Who Do Dellbuntu? You Do?

Quote from DaniWeb.com (February 26, 2007):

“…The simple truth is that Linux is still not ready for the big time, by which I mean the mass-market, non-computer savvy, it has to just work consumer. Hardware and software compatibility issues need to be resolved before it would make any sense at all for a company such as Dell to start investing in a mass market Linux push.

And there lies the rub, it is a PC world paradox because without the kind of investment in hearts, minds and wallets that a Dell deal could bring that compatibility just is not going to happen any time soon.”

Today, it would seem that Dell has been able to handle these issues with what appears to be its take on the Ubuntu derivative called Dellbuntu.”

Wireless Woes. Like Apple, Dell has a good handle on the hardware side of things. After all, it will be in full control when it is ready to release this round of Linux boxes. However, what has me concerned are some areas where they might not be ready for is the Wi-Fi realm, most noticeably, WPA encryption.

Now, it’s true that with Feisty came the sorry attempt with Gnome Network Manager. And for those lucky enough to have a Wi-Fi card “blessed” by this app (sorry Ralink users), getting the Network Manager to work at all is a complete joke, I’m afraid. So this means that if Dell is serious about offering notebooks with “real” wireless compatibility, it needs to make sure that the Wi-Fi card included not only works with Network Manager, but also has WPA capability. It should be noted that many cards do not come with open drivers unless you go so far as to use the NDISWrapper option.

Extending Your Desktop. I can only assume that Intel and NVIDIA will be at the top of the list for Dell as they tend to yield the best results for company created drivers. NVIDIA’s drivers, for instance, are being distributed with a version of “NVIDIA Settings,” which allows for dual-monitor control with complete ease.

Of course, what is quite frankly the biggest issue of all is Dell’s handling of restricted software: codecs, drivers, and so on. Are we to see Dell including restricted video/audio codecs by default or, instead, offer the existing wizard-based method provided by the latest Ubuntu release? Considering the patents, legal concerns, and so forth, Dell’s handling of this ought to be interesting to say the least. I would love to have the inside scoop as to how it is planning on navigating this issue, so if any Dell employees are reading this, please drop me a note.

Bringing it All Together. Yes, I believe it will be fascinating to see if Dell is up to the task. When you consider the above, then tie in the needs of the customers with peripherals, restricted software, and Windows legacy applications, the path that Dell opts to take here will be the deciding factor as to whether this remains an enthusiast option, or if we can finally bridge the gap to the causal Windows user.

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[tags]Dellbuntu, Dell, Linux, Open Source, codec[/tags]