Friday, August 14, 2009

Linux on Netbooks

You'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the current "netbook" craze. Basically, there is not really solid definition (in my not so humble opinion) of what a netbook truly is -- my definition is this: A laptop that has superior battery life, reduced features and that is so small and convenient that it fits in your purse (if you're of the proper gender to be carrying one, or if you're purse/gender agnostic -- don't get me started on this topic).

Anyway, I bought one for my wife recently -- running Linux, of course.

Now, there's been a lot of misinformation about Linux on desktops/laptops and netbooks. It's too hard to use, it's not familiar -- it's not Windows -- people return them at a higher rate than Windows.

But, not according to Dell, it seems. There are many reasons that this is news. Dell is the quintessential user computing device vendor. They have a well recognized brand and off and on, have courted Linux on the desktop. Linux has a lower acquisition cost for a hardware vendor -- and on a $300 computing device, there isn't a lot of margin.

Barring all of that strategic schpew -- the fact is, my wife uses an Ubuntu laptop and seems to have taken to the netbook with a minimum of fuss. I use her viewpoint as an indicator of sorts. She doesn't hold much back in terms of criticism -- if it sucks I'm going to hear about it in short order. She's not a technology lightweight -- she uses facebook, email and web browsing as good or at a higher competency than all but my tightest technological contacts -- but she's not a programmer or IT type.

In short, if she can take to a Linux device without a lot of training on my part, I assume that the general public should have few to little issue.

And this describes her experience -- the Ubuntu laptop has been a terrific device, and she's used it for a couple of years now without issue. The netbook has a simplified interface, in comparison. It's an SD-based device (no hard drive) and so far so good, it has worked well.

I've always been skeptical of the claims that people can't use Linux as a network computing platform. My own experiences with my family (Mom and Dad use Linux these days as well) tell me that the market is fragmenting. I won't get into all of the technical reasons why Linux on the desktop is a good thing -- I could, and I've done so many times in the past -- all I'm going to say is that I'm happy to see that it's not hard to acquire a device running Linux these days.