Dell, you didn’t do right by your Ubuntu customers

Quite a large handful of Ubuntu Forums members ordered Dell Inspiron Mini 9 computers with Ubuntu preinstalled. Kudos to Dell for offering (and actually advertising) Ubuntu preinstalled, and good on those who bought Ubuntu preinstalled (not an XP preinstalled they installed Ubuntu in place of themselves) and sent a real message to a major OEM that there is a demand for Linux preinstalled.

Still, there was a major problem. If you ordered a Dell Mini with an 8 GB or 16 GB hard drive, only 4 GB of it appeared to be usable. Dell has admitted to the problem and has said it’s fixed the problem for future-shipping units.

There is a problem, though. In its latest blog entry, “Inspiron Mini 9 with Ubuntu Linux – 8GB and 16 GB Hard Drives Not Fully Formatted” (in which they mention my username but misspell it—just an aside, no big deal), they say

For customers wishing to be able to use the extra unformatted disk space immediately, if you purchased a USB DVD drive with your Mini, you may use the system restore DVD included with your system to completely reinstall the operating system. (emphasis added)

I realize they’re working on a simple method for customers to use to format/reclaim the unused hard drive space without reinstalling the OS but this is ridiculous. So customers have to have paid Dell money for an external USB DVD drive in order to fix a mistake that Dell made? Dell should be rewarding, not punishing, its loyal early adopter customers. I realize it’d lose some initial money on doing this, but in the long run it’d earn the respect and future business of its existing customers if it shipped its customers free USB DVD drives to reinstall the OS. If it’s your fault, you pay for the replacement.

My wife has an iPhone power supply part that Apple has recalled. Does Apple want her to pay for the replacement part? No, because the faulty part is Apple’s fault. Any recall, any manufacturing problem is the vendor’s fault and should be fixed at the vendor’s expense, not the customer’s.

Dell, you are not doing right by your Ubuntu customers. So if they happened to have bought a USB DVD drive, they can reinstall the OS. If they haven’t, then what should they do, buy one? And will you reimburse them the cost?

Join the Conversation

7 Comments

  1. Dell is giving customers (that have the needed hardware) an option to fix the problem while working on the “real” solution.

    To further the Apple comparison, this is more like Apple announcing the problem with the power supply before they determined / provided a solution, and posting specifics about the problem so that you could fix the issue yourself if you wanted to. Does that mean they will not have a fully acceptable solution in the future?

  2. Dell is giving customers (that have the needed hardware) an option to fix the problem while working on the “real” solution.

    I understand that, but in the meantime those who did not purchase an external drive would just be stuck with 4 GB when they purchased 16 GB. Maybe they should offer to ship a replacement unit and have the other one sent back if they don’t want to give people free external DVD drives.

    I can’t really think of an easy guaranteed non-destructive way for someone to repartition a drive if they don’t know how to boot off a USB or have an external DVD drive. Even then, a less-tech-savvy user is likely to lose data or do the wrong thing.

    I understand Dell doesn’t want to have to spend extra money if they don’t have to, but it was their screw-up, and they should suffer the consequences in order to provide good customer service and win or keep customer loyalty.

  3. Can’t you just install gparted? And do you really have to resize your main partition, can’t you just get another 4/12GB ext3 partition?

    “I can’t really think of an easy guaranteed non-destructive way for someone to repartition a drive if they don’t know how to boot off a USB or have an external DVD drive. Even then, a less-tech-savvy user is likely to lose data or do the wrong thing.”

    First, getting a bootable USB is far simpler these days. As for partitioning; I wouldn’t have said that it’s that complicated or risky. Are we talking about ext2 or ext3 partitions here?

    Personally, I have to give this one to Dell. Joe Schmuck might not be able to do anything, but they have given the smart users a full featured, real desktop Linux distribution. Anybody with half a brain and a walkthrough should be ablt to figure this one out. Couldn’t say the same for Linpus or Xandros.

  4. I was actually thinking more of “Joe Schmuck” than the typical Linux user. It’d be nice to have a product you can tell “Joe Schmuck” to buy without having to worry about bootable USB sticks and GParted. Right now, Dell’s just reinforcing the “Linux is for only geeks” stereotype.

  5. On this note, they could have just as easily built a bootable linux thumbdrive with the tools necessary to restore the system to the correct drive size. Either put the whole system restore on it or just the necessary bits to script the drive resize. It’s probably cheaper than a USB CD/DVD drive.

    Heck, who thinks of including a CD rescue disk for a unit without a CD drive? Fail I say!

    –Wes

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *