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Linux On Netbooks — a Complicated Story

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the comfort-zone dept.

Linux Business 833

An anonymous reader writes "Keir Thomas has responded to the recent raft of news stories pointing out that Linux's share of the netbook market isn't as rosy as it used to be. Thomas thinks the problem boils down to a combination of unfamiliar software and unfamiliar hardware, which can 'push users over the edge.' This accounts for the allegedly high return rates of Linux netbooks. In contrast, although far from superior, Windows provides a more familiar environment, making the hardware issues (irritatingly small keyboard, screen etc.) seem less insurmountable; users are less likely to walk away. 'Once again Microsoft's monopoly means Windows is swallowing up another market.'"

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People just don't understand Linux (5, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538627)

My gf knows that Linux is on her computer, but even so, she can't understand why she can't go to BestBuy and get software. Or why she can't download Silverlight. If you put Linux on a machine and don't explain the difference between it and Windows, then you're just asking for trouble.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538655)

Oh so true. Linux is good for the geek market where people can truly grasp the difference. But for people who aren't techies, well, most of them would rather spend an extra $50 to get an experience that they are familiar with. These netbooks are pretty cheap to begin with. Not only that, they are kind of a luxury, and used a secondary computer. People who can afford multiple computers don't mind spending a few extra dollars to get the Windows license.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538897)

I don't think it's a case of Linux being unable to win the desktop. I think it's just that, while we may have superiority on the desktop and under the hood, we still need to gain ground in the area of software. This does not necessarily mean that we have to get Photoshop ported, IMHO building a following behind The Gimp, Inkscape, Blender, KinoDV and other open source apps on both Windows and Linux will help the war effort generally.

While these applications are (to be honest) still far behind their commercial counterparts, a greater user base and higher profile will attract developers and help them catch up, just as higher profile has helped garner support for the Linux kernel itself from developers and companies.

Projects like Big Buck Bunny [bigbuckbunny.org] and Elephants Dream [elephantsdream.org] have proven that high quality, professional results can be achieved using open source tools, a proposition that more and more companies will find attractive as new talent enters industries that use these tools.

Give it time. The Linux ecosystem is growing. Growing far faster than the commercial fields. We're already competing toe to toe in areas like web servers (Apache and LigHTTPD) blow away IIS and other web servers, PostgreSQL easily competes on a level field with Oracle and DB2 and Inkscape isn't as far beind Illustrator as Gimp is behind Photoshop. Blender was proved to be a highly capable 3D modeler and animation tool in the BBB and ED projects mentioned above.

It's only a matter of time.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (5, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539193)

Linux advocates frequently over promise and vastly undeliverable. Your soon to be 5+ post is a shining example of that.

If you think Gimp is even close to the same as Photoshop, you are smoking crack. Blender vs the other guys? I dont know, I tried blender for about 30 seconds before giving up and playing around with the student editions of the big-boys stuff. PostgreSQL is awesome (seriously, I love PostgreSQL), but it is not even close to Oracle (DB2, maybe). Apache, Lighttpd and my current favorite nginx are awesome, but they dont have the close integration with their development tools and operating system that IIS does. Speaking of development tools... there is no open source equivalant of Visual Studio and there is no MSDN of open source.

If you want Linux to gain acceptance, you need to stop with the hyperbole and start accepting the truth. The truth is:

- There is no common way to install and remove software.
- There is no stable base to write drivers (thus no hardware support)
- There are too many distros with too many proprietary ways of doing things. Too many proprietary repositories, too many proprietary package systems, to many proprietary filesystem layouts.
- Gimp is *not* Photoshop. Sorry. I know I mentioned this, but I'll repeat it again. You insult people who actually use Photoshop by making this claim.
- Ponies.

It's only a matter of time.

Only if Linux advocates and developers take a realistic look at their product offerings and their standing in the market.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539207)

It's only a matter of time ... until Wine is able to run Win32 programs better than the latest MS OS.

Remember the days when linux-based web browsers were crappy, because they couldn't render HTML the same way as IE? And then, what happened when firefox closed the gap?

Good times ahead for free software, even if the ecosystem won't be entirely free.

curse the devil spawned end user. (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539187)

As long as linux advocates curse the foolish choices of the enduser they will never succeed in increasing market share. One can ask, well is market share the goal? If not then don't begrudge windows for providing an end user experience that is preferred. Sure in your view it's a lesser ecperience, but people want comfort. More people like cheeseburgers than tofu even if tofu is better for them. Does that make cheesburger's bad or good?

Re:People just don't understand Linux (5, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538735)

I can't get Linux easily:(

I want a decent netbook but can't get the model I want. I don't want an eeePC 1000HA, which is slightly dated, I want the upgraded chipsets in the 1000HE or 1004DN that allow smooth HD playback, but right now both only come with Windows. One nice thing the 1000HA did was if you went with Linux, they upgraded your harddrive from a mechanical 80GB to a 64GB SSD. Not too bad.

As it stands, I would almost have gone with a Windows netbook simply for the hardware I want and be forced to install linux on it. But I decided on the ARM based Always Innovating when it comes out:
http://www.engadget.com/2009/03/02/touch-book-from-always-innovating-harbors-removable-tablet-netb/ [engadget.com] [engadget.com]

It has a really nice 15 hour battery life, which for a true portable is one of the top considerations.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (3, Interesting)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538865)

I can't get Linux easily.
Then buy the one with Windows installed on it, remove Windows and install Ubuntu. Then send Asus a refund request for the Windows Home license that you didn't use.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539051)

Yes, but I was hoping for the SSD upgrade instead!

while I don't know about non-ASUS netbook Linux UI (5, Interesting)

alizard (107678) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538845)

the Linux desktop on the Asus Eee PC 900 out of the box is an abomination for anyone who qualifies as a power user on ANY OS. It's a dumbed down older version of Xandros modified for a tab-based UI.

Basically, it's a locked down net appliance UI... the only programs you can install without drastically modifying or replacing the OS that will show up on any desktop tab are the handful of programs available on the Asus repository site. Running nxclient required me opening a terminal window and using the CLI to manually enter /path-to/nxclient . Note that nxclient has a perfectly good desktop icon and is happy to install itself to a menu if given the chance, i.e. on any normal Linux OS.

I turned myself from a pissed off Eee PC Linux user to a happy one by replacing the OEM desktop with a standard Ubuntu desktop plus hardware drivers from the Ubuntu-eee project, you can find out how I did it here [informit.com] .

However, I also have some serious doubts about the accuracy of the original "analyst" report. If Linux sucks so badly on netbooks, why are any netbook vendors still selling it to anybody? Note that by and large, computer retail stores have not exactly put any great effort into selling Linux netbooks, the only place it's easy to get them is via online ordering, so it can be assumed that people who buy the Linux netbooks thought they knew what they were getting in advance.

Re:People just don't understand PROGRAM NAMES (2, Insightful)

gerf (532474) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538949)

I think people would like Linux more if they were familiar with program names. Notepad, Paint, Wordpad, Calc... whatever. When I boot Linux on occasion, I'm more confused with what program does what than how to use them.

While I applaud the work of thousands to build such robust amazing programs and give them each their own special name, I'm of the opinion that if you give someone KDE with a few programs labeled generically "email" "internet browser" "calculator" "text editor" "Office Text/Spreadsheet/Presentation" "Network - Wireless" "Printers" and so on and so forth instead of each programs' real name, you'd be a lot closer to the #1 goal of usability: making an intuitive interface.

Re:People just don't understand PROGRAM NAMES (2, Funny)

syrion (744778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539081)

Nah. Your standard end user doesn't even understand the concept of software, really. I know people who think Windows is Office, and so on. These aren't people who are totally ignorant—they work with computers every day—they're just not very good at reading. Their excuse is usually "I don't want to think about that stuff, I want to get my work done," never realizing that thirty minutes of thinking about "that stuff" could save them hours of frustration. When I heard someone who's worked in a white-collar environment for fifteen years refer to Office 2007 as "Windows Word 2007," I nearly lost it.

Re:People just don't understand PROGRAM NAMES (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539125)

Names: Obama, Ape, Monkey, Jig, Chimp, Gorilla

Re:People just don't understand PROGRAM NAMES (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539195)

I think people would like Linux more if they were familiar with program names. Notepad, Paint, Wordpad, Calc... whatever. When I boot Linux on occasion, I'm more confused with what program does what than how to use them.

Excel, Visio, Quicken, Outlook and Visual Studio aren't exactly self-explanatory.

While I applaud the work of thousands to build such robust amazing programs and give them each their own special name, I'm of the opinion that if you give someone KDE with a few programs labeled generically "email" "internet browser" "calculator" "text editor" "Office Text/Spreadsheet/Presentation" "Network - Wireless" "Printers" and so on and so forth instead of each programs' real name, you'd be a lot closer to the #1 goal of usability: making an intuitive interface.

In the Applications -> Internet menu from Ubuntu on my EeePC, I have "Firefox Web Browser", "Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News", "Pidgin Instant Messenger", "Transmission BitTorrent Client", and several others. Compare with the Windows debacle of Start -> Publisher -> Weird Program Name.

I agree with your point, and apparently so did the distro maintainers a few years ago that made Linux much better on this count than Windows.

Re:People just don't understand Linux (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539075)


Practically every friend I have that uses a PC for whatever purpose really hates Windows and the virus mess, the registry/DLL havoc, and its "natural" way of becoming slow as the months pass.

Yet all of them have just one single reason for not migrating: applications! From Autocad to Doom-III, that's the key factor. And forget about the Wine adaptations: they are always at least three years out of the latest versions.

Sadly, nobody seems to be helping (nor is interested in) the software makers to port their windows codebase (no, documenting the nice Linux api's is not enough.)

Re:People just don't understand Linux (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539223)

Sadly, nobody seems to be helping (nor is interested in) the software makers to port their windows codebase (no, documenting the nice Linux api's is not enough.)

Sadly, nobody seems to be paying the ones interested to port their windows codebase.

What? You thought just because I submit the odd patch to Firefox I'll be interested in that for free? You know what a codebase looks like when deadline is your main concern, not readability?

I am not sure you should blame monopoly (4, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538633)

I am no fan of Microsoft, but it's not like they are doing anything illegal or unethical here. Even Redhat's CEO commented he didn't believe in Linux's desktop future.

Frankly, netbook looked like worth a shot for Linux. If it fails, then maybe desktop market is just too hard for Linux to win.

Re:I am not sure you should blame monopoly (5, Insightful)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538809)

No, it's just that in the long run new hardware won't help Linux exactly because of that comfort zone issue. And these that's, that's really the only problem that Linux has: it's outside of people's comfort zone. The article is right: the combination of new hardware and new software is just too much for people to cope with.

I can vouch for this, but from the other direction.

I bought a netbook late last year to replace my dying laptop (I'd dropped once, and put it in its case without putting it to sleep a couple of times: not good). Because I couldn't be bothered fighting to get one with Linux installed (language barriers don't help). With the combination of having been using Linux for 11 years, the cramped conditions, etc, my 10 minute Windows experience (just enough to get hardware information) was a nightmare. Once I got Linux on there with a fairly familiar environment (Gnome, though I usually use blackbox), I could cope with handling the smaller screen and (Japanese) keyboard. I can very easily imagine someone who's never used Linux freaking out trying to use a Linux installed netbook.

The reason new hardware that locks out Microsoft won't help Linux is that it doesn't exist, and never will (for any meaningful period of time). Look at servers: while Linux isn't yet beating Microsoft, it's doing well enough, and that's on PC based servers.

It's not hardware that will help Linux, but rather governments and businesses adopting Linux for policy reasons (currently insignificant) and people gaining exposure to Linux through work. The same way Windows became popular.

The problem comes down to whether enough governments and businesses adopt Linux. Of course, games being produced for Linux will help, but that's a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

Linux's desktop is pretty good. The problem is, it's unfamiliar. Windows wins not because its desktop is any better, but because people know it. "Better the devil you know."

Re:I am not sure you should blame monopoly (1, Interesting)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539073)

Linux's desktop is pretty good. The problem is, it's unfamiliar.

This is definitely true.

At the risk of coming across as self-endorsing, I'm currently writing a book that thoroughly covers the process of migrating from Windows to Linux for new users. I plan to cover at least 5 distros in detail, (Ubuntu, Mandriva, Arch, OpenSUSE, Fedora, and maybe CentOS as a server-oriented bonus) in addition to the basic fundamental concepts and the various desktop environments. I'm going out of my way to address how each aspect of Linux compares to Windows (similarities and differences) and I'm doing my best to make everything as easy to understand as possible without being patronizing or overly technical. I've also planned an introduction-to-the-terminal chapter in addition to a comprehensive troubleshooting chapter for most problems I can think of. Basically, I'm writing the guide I wish I had back when I first got into Linux.

Re:I am not sure you should blame monopoly (2, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538811)

Even Redhat's CEO commented he didn't believe in Linux's desktop future.

And, IMHO, if he means "Linux in general" (as opposed to Red Hat Enterprise Linux), that is a huge mistake, because MS will use its desktop monopoly and control of protocols to limit the penetration of Linux servers.

MOD PARENT UP (2, Interesting)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538907)

...because MS will use its desktop monopoly and control of protocols to limit the penetration of Linux servers.

Believe it. And it's not just squeezing Linux out but eviscerating the web as we know it. Already I have to deal with web apps at work that are just a pile of obscured javascript (often plus activex). Something like this can't be programmed, it can't be interacted with, can't be reasoned with, and it will absolutely not stop until you have learned to be absolutely helpless at Microsoft's feet...

(hat tip to The Terminator :-)

Re:I am not sure you should blame monopoly (1)

code65536 (302481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538991)

It's so much easier to blame someone else than to look within and see one's own flaws. Linux's lack of a supporting ecosystem is partly the fault of a small market share, but that doesn't mean that Linux supporters should neglect that they aren't good tenders of their ecosystem. There are some apps from 2 decades ago that are binary-compatible and can run on a modern Windows box. Can the same be said for Linux or Mac? Linux can't win on the desktop until it starts realizing that there's more to Microsoft's monopoly than Evil Tactics.

Re:I am not sure you should blame monopoly (4, Insightful)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539175)

Linux can't win on the desktop until it starts realizing that there's more to Microsoft's monopoly than Evil Tactics.

that is the biggest hurdle in linux's way. people who think linux is great do not realize that maybe, just maybe, their os is inferior.
i work on linux too, but lately i've realized that windows is much more stable*, has a much more consistent ui. also, linux has been avoiding/postponing the inevitable transition to complete gui. microsoft have already implemented it. linux geeks keep rambling about the power of cli and that gui is overrated, but the fact is, gui is the most important thing in software.
users have other things to do than learn to use a computer. they want a button which clearly states its purpose, not a bunch of (almost comically) cryptic commands.
we recently saw how this approach of blaming others for your problems kicks you back. netbooks were a playing field where both windows and linux had to compete from start, without any external forces. inspite of an early start, linux has now failed. so, instead of accepting its inferiority, linux proponents blame microsoft for a monopoly that was created due to linux's apathy towards end users.

* vista has never hung up on me. individual apps have but their processes can be easily killed. ubuntu 8.04 (lts?), with its default settings freezes up atleast once a month when changing virtual desktops. and since compiz has crashed, and your mouse pointer is frozen, the keyboard is not recognizing shortcuts, the only way is to pull the plug.

Early adopters. Duh. (4, Insightful)

75th Trombone (581309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538641)

Of course the actual reason Linux's share of netbooks has dropped is simply because netbooks have changed from a nerds' thing into a mainstream thing.

UNIX's marketshare of all computers did the exact same percentage decline over time as netbooks are having now. It's the early adopters, stupid!

Re:Early adopters. Duh. (1)

75th Trombone (581309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538649)

(*"THAT". The reason is simply THAT netbooks have changed from a etc. Not "because." Yeesh.)

Re:Early adopters. Duh. (0)

75th Trombone (581309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538657)

(Now that I read it, the second sentence is equally poorly written. It seems I'm not immune to being struck with the stupids when I see "Comments (0)" on a new post.)

Why should we care about non-geeks? (4, Interesting)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539091)

netbooks have changed from a nerds' thing into a mainstream thing.

I mean that as an open question. Why the hell, as a linux user, should i care if my neighbor is using windows or Linux? While more geeks defiantly help improve things and report bugs, how does it help if there are more ex-windows newbs on ubuntu?
There is the hardware support, but even there I'm gradually seeing even supported hardware (atheros and flgrx) get nudged out by community drivers.

All i can think of are games, is that the main advantage of having more users?

Re:Early adopters. Duh. (2, Interesting)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539167)

Note: I am writing this post from a Windows XP Acer Aspire One.

Ultimately, it's all down to what you need to do with the computer, no matter what size it is. I need to be able to operate on MS Office 2007 documents with zero compatibility issues. This means I have to run MS Office 2007. I have to run other software used in our office, which (outside of the server room) is 100% Windows XP. To use the management system, I must have IE7. While I put this netbook to a lot of other uses that do not require Windows, all the business-related purposes really DO require it. Now that netbooks are seen as an alternative to lugging around a 15" laptop rather than a toy or an "internet appliance", of course people are going to buy them with Windows on them. I have a nice 15" HP laptop, and I still went and bought the Aspire One because it was a better balance between portability and functionality.

Today, I used Word, Excel, and Powerpoint all within the span of one two-hour meeting. Netbooks are no longer the domain of the gadget freak and early adopter, they are increasingly becoming an alternative to aging (and much bulkier) laptops for business use.


Mac OS X on Netbooks ? (0, Offtopic)

SpockLogic (1256972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538647)

Mac OS X on a Dell Mini 9, anyone?

Re:Mac OS X on Netbooks ? (2, Insightful)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539181)


Performance (5, Interesting)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538653)

The problem for me is performance. XP runs significantly faster and has significantly better battery life than Ubuntu. Assuming your hardware is compatible Linux isn't_terribly_difficult to get running. It's hard to justify open source when propriety software just runs better though.

I am holding out hope that 9.04 will work to improve battery life and speed, and not just give me more features I don't need. Like what Windows 7 has done after Vista.

Re:Performance (2, Informative)

Symbolis (1157151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538765)

Might want to give Easy Peasy [wikipedia.org] a shot.(Horrible name, I know.)

Work out of the box != work normally != work best (2, Interesting)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538821)

Just the same old story, bad hardware driver.

There is a significal different between 'work out of the box'(barely working), 'work with all the feature enabled' and 'work best'.

Most Linux distros now can do 'work out of the box', but with several crippled functions, and you will need several small tweaks to solve them. But it is not over yet, if you want to take the best of your hardware then you will have to do serious tweaking. Only after that you will have a fully functional system that is better than windows.

So in short, Linux is better than windows, but you will have tinker a lot with it. After 2 months of googling/fixing, now I have a laptop that can run on battery longer than it does on windows, cooler, faster, and I can use my GPU to decode video (with VDPAU) that I can't do the same on windows. Yes, I still have some problems, but generally, Linux runs better than windows on my laptop.

(my problems is that the monitor won't turn off if I close the lid, and some stupid IO problem, Firefox take 2 mins to start if I do some heavy file transfering in the background, and ionice doesn't help)

Re:Work out of the box != work normally != work be (2, Informative)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539205)

So in short, Linux is better than windows, but you will have tinker a lot with it.

that is a contradiction. if you have to tinker with linux to make it better than windows, its not better.
also, i've noticed that ubuntu 8.10 runs faster on my laptop than xp. this is the first time i've seen someone complain about linux's speed.

Thank Linux (5, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538849)

One thing you should do is thank Linux for forcing MS to keep XP available for you at $15 instead of the normal OEM of $70. It is better for customers and hardware manufacturers that Linux is available as a viable alternative.

Re:Thank Linux (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538917)

An OEM copy of Windows XP Pro goes for about $40 these days. I don't know where you got that $70 figure, unless you're talking about the OEM version that you get on TigerDirect, which no actual OEM uses.

Re:Thank Linux (4, Insightful)

RanCossack (1138431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538965)

I am amazed how many people don't get that. I've seen Microsoft fans cheerfully bash Linux on netbooks and say Linux lost its chance and so on... and I just don't get it. Even if they can't stand Linux, I don't think anyone disputes the fact that the Linux option is why XP is so cheap and Windows 7 was focused on performance.

Does the thought that someone, somewhere, might be happy without paying the Microsoft tax annoy them that much? Or did they just not... think?

Re:Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538877)

Microsoft has actually put a lot of focus on performance in Windows 7. Many of the new features are quite useful and don't slow the system down at all. It actually runs significantly better than Vista ever did on my computer.

I can't comment on battery life though, I don't have a laptop that'll run it.

Re:Performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539095)

That's not what I've found at all. Ubuntu actually freed up a lot of processor and memory, AND is much easier on the battery.
The only thing that seems slower is OpenOffice vs. Word/Excel, but I'm willing to live with that.

Re:Performance (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539133)

While your post hints that you've actually experienced it, I'd argue that you didn't. My Dell Mini runs Ubuntu just fine on 512 MB, no SSD-crushing swapping, no i386 directory, no WGA, no bullshit. It just works. Then again, I am not trying to use it as a desktop replacement - its an internet machine, that also has openoffice when I need to work on a project.

Re:Performance (1)

sandysnowbeard (1297619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539199)

I was going to throw my Windows XP laptop in the trash until I installed ubuntu and revived the ailing beast. I don't think "one case fits all" applies for criticisms of speed or battery life on notebooks.

And another reason (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538661)

It was impossible to buy a Linux netboox in my city.

Re:And another reason (2, Informative)

TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538707)

Yes, it is much like the notebook situation -- most of the current offerings run Windows, and Linux isn't an option. I'm looking forward to a nice selection of ARM netbooks later this year.

blame education. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538663)

too many kids are taught that "computing" means either Windows or Mac. and MS just has the critical mass whereby success breeds success.

and that unwillingness to deal with the unfamiliar is a real thing. i just installed a linux machine for a teacher in my school district, she did not look amused.

Re:blame education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539203)

It's not necessarily the kids in education - look at how the bureaucrats around the world forced the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization to cave in and collaborate with M$ to forcefit XP onto the XO notebook to fit their notions of what kids should learn for the "future" (XP? yeah, right...)

The thing is, I really believe OLPC brought it on themselves by pushing the Sugar interface. I got an XO just over a year ago as part of the Give One Get One (GIGO) program in hopes that my wife, who teaches first grade, and/or our 3 and 5 year-old grandsons could get some real educational benefit from it.

However, Sugar is just too steep a learning curve. My wife, who has been using Ubuntu from 5.04 to Mint 3/4 (what a disaster with its hardware support failures for her NetVista), to 8.04, could not make heads or tails of it, and I got bogged down with it (Linux off and on since my OS/2 days), so went for the XFCE option. I found that much more usable, but the keyboard was too small for me to really get into it. I finally sold it to a college student who wanted to use it as a sort of super Kindle type ebook reader - good riddance.

If that had come with a distro that resembled the Windows interface more, and still included the innovative software behind that facade, it would have been much more successful in making a case for saving the added costs of XP and its horrible security overhead to provide a cost-effective learning tool. That, and some kind of swappable keyboard with more normal Netbook-sized keys...


I went the other direction. (2, Interesting)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538681)

I bought an eee pc 901, linux (for the larger SSD on that model) with the intent of installing an nlited copy of WinXp on it instead of the stock asus linux. Instead I ended up installing eeebuntu and love it... although I still have the nlited XP as a second boot option in case I need it.

Re:I went the other direction. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538971)

I bought an EEE pc 1000 with XP with the intent of erasing Windows and putting on Linux. The reason I bought it with XP is because I might want XP on it at some times in the the future. If I don't get XP on it now, it will be much more expensive in the future if it is available at all. Linux on the other hand is guaranteed to be available for free both now and in the future.

There may actually be other reasons for that (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538693)

I had an Asus netbook with Linux demonstrated to me, wanted to see how webpages looked on the tiny screen. In the end, the guy at the store had to pull out a cable and plug it in, because he couldn't get WiFi to run. He suggested, I should just pay extra for Windows. To that sales guy, getting Linux wasn't "buying the alternative", it was just "being cheap".
And frankly, since that was probably his first contact with Linux, that's actually quite understandable. A machine, that comes with Linux preinstalled, and it won't even run the devices that are built in? That's ridiculous, not to mention unneccessary. It's not as if building a Linux with working WiFi was rocket science.

Re:There may actually be other reasons for that (4, Interesting)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538891)

My HP Mini 1000 worked flawlessly with Ubuntu (and the UNR menu add-on that maximizes the tiny screen space to its fullest potential), wireless and all. Sometimes it just takes one more step to get it working (in my case it was not one more step, but for other netbooks, it may be.) The payoff is immeasurable. My HP came with XP, and I was done with that after the first month. I put 1 more GB of RAM in it and never looked back.

I don't get the sales-guy's attitude on the "cheap" subject. I can't believe in 2009 it's still prevalent. Most people in the past who weren't passionate about linux felt that "free is less than commercial" in terms of software. In some instances we know it was true, but for the most part that stigma sticks with Linux like gum on your shoe. It's a shame too, considering how completely seamless and wonderful running ubuntu on a netbook truly is. As for battery life, it's comparable on the Mini 1000 to running XP. And no conficker, antivirus 360 worms, or other assorted nonsense means a less headache-filled experience on the netbook.

I guess some people are too forgiving of Microsoft's failings... And I'm really not sure what the prevailing reason is, other than the comfort level.

Re:There may actually be other reasons for that (4, Insightful)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539015)

Bad thing about eees with Xandros is that it sucks. And people who'll see it would think that Linux generally sucks. MSI had a more acceptable pre-installed Linux offering; that's why return rates are about the same with Windows and Linux MSI Winds.

Re:There may actually be other reasons for that (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539177)

I preferred the HP's keyboard over all the other netbooks. Sure it was $349 on sale, but it was a 60GB drive bluetooth enabled version... and with a wonderful keyboard, I think I got a great deal. I don't use the HP branded ubuntu (that they put on some minis), simply because I like to do things myself, but I'm sure it's not terribly difficult for the novice to take their Win netbook to Linux. *shrug*

The netbook makers should really work on making the linux work as flawlessly as it does on desktops... I think some of the netbook companies are just putting linux on as an afterthought... I know the Asus guys once remarked the 2:1 ratio (or something like that) of windows vs linux netbook sales compelled them to rethink their position in the linux netbook arena (or words to that effect.) Meaning, they're too damn lazy to make a decent build for their machines. If it works, great... if not, meh. That's not the attitude of a company who's really behind linux. Which is why I didn't bother trying one of their machines. (It was a tossup between a Wind and the mini 1000)...

It's a matter of availability (4, Interesting)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538695)

Really, try buying a linux netbook in the average computer store, there is none. At least in Germany you can get them at the smaller specialized computer stores. Also, the models you can get with linux are often not the ones with the best outfit, low RAM, slow SSD, etc. The reason behind this is, if you ask me, a matter of economics. Linux was convenient to get netbook pioneer Asus in the position to get the better deal out of Microsoft. E.g., not having to buy Vista. They will pull it out of the closet again when Windows has their netbook-optimized windows 7 ready (as if!).

I myself am at my second factory-preinstalled linux-based netbook (first Asus, now Dell), and my experiences are nothing but positive, The specially created interface on the asus was practical, the one on the Dell is fantastic and even stylish. I wouldn't want to have to navigate the miniature start menu of XP on my netbook. But then again I was already ready for Linux anyway. Let's see if Android will get new Linux users into the mobile devices market.

Re:It's a matter of availability (5, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538715)

That's "effect", not "cause." 9 months ago, there were tons of Linux netbooks in stores. They've gone away because they're unpopular, and get returned a lot. (Well, I can't speak for Germany, but that's the case in the US.)

Re:It's a matter of availability (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539061)

Actually many people buy an netbook thinking that this machine will have the same performance of a fully featured Laptop and are usually disappointed when it won't play latest Windows games or run more speciality (read pirated) software. Oh I am not talking about Linux netbooks I am talking about XP netbooks.

It is actually amazing the number of people who buy a laptop then complain bitterly when it wont do what a gaming rig will do. Now add Linux into the equation and unfortunately Linux will loose since it won't run the latest Windows games or some speciality (Windows only) software.

Re:It's a matter of availability (3, Informative)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538787)

This is the key issue - availability. If you go to Asus' site they list all sorts of different models, all of which they say have Linux as an option. When you go to actually buy one - no matter where, online or in store - there are only a handful of models available, and as pimpimpim notes, they are generally the less capable models.

I wanted the Lenovo S10e - Lenovo doesn't offer a non-Windows version so I didn't have a choice. I got it and wiped the harddrive and installed OpenSUSE, no problem for me, but I don't like the fact that I paid for Windows in there somewhere.

Interestingly the S10e has two drives - the main disk and an additional 4gb SSD with some sort of instant-on Linux distro - but I didn't even know it was there before wiping both drives :) They obviously didn't push that feature too much if I hadn't even heard of it despite researching the thing before buying it... but I do appreciate that I have a 4gb ssd to do something with apart from the main disk.

Anyway to get back to the topic - I did get an eee 901 for my girlfriend, with Linux - which seems to be more common with the SSD models. I couldn't get it in the color she wanted, though - again, they are picking and choosing specific models to carry, and I just don't see the logic. I did install a different distro for her - eeebuntu, as it is very well put together for the eeepcs and she needed more functionality than the Asus distro offered - and she is painting it herself. But we are clearly not normal purchasers, who would do neither of those things themselves, but who would have liked different options available at purchase.

It's not good for anybody - the manufacturer, the reseller, or the consumer - to limit choices. The manufacturers claim to have all these options - why can't resellers get their acts together to actually offer them?

And, how many people, like me, aren't counting towards these statistics accurately because a Windows netbook was the best deal (or only option)? I mean, realistically, it's probably not that many people, but still. It's something.

Re:It's a matter of availability (2, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539003)

Here in Australia you can't get a netbook with Linux unless you go to a speciality store. Still if you are willing to use Google for a few minutes you can find those stores and save up to A$100 compared to the equivalent netbook in a department store running XP. This is not to say that XP is actually cheaper than Linux, I have seen speciality stores where the XP version of the netbook was the same price as the Linux version effectively making the cost of XP zero dollars and if you take into account some sort of virus protection and Open/Star Office this leads to the conclusion that Microsoft is subsidising heavily.

To me it looks like Microsoft is willing to loose or forgo money if it means it can prevent Linux form making any inroads into what it assumes is it's exclusive territory. Of course it has to be careful otherwise it may find itself coming under investigation since in many countries it is still classified as a monopolist.

Linux issues on netbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538717)

Most of the netbooks that come preloaded with Linux have deeply flawed distributions. For example, you can render an Eee PC's Xandros install unbootable just by installing all the recommended updates. The updates aren't defective; the system ships with a 3GB RO partition and a this bug, which rendered the netbook launcher completely unusable. I've seen rock solid Linux work environments, but it takes some real effort to get one going on a netbook. Neither the preinstalled distros nor the unofficial distros that I've seen offer one out of the box.

Where's the start button? (1)

its_schwim (1247278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538727)

As much as many of us would like to see it change, linux is still an operating system that works better in the hands of those that have worked their way through it's ranks. Selling linux to someone because it lowers cost will do nothing to increase the user base. Someone who has never used it has no idea what to do with it and once you tell them that they can't buy any apps at their local Wal-Mart, they panic and hand it to the first person that will give them their money back.

I really believe that these attempts to increase linux exposure are hurting more than helping the cause of the people trying to help the OS gain acceptance. Regardless of your stance on the OS itself, you have to concede that it is different and you shouldn't just dump it into somebody's lap to meet a pricepoint.

Re:Where's the start button? (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539127)

Selling linux to someone because it lowers cost will do nothing to increase the user base. Someone who has never used it has no idea what to do with it and once you tell them that they can't buy any apps at their local Wal-Mart, they panic and hand it to the first person that will give them their money back.

The problem with having Linux on the desktop is actually the person who uses Linux. Most people have the attitude of "It's not like Windows" and are not willing to learn something different. The only way this will change is when Government agencies mandate Linux for all their office machines and while this is actually happening with varying degrees of success in some countries Microsoft OS's dominate in major commercial hubs (read USA) so it is no wonder that Linux is in for a difficult time to get adopted on the desktop.

Windows has a stranglehold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538731)

I believe that for netbooks capable of running vista, manufacturers have to put windows on it due to licensing agreements.
Don't quote me on that.

Big warning stickers needed (4, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538737)

A large percentage of Windows users do not understand what an operating system is and assume if they can buy it in a store, it'll work. Manufacturers need to put giant stickers saying:

Not a Windows system, does not run Microsoft anything, none of your programs will work on this, Apple* made it.
*that is a lie, but Mac users won't be on the cheap end of the aisle.

Not that I think it will help much. I've had too many acquaintances think "ooh, cheap computer", buy one, and then ask me if Microsoft Ubuntu is newer or older than Office 07, and if it will run Vista Excel.

They usually end up returning it and I buy another bottle of aspirin.

Re:Big warning stickers needed (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538807)

+1, Sad Truth

Re:Big warning stickers needed (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538867)

I've told people not to get a Mac as it wouldn't play their PC games. They didn't believe me, they bought a Mac, then realized nothing worked, and promptly returned it.

My boss wanted a netbook for travel, but he had a hard time believing our in-house Windows app wouldn't work on the Linux model...

People just think it's a computer, and anything should just run fine regardless.

Re:Big warning stickers needed (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538959)

If your **in-house** Windows app doesn't run on Linux using wine it means you are a bunch of retarded amoebas.
Try writing *Windows* programs instead of buggy *works in Windows by sheer luck* shit. You should have been fired on the spot.

Re:Big warning stickers needed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539049)

Wow. I haven't seen someone as clueless as you in a long time.

First, you missed the point *entirely*. It wasn't just that this one particular doesn't run natively, the point was people don't KNOW these things don't just run natively, on Windows, Macs, Linux and so on. They think it's a computer, and software would just run, like a car can drive on any road.

Does it run on WINE? I couldn't care less. We have tons of other stuff that wouldn't work regardless. Let alone things like having a decent Exchange client, working with IE-only pages (which aren't uncommon unfortunately), and so on.

Our app has been rock solid for 10+ years BTW (and we're not a software company, even). But that's OK, we understand you don't have a job. In fact, I just got a nice raise, especially considering the current economy.

Re:Big warning stickers needed (3, Informative)

matazar (1104563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539113)

That doesn't really help.
Before I left Staples, all we had was Linux Netbooks at the time.
People would come in and we'd tell them, this is NOT windows, you can not use windows software, blah blah blah. They'd buy it anyways and return it when they couldn't install Office (even though it had open office) or some other software that was for windows/mac. We also had one return it because their USB mouse didn't work, but I think they were just stupid, since any mouse should work on those netbooks.

People don't like change. They should get some dual-booting netbooks. At least people could give Linux a try now and then while still being able to go back to windows when they need to (play games).

Try skewing quotes less. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27538753)

"Once again Microsoft's monopoly means Windows is swallowing up another market, but this time Linux might just be a little guilty too"

Re:Try skewing quotes less. (1)

code65536 (302481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539025)

Mod parent up!

The more we keep our heads in the sand (and skewing article quotes like this certainly doesn't help), the less likely Linux has a chance to succeed.

Dell is guilty (5, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538779)

... or maybe Red Hat is.

To clarify: At work we recently ordered a Dell Precision Mobile Workstation (forget which exact model it is) with Red Hat Linux preinstalled. When we got it we found that it did not have the necessary drivers for the Ethernet port (wireless worked fine) or the audio output device. Going to Dell's and Red Hat's web site resulted in nothing. We scrounged around the internet, but find some partly working solutions. In the end we just ended up installing Ubuntu which worked out of the box.

For me this is the sort of thing that makes Linux look bad and PCs in general look bad. It is if they don't care. For me it unacceptable for a computer to be supplied with an operating system that does not support completely the hardware it is bundled with, whether it is due to missing drivers or something else.

I blame Dell here for being to lazy to ensure quality of product. Techies may be the primary market for the product, but techies don't want to spend time fixing someone else's fuck-ups either.

Ubuntu (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539079)

Ubuntu's been paying good attention to tuning for netbooks. The downside of using Ubuntu is a user community that's not as clued as, say Gentoo or even the Red Hat variants. The upside of using Ubuntu is Canonical's concentrating on putting out something for a user community that's not as clued. I enjoy the clue hunt as much as the next geek, on occasion. But it's nice when the occasion's not constant.

Re:Dell is guilty (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539141)

makes ... PCs in general look bad.

Yeah, right... like PC's need any help looking bad in general

*hugs* his Sun Blade 2000. Running Solaris.

Reasoning (1)

rglover66 (1468353) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538781)

The reasoning behind linux not being adopted is that the people in charge at companies are not paying attention to the needs of there employees. I am working at a company now that has 75 workstations. most of them browse the internet for data via http not needing windows, ie or ms office. i recommended linux and open office and i was almost beatup. There is a misunderstanding about linux, open office and all open source.

Re:Reasoning (2, Insightful)

MLS100 (1073958) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539031)

Maybe there is a misunderstanding by you of what your companies' needs are. Most of the time more is involved in running a corporate network than hooking computer to router with NAT like at home. Many companies utilize Active Directory to administer their network and switching workstations to Linux makes that somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible.

Second, companies are averse to changing anything that currently works adequately because there are (usually significant) costs involved in moving to a new platform in the form of testing, rollout, training, and support time.

Finally, even outside of corporate environments you need to provide a compelling reason to switch to something else from what's been in use for a long period of time. Debatable feature parity simply does not qualify.

Critical Mass (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538827)

Windows has something Microsoft once identified as critical mass in the market. It was no accident that they arrived at that point. The choked, cheated and killed IBM's OS/2 making it the only desktop operating system for PCs. Had Linux begun to mature during that era, we would be telling a very different story as Microsoft would never have achieved critical mass.

What is critical mass? I am probably wrong or incomplete in my understanding of what that means, but to me it means they control enough market share that every software and hardware vendor must heed what Microsoft says and does or face the consequences. It also means that all users have come to expect only one user experience and is cursed to be unaware of other options and what they mean. When they don't get what they expect, they believe something is wrong.

People are okay when that "something else" is Mac OS X. They know it is different and usually comes on an Apple branded PC. It is a conscious decision that users make and are aware that "It's not Windows."

Just keep chipping away... keep chipping away. Eventually Linux will begin to mean something to users. It may mean the equivalent to the pictures that come in wallets, purses and picture frames. It may mean something that works, serves its purposes and doesn't get viruses. It may mean something that kinda works, but everything they want isn't quite available yet.

One thing that changes user perception is "standards compliance." Users don't have a clue what that means, but if it works fine in Windows and not in Mac OS X or Linux, the PERCEPTION is that there is something wrong with Linux and Mac OS X. The more pressure put on Microsoft to comply with standards on the web, the greater the possibility that alternatives could be perceived as viable.

"Critical Mass" means that people think it's the standard. "Critical Mass" means it is the defacto standard. Toppling a standard is no easy task.

Re:Critical Mass (5, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539009)

What is critical mass? All of my programs working and not having to pick and choose compatibility like iPhone vs. Android vs. Simian vs WinMo.

If you switch phones you have to buy all your applications all over again. Some applications are only available on one phone. Some applications run better on one phone than another.

Hardware and OS shouldn't be a deciding factor in a system. Software should be. Microsoft DOMINATES the software compatibility. That's why I bought Windows 95 over MacOS. All of the programs and games I wanted to play ran on DOS/Windows not Macintosh. Linux application compatibility at the time? HA! I installed linux around when I upgraded to Window 2000. I found it incredibly useful as a boot from floppy router (Coyote Linux). That was it. There were no applications I wanted or open source apps that were similar.

Fast forward to today and Apple has seen some improvement on the app front. Still no where near PC but if you're willing to spend an extra $100 for Vista you can also run your Windows programs. There isn't a single application which tempts me over to the apple side. Avid/Premiere > FCP. Nuke > Shake. Everything else is cross platform.

My Windows installation runs pretty much every single application on the planet that I want. I use applications, not operating systems. And Windows is more than good enough as an operating system while offering millions of more programs for me to run. Millions of programs, billions of features and tools. That beats the socks off of a supposedly improved kernel.

Re:Critical Mass (1)

matazar (1104563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539131)

If I had any mod points, you'd be modded up. This was well said and I completly agree.

Actually, I think that Linux is doing great (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538847)

Assuming that they are selling between 5-10%, that is actually a pretty good jump considering that MS is putting the full press on this. Google and the telcos are now putting pressure on MS on the embedded systems that are going into ppl's pockets as well as home and even cars. Anybody who thinks that MS will allow Linux to take the desktop without a fight is dead wrong.

Unless of course (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538895)

Unless the entire story has as much truth to it as the overwhelmingly enthusiastic Vista launch, the broadband density story, the Mojave Project, the "Get the Facts" campaign, and that old saw about ordinary Linux users needing to type on a command line and compile programs.

Because in that case this would be just another story about flackalysts retreading Microsoft press releases as organic opinion for pay, and some few innocent bloggers buying the routine when they should know better.

My Netbook with XP is great... (1)

sharkette66 (256044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538901)

The Asus 1000HE, latest model. Very zippy, windows XP does the simple stuff well and works with IE easily so I can use it at work.

I like Linux, but it isn't worth the effort on the little machine. I dual boot my big desktop.

Blaming "monopoly" is a cop-out (4, Insightful)

code65536 (302481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538931)

One of the problems that I see in the Linux world is that many of us are quick to cry "monopoly" and blame it on unfair practices.

So if it's because of Microsoft's dominant market share, why does Apple do so well in the markets that it is in (at least in terms of return rates)?

Blaming it on Microsoft is a cop-out because it lets people avoid the harsh reality that the fault really lies with Linux. Linux is far, far from passing the Aunt Tillie test. Ubuntu is nice in that it's trying to be more consumer-oriented, but so far, most of its changes are superficial.

And finally, one person's "superior" is another person's design flaw. Apple is "superior" and "innovative" (that's debatable) mostly because Apple doesn't give a damn about its ecosystem. Microsoft does. It bends over backwards and even consciously duplicates buggy behavior, all in the name of backwards compatibility (given the HUGE diversity of software and hardware in the Windows ecosystem, the (relatively small) amount of breakage between each version of Windows is actually a testament to Microsoft's ecosystem cultivation). Is this technically superior? Probably not from an orthodox perspective. Does it make sense? I think so. THIS is why Microsoft has its monopoly. Until Linux can start cultivating such an ecosystem (no, telling someone that they can just download the source and compile it for their system does not cut it), it will always remain on the sidelines. Period.

I have a Linux AAO 110 (3, Informative)

atarione (601740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538945)

and I have to say in my view if I was anyone else in my family I would have returned it.

I have some friends that could have probably dealt with it.

but while everything i want / need it to do is working great getting there was a bit of a hassle. Openvpn was in the default OS (Linpus) install but the tun kernel module was not?? for that matter to open up the advance mode you have to hack (trivial hack but hack none the less)

several updates from acer wiped out my tun module and joystick module and I had to re add them...Nice one one of the updates screwed up all the quick launch icons / apps (which unless you've unlocked the advance mode is the only way for people to launch the apps..nice)

I love my little aspire one and it goes many places with me that my old thinkpad didn't (cause it was too much bother to lug it out and around). but the linpus has been far from a cakewalk. I thought about putting windows on it but the SSD on my 110 is really not well suited for running XP and I do like the 10sec or so boot time so after a bit of head banging getting some stuff working it looks like I'll just stick w/ linpus now.

The author is crazy (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538947)

Starting out, he says,

[Linux tutorials are] often deliberately [complicated], because some of the people who write them like to express their machismo by creating inordinately complicated tutorials. Recently I read a tutorial describing how to get a Wi-Fi card working on a notebook that recommended compiling new driver modules.

Woah, Linux documentation is sometimes complicated, but no need to make accusations. But never fear, the author of the article has ALSO written a Linux book, designed to help with this very machismo problem. Conflict of interest here?

Hardware problems were much more pronounced with the first wave of netbooks. I had one of the very first Asus Eee netbooks shortly after its release and it's hardware design meant it was borderline unusable. My hands ached if I typed for more than five minutes. In the end I sold it--I too rejected a Linux netbook.

Oh, so it wasn't Linux, it was the hardware that was giving you problems. That makes sense, but what is the point of your article?

What happens is that the software problems presented by Linux, combined with the hardware problems presented by smaller computers, push users over the edge.

I see. Do you actually know any of these users, or were they just like you, annoyed by the hardware?

What's the solution? To be honest, I don't think there is one.

So your a 'glass all empty' type of guy? I mean, Linux has problems, sure, but the falling price of hardware is going to make it increasingly attractive as an option. To say there is absolutely no solution never is a bit extreme.

And finally, this quote made me laugh

[On linux], when the user starts the browser, things change. Nothing looks right. The fonts will probably look wrong, maybe causing the page layout to be skewed a little.

Right. The only thing they will notice different about the fonts is that they aren't as ugly, especially if they are used to having clear type turned off, as is the default on Windows, and makes every font look like a harsh cactus in the eyes. Now Linux fonts aren't awesome, but they don't stoop to the default windows level of horribleness (note: I have no idea if cleartype is on by default in Vista).

So what is this guy's point? I think that he needs to fill his page with words, since he is a columnist. And he does it with some rather inane and uninspiring words.

Re:The author is crazy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539007)

as if you're any better. just fuck off bitch.

Re:The author is crazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539035)

The author is right.

I really WANTED to get a Linux netbook, but they all sucked.

Facing FUD with FACTS (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538995)

http://blog.datamation.com/blog/2009/04/having-fud-with.html [datamation.com]

The anti-Linux propaganda du jour, being dutifully parroted by "news" publications everywhere, is that Windows now owns 96% of the netbook market, and that Linux netbooks are returned four times more than windows netbooks. Both are untrue and have been debunked repeatedly. Yet they persist -- why?

I think Microsoft is growing increasingly desperate, and in hard economic times is finding equally desperate publications who will say anything for a few bucks. Which may be a harsh judgment, but I would rather believe that than believe they simply don't care to do even the simplest, most basic fact-checking, or are such hard-core Microsoft fanboys that they are only pretending to be journalists when they are really stringers for Microsoft's marketing department. How else can we explain the same nonsense repeated endlessly, their allergies to saying "Windows" and "malware" in the same sentence, the short shrift given to non-Windows software, the mind-boggling assumption that Windows is computing? ...

As it is not part of Microsoft's business plan to participate in a genuinely competitive marketplace, expect to see this sort of thing become even more prevalent. If that is possible; I thought the FUD and anti-Linux propaganda had already reached the saturation point, but it looks like I was wrong. ...

[Microsoft's Brandon] LaBlanc opened [his blog post] by claiming that almost all netbooks sold today are sold with Windows. Well, no, not really. The numbers LaBlanc cites are from NPD's sales survey. NPD focuses on brick-and-mortar U.S. sales, not overall sales. Notice how many Linux systems you see at Best Buy? NPD numbers say a lot more about retail channel sales than it does over-all sales. Besides, as Canonical's director of business development Kenyon wrote, "However here is an interesting fact--when customers are offered choice on equally well-engineered computers around a third will select Ubuntu over XP.

UI suitable for small screen needed (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538997)

My favourite computer still is my 1024x768 screen 12inch iBook.

It is ONLY acceptable because of the UI feature that quickly shows miniaturized versions of the windows of all my running applications, and lets me pick one and get back into it in one click. That gets rid of most of the need for a large screen.

And the iphone ui is optimized for its screen size, etc.

Linux might do better on netbooks if a similar gui optimized for the screen size was available and worked well. I understand a few of these may be available but haven't tried any.

Have to say I'm holding out for an Apple netbook. UI of MacOSX is too much better.

I am an extreme comp-sci geek, but I have way better things to do than configure the low-level settings of my laptop.

Re:UI suitable for small screen needed (1)

j_zhill (1486041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539155)

compiz? plus gnomeDo? those two have eliminated the need for menus and window lists on my eeepc... with the compiz simple CCSM package, there is no setting up required at all.

Do we really know the return rates? (1)

Boycott BMG (1147385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539017)

The statistic about 4x return rates was for MSI Wind only. This could be due to problems with SUSE on their particular hardware configuration. Conversely, Dell claims that their return rates for Windows and Linux are about the same. http://blog.laptopmag.com/one-third-of-dell-inspiron-mini-9s-sold-run-linux [laptopmag.com]

Also Canonical claims that "Continually repeating that we 'confirmed' a 4x return over XP when we did nothing of the sort is really not worthy of a great company like Microsoft." http://blog.canonical.com/?p=151 [canonical.com]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" (0, Offtopic)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539019)

Sorry, this isn't a car analogy, but the next best thing.

Statistically [wikipedia.org] speaking, Windows is like being straight. I would be generous if I called MacOS gay, since only 3% or so claim to be homosexual [wikipedia.org] . However, God only knows what to do with Linux. Maybe it is for hermaphrodites or something, at any rate, it's numbers seem to be lower than the incidence of homosexuality...

Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things. I'm just sayin...

Remember, I did say "car analogy"!

The New School... (2, Insightful)

nubsac (1329063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539029)

An overwhelming number of computers I've had exposure to since the 2nd grade have had Windows on them.

Is it any wonder why so many people are used to the rules and non-regulations of a Windows machine?

That being said, every flavor of Linux I've tried has some different scheme to it, making basic operations unnecessarily complex.

Standardizing basic ops like install/uninstall, media player/ect. would be a good start, but probably terribly unrealistic among mainstream distros.

Linux is for Geeks (2, Insightful)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539039)

Linux is for Geeks and it always will be. When I built my own mini computer with a micro atx mb some time ago I was curious about how linux would perform on it vs Windows 2000 and Windows XP. XP was a total dog. The processor just couldn't handle it. Win2k ran nicely. But when I tried to install Fedora I quickly realized it was impossible. The Fedora install didn't recognize the hardware and wouldn't even boot. Of course any geek will tell you just reconfigure the discombobulator and invert the thingamajig and then recompile the root and then burn new install discs and then boot from Alt-Shift-Tilde. Which to a non-Geek is the equivalent of performing brain surgery on yourself. What the hell are you talking about? I have to do what?!? I had to hunt around on the web for several hours just to find out what the problem was, then after reading all the various explanations of how to do it and telling myself I am a software engineer and I have no idea what I just read, I finally found someone who wrote a hack to boot the system, then allow the install disk to run. And after all that I found that it ran worse than Windows becuase it wasn't optimized for the cpu. So I went back to win2k and was happy ever since. Which is why Linux will NEVER be ready for laptops or desktops or anything else besides servers. Because only Geeks have the patience to hack around and kludge it up so that it works. I just want to turn it on and have it work so I can get on to more important things like doing my job or searching for pr0n ;) Oh, and I just bought a Dell mini 9 and I didn't hesitate for 1 second between choosing Windows over Linux. It was worth the difference in price. And if want to install another OS it will be OS X and NOT Linux.

Microsoft is offering XP Very Cheap for Netbooks (2, Interesting)

idealego (32141) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539053)

I'm surprised I haven't seen this mentioned yet, but one of the main reasons netbooks with Windows XP are doing so well is becuase Microsoft started offering netbook manufacturers lower prices on XP Home. I can't seem to find the article right now but XP Home may be offered to large ODMs for around $20-$30, with some claiming it's around the $20 mark. I think the cheapest it ever got before these new netbook-only prices was around $40.

"high return rate of Linux netbooks" debunked (4, Interesting)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539063)

The very clear-headed Carla Schroeder has a write-up [linuxtoday.com] at Linux Today. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols also noticed the figures were bogus [computerworld.com] .

Pick a distro (2, Insightful)

j_zhill (1486041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539087)

...and make it ubuntu.

I've stopped recommending people try linux. Rather, I recommend ubuntu, 'a type of linux'. Trying to explain how each distro is built on the linux kernel and uses a specific desktop environment tends to send people running so instead, I rave about ubuntu - which they can then go and test right away from a live CD.

On netbooks, the problem of different distributions is amplified by all the custom distros. As much as this is open source in action, it splintered the 'linux' option, especially when XP always comes as the same recognisable package. Hardware manufacturers could have put the effort into ensuring upstream hardware support and supporting key software development (ooo.org, ffox, rhythmbox? mplayer?) rather than developing their own "OS".

I think we would be seeing a different story if customers were offered ubuntu as the option to XP across the board.

Linux netbooks perfect for schools (2, Interesting)

gnatware (138810) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539105)

Just got a 10.5 inch Acer Aspire one D150. The sales guy said they were no longer shipping a Linux version. I have a strong educational as well as political commitment to Linux. The custom 3rd party Linux4one Ubuntu distro had terrible wifi throughput (and en0 just wasn't even there) when I installed it, so I tried again with openSUSE 11.1. This time the networking was ok, but the webcam and sound were non functional. No driver support from Acer so it's all word of mouth. Very disappointing. I'll keep trying though.

No surprises here! (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539109)

Surely, how can Linux compete against the likes of Windows and OSX with current interfaces (read windowing environments)? Linux default interfaces look dated and ugly, and do not get me started on multimedia. Now call me a troll.

Netbooks and Linux (1)

mercury7 (212316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539111)

I love my Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu, and yes, I chose that netbook specifically because I could get it with Ubuntu. It runs much better than it would running XP, and I can do everything I need with it. (But, I administer unix boxen as part of my job. Would I get my mother a laptop running Linux? Not so sure about that...)

It's a Market Apple Should FUCKING OWN (0, Offtopic)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539115)

Hello APPLE!!!

You stupid fucks blew it.

(note: ALL of my computers are Apple Computers - even the one running Linux)

It pains me that apple just let this market segment slide out of reach. They could have KICKED ASS.

Right now I am typing on my iBook G4. IT FUCKING WORKS. and it runs OS X, and all is well, except: it's a powerPC. So it's a legacy machine. Eventually developers will no longer support this machine. C'est la vie.

But: this is an awesome little box, and had Apple made a 12 inch or less MacBook running on a celeron or Atom, they'd be printing MONEY.

Why? Because Everyone Would Want One.

A colleague and recent convert at work said "My in-laws need a computer - this MacBook Pro rocks - it's easy. It's what they need..."

People Need Simple computers that Do Simple Things.

But Apple dropped the ball with their eyes on the high margin. Good move, ace. Now MS has moved in and with the exception of the eeePC, has totally and completely insanely dominated that entire market. Fuckwits.

I think it's really not too late. If Apple came up with a netbook in June, (kind of like a cheapy laptop version of the MacMini) and with a good adver campaign, they could easily blow Linux out of the water, and come to parity with MS.

but they won't.


Posting from a Eeepc (2, Interesting)

BigDXLT (1218924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539145)

First time using this thing extensively, and when I get home after this trip, I'll be putting easypeasy or eeebuntu on it. Asus's Xandros, while having some nice ideas, just isn't well implemented. It feels cheap. I know other distro's do better, but joe blow won't. I *would not* put windows on here. Navigating a tiny menu is not what will work on this thing. I haven't seen a better use case for Opera's speedial (and the firefox plugin's that emulate it). Whatever I do, I'm gonna try to lighten it up, this little thing doesn't have a lot horses under the hood!

I'd have taken it more seriously (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539173)

... if it weren't riddled with fanboyism and aggressive language.

In contrast, although far from superior, Windows provides [...] Once again Microsoft's monopoly means Windows is swallowing up another market.

Wrong. Fail. Abort. Windows is swallowing up another market because Linux doesn't belong on the average user's netbook, for the same reasons it doesn't belong on the average user's desktop. It is a usability nightmare, you need to be a network engineer AND programmer to fix it when it breaks, and perhaps most importantly the Linux community is hostile and unhelpful toward non-techies.

I am a network geek and programmer, and I still get pissed off at Linux on a daily basis because things that should just work, do not. Usability issues never get addressed, no one wants to touch them. "My app is fine, go fuck yourself" is the general attitude I see among app developers/maintainers. Maybe they're sick of replying "RTFM" to every single question, but to me that is a symptom of bad code. Joe Random doesn't read the README, nor should he need to. If you can spend the time to write a long, complicated README, you could spend that same time writing a small script that does all those contrived pre-installation steps for the user.

The problem is that we programmers are terrible users, because we don't use computers the way non-programmers do. The goofy little apps and utilities I make for myself, they have the most spartan, militaristic interfaces because I write the code first, then wrap buttons and knobs around it. I know how to use my stuff, because I'm the guy who built it. I know which bits of code fire when I click this or type that. Joe Random does not. We need to fix our apps to be so intuitive, even Joe Random's retarded stepchild can use them.

The netbook does not matter. Other than the size factor, it is hardly different from 3-4 year old laptops, and like any laptop, usability is top priority. If we want Linux to rock netbooks, we need to make it usable.

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