Linux preloaded – useful out of the box?

First a story, then a point…

dell.jpgBack in 2000 I purchased a handful of Dell servers for Thawte. Since we were going to run Debian on them, I didn’t really care about having anything preloaded, but I opted for RedHat for the joy of switching the boxen on and seeing something boot. (And seeing that everything did work, in some known state…)

I think the servers – 2450s mostly – arrived with RedHat 7 installed if my memory serves me correctly. Given that we ran Debian without X, and admined the machines with ssh (from 12700 km away) I was shocked to encounter servers with not only a GUI installed, but an office suite! And games! On a rackmount server!

Of course, it was simply a desktop installation on a server, and did actually serve to show me that everything was working, so I’m not complaining. It did serve to make me wonder how many people actually run the default install – which IIRC had an insecure version of wu-ftpd installed and running by default in this case…

Fast forward to now, and we have an excellent Ubuntu server edition with no GUI and minimal default packages (and a secure-by-default philosophy) which I’m very happy to recommend for preloading. However, 7 years later, vendors are (still) preloading Linux in ways that cannot possibly be useful to most people.

In South Africa, a large hardware vendor who shall not be named, although they share their name with the largest hot desert in the world, has a special offer on a Laptop with “Linux” as the operating system. It took me hours on the phone to get hold of somebody who could tell me what Linux… “The latest, 10.2″ they told me… Turns out it is Slackware! (This is not a distro war, I have nothing against Slackware.)

This laptop was first offered a few weeks after I spoke to said hardware vendor about Ubuntu, and they informed me there were too many support issues with Linux compared with Windows, and so they would only offer Linux when they had the same level of support (certified engineers, toll-free numbers…) as Microsoft had provided them with. Blah blah blah, and then they offer a distro which they cannot support as they don’t even know which “10.2” it is…

I cannot imagine what percentage of customers keep Slackware on the machine. Hopefully, some percentage are installing Ubuntu, and not pirate copies of Windows.

My point is this: It is difficult to come up with a default distro setup that a majority of people will use. However, vendors can mess things up waaay further through a lack of understanding of what available…

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5 Responses to “Linux preloaded – useful out of the box?”


  1. 1 Me March 27, 2007 at 9:59 am

    For a web server installation I agree, but you could just as well have one server for multiple X servers (i.e. thin clients), or for remote logins. In that case you’ll love those desktop software packages on your server.

    Still, things should be customizable.

  2. 2 Nick March 27, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Its not Suse?

  3. 3 Morgan March 27, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Nope, slackware, as confirmed by two people…


  1. 1 Ubuntu | Jerome S. Gotangco: Linux “bundled” but not marketed as premium Trackback on March 27, 2007 at 2:55 pm
  2. 2 Colin Charles Web Log » Blog Archive » Ubuntu Linux pre-loaded on Dell’s Trackback on May 2, 2007 at 12:12 am
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