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.


ackmac said...

Mary is ready to check her e-maul which has been accumulating since 2001. That would be a real testament for Linux usability on a netbook.
Way to go Lisa!

Anonymous said...

Here is one for the books...I bought a new dell PC for my kids, requested Ubuntu pre installed because i use Ubuntu, they said that will be 60 dollars more. (THE MICROSOFT TAX) I told them to ship it with vista and i will install Ubuntu myself, they advised against it. Christmas morning arrived and our kids were eager for me to set up there new PC. I set everything up pushed the power button on for the very first time while my wife and kids watched with excitement. Didn't even make it to the splash screen when the blue screen of death appeared with a fatal error!!
Without hesitating i restarted the new PC with open source system rescue CD, open source Linux CD, zeroed the drive formatted for Ubuntu and installed Edubuntu.

2 years later there PC is running as good as the day i installed Ubuntu Linux!

Anonymous said...

I have just purchased Dell's first Ubuntu machine released in Australia, Latitude 2100 with Ubuntu 9.04 installed. On power on for the first time it was so easy to setup and get surfing, the easest I have encounted for a bought system. It comes with Flash 10 and Java pre-installed. And its easier to get all the codecs you'll need.

Ubuntu 9.04 looks great on the screen, font not too small, very easy on the eyes, unlike some XP netbooks I've seen in which you'll have to squint to read. After a short while online, was prompted to install updates (including a kernel update). Hit the update button, and installed all in one go, not a problem, perfect as an OS can be. And my Nokia N96 works out of the box for 3G tethering, again easier to configure than Windows. The soft-keys, mic, camera, bluetooth, suspend, etc all work flawlessly.

I am very impressed with the Dell Latitude 2100 with Ubuntu installed. The OS works fine, not a problem no hassle, does all I need efficiently and the hardware is top notch, feels very robust, the keys have nice feel and looks good, trackpad good with scrolling and I like that there are no fan intake vents on the bottom so you can put it on your lap with out fear of overheating. I think this is the best looking and practical netbook so far, with a quality feel to match.

I hope that more people discover what I have discovered here. Give it a go and show your friends etc, pass the word along. Is is ready, or at the very least for the skeptics, a hairs breath away.

Daniel Garcia Romero said...

Got FUD?

Daniel Garcia Romero said...

Got FUD?