Dell Limits Ubuntu Linux Sales
If you’re planning to load up on Dell’s new Ubuntu Linux systems for a corporate department or small business, Dell may have a surprise for you. As the old saying goes, read the fine print.
Indeed, Dell will limit Ubuntu sales to five systems per customer, according to fine print on the PC giant’s Web site. (See the lower right-hand corner of this Dell Web page.) That could frustrate anxious customers who want to load up on Ubuntu Linux for friends and family or small businesses. But The VAR Guy thinks the five-system limit is a smart move.
This is a critical time for desktop Linux. If Dell customers don’t have a positive experience buying and using PCs with Ubuntu Linux, it could trigger a setback for the open source movement. Dell will need to make sure that the Ubuntu systems have the appropriate printer drivers and peripheral drivers. And, perhaps most importantly, the PCs will need to have flawless Internet access.
In a worst-case scenario, Linux novices who can’t go online for help could wind up flooding Dell’s support lines, much in the way that some OS/2 users flooded IBM’s support lines in the mid-1990s during Big Blue’s failed consumer push for OS/2 Warp.
With these concerns in mind, the five-system-per-customer limit seems reasonable to The VAR Guy. Dell will only get one chance to get Ubuntu Linux right.
Update 4:34PM, May 8: Several readers note that Dell has a standard practice of limiting consumer/home office purchases to five PCs per transaction — even if it’s a Windows machine. Check out the comments below for more info. –The VAR Guy