Dell not installing the latest Ubuntu on new netbooks

Dell's Mini 10v netbook that was launched last week has some nice new upgrades, including "wireless improvements" according to Betanews, but one thing that users shouldn't expect is the latest version of Ubuntu, 9.04, or even version 8.10. The netbook is currently being sold running Ubuntu 8.04 standard, but in an email that Dell sent to Betanews, they believed that installing the newest version is not in the best interest of the mainstream users.

Dell has stated two main reasons for sticking with the older version. A Dell spokesperson said, "We are trying to stay on a 12-month cadence to keep costs down, and build a stable platform. A mainstream user does not care if it's 8.04 or 8.10 or 9.04 (he/she does not know what those are) -- she just wants it to work right and be stable/safe... most of the Linux enthusiasts would not like to be so far behind, but they are not our primary target audience for the [operating system] image," in the same aforementioned email. To add to this, Dell is still very satisfied with Ubuntu for its netbook platform, and said, "We have offered Ubuntu pre-installed on our consumer systems for two years now, based on customer feedback on Ideastorm. Canonical has been enthusiastic about working with us to deliver a rock-solid Linux experience for the general non-technical community, and we look forward to continuing this dedicated team effort going forward."

Dell ensures that they do their best to keep stability as high as possible in their devices, stating, "In addition to 8.04, we chose to control our updates (via our own update repository -- similar to MS update). We go the extra mile in double qualifying all updates (that one would see in stock 8.10 and 9.04) and only publish those that are rock-stable. We will [put in] select features over the course of the year that make sense for the product, like wireless improvements."

This is all well and good, but what do you think, Neowin? Would you like to see Dell offer the latest version of Ubuntu, or stay a step behind if it means greater stability for the end user?

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The distro Dell uses is similar to Netbook Remix but with their own customized repositories if I'm not mistaken. So couldn't someone simply add in the official repositories and do a distro upgrade via update-manager?

Forgive me as I've yet to play around with Netbook Remix, Dell customized or otherwise, but my understanding was that it was just as easy to customize and tear wide open as every other flavor of Ubuntu despite the usual lack of an optical drive.

The only ones who might actually care about running the latest version of Ubuntu already have a know-how to upgrade it themselves.

Everybody else will just want Windows anyway.

Give them the latest release, it has tons of bug fixes. Trying to imply that an old release with some patches is more stable or secure is a lie. Older software is almost never better in any way. Dell should focus on cutting corners on their pricing, not on the software they ship with their hardware.

Well... This is the idea with the LTS editions. Dell is assured they'll get better support for a longer time for that specific version than some other versions following it, like 8.10 or 9.04, and that these editions will become more mature than the typical ones. These are also released in two year cycles or so, comparable to Windows or OS X, if not still more frequent.

Sure, it won't be a problem if they keep shipping new versions, and their users keep upgrading, but the problem for Dell is that they won't necessarily do the latter thing there and perhaps just sit there with their shipping versions. Then it's good to use the LTS version.

Would you like to see Dell offer the latest version of Ubuntu, or stay a step behind if it means greater stability for the end user?

Prefer greater stability for the customers. That should come first, even if there are improvements in newer versions.

I think Dell is trying to make people get a hold on Ubuntu and not start releasing new netbooks with every new Ubuntu releases.

Foxxx428 said,
You're right. Everyone who buys a new machine knows how to do that.

While I detect a certain amount of sarcasm as most new users wouldn't know how to install an OS, especially Linux, most people who'd actually order a laptop with Linux installed are knowledgeable enough to do so themselves.

Foxxx428 said,
You're right. Everyone who buys a new machine knows how to do that.

Meh. You could use the same sarcasm about Windows or OS X. The thing is that Ubuntu use shorter release cycles, but this LTS version is more comparable to those, using two year cycles, and maturing more over time, so it makes complete sense Dell is doing like this as an OEM with their users potentially sitting with the shipping OS for a long time.

As for that argument, I think it's easier to upgrade Ubuntu online via a GUI than going to a store, informing yourself about the edition differences and what you want, and purchasing a retail CD.

most people who'd actually order a laptop with Linux installed are knowledgeable enough to do so themselves

Not everyone who order a laptop with Linux knows how to install it. Some order Linux because their friends told them that it's cool to have Linux. Take Mac for an example.

java2beans said,
Not everyone who order a laptop with Linux knows how to install it. Some order Linux because their friends told them that it's cool to have Linux. Take Mac for an example. :D

+1, Not anyone can install linux, some PCs just come with it
(and the salespersons tell the user it works exactly like Win, because they just want to sell so they can clear the stock. And they're right, in some way, it's just like Windows.)

Dell made a big thing about going Linux, but they now only offer it on one desktop (inspiron 530) and the inspiron mini. They don't make it easy to find the ubunto offerings they do provide either.

Well speaking on experience- I haven't tried 9.04 yet but I have installed 8.10 on another hard drive and I have the Nvidia artifact issue. So I just put in another drive and reinstalled 8.04 and it is stable and no artifacts. (the artifacts are the scrolling in a web browser)

I think they should upgrade. I can understand them not wanting to do it every 6 months, but each year they should. Need all the new softwares, improvements and features for the end users. E.g. latest Firefox and OpenOffice.

Each Ubuntu release I have installed has been very stable, and an improvement over the prior version.

Knad said,
I think they should upgrade. I can understand them not wanting to do it every 6 months, but each year they should. Need all the new softwares, improvements and features for the end users. E.g. latest Firefox and OpenOffice.

Each Ubuntu release I have installed has been very stable, and an improvement over the prior version.


I believe that LTS versions are every 3 releases. You asked for a year, they deliver a year and a half. Not much of a difference.

Actually it's every 2 years, but there are always third party repos for Openoffice, firefox and just about everything else you could ever want. http://ubuntumanual.org/posts/175/upgrade-...-intrepid-hardy is an example. The biggest appeal to Ubuntu is that everyone and their dog develop for Ubuntu and if not, someone ports it. It may not be the best or the fastest Linux distro, but they came up with the "Linux for human beings" thing and it worked for them. I've run many other distro's and like some of them a lot better, but I keep going back to Ubuntu just because I can install everything I need on it and I'd guesstimate 99% of it can be installed with a .deb instead of compiling it.

I think that for Linux enthusiasts, the only appeal of a PC with Linux on it is that they don't have to pay for Windows. Any Linux enthusiast will wipe it as soon as they get it anyway, regardless of what OS you put on there.
I'd imagine a lot of people would do that with a new Windows machine too — I certainly don't want all the crappy software from the OEM, I want a nice clean system

FunkTrooper said,
I think that for Linux enthusiasts, the only appeal of a PC with Linux on it is that they don't have to pay for Windows. Any Linux enthusiast will wipe it as soon as they get it anyway, regardless of what OS you put on there.
I'd imagine a lot of people would do that with a new Windows machine too ? I certainly don't want all the crappy software from the OEM, I want a nice clean system :)


+1 lol

While 9.04 has some new nice features it also has some regressions (I'm looking at you, Intel).
It sure makes sense to support a stable version and not the "bleeding edge" (by ubuntu standards).

That makes sense. 8.04 is the long term support version. The only drawback is it has old software and doesn't get the improved boot times and theme. Does anyone know what Dell's repo is? I'd like to try it out and see if they offer newer software versions that Ubuntu doesn't.

I'd say keep a step behind.

If the user wants/needs a newer version for any reason, chances are they'll know how to upgrade and sort out issues themselves.

bmaher said,
I'd say keep a step behind.

If the user wants/needs a newer version for any reason, chances are they'll know how to upgrade and sort out issues themselves.


Precisely

Since 8.04 LTS is a "Long Term Support" release it makes sense to stick with it instead of leaving customers wondering why their operating system no long updates. However, I do notice the 8.10 and newer Ubuntu distributions provide the option through the desktop update GUI to move up the next available release by update notification, a feature absent in 8.04, making those versions easier for end users to continue updating their distribution more smoothly.