::Dell Linux Projects

9 02 2007

A lot has been made in the Linux community about the support, and\or lack thereof, that Dell provides to the Linux community. You’ve been able to get RedHat installed out of the box on some servers for a few years now, and there’s been talk on and off of Dell providing Linux installation options on their desktops and laptops, but this has never come to pass. Maybe someday they will at least drop the Microsoft tax and give users the option of not having any operating system installed out of the box.

Not many folks know, however, that Dell does quietly support the open source community with a set of projects designed to make life easier for enterprise sysadmin and home user alike.

I stumbled across the main project page while looking for a method of upgrading my laptop’s as-shipped version A00 BIOS version to the current A08 version and found a cool project called Biosdisk that did the job nicely.

Here’s the thing that I love about the Open Source community in general, and what I found to be really cool about Dell’s Linux support: I tried running the program and ran into some problems. I tried on my own to figure them out and failed, and didn’t think there was much hope. The last release of Biosdisk was back in 2004–probably not likely that anyone would devote any time to a random dumbass with a problem.

But I emailed the project maintainer explaining my problem. I got a response back in less than two hours correcting my syntax. This didn’t work, and I emailed back the results. He took it home and tried it on his own Ubuntu box, found a problem, and sent me a revision.

The revision worked fine, and he even thanked me for finding the bug!

So if you own a Dell, go over and poke around a little. And if your OEM doesn’t have much public Linux support, check out their site anyway and poke around a little. Maybe they support it on the downlow.