Ensuring the Success of Dell's Desktop Linux: Page 3

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Be Supportive

Typically, OEMs and their customers, particularly with new efforts, are at each other’s throats because of misunderstandings resulting largely from the fact this is a new effort. Dell is taking a huge risk doing this, they don’t have to, and they are doing it because many of you asked them to. To now go back and crucify them because they can’t get it right the first time largely because no one yet knows what “right” is would be stupid. And stupid isn’t a word often associated with success.

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Cut Dell some slack. And if you know of something that will work better let them know, but if they don’t agree, don’t shoot them for it. I realize the Linux culture has a tendency to drift solidly into personal attack when things go badly but, you do that here, or let someone else do it, and Dell is likely to back away from this effort sharply and it will be at least 5 years before anyone tries it again if they fail with this effort.

There are a lot of people, both inside and outside Dell, that are betting this thing will fail big and have their “I told you so” speeches, articles, emails, and columns ready to print. If you want to make these folks really happy, by all means, make this experience for Dell a living hell. If you don’t, back the company up.

In fact, even if it doesn’t have to do with Linux, if Dell saw Linux folks coming to its defense in other areas when it needs vocal support, they are much more likely to see Linux advocates as friends rather than the necessary evil that often follows them and their Mac counterparts in IT organizations.

Be Smart

What I’m suggesting here is if you want Dell to be successful with this desktop Linux effort is to think strategically and accept a little shared pain to make the needed changes happen. You are moving against a set of practices that have been in place for decades and that kind of movement doesn’t come without pain. If you accept more than your fair share, it is likely that the effort will, despite strong odds against it, be successful. But if you ask Dell to take on most or all of this burden it will crash and burn like the Hindenburg.

Linux, to work in software or hardware, has to be a cooperative effort between all of the parties. That’s its strength. Where it fails is when it is asked to also showcase the benefits of a proprietary offering. With change comes pain, if you believe the result is worth it, the pain is part of the rite of passage and, if shared, could form a bond between you and your OEM that could be stronger, and more mutually lucrative, than you have ever seen before.

That alone may make it worth doing this right.

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