The great Dell open source rip-off

Direct2Dell, the corporate weblog of the Dell computer company has announced that they are to roll out Linux pre-installed systems outside of the United States, available to order immediately.

Ubuntu 7.04 will be factory pre-installed and, because of the wide hardware compatibility with the OS, the systems will be almost completely identical in hardware configuration to Dell’s Windows offerings.

If you see the below configurations, built using, you will notice that both are almost exactly the same, the one difference being that the Ubuntu system comes with a slightly improved graphics card, for the reason that their usual standard Intel based board has issues within Ubuntu. The same or a comparable card was not available from the Windows system builder.
dell-ubuntu.jpg dell-vista.jpg
Installed with the same graphics card, in my estimation, would increase the price of the Windows system by approximately £20, bringing it into line with the cost of the Ubuntu machine (based on the 256MB NVIDIA Geforce 7300LE being available from Dell in the USA for an additional $50 (£25), and that being a higher powered card than the 128mb 8300GS supplied with the UK Ubuntu machine).

This begs the question then, that why is it (slightly) more expensive to buy a Dell computer with a free, open source operating system, than it is to have Windows Vista (Home Premium edition), a commercial package?

We can estimate the cost to the consumer of having Windows pre-installed by Dell at around £55.23, this figure can be ascertained by the compensation that was being handed out to users who last year chose not to accept the Windows license when starting up their new Dell for the first time, removing it and installing Linux.

These are the prices quoted by Dell for the two, comparable bar the graphics card, systems.

dell-vista-price.jpg dell-ubuntu-price.jpg
With Vista With Ubuntu

If you add £20, to compensate for the graphics card, to the Microsoft based system and then remove £55.23, it is still more expensive to buy the free OS version. This would drop the price to £376.90, for an OS’less machine. All you have to do then is load up your own copy of Ubuntu, available for free from

All of this means that deal are making approximately an extra £51.46 on each new Ubuntu machine that they sell.
My advice to potential Dell / Open source buyers, buy a standard Vista machine, get your rebate for not accepting the license and formatting the HDD, get a copy of Ubuntu for free and save yourself a nice wad of cash.


  1. I’m no defender of Microsoft or Dell (indeed this would be indefensible), but could the difference in price be the result of some hidden subsidy Microsoft provide to Dell? I certainly wouldn’t put it past them.

  2. As dell makes cheap computers en mass this is bound to happen. Some establishments such as collages are now buying RM computers although they are more expensive. As for home consumers Dell is still a good deal.

  3. Beautiful blog with nice informational content. This is a really interesting and informative post. Good job! keep it up, hope to read your other updates. Thanks for this nice sharing.

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