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Dell, Please Fix Your Ads… and Your Web Site

Posted in Australia, Deception, Dell, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Videos, Vista, Windows at 12:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Decent proposal, gentle advice

WE SHALL try to keep this short and polite. It’s supposed to be constructive criticism, not a complaint, and it’s needed because Dell is doing something which angers some GNU/Linux enthusiasts. It’s seen as a bit of a insult, which should be trivial to correct.

Some Background

It was over a year ago that Dell’s GNU/Linux ads began to appear.

While working on my personal blog site, which happens to have Google Adsense ads running on it, I was surprised to find Google ads for Linux-powered Dell desktops showing up.

Earlier this month, some more adverts were spotted by Joe.

It’s one small step for Dell and consumer Linux — and one giant leap for Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux efforts. Specifically, Dell is spending advertising dollars to promote PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. The move has significant implications for the business world as well. Here’s why.

First, some details about the advertisement. Many many U.S. newspapers on Sunday, October 12, included a multi-page Dell flier. Among the many products advertised was the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, a low-cost sub-notebook designed for email and Web browsing.

Early in the year Dell produced some viral videos and more professional commercials even made it into television, as shown here last week.

If this an Dell / Enfatico spot– we take back all the slams we had to the advertising agency prior… It’s about Linux! Whoo hoo!!

We’ve produced an Ogg version of this video, as some readers prefer it that way.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

This is good. Dell is showing GNU/Linux in the mainstream.

But Why Make a Mess on the Carpet?

Over at the blog of Ken (of Lobby4Linux fame), it’s shown that Dell’s paper advertisements for GNU/Linux-based sub-notebooks are ‘decorated’ with a prominent reminder that Dell recommends Windows. What’s that about? If you advertise Coke (as in Coca Cola), you don’t attach a label to it saying that Pepsi is the better choice. It makes no sense. Are they trying to actually sell what they advertise? Watch the image in Ken’s blog and pay attention to the cynical remarks.

Dell screwed up. No wait…they didn’t screw anything up. They fully intended to do what they did. Now tell me they are not under the thumb of Microsoft. Why was this statement necessary? Let the customer decide. So tell me Dell is a friend of Linux or that they are not complete quislings for the Redmond Empire. Oh please…I do so want to hear you tell me this. It will be an Academy Award performance. It will have to be to explain away this.

Ken warned about this type of stuff before, but he lacked convincing proof (other than history).

You can’t advertise Linux because Microsoft has threatened you with exorbitant licensing fees and other sanctions if you do. That would be my guess. In fact, If I were to guess further, I would hazard a guess that those top-secret vendor agreements Microsoft demanded you sign actually states that you cannot actively advertise or promote Linux. I could be wrong…but if I am I’m not far off.

For what it’s worth, we remain suspicious — based on actual evidence — that Dell pays Microsoft quite handsomely for sales of GNU/Linux-based computers. We don’t exactly recommend Dell, and that’s putting it gently.

With regards to the advertising strategy, when Windows suffered an Epic Fail at the Olympics, SJVN wrote.

The biggest Blue Screen of Death ever


Why? Because, according to the Morning Herald, both the Beijing Olympics committee and Lenovo, a major backer of the games, had deliberately chosen to run XP operating system on the games’ PC because they didn’t trust Vista. Turns out they shouldn’t have trusted XP either, but they should have known that. Best of all, Lenovo chairman, Yang Yuanqing, said Lenovo had chosen not to use Vista because, “If it’s not stable, it could have some problems.”

So, next time you go to an online PC sales Web site and you see that line about “We recommend Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium,” just remember: They’re lying.

it’s all part of a silly scheme that was never intended to assist customers. Shouldn’t the likes of the ASA step in?

An Illusions of Choice

A reader of ours from Australia sent a gentle alert about Dell’s Web site in his country. “The Dell website fails,” he writes.

“I went there yesterday just to check things out, did a search for “Ubuntu” to see what search results I’d get. The first system that came up was a Vostro notebook with Ubuntu, so naturally I clicked the link [but] it comes with Vista. And there is no option to choose Ubuntu.”

To summarise, says the reader: “It was rubbish, you get a Vostro notebook put in front of you like “hey we got these with Ubuntu”, then when you click the link its, “you can have Vista or umm Vista”.”

Maybe it’s an innocent mistake. Hopefully it is.

“We should whack them [Dell over GNU/Linux dealings], we should make sure they understand our value.”

Paul Flessner, Microsoft

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  1. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 31, 2008 at 5:30 pm


    That observance was brought up in one of the past comments in BN a while back (I think he/she also mentioned lenovo). May be incorrect (could be the var guy) but lately been reading a lot.

    If would benefit the site to show the ubuntu logo if it’s shows the windows logo. Else, be OS logo agnostic, but it would be nice to see Tux appear on the sight

  2. Luc Bollen said,

    November 2, 2008 at 8:55 pm


    “it’s shown that Dell’s paper advertisements for GNU/Linux-based sub-notebooks are ‘decorated’ with a prominent reminder that Dell recommends Windows. What’s that about?”

    I think it is simply because Dell is so much used to sell Microsoft OS’es that it is part of their boilerplate layouts. See this description of the Ubuntu Dell Inspiron Mini 9 on the French Dell site:

    It says:
    “Système d’exploitation Microsoft
    Ubuntu 8.04″

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