Availability of Linux in stores

Is there any legal reason why computers sold in retail stores such as Best Buy cannot have Linux as the operating system instead of Windows, or at least a choice somehow?

If Linux was available (and there was a reduced cost for the system with it), do you think consumers would choose Linux? I realize that Linux might not be a good choice for people that are not technically inclined but I think there would be enough of us that would be interested. And I think if the opportunity existed then Linux enthusiasts could make Linux easier for the average consumer.

And yes I know there are variations (distributions) of Linux and that makes thikngs complicated.

Also, I have read rumors of a version of Windows with Linux inside.

If you’re talking about WSL - Windows Subsystem for Linux - it’s no rumour. See here.

I installed Xubuntu on an old computer for an elderly friend of ours some years ago, and she’s had no problem using it. (It was her first computer, so she had nothing to relearn.) I do upgrades for her, and sort out any technical issues, but I’d also need to do that if she were using Windows.

She’s not the only person I know who finds Linux (specifically Ubuntu and Xubuntu) more intuitive and less intimidating than Windows.

I’ve bought my last few computers (desktop and laptop) from a place which builds to your own specifications, and they offer the option of installing Windows for you, or supplying the machine with no operating system, so you simply install your own. That saves £77 including tax (approx. $100 / €90) over having Windows 10 (home edition) installed.

1 Like

Would it be fair to say that while a retailer may offer a single version of a Windows OS, there is more than a single version of *nix to choose from?

I also wonder if getting an install up and running is more “one click” / “GUI” and less CLI makes a difference. Is providing customer tech support costly?

Which brings up context. From a retailers point of view, which would more likely affect the conversion and result in a sale of the hardware? A potential customer having trouble getting an install up and running, or a customer frustrated with what came out of the box.

I don’t think there is a legal reason, probably more a commercial reason, it’s something else to sell to you.
I think a lot of consumers are unaware that there is a free alternative OS available, and I think MS and the retailers like it that way.
Of course there is always the option of buying a computer without an OS, then choose and install whatever you like.

Computers depreciate drastically and what may now be slow with bloated Windows 10 should run very fast using Linux.

I would be tempted to look out for a popular named computer, at least 8Gb and a SSD drive, the bigger the better :slight_smile:

I included a comment about Windows with Linux inside just to anticipate someone saying that what I was talking about will soon be true. But either what I had seen discussion of does not exist or I cannot find the articles I found previously. The article you linked to is about the Windows Subsystem for Linux that has been available for a while. There is also a significantly improved Windows Subsystem for Linux that is not yet released as in Microsoft will ship a full Linux kernel in Windows 10 - The Verge. But that still is something that exists on top of Windows 10. What I have read (I thought) is a version of Windows 10 in which Windows exists on top of Linux, not Linux on top of Windows.

Perhaps you underestimate the potential for computer people to solve problems.

The previous comment applies here too but I wanted to also emphasize that I said it could be an option. Customers could and should be able to purchase a system that uses Windows 10 as conveniently as they currently do. The Linux option might not exist in all stores but it should exist in some.

I suspect that there is something more than simple competition going on. It seems to me that retailers do not have the option provide alternatives. There seems to be something preventing retailers from providing alternatives; probably all the manufacturers of retail systems only offer Windows. I suspect that Linux would become much more popular if it was an option; many consumers would choose it if they had the option.

The thing I do not know is what the contract says between Microsoft and the manufacturers of systems. Does Microsoft prevent a vendor from offering alternative operating systems? Probably not, since there are systems sold with Linux and such, but is it possible for there to be such a restriction for systems developed for consumers?

That something may be a keystone of all business: profit. Stores make a profit selling you Windows, they make nothing giving you Linux.
Sure, offering free items with your product is attractive to customers. But when the free item is something which is free anyway, it is more apparently a hollow offering.

Remember the DOJ vs Microsoft case near two decades ago?

The DOJ could have brought that in as well but narrowed the suit to the browser issue.because the victory was already secured. Had they focused on how MS behaved regarding competitive OSes I believe the result had been a divide of MS to become a separate company for the OS and another for its applications.

One voice from the BeOS (Palm) people about the result of that trial:

So here we are in 2001, and guess what? It’s still not possible to purchase a dual-boot Win/Linux machine. Doesn’t that seem kind of odd? With all of the hype Linux has gotten, and with the technical simplicity of shipping dual-boot machines, not a single PC OEM is shipping such a beast. The technology marketplace is glutted with options. Vendors use even the smallest opportunities to trumpet their differentiating factors. Linux is free. And yet there are no commercially available dual-boot machines on the market. Not one. The silence of the marketplace speaks volumes. There is no other way to explain this phenomenon other than as a repercussion of the confidential Windows License under which every hardware vendor must do business.

Quoted from birdhouse.org/beos/byte/30-bootloader/

Not always as easy as one would like. Then there’s the need of hardware vendors to open up the specs so all OSes could compete with compatible drivers.

Opinions from The Register when that was an issue (still is imho):


That’s not as simple as is looks: :slightly_smiling_face:

The result of all this fuzz to avoid competition would probably be that Linux enthusiasts will learn more about hardware and generic OS issues than many Windows technicians, also when it comes to solve problems in Windows.

1 Like

Hi there SamuelCalifornia

I notice that Dell says this…

Developer & Engineering systems
For over 20 years Dell has offered Linux-based workstations
and laptops for businesses, engineers and scientists. A few
years ago via Project Sputnik our portfolio expanded to
include developer-targeted laptops and mobile workstations.
These systems come with Ubuntu preloaded and are
certified for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
With Canonical and Red Hat certification, Dell validation,
and factory install options, you can be assured that your
system just works.

Further reading:-

Linux Workstations and Laptops


1 Like

Another keystone to business and (is supposed to be) fundamental to Capitalism is competition. And as far as I know, stores do not make a profit from selling Windows, Microsoft does. And Microsoft’s profit I think is a keystone to the problem of all other operating systems being locked out.

Thank you. That supports what I am saying. I agree with what is said there, I agree that it is odd. The part about confidential Windows License is what I was implying previously, I did not expect to see it stated so clearly. It is my suspicion that there is something that is anti-competitive going on. In other words, businesses are colluding with Microsoft to inhibit Linux and other operating systems.

I think that is a very possible explanation for what happened to OS/2; it was (and possibly is; I am not sure what eComStation | IBM OS/2 upgrade for today's hardware is) an excellent operating system. I see no reason for OS/2 to have been terminated other than some kind of secret collusion.


Surely they do, why would anyone bother selling anything that does not make them a profit? That makes no sense at all.
Sure MS take the lion’s share of profit, but the stores must make something from it, hence it is on their shelves and installed on their PCs.
There is zero profit in providing Linux, therefore it is not on their shelves and not installed on thier PCs.
Just very basic business logic, that’s all.

1 Like

We are both speculating. Neither of us know the truth. If you can find something authoritive saying that stores get a profit from Windows then that will be interesting.

Stores get a profit from selling systems with Windows installed by the manufacturer but I have never seen Windows being listed separately (can you show us a system in a retail store that does?); the cost of the system is for the entire system. The manufacturer pays Microsoft for each OEM copy of Windows; I am sure I can find descriptions of that.

In the past there were non-OEM and OEM licenses of Windows; I am not sure if non-OEM licenses still exist. An OEM license lives with the computer system and the non-OEM license lives with the customer; the customer can transfer the license to another system (it can exist in only one at a time). So Microsoft profits from every new system. Since we do not have the option to purchase the hardware and the OS separately and since Microsoft (has said they) will not make another version of Windows, they probably make more from the constant upgrades of the hardware by bundling Windows with the hardware.

I am an Authorized Microsoft Partner. It is exactly as you stated. And yes, OEM licenses are still a thing. Outside of a system, you can buy Windows 10 standalone at a retail store.

1 Like

It is kind of the whole point of why stores exist, to sell things for a profit.

Sure you can buy Windows OS alone, not installed on a system.

And OEM versions still

Why even go to the trouble of having this stuff on your site and spending your time and money to post it to people for zero profit? Yes, they are making a profit.

You, apparently, did not peruse post #13. :rofl:

The link shows, at the very least, 18 items with …

      Ubuntu® 18.04 LTS preloaded. :biggrin:


I guess you can charge for installing it, yes. :slightly_smiling_face:

I think that post proves that you can buy systems with Linux, if you shop in the right places.
The likes of Best Buy, Curry’s/PC World are catering for the consumer markets.
Dell it seems are catering for more specifc professional needs.