Dell, Michael Dell, free and open source software

I met with Michael Dell for lunch on May 25. We were at his office in Austin, Texas.
Michael Dell is quiet a character. He’s very well informed not only about the IT business, but about the global development, trends, opportunities and possibilities – not only in the IT-world. Talking with him in front of the map of the world in his conference room was one of the ways to see how small the world is. At some point, after 30 years, I may be tempted to write down what we talked, but today I can only say, I am very optimistic – not only about Dell, the computer company, but also about the way they’ve shaken the world, and the endless ways for development of skills, engineers, and ideas all over the world. What Dell is doing today, will form the future in a way no other company has done it.

Before and after the lunch I had meetings with other people at Dell:
Bob Pearson – VP Corporate Group Communications; Lionel Menchaca – Digital Media Manager; Dale Kaisner – Sr. Engineering Manager – Linux Engineering; Matt Domsch – Linux Software Architect; John Hull – manager of Linux OS technologies, and Caroline Dietz – public affairs.
We talked about their new Linux program – Dell offers today 3 consumer systems with Ubuntu 7.04. Further, Dell has devoted man and skills for the Dell Idea Storm – a unique place to be. I highly recommend it for people who have ideas, and want to see them implemented in the next computer they buy.
Check these lines from Lionel:
“Dell is doing this because of your clear feedback in IdeaStorm. User dhart submitted this idea on February 16—the first day we launched IdeaStorm and it quickly became the #1 idea. Since then, about 30,000 community members weighed in to support it, and over 100,000 of you completed the Linux survey to tell us more.”
When people speak, facts stay silent, if I may reverse the popular saying.
What Dell has started as a small step for the company, is a giant leap for the world-wide computer industry. Today, with Dell offering desktops and notebooks with pre-installed Linux, governments and big businesses worldwide will have no excuse during the public bids they organize but make sure they give opportunity to the national, local industries, by asking a different specifications. Until today, when there was a public bid, the request usually will be “computers with MS Windows OS”, and/or “MS Office”. From today on, the request should be something like that (and please, correct it to sound proper) “computers with operating system, with graphic interface, capable of tcp/ip, with software applications allowing reading/saving of files in the following formats: .rtf, .pdf, MS Word doc, MS Excell, presentations like MS Powerpoint”, etc.
This opens the doors for local businesses, who now instead of selling their computer systems with pre-installed MS Windows, will have the option of getting lower price, Linux-based computers.
Plus, when people use OpenOffice, Firefox and other non-Microsoft based software, they will actually cause less problems for the IT-managers in the companies, organizations or ministries where they work.
Some time ago, when we were running the first phase of the FOSS project, one of the IT-managers at a Bulgarian municipality said that he does not provide support to administration clerks who use MS Internet Explorer and/or MS Office. His argument was that since these products by default cause problems, it’s not his responsibility to waste his time to fix them.

With Dell’s new offer, this all may change. I urge people worldwide to start looking not only into the 3 systems, offered by Dell, but to other systems, and participate at Dell’s blog, and see that they can actually make a difference in the way people approach the computers.

Dell’s engineers, who I met, are really good. No, they are not good – they are exceptionally good and devoted people. They deserve a big round of applauses from all of us – the users. I was also quite impressed with Lionel, and the questions he asked me during an interview I gave for the Dell blog.

Today Dell gives all the users the right to choose – something which many of the advanced users have already chosen, but with Dell making such a move, it’s only a matter of time before the other companies join. Because they are already losing customers.

The free and open source community, bloggers from all over the world – I hope you all will spread the word about the new Ubuntu offer from Dell… No, not about the offer itself – spread the word that there’s a new company that provides computers which will work better, cost less, and give the users the opportunity to learn, not just to repeat.

The revolution has started. Lead it.

_______
See the picture I took of Michael Dell, and the lunch table.
Just 10 days ago Dell announced their first representative office in Bulgaria. It’s headed by Alexander Alexandrov.

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One Response to Dell, Michael Dell, free and open source software

  1. Oh, and in case you wonder if I am against Microsoft – I am not, really. Check this out: 7 Reasons Why Microsoft was (is?) bad for Bulgaria – Can You Add More?

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