Dell is ashamed of its Ubuntu-powered laptops

My laptop was slow while running my chain and ball KDE 4, and also got some things broken recently (e.g., battery, screen hinges), so I decided to buy a new one last week before it leaves me stranded. And soon enough I realized that I had two options:

  • Buy it in a place where every single computer ships with Windows, so that I could claim a refund. I didn’t care about the money: I just wanted to mess with that kind of vendors and file a lawsuit if I didn’t get it on good terms, to encourage people to do the same thing and thus contribute to do away with the Windows Tax.
  • Purchase it from a Linux pre-installed vendor, to support them. Even if they pre-installed a freedom-trampling system like Windows, it’d be good to show them that Freedomware worths it.

I liked both options alike, so I based my decision on the computer specs and costs, not on the vendor/manufacturer.

I decided to get a Dell XPS M1330, one of the two Ubuntu-powered computers that I remembered Dell sells in Spain. So I visited and was surprised to find just a couple of netbooks! Change of plans; now I’ll have to get it with Windows and claim a refund, I told myself.

So the first step was to get a proof that I was imposed the operating system when I bought the laptop. Sales representatives were available for a chat, so I asked them how could I get a Dell XPS M1330 without Windows. The surprising answer was that it was available with Ubuntu and pointed me to! Plans changed one more time; back to the original plan, get it with Linux.

I obviously asked why it wasn’t listed on The sales rep said that s/he didn’t know why and that s/he will forward my query to the relevant department. I bought the laptop with Ubuntu that day and that was it.

Today, out of curiosity, I went to and found that it hasn’t changed! The link the sales rep provided me with the other day still works but the laptop is not listed. And the same happens in, and, for example.

This can hardly be a mistake. Why the heck does Dell hide some of the few Linux-powered computers they sell now? Maybe due to threats from Microsoft? After all, it’s well-know for its monopolistic practices.

PS (April 18th @ 14:00 UTC): The link above to doesn’t work at times today, so here’s an screenshot if it doesn’t work for you:

PS (April 19th @ 18:30 UTC): This is an screenshot of the random error I warned about yesterday (which I took just in case), before reaching’s front-page:

Now, almost 20 hours after reaching Digg’s front-page, the link no longer works (not even at times, as yesterday) and a better formatted page is displayed instead:

I don’t know if the different error pages actually mean something, but my point is that the link is now dead.

So long Debian servers, welcome Ubuntu

I’ve been assessing the possibility of switching GNU/Linux Matters‘ servers (which are all powered by Debian) to Ubuntu, and I have finally decided to go for it.

They were running Debian for three reasons:

  1. Stability, something Debian is well-known for.
  2. A large user base, which brings two big advantages: A huge amount of packaged applications and a good community support.
  3. I’m only familiar with Debian-based distros :)

And they weren’t running Ubuntu because, to be honest, I didn’t find Ubuntu reliable enough to power a server, mainly because of the cutting-edge applications it includes by default; it was just great for my personal computer. I guess this is mostly due to I’ve been using Kubuntu since Breeze, and it was a highly unreliable system in the early versions – IMHO things begun to take shape in Feisty and now Hardy just rocks.

I’ve started to switch our servers to Ubuntu because I think it’s the best choice, at least for us, because we still have the three advantages of using Debian (it’s based on it after all), plus:

  1. Packaged applications are up-to-date, so I don’t have to compile and maintain software which have a old version in Debian repositories (we often need the latest stable version). Yes, I can use Debian Testing, but this is not the only drawback.
  2. Uncomplicated Firewall. An extremely easy-to-setup, basic firewall. It’s just a front-end to iptables-restore, so you can still add/adjust any rule according to your needs.
  3. Many other tiny (and not so tiny) benefits that together make a big difference.

The migration should take some months because it’s not a top-priority at present. There are many more things that should be done first.

Put simply, it’s not that Ubuntu is much better than Debian on the server, it just happens to make your job easier if you’re the administrator.

The only screencasting software that doesn’t crash in Ubuntu Hardy

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to record some screencasts for GLM, but every screencasting software I tried crashed under Ubuntu Hardy (and Gutsy too):

  • XVidCap: The workaround is supposed to be disabling sound, but didn’t work.
  • RecordMyDesktop (plus its two front-ends): Crashes with no error message. From time to time I was able to record videos.
  • Istanbul: Crashes if you select a window to be recorded.

So, the only solution is to install a newer version of Istanbul for Debian:
or, if you have a 64-bit box,

After making the appropriate bug reports, I can finally start recording the screencasts with Istanbul!

PS: Forget about the above. That Debian package doesn’t work either. I’m installing KDE4 to check whether I can record the screencast with it; I think I saw such an option when I tried it out.

PPS: The KDE4 built-in screencasting component uses a weird format (cps?) which cannot be opened with VLC, Mplayer nor Kaffeine (but there’s a dirty workaround). Anyways, it records the whole screen and I just want to record a single window.

PPPS: I’m not alone.