dell linux team, ubuntu and retrospection

Posted on October 17, 2007. Filed under: Dell, Interviews, Ubuntu |

LXer had interviewed John Hull, manager of the Dell Linux Engineering Team (DLet) by e-mail. The interview reveals much about DELL`s satisfaction with it`s Ubuntu machines, what all DELL is doing to get Ubuntu running on all their hardware, and also what all has happened in these four months since DELL started vending Ubuntu pre-installed machines in the US. Here, in this post I will summarize the interview. You can find the full interview at LXer on this page.

John Hull

File photo of John Hull, Courtesy LXer

John Hull has been with DELL since the last 7 years and now he heads the Austin-based Linux engineering team of DELL (One team is stationed at Bangalore in India). DELL has been supplying the Poweredge systems with Red Hat and SuSE distros since long. And these teams mak sure that every hardware in the Precision system works under Linux. Now they do the same for systems running Ubuntu. They also work with the open source community to produce drivers and fix kernel and application bugs.

John says that DELL`s decision of selling Ubuntu based PCs to customers has also made them aware of the fact that DELL has been doin Linux since long but only on Servers like the Precision. Before this announcement people hardly knew this business of DELL selling linux based machines. John refused disclose the approx sales figures of Ubuntu based DELL PCs since their inception which he said was against DELL`s policies to release official sales figures. But the market and community estimation is 1% of the total sales, or about 20,000 systems annually. He also said that customers were certainly showing their interest and buying systems preloaded with Ubuntu.


On being asked that why DELL`s linux PCs which were introduced back in 2000 (having Red Hat 6.1) were not a big hit, he said that Linux has improved with time in user friendliness and support from hardware vendors for linux device drivers. Things have certainly canged from they were in 2000. According to me, seven years is hell lot of time for things to change. He also talked about getting all bug fixes in the factory itself and also said stuff about making modifications to the factory-installed image as necessary. Dell, as he said, also adds driver packages and scripts on top of the standard operating system to make sure that the customer experience is as nice as possible. Although, The Ubuntu Factory Images from DELL, as John says, are available for download now. You can find the CD image here and the DVD image here. He also talked about the possibility of DELL adding additional applications for enhancing user experience. He laso informed that how DELL is working hard and tie-ing up with the Engineering teams of other hardware vendors to bring in good collaborated driver support for linux.

On being asked about ubuntu`s future with dell, he spoke about continuing to support Red Hat and SUSE on PowerEdge servers worldwide, support Red Hat on our Precision Workstations worldwide, and delivering Ubuntu Linux on select consumer systems in select markets.

What I feel is that Canonical and DELL should work together more extensively. This will only benefit the Linux community in the form of newer drivers and applications and faster update releases for the drivers.

A very great Support site for UBUNTU from DELL can be found here. Indeed, it is is awsome support site. We expect such commitment from Computer brands towards the Linux community.

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