Dell, Rivals Leaving Linux Money on the Table
The VAR Guy is in the market for a small office printer that supports Ubuntu Linux, Mac OS X and Windows XP. Alas, most PC companies do a lousy job describing which of their printers work with Ubuntu. Which means they’re leaving easy money on the table. Here’s our resident blogger’s sad story so far.
The VAR Guy owns a Dell PC running Ubuntu, so visiting Dell.com for printer advice was a natural first stop. But Linux printer info on that site was mostly anecdotal or non-existent. Sure, Linux insiders are quick to note that you can find a list of Linux-compatible printers at sites like http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/OpenPrinting and https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/.
However, many of those online destinations fail to mention the latest printers and all-in-one multifunction devices. Or, they describe whether the printer works “perfectly,” mostly,” “partially” or not at all with Linux.
Sorry folks. That type of info won’t work for mass consumers. To the typical consumer, a printer is like a toaster or any other kitchen appliance. It either works or it doesn’t. Complex directions and workarounds to get a printer to “mostly” work with Linux may be fine for open source experts.
But it’s time for PC companies to take the next step. Dell, Hewlett-Packard and others need to start branding their printers as Linux compatible, to help The VAR Guy and thousands of other consumers make informed buying decisions.
Of course, a Linux-compatible logo for printers isn’t a new idea. The logo concept is one of the most popular discussions on Canonical’s Ubuntu Brainstorm site. And over on Dell’s IdeasStorm site, visitors are begging Dell to provide Linux drivers for all hardware.
Nice ideas. But The VAR Guy is ready to move now. He wants a multi-function network printer with WiFi, Ethernet, fax, copy, scan, color and black-and-white capabilities — today. And it has to work with Ubuntu, Mac OS X and Windows XP.
It’s time for the Linux industry to stop the chatter, and start testing/certifying Linux-compatible printers. Otherwise, The VAR Guy will wind up spending more of his money in the Apple Store, and less of it in the open source community.