In an effort to reverse its recent downward trend in sales, Dell has been promoting its IdeaStorm website, a place where users can vote on changes to the company’s products and services. It is amazing to see that the majority of the top 10 ideas are somewhat open-source/Linux related, ranging from offering PCs with Linux preinstalled, to using LinuxBIOS’ instead of proprietary BIOS’. Linux and open-source software have come a long way since I first tinkered with Red Hat Linux during sophomore year of college.
For those of you unfamiliar Linux is an OpenSource or free (in some cases) operating system.
What does open source mean?
According to dictionary.com open source refers to:
A method and philosophy for software licensing and distribution designed to encourage use and improvement of software written by volunteers by ensuring that anyone can copy the source code and modify it freely.
There are a number of free or open source software applications out there including Linux, a complete operating system. It is quickly catching up to Windows in terms of design and usability and helps lower the total cost of ownership of a PC.
Among the top 10 ideas on the Dell site, one that catches my attention is “Provide Linux Drivers for all your Hardware.” I remembered those days when I had to search forum after forum in order to find instructions on how to get my sound card to work in Linux. I was frustrated after a while and eventually went back to using Windows XP.
As most Dell users probably already know Dell offers its (Windows) hardware drivers for free at the company’s support site. A user selects his/her machine type and model, and instantly Windows drivers are available. Now, if Dell could make the same thing happen for Linux, it would be heaven. I can just imagine if Dell opened up and provided Linux drivers how easy it is going to be for users to run a version of Linux with all hardware being supported. Heck, I might give Linux another shot if Dell provides such a service. Let’s see how many of these ideas get carried through by Dell.