Linux To Regain 50% Netbook Market Share

By Caitlyn Martin
May 20, 2009 | Comments: 27

The past couple of weeks saw a flurry or articles debating the future of Linux on netbooks. A report in the Taipei Times on May 9th was picked up by LinuxToday but largely ignored by the tech press and the blogosphere. Stephen Lim, the General Manager of Taiwan based Linpus Technologies, made the surprising prediction that Linux will regain 50% market share from Windows on netbooks by next year. Lim added:

More and more chip suppliers such as Texas Instruments Inc and Qualcomm Inc are jumping on the bandwagon to adopt Linux. We are also seeing more and more PCs bundled with Linux from Acer Inc, Asustek Computer Inc, Dell Inc and other computer brands.

Lim also spoke about the advantages of Linux over Windows, "

The advantages of using a Linux system include advanced power management, optimized boot and shutdown times, as well as more WiFi and 3G support such as software development kits from telecommunication providers

I'm sure some will dismiss Mr. Lim's projections as self-serving since Linpus is a Linux distributor heavily invested in the netbook market. It turns out Mr. Lim isn't alone in seeing Linux equal or even overtake Windows on netbooks. ABI Research sees it happening but they see it taking a bit longer than a year. They see Linux regaining dominance on netbooks by 2012. ABI cites the arrival of low-end ARM-based netbooks as part of the reason for a Linux resurgence. They also cite the arrival of Linux distributions designed for mobile devices, particularly Android and Moblin. Windows doesn't run on ARM processor based systems.

While ARM has been getting lots of notice in the tech press a Spanish company called iUnika announced a netbook with a MIPS processor (pictured). Linux already runs on MIPS processors. The support dates back to MIPS-powered SGI workstations running Linux back in the '90s. Windows, on the other hand, doesn't run on MIPS powered systems.

Linpus has also proven itself very capable at marketing their distribution to netbook vendors. It appears Linux on netbooks may be more popular in Asia than in the West and Linpus Linux Lite is the most popular distribution on netbooks in much of Asia. nikkels, an Asian reader reported that shops in his country all offer a choice of Linux or Windows on netbooks, with Linpus Lite the most popular Linux offering. Linpus Lite is also offered preinstalled on the Acer Aspire One worldwide.

Those who assure us that Linux has no future on netbooks and that Windows 7 will dominate, such as Preston Galla of Computerworld, assume that Intel processors will continue to dominate the netbook market. The problem with making that assumption is that there are real advantages to ARM processors, specifically very low power consumption, which allows for much longer battery life than similar Intel Atom or Via C7-M processors. Galla quotes Matt Kohut of Lenovo who sees netbooks becoming larger and more powerful, more like standard notebooks. What Kohut and Galla forget is that the initial success of netbooks was driven by their low cost, small size, and light weight. The original Asus Eee PC 701, which is still on the market, had a miniscule 7" screen. Recently announced ARM based systems, such as the SkyTone Alpha-680, are banking on the idea that these is still a market for very small, very light, and really inexpensive systems. I happen to believe they are correct.

I don't know if the Linux resurgence will happen this year, next year, or the following year. I do know that I would like to have a system that weighs in at less than 2 lbs. (0.9 kg) and has more than eight hours of battery life per charge. I'm hardly unusual in that respect. So long as the Linux implementations are easy to use for the average user the resurgence of Linux on netbooks will come.

CORRECTION: I incorrectly claimed that the iUnika gyy is the first MIPS powered netbook. Rather, it is based on the first MIPS powered netbook, the SkyTone Alpha 400, announced in April, 2008.

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Hello..i want to buy a netbook with linux ofcourse...i am a linux user since 4yrs..but now i am confused which one to buy...two things are important for me one is battery backup and i need around 80gb of HD..i guess that is reply..thanks..

@Akshay: There are quite a few netbook models that meet your requirements and should do a good job for you. I'm not going to recommend a specific model. I don't know where in the world you are located or what's available in your area. Dell makes a couple of models that meet your requirements. I reviewed the Sylvania g Netbook Meso / AMtek Elego and I think very highly of that one. HP also makes at least a couple of models that meet your specs. Any of the offerings from these three manufacturers should be fine.

The only reason the market leaders, Asus and Acer, aren't on the list is because their models use SSDs for hard drives AFAIK and that won't meet your 80GB hard drive spec. MSI isn't on the list either because while they do meet your specs they have had significant and serious configuration issues with their Linux offerings.

You are going to have to shop around and make your own choice.

@Akshay : Try , they have a netbook offer now and they will surely support you better than Dell.

I think they need to change the name first. Seriously, Linpus? Who was the marketing genius that came up with that name? Might as well call it Lin-oozing-skin-legion.

I would not buy a "Lin-puss" netbook because of the name alone. Imagine explaining to someone that your new netbook is "running Linpus" and they'll likely keep their distance.

You know, just writing about it isn't going to make it happen.

@VSDude: Nope, writing about it won't make it happen. What it will do is offset the fear, uncertainty, and doubt being spread by some tech "journalists" and bloggers about Linux. It will help offset the nearly daily articles proclaiming Linux dead on netbooks when it's anything but true. By pointing out different projections like those by Linpus Technologies and ABI Research it gives the public a much more balanced view when deciding which netbook to buy and whether or not investing in Linux makes sense. Writing about it won't make it happen but writing about it is still important.

I have a Acer Aspire One with 160gb HD with Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04
remix (I installed from a usb stick) 1gb ram is enough for me.
I share the HD with WinXP but dual booting is not an issue.
If there was a limitation i would say the screen size of 1024 x 600 because my cannon FS200 camcorder software wont install with less than 1024x768 (shakes head) i don't understand their thinking as i have used other software to view my videos.
Overall i am happy with my Linux install, I made enough partitions that i can put the next release on it or use it for backups...

Nice article. Good to see these opinions.

Linux may make a comeback on netbooks, but it does not seem to be a good gamble at this point. Especially with Linpus Lite.

We have 3 desktop PCs in our U.S. home that run Linux exclusively. We love it. We do not like Linpus Lite on our Acer One.

Perhaps world-wide, users are more technically-oriented than U.S. consumers and don't mind the hassles. Perhaps world-wide, users will be pleased with less-capable netbooks that won't do as much as the Acer One, and so won't generate some of the hassles that we've experienced.

However, at this point, Linux developers have no track record of success when it comes to predicting the features that will be successful with mainstream netbook users.

And, probably... the current group of Linux users is so small that their tastes and preferences don't necessarily indicate what would be successful with the next generation mainstream netbook users.

The most successful Linux distro at this point may not point to the direction that Linux should take to become a major player in the netbook market.

Linux should be the leading netbook OS. It missed the target the first time. It will miss again unless Linux developers discard their assumptions and biases and take aim at the heart of their target market.

I am using an Acer Aspire ONE with a 120GB HD and it came with Limpus Lite. I did not like the Limpus OS, so I put Ubuntu 8.10 Netbook Remix on it. I have since updated to 9.04 NR. I have added 1GB additional RAM (it cam out of my Laptop when I upgraded the RAM in it). So I have an Acer ONE with a 120 GB HD and 1.5GB of RAM. Everything works good in it.

It is as if Ubuntu Netbook Remix was made for it.

@JoeJones: I agree with some of what you wrote but couldn't disagree with some of your points more. Some of your assumptions are demonstratively wrong. That "so small" number Linux users is, at current estimates, somewhere around 6-8% of the desktops/nettops/notebooks/netbooks so that makes roughly 60-80 million worldwide. 25% of netbooks sold last year had Linux, so that was over 2 million right there. That doesn't count 2007 or 2009 sales. Linux, according to HP, Acer, Asus, and Dell does NOT have a higher return rate than Windows so most users must not have the unspecified "hassles" you mention but don't explain. Most people I have interviewed, talked with, etc... who never used Linux before had no problems using their netbooks whatsoever. I could post pages of links to blogs of users who had never used Linux before, bought a netbook, and were perfectly happy with it. I can also post a much shorter list of dissatisfied people.

Having said that I do agree with you that Linpus Lite is far from the best distro. The "simplified" desktop isn't what people are used to from a PC and netbooks should have been seen simply as small PCs. There are definitely issues with the Linpus repositories at times. The idea of running the OS from a compressed image (a/k/a a frugal install) has security advantages but it makes customization and administration more of a chore. You (and most everyone else) would have been better served with something like Ubuntu Netbook Remix. The good news is that the new Moblin beta is really impressive so the developers are moving in the right direction.

The fact is that the Asus EeePC (with Xandros Presto, another distro I'm not entirely thrilled with) surpassed all expectations and was a HUGE success even when Linux was the only available OS. As of the end of last year, with Windows readily available, Asus reported and continues to report a 70/30 split for Windows/Linux among their customers. Considering that Linux was an unknown and therefore frightening to most people and that most people buy what they know, meaning Windows, the 30% as Asus and 25% overall share Linux maintained last year was amazing. No failure by the developers there.

I think most of the failure to capture the desktop market once Windows XP was available was inevitable. People are afraid of change and of trying new technologies. Many stores gave lots of shelf space to Windows and none at all to Linux. Despite all the obstacles the fact that Linux clings to around 20% of the netbook market should be viewed as an achievement, not a failure. The next generation of netbooks won't be powerful but they will be very inexpensive, very small, and many won't run Windows at all. Extremely long battery life will be a big selling point. That should change the dynamic considerably. It's also clear that the next generation of netbook OS will be different from the first so your point may have already been taken by developers.

Again, I don't think Linux missed the target. I think it was a moving target that was almost impossible to hit. All things considered I think Linux fared well and I think the future is very bright. I think your characterization of Linux on netbooks as "not a good gamble" is what a lot of the pro-Microsoft bloggers and tech press would like you to believe. I don't think it is an accurate assessment of the situation.

Which one of us is right? We'll know in a year or two, won't we?

Maybe it happens in another country...but in Malaysia. Linux has very little successful. I can find some Linux Netbook past year in main city...right now its all Windows?!! Sad bout that..

You can probablu connect a monitor to the VGA port.

QUOTE: The only reason the market leaders, Asus and Acer, aren't on the list is because their models use SSDs for hard drives AFAIK and that won't meet your 80GB hard drive spec. MSI isn't on the list either because while they do meet your specs they have had significant and serious configuration issues with their Linux offerings. END QUOTE

Acer Aspire One comes with different configurations. I own 2 of the One's, and each have 160 gb HDDs.

Also, agreed with MSI. I bought 2 of those, but returned them because the wifi didn't work. They sold the netbooks without configuring wireless drivers, and the wifi hardware was not linux compliant so when I tried to install different distros, I couldn't get the wifi to work.

Stooopid people at MSI!!!!

I am not pleased, however, with the hardware quality of my Acer Aspire One's. Had a mic problem with one, now a keyboard problem with another, and now, with one of them the wifi cuts out every now and then. It doesn't seem to be software related.

Easy to work around. Install VNC Server, start a desktop with 1024x768, connect to it with VNC Client (you will see scroll bars), install your software inside that session. Likely (done this with other programs), once installed, it will just start and run fine on the normal screen.


I would agree with that to if they could change the attitude of these school systems.
The public schools and universities that are telling parents that only Windows will be used on their Networks.
That is keeping everybody locked into windows.
The thing that you can use only IE to connect to their networks.
I don't know if many Linux users know of the App called "ie4linux"

I am surprised by your 25% number (netbooks sold last year), but certainly can't point to a more reliable source than you. Still, that's 25% in a world where there are two OSes.

If you feel 25% is success, when Linux began with 100%, then OK, I can see some calling it success. I still use my Linux netbook, so one might call it a success also.

Another person might also look at the numbers and see that Linux lost 75% to an obsolete OS that is insecure, unstable, inefficient, and expensive to purchase and to configure with applications. I can see some calling it a bummer.

Regarding listing my unspecified hassles here... your comment is surprising. Problems with Linpus are no secret. Probably you just got on a roll and could not resist nailing me, as so much of the Linux fan-base loves it when people who question their success get nailed, whether it is productive or not.

Just like many would rather celebrate their 25% success than take a critical look at the 75% that they lost, whether it is as productive or not. [But you do offer constructive criticism in your response.]

Based upon the increase market share from 25% to 50%, it looks like there will be more celebrating than critical review and improvement. If the new successful low-end ARM-based and MIPS netbooks are 100% Linux and 0% Windows, and the total Linux increase is only from 25% to 50% of the market, what does that say about Linux future "success" on the existing netbook platforms?

Linux fans might do well to put aside the celebrating and find a new determination to do what should be done to give the world an OS that can truly succeed on a level higher than the lowest power platforms in existence.

@joejones: You know, if it was a level playing field I would agree with you that 25% represented failure. It's not a level playing field. Look at the comment by Jim just above yours. How many retail stores stocked Linux systems at all since netbooks entered the market? How many that did had more than one or two systems in a sea of Linux? How many had knowledgeable sales help who could explain what Linux is and why it is the superior choice? How much did Microsoft push retailers and manufacturers alike to go with Windows and ignore Linux? In the face of all the obstacles 25% is a victory.

Then there is the little matter of human nature. People stick with what they know. Many accept the virii and malware and all the other Windows nonsense as normal for computers because they don't know any better. Even if they do they are afraid Linux will be too technical for them. Much of the tech and non-tech press tells them it's so and they believe it. They are told nice, comfortable, familiar Windows is better and they believe it. Even if they believe that Windows is not better they are afraid of change.

Do you really think it was possible for Linux to keep the market share it had in the face of Microsoft all but giving away Windows XP in light of what I've written here?

Yes, I'd love to see mass adoption of Linux. I just don't think you are being realistic about what can be done in a short period of time.

Oh, and I wasn't trying to nail you. I laid out what problems I am aware of with Linpus (repositories, installation method used) and I am also aware of quite a few people who are very happy with the Aspire One as shipped. I really, really did want you to elaborate.

Since computers got a certain speed, people stopped to worry about processor and memory.

Here's the perfect specs for me:

- Display: 10 inches
- Battery: 8 hours (or more)
- Storage: 8 GB SSD
- Weight: 1 kg (or less)
- Processor: 800MHz
- Memory: 512MB
- Price: $250

As you can see, comfort and portability are the most important factors.

I'll be more than happy with a 800MHz/512MB netbook as long as it provides a decent display and keyboard. All I need is a browser.

Price is also important: $250 would be a great price for such a machine.

"Do you really think it was possible for Linux to keep the market share it had in the face of Microsoft all but giving away Windows XP in light of what I've written here?"

Talk about role-reversal. I find myself more confident about Linux potential than you! But no, I don't think that Linux could have shut Microsoft out of the market.

I think that 50% was easily within reach.

Marketing is an art, and we have different opinions about what is possible. Evidently, people here feel that MS can't stop 25% penetration but can stop 50%. I'm saying that, when faced with a superior and less expensive netbook product, MS can't stop 50%.

My opinion starts with the assumption that the netbook platform is a much easier for new venders to target than the desktop. Purposes and options and dollars are far fewer than desktop.

The market for a $300 item is not as controllable by a single brand as the market for a $1000 item, especially with respect to students, especially during a recession, especially during the flurry of the Christmas retail season when a high percentage of them should be sold (they make good gifts). Netbooks require comparatively little self space and are easily shipped. When/because early reports were very favorable, netbooks could be sold on the web - customers didn't insist upon handling the merchandise. Compatibility with a wide variety of boards and peripherals is not such an issue with netbooks as with desktops.

For a $300 PC, FOSS has a huge, overwhelming cost advantage as well as a distribution mechanics advantage over proprietary software. It's free and has no need for CD reader. Many students and professionals want to occasionally access or create Word and Excel files. Many Windows users feel the need for security software, and for a few simple games. So, Windows software costs are big as a percentage of total netbook cost, even if Microsoft gives away Windows for free.

But all of this Microsoft concern is BS. It's a distraction. The real issue is on the Linux side.

There are Linux desktop distros that "almost just work". These are one step away from providing mainstream users with effortless access to the expected functional software. The "one step" is due to philosophical issues that I can understand, on desktops.

Netbooks are different, or should be different. A netbook is a commodity. It's a toaster or TV or hammer. It should just work... OK then, just work after one click on a desktop icon.

However, instead of moving the desktop solution one step towards mainstream users, the community took a step farther away. Not only do we continue to see mainstream users struggle to use non-free software, but software doesn't "almost just work".

With netbooks (Linpus at least) we are back to "kinda, sorta, mostly works". Feels like 2005.

If, for netbooks, the Linux community took one more step towards mainstream users instead of a step away, 50% was a gimme.

"I laid out what problems I am aware of with Linpus... I really, really did want you to elaborate."

For a while I was not the main user of our netbook, but here is a list of some of the problems...

We've had to deal with audio, window management, and updating problems. There were several minor issues that were fixed easily enough, but where a newbie would struggle, such as volume (alsamixer), and wallpaper (needs to be in a particular directory). There is no simple installation of Firefox 3 (on a netbook, there should be a user-friendly tool to update the browser, with flash and codec support (though it's debatable whether this should be an Aspire responsibility rather than Linpus). Now Fedora 8 support has ceased. [At this point my Linux-user daughter and principle Linpus hater left the room in disgust]

I will relate one of our software problems with which I am personally familiar. The issue I will discuss is not the most serious problem we've had. What it is, is a clear example. It is only one example of one of the reasons why Linux has lost 75% of the netbook market.

The reason is poor judgement. The main issue is about judgement and the willingness of the community to accept a 25% market share rather than satisfy the needs of the mainstream user.

We installed Audacity. It didn't recognize MP3s. The problem had nothing to do with lame. Linpus uses a version of Audacity that is compiled without the capability of dealing with MP3s.

You can not make this version of Audacity deal with MP3s.

Linpus puts a barrier between the mainstream user and satisfaction with netbook Linux. The barrier is a conscious decision. It is a clear example a mentality that many mainstream users reject.

We added a repository and installed an MP3-enabled version of Audacity. There were other issues.

Most of the Linpus issues were straight forward. But while she is happy enough with desktop Linux, my daughter ridicules Linpus.

There was more ridicule when another distro proved to be unsatisfactory. Now the ridicule is for Linux. She and her friends are more effective than anything Microsoft could dream of.

There is so much Linux rah rah cheerleading that it's not easy to tell whether a netbook distro really works. Linux fans, like so many fans in general, are willing to sacrifice their integrity to advance their cause. Some said that there were no problems with KDE 4.0, or with Ext4. Some have no problem with "office" software that will not deal with file formats used in most offices. Some recommend surfing the web using a distro that forces you to run with administrator privileges.

There will be glowing reports of Linpus even though there are problems.

Thanks for reading my unbearably long posts. Good Luck!

Talk about blaming the victim... "The community" whom you blame for losing 75% of the netbook market didn't lose it. I don't believe there was any community input into Acer making whatever deal they did with Linpus. The community would never have chosen the closed and proprietary Xandros Presto for the Eee PC. The community would never have grossly misconfigured gOS on the Everex Cloudbook or the Sylvania g Netbook which I referred to as a "nightmare" in my review. Ditto the horribly configured SUSE provided with the MSI Wind. The community complained bitterly about those things. That didn't make any difference to the manufacturers, did it?

Sylvania and Everex still ship an 18 month old misconfigured version of gOS which lacks the drivers to support their hardware. Is the community to blame or the manufacturer who doesn't care enough to fix an easily fixable product?

The community has no willingness or lack of willingness to accept anything. Some of us understand human nature, which is resistant to change, and the nature of the Microsoft hype machine, their predatory business practices, etc... Retaining 25% in light of those things, even with properly configured systems and excellent distros on netbooks is something of a minor miracle. You think the community could have done better? I'd really like to hear how. I'd really like to know how "the community" can change corporate behavior or oversee the business relationships between Microsoft and the hardware vendors.

You say: "Linux fans, like so many fans in general, are willing to sacrifice their integrity to advance their cause" You are very quick to throw stones and accuse people of lacking integrity. Since this is your response to me I assume I am included despite my overwhelmingly negative review of the g Netbook with gOS or my review of Slackware 12.1. I was excoriated for that review since I had the temerity to dispute the claim on the Slackware website that their distro is easy to use and decidedly friendly. (It's anything but.) Yes, we have our fan boys. Microsoft and Apple have more who write equally improbable things about what their favorite OS does or does not do.

You said: "Some said that there were no problems with KDE 4.0," A few. The number of negative reviews to positive ones was, what, maybe 20 to 1? Did it ever occur to you that one person in 20 might have actually liked it? Did it ever occur to you that people are really running ext4 without issue even though it is brand new technology?

You wrote: "There is so much Linux rah rah cheerleading that it's not easy to tell whether a netbook distro really works." Funny, I read more negative reviews than positive ones for Linux netbooks. OK, many are written by people with a strong pro-Microsoft bias but certainly not all. Once again, I know of people who are really, truly happy with Linpus. You aren't and that's fine. You've reported your issues and that's fine too. Don't assume everyone feels the way you do or uses their netbook as you do.

"Some have no problem with "office" software that will not deal with file formats used in most offices."

Really? SIAG Office maybe? Most people use OpenOffice which gets Microsoft Office formats about 95% right. Considering those are closed formats which change with each release and have to be reverse engineered that's pretty decent. It's good enough for most people. Oh, and you do know that changed from one version of Microsoft Office to the next have caused issues and incompatibilities, right? You don't even have to migrate from Windows to have MS Office format issues, do you?

"I find myself more confident about Linux potential than you!"

Really? I read you asking for the sun, the moon, and the stars delivered on a silver platter. I am very confident about the future of Linux. I just see any migration to Linux as evolutionary and slow, like most changes, not happening overnight because another alternative is suddenly on store shelves, placed there with minimal marketing and lots of misinformation to be sold by largely untrained and unskilled sales people.

"I think that 50% was easily within reach."

I think you are dreaming. You listed most of the reasons why it couldn't happen yourself.

"Evidently, people here feel that MS can't stop 25% penetration but can stop 50%. I'm saying that, when faced with a superior and less expensive netbook product, MS can't stop 50%."

Actually, if netbooks remained strictly x86 and there weren't compelling products that simply won't run Windows on the horizon then Linux would not and could not hold a 25% share. That was the number as of the end of last year. There is evidence that it has eroded since then though Microsoft's claims are certainly exaggerated. Without the ARM and MIPS products coming we'd probably be down to 10-15% by this time next year even if every future Linux netbook had a perfectly configured and installed OS on it.

"My opinion starts with the assumption that the netbook platform is a much easier for new venders to target than the desktop."

OK, I'll buy that one. Tell me, why would those vendors choose Linux over the much more popular Windows? They wouldn't. The reason Linux was chosen originally was that Windows XP wasn't available as an option from Microsoft in the summer of 2007 and the earliest machines didn't have the power to run XP properly in any case. When the specs crept upward and MS made XP available for next to nothing the dynamic changed. Again, even perfect Linux netbooks (whatever those would be) could not have competed well because the deck was stacked against them. Despite that Linux held onto significant market share because it had a chance to capture mindshare while Windows was not available. Which distros did that? Xandros and Linpus, which you despise.

What is changing now is that we are moving back to netbooks that can't run Windows that offer compelling features and prices that can't be matched by Windows netbooks. They also will come in at a new, lower price point which will make them appealing to consumers. Linux is not and never has been the selling point. Most people don't care about the OS. They just want things to be easy to use and to work reliably.

You say the problem is on the Linux side. The problem you seem to ignore is that Linux isn't one company or one organization or unified in any way. It is many things presented in many different ways by a myriad of different organizations. That won't change anytime soon.

I don't think the Linpus or Xandros people or the netbook manufacturers ever thought netbook users would want to upgrade and add to their netbook. They thought they were providing an OS for an appliance. They were wrong. The question now is whether or not they learn from their mistakes. Dell and Digital Gadgets (Sylvania), now offering Ubuntu Netbook Remix, clearly have. That gives me hope.

Perfect handling of Microsoft formats under Linux will never happen. Neither will handling of Win32 codecs because licensed versions (i.e.: Fluendo) add to the cost of what are designed to be low cost machines. What you call "almost just work" is probably the best that can be achieved because of patents and proprietary licenses. Yet, despite all that, I think for 90% of the people who buy Linux netbooks in the future it will be good enough despite the objections you raise.

You blame Linux generically for issues that Linux vendors and distributors can't control so long as software patents and licenses are enforceable. You lay out a laundry list of reasons for what you see as failure, reasons that cannot reasonably be overcome under the current legal framework and the price structure we are looking at in the coming year and yet say that a much higher level of success than I foresee should be "easily" achieved. To me your posts have become incredibly contradictory.

I see the future of Linux netbooks as being bright despite the less than perfect software provided. For all its flaws Linux, including Linpus Lite, has major advantages over Windows. No spyware or malware, no gaping security holes, no long delays before vulnerabilities are patched, and superior performance that will allow the OS to run properly even on low spec hardware all come to mind. The one and only reason Linux will succeed has nothing to do with any of that. It will run on flashy new and inexpensive hardware. Windows won't. That's the whole thing in a nutshell.

Oh, and in regard to "tolerating" your long posts I have to ask one question: Why on earth would I censor your comments? I may disagree with you but you are on topic and entirely respectful. A lively debate is healthy and hopefully will give people things to think about. I won't and will never muzzle people I don't agree just because I don't agree. The day I start doing that is the day I should stop writing. Your opinions will always be welcome here.


The implication that I was accusing you of censorship, or of compromising your integrity, was the result of my poor communication skills.

I apologize. It is a combination of carelessness and clumsiness.

My comment about office software was intended to refer to FOSS "office" software that truly will not deal with doc and xls files, yet is called "office" software and has been repeatedly represented as office software in favorable reviews. I like Open Office and recommend it to my friends, including those who use Mac and Win, though with cautionary statements about macro and graphics compatibility and such things.

Early reports on KDE 4.0 were favorable enough that some major distros used 4.0 as their default KDE desktop environment without clear and distinct warning about loss of functionality and stability issues (initially). Subsequent criticism was consistently met with vocal support for 4.0.

The fact that I don't have problems with ext4, personally, does not mean that I should recommend it to others. Even a brief look around will find qualified people who advise caution.

I don't "hate" Linpus. I don't recommend it. I hope to replace it.

I don't hate fans who occasionally compromise their integrity to support a benevolent cause. Disappointment is not hate. Hate is something I reserve for corporate executives whose repeated criminal activity has been confirmed by courts around the world.

"You blame Linux generically for issues that Linux vendors and distributors can't control so long as software patents and licenses are enforceable."

With respect to non-free... I'm not asking for something that isn't going to eventually happen. That is, I'm not saying "Linux should do a & b" knowing full well that b is impossible.

It's true that full accurate treatment of non-free issues could fill a book full of conditional statements and with an appendix full of contrary opinion. Law varies between countries. There will be differences of opinion about what is a reasonable use of netbooks. "Reasonable use" will depend somewhat upon CPU power. Yada Yada Yada

However, I have used U.S. and other desktop distros that are within one step of "just works" non-free. It is likely that if non-free were just a couple of clicks on icons, rather than enabling a respository etc, then that would be enough to constitute "just works". But I'd have to see it first because freedom advocates could likely find a way to make a hassle out of even a couple of clicks. Anyway, it appears that the one step is close enough that those who feel that it could not happen, given some collaboration and determinism by the community, are speculating more than those who say that it could.


On a $300 netbook cost of licenses for codecs on an Atom-based netbook appears to be less than prohibitive. Linpus on Aspire One does include some already, so the cost or part of the cost evidently can be incorporated in a competitively priced netbook. [The problem with Linpus is that it still is a hassle. There is no repository that includes cost-free non-free software and none-free updates as my current U.S. desktop distro has. So, the one-click desktop icon is not an option on Linpus without the will to make things a lot easier and/or possibly collaboration with the distro that has compatible repositories.]

If existing desktop non-free solutions could not be simplified, or if competitive pressures were too great to deal with minimal costs of codec support, there are other possibilities. One is klik.

klik, or a klik-like site/application would require a minimum amount of coordination between distros to allow the user to run klik-like software without messing with configuration. klik software can be downloaded and run without being "installed". No, I'm not going to flesh out this discussion as it would be ignored by most, as they know that in the current environment it is unlikely that developers would work together.

The popular South African desktop distro evidently allows codecs to be installed individually as needed. Haven't tried this. Haven't been convinced that the netbook version of this distro is the best solution for the Aspire One (it had problems as of the end of February). Not sure of legal ramifications in the U.S. But the current reports are encouraging. If this procedure had been implemented last summer on Linux netbooks that just worked, I believe that the 25% would have been much higher. (I mean fully implemented with easy updates that retained codec operation, etc)

Knowledgable Journalists are super important.

The average user can't provide the content or readability that a knowledgable journalist can easily provide. If the user tries to engage a journalist about a complicated controversial subject, communication problems ruin the interaction. Research requirements are overwhelming.

Besides, when I research something, thinking that I have the answer if you go down this road or that road, you never go down those roads and I have burned an hour or two without advancing the discussion.

I truly hope that you and other knowledgable Linux journalists are not influenced by the pressures from the fans. I truly hope that some of your approach here was a result of me giving you the impression that I was insulting you (calling you personally a censor or panderer) and not by the instinct to nail those who honestly disagree. Because when I say something complicated, for it to mean anything the knowledgable journalist has to try to fill in the gaps, and not assume that the gaps are inconsistencies.

Anyway, I started out totally confident in my position. I am less confident now that I have a better understanding.

There are potential answers, including some that I did not originally recognize, but I'm not very optimistic about the probability that any individual answer could happen (now that sounds like an inconsistency if you don't try to put it together).

Net, I still feel that, if the Linux community took a collaborative approach and put together solutions that truly "just work", with no-hassle codecs, Linux might have 50%... though like I said, I am less certain.

If I understand correctly, the weight of opinion among some experts is that Linux be lucky to have even 20% of the Atom netbook market, even if a developer has an error free distro, because, in addition to all the marketing advantages that Microsoft has, there is no cost effective way to put codecs on an Atom netbook. Wow.

Again, thanks for reading my comments, and for your knowlegable thoughtful reponses. You are a patient lady.

I agree that Linux definitely has a strong future with netbooks, along with other platforms.
When I listen to complaints about using Linux, it's like the complainer thinks everybody uses the computer the same way.
They don't.
I see a large audience that survives on Firefox,, Thunderbird, Picasa, and IM clients.
My experience has shown this segment absolutely loves linux once exposed to it and out of dozens and dozens of conversions from Windows to MEPIS 8.0 Linux, only one needed to be switched back to Windows. That was an ignorant student who was attending a Microsoft training center (called "Community College and Technical School" in our region) and never told me that M$ Office was a requirement.
Everybody else is doing very well.

One recent example involved a Samsung NC-10 netbook that came with Windows XP. Switched it over to MEPIS 8.0 Linux and everything worked straight up: wireless, ethernet, sound, correct video resolution, webcam, and bluetooth.

The person liked it so much after 3 days, asked me to convert his desktop to MEPIS 8.0.

This is not a fairy tale, it happens to me ALL the time.

It's all the proof I need, Linux is here to stay.

I LOVE the Samsung NC-10 by the way... not so much with Windows XP, but after MEPIS 8.0 was put on it, what a sweet machine!

I can't see this happening. People are too easily amused by shiny interfaces that serve little purpose.

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