12 October 2007

Delving into the Dingly Dell

Interviews are a great way to get the background to important areas, but too often they concentrate on the big names (and I'm guiltier than most). So it's refreshing to come across somebody unknown but with an interesting perspective on things - in this case, Dell's embrace of GNU/Linux for ordinary users, seen through eyes of John Hull, manager of the Linux Engineering team there:

Ubuntu is already a great Linux distribution, so we try to only make changes where we can add value. Our primary focus is to get all necessary hardware support and bug fixes into the distribution itself, so that we don't have to make any changes to the shipping code. For those important bugs or hardware support that don't make the distribution, we'll make modifications to the factory-installed image as necessary. We add driver packages and scripts on top of the standard operating system to make sure our the customer experience is as nice as possible. Up to this point we have tried to minimize the changes we have made.


Anonymous said...

"In the future, we may add additional applications (such as better multimedia capabilities, improved device control applets, or additional browser plugins), or possibly make user interface tweaks such as changing the default Compiz Fusion settings or improved desktop usability, but that will depend on customer feedback."

"Value added"? Perhaps. But the free software community will watch this very closely. I think it might be a HUGE mistake if some ignorant CEO up top doesn't get the fact that there are many who will immediately cry "value SUBTRACTED!" if Dell starts stacking non-free software on a system to go beyond just getting it "to work". One can sympathize with a short-term compromise using proprietary code in order to get an otherwise useless machine functioning...but going beyond that will lead to valid finger pointing. And valid finger pointing means a lot when your audience is as savvy and socially conscious as many "Linux" users are.

Glyn Moody said...

It's probably inevitable that they'll make some mistakes, but I think they're trying hard to learn. A few *gentle* nudges will probably help.