of the number of Ubuntu systems sold thus far and Dell’s sales of “about 10m machines per quarter” asking “Is 40,000 units over a number of months enough to keep Dell interested?” (yet earlier in the article he quoted “David Lord, a spokesman at Dell” as saying “Adoption has been very good” regarding the Ubuntu systems).

If you want to see some real sale numbers, Dell needs to:

1. stop hiding its Ubuntu machines in a tiny corner of its site ( and make it a general option when buying Dell machines.

2. drop the stupid warning:

The main thing to note is that when you choose open source you don’t get a Windows® operating system. If you’re here by mistake and you are looking for a Dell PC with Windows, please use the following link.

Shop Dell PCs with Windows

3. stop playing the price games which sometimes make the Windows machines cheaper than Ubuntu on the same hardware.


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