Over a year ago I took the initiative (and why not? everybody else already had) and proclaimed 2008 as the Year of the Linux Desktop. My rationale (the strongest one I have seen before or since ) was that if a non-techie, ground-level computer user could buy a laptop with Ubuntu preinstalled from a big-name manufacturer, then Linux’s days as a third-string operating system for technophiliacs were over.
My proof was that my mother did just that, buying a Dell Inspiron 1420 dual core machine from the company’s Web site. It was (and still is) a completely free machine, untainted by Windows or Microsoft or any other license-encumbered preinstalled garbage. To the best of my knowledge, that is.
And to the best of my knowledge, things are still going great. I get the full damage report when things go wrong — and to be 100 percent honest, they occasionally do. But there is more good news than bad, and only occasionally is my intervention (through remote desktop technology) necessary.
That’s not anything out of the ordinary though; when other family members have Windows problems, I get calls for those too. So a few hiccups here and there don’t discount the verdict.
And from Mom’s perspective (and from mine, although it matters less), the verdict is that the experience has been a very positive one. I doubt the same machines are available any more, but her recommendation stands — if you’re looking for a preinstalled system, Ubuntu Dells are an option.
As for myself, I don’t see me buying preinstalled systems any time soon. That would, after all, take away the fun of scratching around with every junk machine I inherit.