One Third of Dell Inspiron Mini 9s Sold Run Linux

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dell_inspiron_mini_9638gAndroid may give Linux a boost on netbooks, but according to Dell, its Inspiron Mini 9s with Ubuntu have already seen a steady sales stream coupled with low return rates.

While MSI told us a few months back that Wind netbooks running SuSE Linux saw 4x higher return rates than that of XP machines, Dell has had quite the opposite experience with its Inspiron Mini 9 offering with Ubuntu. "A third of our Mini 9 mix is Linux, which is well above the standard attach rate for other systems that offer Linux. We have done a very good job explaining to folks what Linux is," says Dell's Jay Pinkert.

Dell attributes part of the Linux growth to competitive pricing on the Ubuntu SKUs. "When you look at the sweet spot for this category it is price sensitivity, and Linux enabled us to offer a lower price entry point," added Dell senior product manager John New.

According to Dell, the the return rate of Ubuntu running Mini 9s are comparable to the XP rate, which we are told is "very low." "Our focus has been making sure that before the order is taken is that the customer knows what he is getting," New added.

Beyond educating customers before they make a purchase, the success of Dell's Ubuntu offering may also be attributed to the easy to use graphical user interface that they have created which makes it easier to launch popular programs and Web tools. What do you attribute the success to?

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  • Cooper Says:

    The high rate of 910's with Ubuntu is due to the fact that Dell pitched the 910's out the door for a hundred dollars withg the purchase of a standard-sized notebook. Those who didn't pay attention (or seeking the lowest possible price) received the Ubuntu operating system instead of Windows (which is good, because neither XP nor Vista would fit on the tiny HDD, and Win7 wasn't out yet) which is an absolute joy when you're trying to connect to the Internet and download the drivers needed to run all of the necessary services, some of which seem to work only with Windows!

  • Tom Says:

    Odd that the time investment by Dell is not offered as 1 or 2 choices. I think the 2 main reasons this line is so successful compared with the Suse line is
    1. The time & resources Dell put in to developing a good team to work at tweaking Ubuntu to maximise the usefulness of the hardware and software together
    2. Time & packaging that informs the wide-eyed-end-user about their desktop

    Ubuntu is my OS of choice but i wouldn't say it's "the best" as each version of linux, each distro offers Unique Selling Points. The advantage with Ubuntu at the moment is that it
    is the most popular
    features in mainstream magazines
    has a lot of books written about how to use it
    has the largest or fastest growing community
    has been picked by various countries to develop 'localised' versions
    has 100% Spanish language completed, not just American English
    offers both 'professional' technical support & Long Term Support releases
    has the largest and often friendliest community (did i say that twice? It really is that large a community)

    I am sure there are other reasons too but those seem to me to be the main crucial ones that set it ahead of other linux distros

    Regards from
    Tom :)

  • sam Says:

    Please post your Linux compatibility reviews for this product at

  • Randyam Says:

    I jpurchaced the Dell Mini 9 with ubuntu, 8gb drive 512 ram the lod the lower end video cardwer end model. I was actually excited about trying out Ubuntu ive heard great things from former MAC users about Linux' ive always been a Windows person because of not knowing there were alternatives besides the very pricey MAC. So I recieved it in the mail plugged it in and saw a kinda windows looking desktop, messed around with it for a little while and pretty much figured out that you can upgrade all the software via one click and get this It scans all the software on the pc for upgrades automatically and upgrades when new releases , including games and other apps. The speed of this thing is amazing considering I have only 512mb ram installed. From what ive read XP is sluggish on the mini with under 1gb ram. Firefox worked great, everything worked great, all the drivers, all the addons for mozilla, all the java, flash, shockwave all preinstalled and upgraded via the autiomatic scan of your software. I have ran this mini for 12 days and have closed the book hybernated it etc.. and have not locked up or seen any blue screen of death garbage. I also did NOT order a webcam, so i plugged my Logitech Websphere in and the damn thing was recognized in a program called cheese and on it integrated flawlessly. I am planning on dumping Windows 7 soon for Ubuntu on my main PC. I also must say the ubuntu forums are awesome people help you out within minutes usually, I only wish Rhapsody would work, thats about it. I definatly think Ubuntu Linux is ready to take down microsoft.

  • Justwatching Says:

    I run ubuntu on a Dell (DULL) inspiron 530 pc that had VISTA after VISTA crashed. Did not come with a restore disk and recovery was blocked by the crash. Way to go M.S. Got a ubuntu disk free and installed it with no problems at all.The only short coming ubuntu has is the shortage of application software but the linux developers are working on it and doing a fine job. Just give them time and tell them what you want and soon linux/ubuntu will pass M.S as the O.S. of choice.

  • Patrick Jenks Says:

    Offering the best Broadband in the UK. Thanks to broadband UK I am now running with superb internet connection!
    Best broadband EVER!

  • Pete Burden Says:

    I bought an Acer netbook with Linux (and am pleased) and now want a bigger laptop also running Linux.

    But I am puzzled as to why it is so hard to buy a laptop (not a netbook) with Linux pre-installed. I checked out Dell, HP, IBM - and failed to find one. I have good money to spend and no one seems to want it.

    Any ideas why this? Thanks

  • Mike Mc. Says:

    I bought my Mini 9 loaded with Ubuntu because I'm not a fan of Windows and I thought I could give Linux a try on a safe platform (i.e. not my primary computer, so if I hated it, I wouldn't have to deal with it all the time). So far, I think it's great. It was easy to dive into, works without a hiccup, and has some great bundled software. I'm tempted to get a Dell desktop with Ubuntu for my parents to replace their aging, virus-infested machine.

  • d roberts Says:

    why on earth would you want to change from a perfectly good operating system such as 'Ubuntu Gnu/Linux' for a virus prone windows xp system which slows down the more you use it and cannot be relied upon to boot up properly every time you start it.

  • charles liszcz Says:

    To those who opted to do their own move from Ubuntu unix to XP, how did you do it? All sources I have checked have long detailed lists of why it can not be done on a dell mini. Would appreciate your process.

  • Dale Says:

    As Dvorak has been writing recently, the combination of very inexpensive hardware and free easy to use open source software such as Ubuntu 8.10 and OpenOffice is a potential game changer. Netbooks are a great opportunity for open source, and threat for Microsoft.

    As a long-time DOS & Windows user, earlier I had concluded it wasn't worth the hassle to figure out how to get Ubuntu to recognize Wi-Fi on my Acer Aspire One that was happily running Win XP. However, the price seemed right to try a Dell Mini-9 with Ubuntu pre-installed, and it works great out of the (little) box. I'd echo JNav: Ubuntu lets a netbook do what it really needs to do, flawlessly. I'm impressed.

  • Deb Says:

    I bought the mini-9 with Ubuntu as OS. It was working fine for Wi-Fi net surfing until I ran the updates. For some reason that wiped out my wireless connection and now I only have the wired and point to point choices for internet connection. I don't have a problem with Ubuntu, but I have no experience working with it. I would do a system restore back to the date before the updates, but don't seem to have that option. Any suggestions?

  • Kyin Says:

    You do have a point Bradford, and I had every intention of helping her install a dual boot if she liked the live cd. She surprised me by installing it herself, and it walked her through copying over all her files and such from windows. My point was merely this. That a lot of people still think of Linux as a completely CLI environment, very unfriendly toward newbs. Which is just not true. Some Linux distros are even more user friendly than Windows in some cases.

    I have Ubuntu installed on my desktop, and my distro of choice is Debian. Just fyi.

  • JNav Says:

    I was one of those that bought the Mini 9 installed with Ubuntu because I decided to give Linux a try. I've never used Linux before but (frankly) it's awesome being free of Windows. Ubuntu does the two things I bought my netbook for (email and web browsing) flawlessly. No constant updates/restarts, tons of free software, no loss in performance over time.

    I have to hand it to the Linux community, this is a totally viable OS, even for a newbie. If I wasn't so reliant on MS Exchange server, I'd have little reason to ever use Windows. Evolution just doesn't cut it.

  • K. T. Bradford Says:


    It's not terribly difficult to install Linux on a computer when you're wiping out whatever was on the hard disk before. But having just installed 5 different distros (including Mint) about 12 times, I can confidently say that doing anything but a complete wipe has a high chance of frustrating newer users. Once you get in to the operating system, there are many other potential sources of frustration. However, if you use your computer for basic tasks, then yes, you shouldn't have many problems. And some Linux communities are more helpful and produce better documentation than others.

    I would definitely rec Ubuntu and Lint to the less-tech savvy, but perhaps not leave them on their own to install it.

  • Kyin Says:

    not true Ranjan. I have a friend who knows nothing about computers, she installed Mint by herself, completely removed windows vista from her laptop. She couldn't be happier and has had no problems whatsoever. The myth that Linux is hell for newbs has been obliterated on more than one occasion.

  • Ranjan Says:

    Getting support on Linux is never easy. I think except for experienced Linux users, Linux is really a bad choice. Too many people get suckered into the hype.

  • Col Says:

    They'd have to pay me to suffer through Linux-horror again. But it's good that there's competition again I guess.

  • Antero (from Finland) Says:

    Most of the people using Linux have bought pc with Xp or Win 2000 and later - after idiotic MS OS crushed down - installed Linux to their desktop or laptop. So they have payed for MS once - but many of them will never come back to Redmond Bandwagon. I made that choice last summer, i installed Ubuntu and haven't been disappointed since that nice summer day. These netbooks will strengthen the process of Microsoft's nightmare. First time since 1990's we have finally change to escape from slavery to freedom. Personally i don't care much about "market share and Linux" - if Linux boom continues and will bring more driver and device support - it's OK and it's only important thing to most of Linux users. Looks like the only thing Windows users can be proud of is that "we are majority" - it sounds like old time communism movement or Manchester United gloryhunting bandwagon brand. What about stability, safety, freedom of choice on your pc/laptop/netbook and MONEY? Have you heard that Ms Office business went down 23% in last quarter of 2008?

  • Jack Says:

    I wish the GNU/Linux users out there (myself included) would stop buying MS Windows notebooks. Despite the lack of decent notebooks with GNU/Linux we need to force companies to open up the market. If we continue to buy MS Windows laptops they won't provide us with desirable products that actually work.

  • Jack Says:

    “i’m just using you for your discounted price not your OS.”

    I hate to break it to you that there are allot more people using GNU/Linux who purchased a MS Windows computer than MS Windows users purchasing GNU/Linux computers that are running MS Windows. Only sick people do that.

  • Jack Says:

    What on earth are people thinking moving from Ubuntu to MS Windows? That is the most insane thing ever. You've already shown how stupid you are by doing it and then calling those who don't fanboys. You have Microsoft artificially LIMITING what you can do with the computer through licensing and DRM and you go and pay for MS Windows? It makes me sick to think I funded Microsoft when I purchased my GNU/Linux laptop. Unfortunately I'm too heavy a user for low-quality generic systems with GNU/Linux on them from small and independent GNU/Linux sellers. I do always get my laptops from companies supporting GNU/Linux though... even when those companies are buying MS Windows laptops and just reloading them with GNU/Linux. I've purchased two laptops in the last 5 years without the MS tax and one with. All three only ever ran GNU/Linux though.

  • eduardo Says:

    I wonder if Dell is going to be one of the oem's this year that starts making netbooks with the new Freescale ARM chip. They will be a lot cheaper than Intel Atom machines, and use only one-third as much power, so I would expect them to sell very well.

  • Kyin Says:

    "i’m just using you for your discounted price not your OS."

    By the way, we Linux users buy windows machines stock and load Linux on them all the time. Why? Because either you can't get a certain model with Linux on it, or the model with Linux comes slightly cheaper with lower specs. So the tables are skewed both ways.

    But in the end, who really cares? I don't use Linux because I want it to be popular. I use it because I love it. If you love Windows and want to use that then go right on ahead, I won't stop you. Nor will I chide you and try to debase you. As others have said, it's all about choice.

  • Sly Coder Says:

    If *only* Dell (and HP, and all the other netboob vendors!) sold Linux-based netbooks in most countries around the world[0], that Linux sale rate figure would be *much* higher than 1/3rd.

    [0] For instance, we cannot get Linux on any of the tier-1 netbook vendors in Australia.

  • Nebulous Says:

    If you purchase a Linux Netbook, this gives credibility to Linux as legitimate choice as a Netbook OS. Even if you later install Windows or OSX, it is still a Linux purchase. This may fly in the face of the mainstream, to purchase a Windows machine only to install a Linux distribution or a particular flavour of BSD, but it is a start.

    We, the Linux user crowd, salute you!!!!!

  • Jorge Says:

    Oh and as for @Rob and @Contentpig and others who say they buy Linux so they can then "downgrade" to Windoze... Glad to hear you don't think it's right to pay a Windoze tax either.

    Buy more Linux. Give us all a choice in Operating System.

  • Shannon VanWagner Says:

    Hooray for choice!!

    I bought my Dell Inspiron 530n -preloaded with Ubuntu, and I've been loving it ever since!!

    Now it's time to see "Linux Compatible" or "Works With Linux" peripherals(e.g., webcam) at the local Best Buy.

    Or maybe someone should open up an online store that's called!

    Be sure to get your copy of World of Goo for your Linux machine.

    Go GNU/Linux!!! Go Choice!! Go Freedom!!

    Shannon VanWagner

  • james Says:


    I buy laptop/desktop machines with any windows version included because that's all most shops sell. When i get the hardware i strip off the OS and put a Ubuntu OS I already own on the new PC. Taking one college class I can buy Ubuntu (upgrade for free for ever) for $0.00 from the school on a DVD that I can use to install on the new hardware. So while I may skew the statistics towards windows based OS hardware purchases I find they’re the only way to get a new computer. I’m going to change the OS anyways so why not actually get a computer doing it. Good luck to you Windows fanboys thinking Windows has a future for regular home-use, but i’m just using you for your hardware, not your OS.

    P.s. True unless you get your PCs from Dell (or a few other small places)

  • lancest Says:

    Any notebook/ netbook sold without an OS (or with Linux) hurts Microsoft. This is happening in China alot with companies such as Hasee and ASUS with notebooks. They carry a sticker "Linux compatible". Choice is a wonderful thing.

  • Frank Daley Says:

    A few small number of users such as @Rob and @Contentpig "say" they have bought Linux versions and put Windows on it.

    However there are also lots of users such as myself who have been forced to buy PCs with Windows Operating Systems, that are immediately replaced by Linux.

    Therefore statements such as @Rob's "Good luck to you Linux fanboys thinking Linux is on the rise for regular home-use" is a naive assessment of what is really happening.

  • troll Says:

    "Good luck to you Linux fanboys thinking Linux is on the rise for regular home-use, but i’m just using you for your discounted price not your OS."

    By buying a Linux loaded PC and "upgrading" it to Windows the Linux Community does not take any disadvantage, as we do not work for profit. MIcrosoft, on the other hand, loses a lot. It is one less copy of Windows that they sell; it is one less copy of Windows in the statistics. For OEMs, it will look like Windows is losing market share, what will make them towards Linux and investors off Microsoft. Developers will think Linux is gaining desktops and will start making software to it.
    This is why you can't trust statistics.
    Thanks for helping in the Linux rise for regular home-use, as you said.

  • AndrewG Says:

    I ordered a Dell Mini 9 w/ Linux for the exact same reason as Contentpig, I was allowed to upgrade to higher hardware specs (2 GB RAM and 64 GB SSD). Have loaded OSX on it and it's working like a dream :)

  • BrendaEM Says:

    Ubuntu is the most popular Linux for the desktop, and yet most companies do not put it machines to sell, but instead use other Linux distros.

  • Garry Says:

    Rob says that a lot of netbooks get bought with linux, and then have windows installed. It works the other way, too. In Australia linux based netbooks (other than the eee) hardly exist. I have just bought an ASUS N10J with Vista (something) and added ubuntu which is really all I use. Vista is used purely to provide itunes support for my iphone. The part that really bugs me is having to pay the Microsoft 'tax'. My other laptop is also an ASUS (W7s) and has never run the Vista OS that came with it.

  • ricegf Says:

    @Rob: That's ok, for years I've had to buy computers with Windows installed, only to strip it off in favor of a good Linux distribution. Maybe your bargain hunting will help de-skew the sales channel statistics a bit.

  • Matt Says:

    Well, it used to be that you had no choice but to pay the Windows tax on a new computer. Rob, you should be thankful that Dell is offering Ubuntu on the Dell's so that you can save the money, even if you don't use Ubuntu.

  • Nathan Fritz Says:

    I bought the Dell Mini 9's cheap Linux version because I run Linux primarily. But think about it, it's a netbook. Why would you put Windows on one? You're going to use it as a web browser, email, IM client machine (hence NETbook) -- where some of the best clients are available for all operating systems. What's the point of reinstalling Windows onto it? You're not going to be playing modern games on it.

  • John Says:

    Now I just have a thought, under what licence are Dell redistibuting Ubuntu? I would assume that it is GPL, so that means anyone with a linux version should be able to share the recovery disks as an ISO. Maybe I might buy the XP one after all 8)

  • John Says:

    Dell Mini9 in AU and NZ:
    It's annoying when you hear, "well we won't sell that model there because of low demand" when I am one of the people who actually do want that model. If tey wont sell it in the NZ/AU market, then why not atleast allow it to be purchased from the US, and just option in the universal power adapter kit and up the shipping cost. The hardware is going to be the same, so getting regular support for the hardware here should be no issue, and any isues with the OS are better sorted by the ubuntu community anyway unless it is a buggy driver, which info can be put on Dells US site, so again, no extra support cost.

    What is really annoying is the rebate you can get on the XP model making it hundreds of dollars cheaper than the one with the free OS. Why not just ship one model, and the recovery disks for Linux as an option on the XP one? All I want are the fraken drivers. The default desktop, whatever they ship, won't last 10 minutes after I login anyway (I prefer KDE over Gnome, so most of the gnome apps will be replaced with my favourite KDE ones anyway, and maybe even the GUI shell fully replaced by KDE, but gnome does work better as a shell on the smaller screens). BTW - you can get very nice themes for WindowBlinds under XP and Vista too, but it just runs too slow in a netbook.

  • J Says:

    HP mini note 2133 was crap with every os they offered (vista or thrown-in-sled), but they learned. MSI on the other hand.. their company, products and people are all crap. Wind, bhah, I would prefer eee-pc over MSI Wind even if it were delivered in million pieces. That would work longer than Wind (or any other MSI product).

  • Contentpig Says:

    As an owner of a Dell Mini 9, I can tell you I opted for the Linux version so I could upgrade the ram and ssd(hard-drive). Once I got the laptop I then loaded xp on it. So I have a dell mini 9 with 2 gb of ram and a 64gb ssd drive. If you purchase from dell with xp you are limited to 1 gb of ram and either 4 or 8 gb of ssd. Dell is now moving to the Dell Mini 10, and it's XP version will have a hardware memory limitation of 1 gb with no option to upgrade. The reason behind this is the Vista licensing agreement between Dell and Microsoft, if they sell a machine that is "Vista Capable" meaning the cpu and ram (at least 2 gb) then it has to package Vista as the OS. Now I am ordering a new White Dell Mini 9 with Linux, so I can upgrade it myself and then load OS X on it. I'll let you guys know how that goes.

  • Rob Says:

    I buy laptop/desktop machines with any linux distro included because of the price discount. When i get the hardware i strip off the OS and put a Windows OS I already own on the new PC. Taking one college class I can buy Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate for $7.00 from the school on a DVD that I can use to install on the new hardware. If i bought the PC otherwise I'd have to pay extra for a 'Windows' PC with the crappy OEM Vista Home Premium they slap on these machines. So while I may skew the statistics towards open-source based OS hardware purchases I find they're the cheapest way to get a new computer. I'm going to change the OS anyways so why not get a discount doing it. Good luck to you Linux fanboys thinking Linux is on the rise for regular home-use, but i'm just using you for your discounted price not your OS.

  • mistermeister Says:


    "these users may use Linux or they may install the OS of their choice like Windows or Mac OS X."

    Choice is exactly what it's all about. This is something that has been lacking in the operating system area for quite some time. Let's hope this continues because in the end it's the consumer that's going to reap the benefits.

  • Jef Spaleta Says:

    Question, is that for US sales or for global sales. My understanding is that Dell isn't making Ubuntu pre-installs available for all international markets where it does business... places like AU.
    "Again, like Toshiba, Dell has launched its new netbook in both Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux versions in the US but only the Windows XP model in Australia.

    Evan Williams, Dell's Australia and New Zealand consumer sales and marketing general manager told iTWire that the company decided to release only a Windows XP version of its netbook in Australia after gauging customer demand in Australia and overseas."


  • Nicholas Herriot Says:


    we are also seeing a growing increase in the number of Linux drivers being downloaded for Linux Netbooks from the Betavine site.

    Having been involved in helping many newbie Linux users get connected via 3g Broadband it's nice to see something other than Windows being offered to customers. However I'm still surprized at how difficult it is for Linux folk to get good support from large organisations.

    Anyway this may be of interest to any Dell Mini-9 users out there wishing to get connected, betavine have setup a page dedicated to the Dell Mini-9 and a software repository to allow them to get connected easily. It's at .

    Kind regards, Nicholas Herriot.

  • PK Says:

    If you read the forums of sites such as mydellmini, you'll find that the enthusiasts tell you to buy the cheapest Mini and upgrade the SSD and memory yourself- these users may use Linux or they may install the OS of their choice like Windows or Mac OS X.

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