I have not been a fan of Dell’s for many years now. Back when they were competing directly with Gateway, I was impressed with their level of attention to the customer. Well today, it seems like this mentality is back. Well, that is what they might have us believe that is.
While every other Linux hardware seller out there is using the latest releases of distros available, Dell has opted to use the long term supported release of Ubuntu 8.04. Unlike the current 9.04, Dell feels that 8.04 provides a more stable experience for the end user. And truth be told, I would agree that 9.04 had some bugs to be worked out. But I am suspicious of Dell’s comments about this being “for the customer”.
No, I feel the truth is that Dell is concerned about their bottom line. And this feeling is backed up in this statement from them. “We are trying to stay on a 12-month cadence to keep costs down, and build a stable platform,” according to Dell. To Dell’s credit, I was also impressed to hear that they mentioned targeting mainstream users. But considering most people buying Dell Ubuntu boxes are likely enthusiasts, I question the success of holding back to an older release of Ubuntu? True, Joe User could care less so long as it works as advertised. But to the existing Ubuntu user, it is going to be a major bummer to try and upgrade only to find non-working whatever as Dell failed to use compatible hardware with the current release. Alternative companies such as System76 combat this problem by providing their own patches that make any bumps in future upgrades, nearly invisible. But Dell seems to prefer relying on the older releases instead. To each their own I guess.