November 15, 2008

Linux and Netbooks – what’s the truth?

Filed under: Linux/FOSS — dann @ 10:26 pm

There has been a lot of flak these past few weeks over the supposed failure of Linux on netbooks. Articles claiming returns are 4 times higher than those running windows, some vendors recalling netbooks to replace linux with windows, etc. But what I notice is there are a lot of inconsistencies with the “facts” with one article contradicting another. It’s almost as if someone is feeding fud into this environment. But that could not be right, could it?

Hmmm…. A year ago Asus dropped the eeePC on the market and the netbook exploded hailing the “demise of the desktop/laptop” as oem’s made a mad dash to the bottom of the hardware stack. What was scoffed at by MS resulted in them, in conjunction with the failings of Vista, to revive XP after they attempted to end the life of this way out dated os a few scant months earlier. Apple has gone record calling these netbooks “crap.” And that we will never see such shoddy products from Coopertino. Yet, they are lowering the prices and functionality of their low end laptops to compete.

When I first heard the claim that Linux based netbooks were being returned 4 times more than windows based netbooks my first response was: “How many Linux netbooks were sold compared to those running XP?” Those statistics have not come out yet. But why is it that I consistently see Linux based netbooks sold out on Amazon and NewEgg? Why is it I see such glowing reviews of these Linux based netbooks? And why have I heard not to stellar reviews of XP on these things claiming they are sluggish and stripped of features?

I agree with the sentiment that many people don’t understand what a netbook is. It’s not a replacement for a desktop or laptop but an adjunct. They are ultra-portable systems you can take to the can, the classroom and on the go for simple tasks that make up 90% of what people do with their systems. They are not really suited for gaming or video editing or even graphic design, even though I can do all these with my eeePC if I wanted. It seems those people who want to nail them down to replacing their laptop or desktop are the ones crying foul the loudest.

As for carphone recalling their linux netbooks, it appears that is not the case at all
, even though they may have stopped selling the linux based systems.

I have heard it commented that this is a new market not only for consumers and Linux, but for consumers and netbooks. A market I suspect will come into it’s own shortly as consumers begin to understand what a netbook actually is and they get more comfortable with Linux. Some have posited that it is incumbent upon the manufacturers to better educate the consumer on these products and while I can agree that better instruction cannot hurt, I thought that the documentation and the configured home page all about the eeepc was a great start.

We shall see what the future holds, but I still see more success for both netbooks and Linux. Both have worked to change computing as we know it.

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