27 News broadcast an update to this story on Thursday, Jan. 15 addressing many of the angry feedback we've received. You can watch the video by clicking this link.
*NEW* Scroll to the bottom to read Dan Cassuto's response to this story.
MCFARLAND (WKOW) -- Abbie Schubert paid more than $1,100 for a Dell laptop hoping to enroll in online classes at Madison Area Technical College, or MATC.
But something stopped her: she bought an operating system for her computer she never heard of, Ubuntu.
That's an operating system for your computer similar to Windows that contains Linux. It's highly regarded among some people and extremely popular with certain circles of computer users because it's free.
Schubert says she ordered her laptop online at Dell.com expecting to buy your classic bread-and-butter computer.
She didn't realize until the next morning her laptop defaulted to the Ubuntu operating system.
"It's been a mess," she said. "I regret ordering the computer."
Schubert says she never heard of Ubuntu until learning that she accidentally bought it. She called Dell the very next day and says the representative told her there was still time to change back to Windows.
But she says Dell discouraged her.
"The person I was talking to said Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, it was compatible with everything I needed," said Schubert.
So she stuck with it.
Later, she discovered Ubuntu might look like Windows, but it doesn't always act like it.
Her Verizon High-Speed Internet CD won't load, so she can't access the internet. She also can't install Microsoft Word, which she says is a requirement for MATC's online classes.
As a result, with no internet and no Microsoft Word, Schubert dropped out of MATC's fall and spring semesters.
She also says Dell claimed it was now too late to get Windows and any changes she made herself would void her warranty.
"I'm extremely frustrated," said Schubert. "I wanted to get back to school, but I needed a computer to be able to do that."
27 News contacted Dell, but the company has not responded to us yet.
However, we think we've helped her get back to school.
Verizon says it will dispatch a technician to try to assist her accessing the internet without using the Windows-only installation disk. Verizon says its high-speed internet does indeed support Ubuntu, but some advanced features and installation disks clearly don't work with Linux.
MATC also says it promises to accept any of Schubert's papers or class documents using whatever software she has installed.
Schubert's computer came with Open Office, a word processing software package that is compatible with Microsoft Word. She says she wasn't aware it was compatible. MATC promised to show her how to save documents in compatible formats so she could enroll in online courses again.
Send comments to Dan Cassuto at email@example.com.
Also, click here to read our Assistant News Director's blog regarding the debate on this subject, "Ubuntu on the Brain".