Woman blames Dell Ubuntu for online class fail

Thinking she was going to be getting a run-of-the-mill computer, Abbie Schubert bought one of Dell's machines with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed in the hope that it would allow her to take online classes at Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin, USA. When her Verizon High Speed Internet CD would not install, she became confused. Then she found that Microsoft Word could not be installed on her machine, and so she hit Dell customer support with her complaint.

Dell were, according to Schubert, not terribly helpful. She says, "The person I was talking to said Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, it was compatible with everything I needed."

Even though Dell told her she could still switch to Windows, their response apparently led her to stick with Ubuntu--a decision that ultimately led her to drop out of her autumn and spring online courses.

WKOW, a television station in Madison, intervened and got Verizon to help her connect to the internet. Madison Area Technical College then showed her how to use Openoffice.org, which comes free with Ubuntu, to open and save DOC files.

Thankfully, she has been able to return to her studies, though she admits, "It's been a mess. I regret ordering the computer."

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Apple building the 15-inch Air?

Next Story

Selected YouTube videos get download option

92 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

What happened to being an informed buyers??=(
What obscure ditch did the can-do diy (do-it-yourself) attitude slip into in contemporary consumerist life??

Some people are so dependent on easy-install media & technical support it's mind-boggling. What's even more gut-wrenching is that the masses are easily fed any promotion-of-the-day the corporate giants toss our way. Couldn't she have just researched & installed a copy of windows on a virtual machine if she needed the Verizon DSL cd that badly? As far as OpenOffice is concerned, couldn't she had researched MS alternatives herself before actively turning herself into a charity case just because of her ignorance & laziness.

Linux on a virtual box? Yes I think I will heheh?

Still need windows for other ehem stuff, *cough* games *cough cough*

arcane47 said,
Do you buy a car without knowing how to put gas in the tank? Do you buy that car if you don't know how to drive it?

nope but there are still plenty of people who buy a car without knowing how the damn thing works

Man, don't mean to generalize, but (some) US people can be so incredibly stupid and ignorant....Everything is somebody else's fault.

i think the main problem here is that many people just don't know that Ubuntu is a version of Windows.
and DELL is at fault for not making that clearer during checkout or where ever she bought the thing. i mean, if the checkout people saw her buying an Ubuntu machine AND a copy of Office... they should've picked up on that. saved the woman some money.

ikyouCrow said,
DELL is at fault for not making that clearer during checkout or where ever she bought the thing.

They aren't, this is clear enough in my opinion (that's the first thing you see when browsing the Ubuntu Laptops section).

Regarding Ubuntu + MS Office during checkout, you can actually run MS Office on Linux.

So utterly stupid it's hard to know where to begin.

Apparently she KNEW OpenOffice was preinstalled (see the last paragraphs in the article), but she claims she didn't know it was compatible.

What. Why did she not try to open a Word document in OpenOffice? :S
Why did she not try to save a document in the Microsoft Word format?

The million dollar questions.

It is most definitely preinstalled. OpenOffice installs alongside Ubuntu. Even off a fresh install, it's there. It will open office documents upon installation. So we have to assume that she never even tried to click on an office document to open it, which is--oddly enough--something I would expect someone who was told IT CAME with everything she needed. Why would she try to install Word if this was the case? Why would she try to install her DSL software instead of just plugging in the cable?

Agreed. The Million Dollar Questions.

...Questions she was probably asked by Dell Tech Support and the reason why she stuck with it, then subsequently failed at performing those actions.

This is pretty typical, actually. Working for electronics retailers for a few years now, I see it every day. I currently work for a tech company that's has #1 brand recognition right now, and the volume of people I see and get called by with issues with new computers is astonishing.

The majority of people will (at least in our current economic standing) purchase something based on price, not familiarity and ease of use. She probably saw the price of the Ubuntu PC and didn't realize the differences and draw backs of different OSs and Hardware (most people see a $199-299 desktop exactally like a $1000+ desktop). Infact, she was probably unaware that there was anything OTHER than Windows.

Ubuntu is easy to use compared to other distros I like better (Gentoo & Slackware), but even in Ubuntu there will be some issues that require root access, and the only way to fix those issues properly is in console. Most people haven't used anything console based their whole lives (unless they used computers in the 80s and had to know BASIC i.e. Commodore 64, TRS 80, Amiga etc).

This is a classic case of someone not doing any research before buying. She bought the PC at WAL-MART. And made a big deal about it when she got frustrated at something completely alien to her. You know how many times I get threatened to be sued because I want to charge someone $130 for a complete OS repair and they bitch because I had to diag their computer for HW issues and they bought some warrenty and they cant use their precious? Too many. Why? Because they feel powerless so they have to blame people other than theirself.

Great now we'll have this big warnings not to install Word on a linux OP. o_O She knows enought about Word, but not enough about linux. NEXT!!!

You'd be surprised what I realized yesterday at work. A girl knows how to resize a window, doesn't know how to drag it away. She "dragged" it away by making the window smaller, then larger in the opposite corner (to make it "move").

excalpius said,
This is why EVERY girl should have an IT guy on her booty call speed dial. ;)


lmao... yea they should I reckon. But really, if you get linux installed on your computer have the brains to do a little bit of research about it lol.

I'm surprised that she didn't opt into such a plan... She seems having this problem for months (enough to fail her course).

Meh, many girls know computers too, just that this one didn't.

These sort of gender jokes on IT are so damn old and inaccurate.

From the same people that go "wow! a girl!" when someone reveals their identity in a web forum. Usually they don't. Guess why.

Even though Dell told her she could still switch to Windows, their response apparently led her to stick with Ubuntu--a decision that ultimately led her to drop out of her autumn and spring online courses.

1. So, she complains because she isn't skilled enough to make Linux do what she needs it to do (shocking).
2. Dell offers to put her on Windows.
3. She declines and then is "forced" (chooses) to drop out of classes.
4. A television studio and college stepped in to show her how to do all the things she already knows how to do in Windows on Ubuntu.
5. Girl returns to school.

HOW is Dell the bad guy here?!?!
HOW is it a fail if she's back to class?!?!
HOW is this news?

At least she didn't SUE!

Dell isn't the bad guy here ;-) everyone seems to be supporting Dell~
It was an online course so I guess she couldn't get her internet to work...
No clue why this becomes news

maybe she did but not mentioned in the news....

maybe she didn't use her time properly to go find proper help from the proper people like Verizon or her school's student helpdesk.

Maybe Dell should compile a list of software that doesn't work with their ubuntu systems!

No, seriously, you can't blame Dell or her.
She probably bought the cheapest computer she could find because she urgently needed one, and I'm sorry to inform you about this, but most people don't know what ubuntu or linux is. If somebody tells them it's similar they'll take that for granted. The Dell helpdesk however could have been a bit more helpfull imho...

imo, I can't blame Dell, but I can certainly blame her for not reading Office's system requirement before putting that disc into the drive.

That's why it's just easier to sell Windows by default. Let all the Linux Lovers do a special order for Ubuntu instead of Windows on their computer.

SHADOW-XIII said,
How stupid can be when spending hundreds of $ and do not know what they buy!? classic fail

Ok i'll agree that she could have at lease looked to see if it had XP or vista. But everything else on the spec list is greek to the average user.

warwagon said,
Ok i'll agree that she could have at lease looked to see if it had XP or vista. But everything else on the spec list is greek to the average user.

If most things are greek in products I purchase, I consult people in the know.

Seriously, not everyone has to be computer savvy, but there is no excuse for someone not being able to get help from other than a tv station... she must know at least one person that has heard of google, forums, ubuntu help or something... if not, she really does not qualify as a computer user, no matter the OS.

Yeah, because everyone in the US are computer morons. The world's main OSs don't come out of the US. Nice comment, its people like you that make me so happy to live in this world.

Women read these articles and comments too you know. And some of us may be among the most tech-savvy here, so please, hold off on the sexist jokes. :)

Chrono951 said,
Yeah, because everyone in the US are computer morons. The world's main OSs don't come out of the US. Nice comment, its people like you that make me so happy to live in this world.

I thought Windows was made in India these days?

Liana said,
Women read these articles and comments too you know. And some of us may be among the most tech-savvy here, so please, hold off on the sexist jokes. :)

Marry me.

Chrono951
Yeah, because everyone in the US are computer morons. The world's main OSs don't come out of the US. Nice comment, its people like you that make me so happy to live in this world.

It's funny that you react on this rather than the ancient and inaccurate gender joke.

let me summarise for anyone who cant be bothered to read the article, Idiot fails to read computer spec gets what she ordered and then moans about it.

The funny things are that, two articles above this one on the main page, is an article "Users find new mobile phones too complex" and here is a forum where people can ask questions and get answers much better than "RTFM, you idiot N00b"
There are plently of people around who are not technological-savvy. Everyone laugh at the support horror stories in J&FS.
For that woman, what kind of online course was she taking at MATC? She could be taking archeology course for all we know. She just panicked and her story made the news. Me, I am glad that she got help and that she can continue her education.
Yes, there are plenty of people who are genuinely stumped by computers and their complexity.
It's not a reason to call them idiots or morons. Instead, give them a hand

I agree completely. I think it's absolutely disgraceful and disgusting that people, especially people on neowin, are attacking this girl.

In case most people haven't realized, the vast majority of computer users are not savvy, and do not understand even the most basic of computer concepts. The fact that people are calling her stupid and that she "should have done more research" is just ridiculous. She is not tech savvy. Therefore, even if she did attempt to do research on the topic, she most likely would not have a clue about what to look for.

What's more disturbing is how nobody around her (including Dell), would just tell the girl to install Windows. Obviously, she is not the type of user who should be using Linux. (What that Dell representative said to her is entirely unhelpful and closed-minded).

The Linux community needs to stop blaming people and they need to start being more open, and friendly to explain how things work. That is how Linux can spread. This attitude of blaming people who are not as savvy as they are is quite damaging to their reputation. This incident proves that the biggest problem with Linux isn't the software, it's the userbase.

Since when is there a "Dell Ubuntu" and I honestly don't get it either.

Since she's suck an idiot, she gets a TV station to point her to Open Office? What kind of moron is this, I wish she would have returned the computer and dropped out. I don't need her to provide ANY kind of service for me with ANY degree, I'd rather figure it out on my own, no matter what it is, even surgery.....

Its too bad that moving along will just bump me into the billions of other ignorant people out there. This article (although with sketchy sourcing) details the issues when a new OS tries to enter the consumer market.

Old or not, I still find it kinda funny. I mean, if it takes this long/much work for a average (non-nerd) user to get online and get work done using Ubuntu which is the easiest of all the distros out there, that says alot of Windows in that it's simple and just works.

@GP007

Not really, it's just an ignorant woman who then shrugged the blame of dropping out of class or something (not very clear) on the tools she was trying to wrongly use. It says nothing about the ease of either OS, just about the ignorance of the woman.

It also says a lot about the competence of Dell support. They should have explained what makes Linux different and that most programs for Windows won't run on Linux natively.

The probles is that most people is used to Windows and they don't even what an OS is at all.

When people like this woman buy a comp with linux pre-loaded, they common sense will tell them that everything they know will work.

In this case, Office, but they will think that other software will do work just as well when that's not necessarily the case.

For non-computer savvy people can get very confusing ordering computer with Ubuntu or other Linux distros pre-installed.

Sounds funny, but imagine the trouble these people are stepping into by buying without knowledge.

I think OEMs or retailers should offer a very detailed advise about the main differences for this kind of persons.

ajua said,
For non-computer savvy people can get very confusing ordering computer with Ubuntu or other Linux distros pre-installed.

Sounds funny, but imagine the trouble these people are stepping into by buying without knowledge.

I think OEMs or retailers should offer a very detailed advise about the main differences for this kind of persons.

For some people Windows is very confusing.

I installed and configured my friend's comp (XP) and you would be surprise how many times he calls me for help or things like "How do i remove that Yahoo bar added to Internet Explorer" or "I can't play WoW online today it doesn't work" god damn it WoW servers or your ISP are down today can't you check that online by yourself ...

Seriously i'm not a big fan of Linux (i run Vista and XP dual boot) and it used to be very hard to install and configure Linux. But i tried Ubuntu recently cause a girl i know at my job bought a "Vista Capable" laptot couple of time ago and Vista is [censored] slow on his laptop even without Aero so she wanted it out and did not want to pay for XP so i installed her ubuntu and open office since she mostly just use his PC to sore photo, surf the net and send email. It is now as easy as installing Windows and Office honestly.

If you can't install Ubuntu and Open Office you can't install Windows either.

I have to disagree. Sure, Windows can be confusing, but Linux is still not as user friendly as Windows has become. This combined with most people grow up using Windows (in schools, offices, etc) that they enter with pre-loaded (haha, bloatware!) knowledge of Windows and how it works. Non-computer savy people will have problems with any OS, but its just logical that they will have a ton more problems with a non-mainstream OS. Most programs they buy in stores won't work with it and the consumer will become confused. I have nothing against Linux (I love Ubuntu) its just that by putting it into the consumer market without proper warnings of what the buyer is getting into, will cause a lot of problems down the line.

LaP said,

For some people Windows is very confusing.

I installed and configured my friend's comp (XP) and you would be surprise how many times he calls me for help or things like "How do i remove that Yahoo bar added to Internet Explorer" or "I can't play WoW online today it doesn't work" god damn it WoW servers or your ISP are down today can't you check that online by yourself ...

Seriously i'm not a big fan of Linux (i run Vista and XP dual boot) and it used to be very hard to install and configure Linux. But i tried Ubuntu recently cause a girl i know at my job bought a "Vista Capable" laptot couple of time ago and Vista is [censored] slow on his laptop even without Aero so she wanted it out and did not want to pay for XP so i installed her ubuntu and open office since she mostly just use his PC to sore photo, surf the net and send email. It is now as easy as installing Windows and Office honestly.

If you can't install Ubuntu and Open Office you can't install Windows either.

Your post was quiet entertaining because it all sounded so familiar to me, lol. I would recommend to you what I have done, and that is to feign the same level of ignorance of your friends. If they call you with a stupid question just say "hmm, thats weird, I don't have a clue." That will stop those phone calls :).

LaP said,
or your ISP are down today can't you check that online by yourself ...

Oh really?

Yeah, yeah, I know what you mean... I just like to be picky. :P

Well, Ubuntu was supposed to have everything a student needs for his/her courses, be it an online or lecture-course. Now the problem is that a newb is doing a not-so-newb task (eg. installing MS Office), which just doesn't sound right to me. She complained about not being able to install, but she didn't complain about herself not reading the system requirement of MS Office (which requires Windows installed!)

LaP said,
For some people Windows is very confusing.

Seriously i'm not a big fan of Linux (i run Vista and XP dual boot) and it used to be very hard to install and configure Linux. But i tried Ubuntu recently cause a girl i know at my job bought a "Vista Capable" laptot couple of time ago and Vista is [censored] slow on his laptop even without Aero so she wanted it out and did not want to pay for XP so i installed her ubuntu and open office since she mostly just use his PC to sore photo, surf the net and send email. It is now as easy as installing Windows and Office honestly.

Gender-tagging too, it seems! :P

So, basically, Verizon told her to stop trying to force-feed the Windows-specific CD and just connect (presumably by typing in the school's network-specific wireless settings or such - same as she would have to enter in Windows). And the school told her to stop trying to jam in the Microsoft Office CD and use the pre-installed OpenOffice.org to type and exchange her "Word" files.

Some people just shouldn't touch a computer in my experience. They think that it is nothing more than a toaster. i.e. You put something in and you get something out. Or worse, its magic....

Dell might not be too helpful, but I seriously don't think ignorant = innocent. It's hard to think she doesn't have anyone that knows a bit computer around her, and failing an online course takes quite a while. It's quite amazing to hear her experience of asking Dell to help (but not others such as school, Verizon, her friends, etc...).

I don't like the way this is passed off as an original article, with a link buried away and not clearly stated as the source. It is misleading. The source should be clearly indicated at the bottom of the article like it used to be.

Not only that but the story is a week old and already well travelled on computing sites.

Old or not, I still find it kinda funny. I mean, if it takes this long/much work for a average (non-nerd) user to get online and get work done using Ubuntu which is the easiest of all the distros out there, that says alot of Windows in that it's simple and just works.

No need to bold your whole statement, it's an original article written by James Hall. If you've got a problem with it email James. We source inline with the article just like most other news sites do and no we won't be linking at the bottom of the article "like it used to be".

I must admit that I preferred the old method of putting a source link at the bottom. Made it much easier to see at a glance where a story came from. Right now I have to spot the highlighted word and hover over it to see the same information. A backwards step in usability by Neowin IMO, but I guess thats just me

TCLN Ryster said,
I must admit that I preferred the old method of putting a source link at the bottom. Made it much easier to see at a glance where a story came from. A backwards step by Neowin IMO.


I agreee, its also fairly standard to link to the original article at the end, much as you would reference when writing an essay or technical report at university or work, original sources should be noted in news stories to avoid copyright and plagiarism.

I can tell you that I have read similar enough stories elsewhere to know that no original research was done on this. If it is not an original story, it needs sources at the bottom.

I like having links on the bottom also. Sometimes news stories on here are short and the links provide the rest of the story (i can understand this). What I really hate is when news stories on here take diffrent paragraphs from a source not in order and paste them on here.

creamhackered said,
No need to bold your whole statement, it's an original article written by James Hall.

Original? It's simply paraphrasing the source article. And yes I do have a problem with it which is why I posted here - criticism shouldn't be buried in someone's inbox.

I'm all for original content - some of the articles and reviews here have been very insightful - but some research has to be done to justify that. Clearly that isn't the case here. I don't care whether "most other sites" do it - it's bad practice. Clearly plenty of other people agree. When sites are primarily funded by advertising I believe it is disingenuous to bury the source - it's verging on theft.

GP007 said,
Old or not, I still find it kinda funny. I mean, if it takes this long/much work for a average (non-nerd) user to get online and get work done using Ubuntu which is the easiest of all the distros out there, that says alot of Windows in that it's simple and just works.

If she can't install Open Office she can't install Microsoft Office either.

It is original in the sense that I wrote it and the words and word order used were mine. It contains information drawn from another article, which is cited.

Sometimes my articles are drawn from several sources, a fact which makes inline citation even more useful to avoid clutter.

I too would like to see the sources for a news article clearly cited. That may not be the standard for other news sites, but it is the standard for whatever I write professionally for my job as well as the standard for any university quality paper.

I could paraphrase Charles Dickens but it wouldn't make it "original". And if it was based on the information of several article then I could understand your point... but it's not. It's based around a single article and a source should be provided at the bottom. As it stands the article passes itself off as original when it is not.

Agreed, the main page has really taken a nose-dive since the new layout. Bugs STILL aren't fixed, things missing, features gone or cut down. It's really a backwards step. My subscription is expiring shortly, I won't be renewing.

I agree the sourcing in this article could have been made a little clearer. We'll address that. The direct links to articles doesn't work when we source multiple locations of information. It's better to link them inline.

Raa said,
Agreed, the main page has really taken a nose-dive since the new layout. Bugs STILL aren't fixed, things missing, features gone or cut down. It's really a backwards step. My subscription is expiring shortly, I won't be renewing.

What bugs aren't fixed? What is missing? I can't see it as a step backwards, there is now plenty of news and unique content - what's wrong with that?

creamhackered said,
I agree the sourcing in this article could have been made a little clearer. We'll address that. The direct links to articles doesn't work when we source multiple locations of information. It's better to link them inline.

That's fair enough. I don't mean to sound ungrateful. Obviously we appreciate the work being done by the authors but this sort of paraphrasing and sourcing would be unacceptable on any college course. It just seems that articles are being reworded for the sake of it, whereas before we'd get part of the article and could click the source to see the rest of it.

I'd like to see sources listed unless there is original research or an original assessment of the information. If it's simply two, three or four articles stitched together and reworded they should still be sourced at the bottom because it is a compilation, not an original work. That way there is no confusion and it's a lot more professional. I just fear the current method is potentially in breach of copyright, which is of particular import where ad revenue is concerned.

michaelof36 said,
Who the hell cares! Since when does grammar matter! We all know what he meant!

Yes we do! It's amazing isn't it! At least we got the story!
Man that's annoying! Don't you find that annoying!

Next time, don't criticise another when you're own spelling is not correct.

michaelof36 said,
Who the hell cares! Since when does grammar matter! We all know what he meant!

Questions should end with a ? not a !

Raa said,
Next time, don't criticise another when you're own spelling is not correct.

If he did use proper grammar, then he wouldn't be proving his point would he? :P

Raa said,
Next time, don't criticise another when you're own spelling is not correct.

*ahem*

I believe the word you're thinking of is "your".

Silverskull said,
*ahem*

I believe the word you're thinking of is "your".

Lol. Look it's the first person to properly use grammar without messing it up and making himself look like a fool.