May 092009

Well, my laptop is playing up and getting a bit old so I’m in the market for a new one. I only want to buy one with Linux pre-installed, not for any anti-Microsoft reasons as such but just so that it can be noted that there is a market out there for Linux computers. My current laptop was bought from Dell with Ubuntu installed on it, which has done me well for the last few years, so I decided to give them my repeat business. Checking their Linux website shows no current devices available, so I decided to try and contact them to see if there were any future plans.

First off, when trying to contact Dell for any reason, they don’t supply an email address! I find this most bizarre as I don’t necessarily want to phone, snail mail, or chat online with a sales person. I bit the bullet and went to the online chat to ask the question and here is the conversation:


13:46:21 Customer Darren Poulson Initial Question/Comment: Are you going to be offering any more linux (ubuntu) systems? I need a new laptop and would rather buy one linux installed
13:46:51 System System You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
13:46:51 System System Connected with rayees_fatima
13:47:01 Agent rayees_fatima Thank you for contacting Dell Sales Chat. This is Rayees Fatima, your Sales Advisor. Please give me a moment while I review your query. 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. My email address and direct dial number XXXXX Ext: XXXXX
13:47:06 Agent rayees_fatima no

So, a one word response from their sales team. I guess they must be very, very busy and don’t have the time to answer properly. Granted, they did actually answer my question, but a two letter answer is rather abrupt.

Needless to say, they won’t be getting any repeat business from me, and seeing as I generally get asked for advice on buying laptops and desktops they’re probably going to be loosing a bit more business too. Time to find somewhere else that sells linux laptops!

Nov 122008

I got a new laptop about a year ago directly from Dell. I did this for two reasons, they had a good deal, and I wanted to support a company that supported Linux! So far I’ve been very impressed, it worked right out of the box and about the only thing that I did to it in the first few months was upgrade the OS to 7.10 (Gutsy).

Of course, that didn’t last long. I soon started messing around with beta versions of Ubuntu, doing some messy upgrades and installing patches in a fairly piecemeal fashion. After about 9 months of this and breaking various things, 8.10 (Intrepid) came out and I decided a fresh install was called for.


After backing up any files I needed (and took the opportunity to get rid of a lot of rubbish I’d accumulated on the harddrive) I booted up from a fresh Ubuntu 8.10 DVD. After a fairly standard install which has been documented in many places on the web, I booted into a fresh copy of Ubuntu.

All I can say is, fantastic, everything just worked. Even down to pairing up one of my bluetooth headsets and being able to use it automagically in Skype. The only thing that I would like is the ability to specify LDAP authentication as part of the installation process. I had the option many years ago with Mandrake/Mandriva, but for some reason Ubuntu is lagging behind.

This brings me to a point. Even a long term Linux user is still shocked that an install on a supported laptop worked flawlessly. I think that if Linux gets to the point where I am shocked that something doesn’t work as it should, then Linux is ready for prime time. Tho’ on that note, we’re still waiting for Windows to get to that stage!

About the only main configuration that I’ve done so far is LDAP authentication with credential caching incase the network isn’t available. The last thing that I want to get working is some form of syncing for some of the more critical configuration files, such as my pgp keyring, mail config and bookmarks.

As far as Ubuntu is concerned, 8.10 is a great step forward. Bluetooth works well, hot plug of devices detects the correct type of device and offers various options. Network Manager has taken a great step forward with, for me, just the addition of being able to configure a mobile phone as a bluetooth 3g modem missing, but supposedly this is on its way.

Next step is to re-install my main desktop and see how it handles the triple monitor! 🙂