Dell has pulled the plug on sales of its computers sporting the Ubuntu operating system through its website, selling them only over the phone now with no advertising that such an option actually exists.
Dell revealed that it has taken down all mention of Ubuntu on its main web pages and will only be taking orders for computers with Ubuntu installed through its phone-based sales service, severely restricting consumer options. Some have even reported being told by Dell representatives that it is no longer selling Ubuntu systems at all.
It explained the reasoning for cutting online sales is that Ubuntu is “targeted towards advanced users and enthusiasts”, such as programmers, whereas most people buy systems with Windows installed.
In other words, it's simply too niche and wasn't selling. Considering it is a free open source software, that may potentially be true, but there are an estimated 12 million people using the operating system, according to figures released by Ubuntu's sponsor, Canonical, in April of this year.
Considering it is more popular for advanced users, those are more likely to install the operating system themselves than buy it already installed, since they have more know-how to do so, which will ultimately affect the sales figures Dell is obviously interested in.
However, the problem is that Ubuntu receives even less exposure. It's no surprise that the majority of consumers buy Windows computers if that's the only option available to them. Without appropriate advertising through their website not even the advanced users will know about the possibility of ordering an Ubuntu machine over the phone.
The move has been criticised by some as a slight against Ubuntu and Linux in general, which the operating system is based on. One Linux user, who wished to remain anonymous, told us: “This is yet another two fingers up to the Linux community by mainstream companies.” He said that people are not using Windows because it's better, but rather because it's pre-installed. He added that by cutting off supply like this Dell is adding to the problem, forcing those who want an alternative to Windows to go it alone and install it themselves, which is why it is mainly used by "advanced users" in the first place.
The Linux Foundation, however, saw little issue with Dell's decision. TechEye spoke to Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs at the Linux Foundation, who told us:
“We certainly don't see it as a slight to Linux or Ubuntu. Dell has been and continues to be a great contributor to Linux. Just consider their server sales as an example. It's also important to consider the smartphone market where Linux is wildly popular. Consumers are using devices every day that are powered by Linux and supported by the world's largest carriers and device manufacturers.”
As for getting your hands on the software, she added: “There are plenty of sources from which to purchase Linux pre-installed, or you can be one of the millions every year who install it on a machine yourself. Linux is about choice and there are thousands of ways to get Linux.”