A few days ago a friend asked me « How come Dell PCs with Ubuntu are only 50$ less than Windows ? ». I was actually suprised by his question and I thought I would share my answer.
If I apply the closed, non-free business models around proprietary software, I really think Ubuntu PCs should be much more expensive (like U$1000 more) than any Windows comparable machine. After explaining all you would need to add to a Windows install in order to make it comparable to Gnu/Linux, we actually agreed… I was then wondering what would happen if a tiny portion of Ubuntu users would contribute a portion of the U$1000 saved towards local development and advocacy efforts. Well, « finders, keepers » also works for me.
Think about it, I am sure you can come with more than this short list but… since being an Ubuntu user at home and at work,
- I don’t need antivirus, firewall, cleanup, anti-spyware or other such » security » software. This may require a bit more explanation, but what can I say. I my personal experience, I really don’t need any of this.
- As a result of #1, I don’t actually need to waste a dual-core’s machine power so I can be « running a virus scan and management agent in the background« . I’d rather put that to good video transcoding use 🙂
- As a result of #1, current sub U$500 cheap Celeron based laptops run just fine with only 512MB of RAM – they’re not » useless » as I was told at the store
- I can choose and download a healthy few thousands applications (including many servers like web, voip, etc.) from one central package/repository management application. Like, say, Windows update but for all applications. Multi-lingual, and including security updates, unlike Windows Marketplace. I do happen to work in spanish and french too.
- I can have my systems (and all included applications) available in several languages at once.
- I don’t worry about manual security updates, except for software I have decided to manually download and install from other sites (a rarity, but happens)
- I don’t reinstall! Well, my work consists of advocacy and consulting / coaching / providing tech support so my main laptop does get reinstalled often. Home PC hasn’t had a reinstall for 3 years though.
- I can keep using the oldest, crapiest hardware I love, like that PCMCIA reader or the « Windows 98-only » webcam, along the newer one
- When I come across a missing feature / problem / documentation omission or translation problem I take the opportunity to contribute back and learn in the process
- I can copy all this to any amount of people around me, without restrictions or underground illegal activities – the only limit being my bandwidth, and ability to give out CDs or other media. In fact I am often asked if the software I used is legal, as I seem to have a little or big app for most any use.
So how much is that worth to you ? I was thinking I would need to talk about the freedom, the formats, the licences, patent problems, etc., I guess that’s for another afternoon when I chat again with my friend.