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back to article Apricot drops 'too complicated' Linux from netbook line

Apricot has pulled the plug on its Linux-based netbook, choosing instead to offer the pint-sized Picobook Pro only with Windows XP. The Pro, which launched last week, was to be offered with a choice of XP and SuSE Linux Enterprise Edition - the latter priced at £279, the Windows model costing £328. Yesterday, Apricot yanked the …

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Stop

SPOT THE MICROSOFT ANTITRUST SUIT!

I think we can all see exactly what happened here... the very reason Microsoft has been sued by several major governments:

<apricot> Look world! We got a cute laptop!

<microsoft> Very nice. Whats it run?

<apricot> Linux or Windows XP.

<microsoft> Uh...

<apricot> The Linux variant being cheaper, naturally.

<microsoft> Well... we can do Windows XP at that price...

<apricot> Cool!

<microsoft> ... as long as you promise not to sell the Linux one.

<apricot> uh well uh thats.. um er.. *sigh* it's a deal.

<microsoft> nice.

<-- insert lawsuit here -->

-- Richard

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Technotards...

obviously!

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Linux

Scratch that from the want list...

I did consider getting one.. but now it's XP only I don't think I'll bother.

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"made this decision to ensure customers have a smooth installation of their operating system"

Way to focus on the thing people hardly ever do.

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Flame

Too complicated?

What?

The only thing complicated I have (so far) found with hardware on Ubuntu is that I've had to do nothing. I kept waiting for it to ask for drivers and then reboot 90 times before blue-screening; but nope.

Plug in hardware. Watch Ubuntu go "Oh, hello, what's this?" and then have it simply start working.

My gast was absolutely flabbered, I can tell you.

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Linux

They just lost a customer

Pity, I was going to buy one for Christmas for myself and was considering a couple for work as test machines.

It would have fitted brilliantly in my setup (I use AES based openvpn which is hardware accelerated on this CPU). However, I am not paying a Windows Tax on this out of principle (never had, never will).

So it can go to the most appropriate place for a fruit infected with rot - the compost heap.

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Not brilliant value actually

When you consider I just bought a HP mini-note with the same Via 1.2Ghz CPU, WXVGA screen, 1Gb RAM with Vista Business and a 160Gb HDD for £339, the Apricot doesn't look quite as good value?

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Apricot who?

Oh, are Apricot still in business? I thought they went the traditional way (ie bust) of British PC makers yonks ago...

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Words fail me.

"Apricot believes that this will be a more attractive product offering for their target customers, because as soon as it is switched on, it is ready for use."

No one need say anything. That quote encompasses everything anyone needs to know about the blinkered idiocy that the adoption of Linux faces.

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Linux

for the technically retarded, who want insecurity

Rather than offer one of the few OS's that has no known virii for it, they would like to make their customer's lives better by giving them the opportunity to have the same virus problems they are used to....

Given that one of the big sells of Dual Core chips is that one can be dedicated to anti-virus activity, how long before these things slow to a halt with all the rubbish the Web will give to this book.

Linux because i'm worth it.

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Unhappy

So much for the rebirth of Apricot

If my memory serves me right, these guys used to be at the cutting edge in the mid-80s. I was only 10, so might be wrong. Still, Linux doesn't seem to much for all the other SCCs out there.

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Alert

Fuck apricot.

Its no big deal. dont buy em. dont recomend em and smear there name as attention grabbing (we do linux) MS arse limpits (we dont do linux). and next time they release something ask embarrasing questions about their catholic* products.

*builds up the excitment then withdraws..

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Re: Too complicated?

Well my experience of Ubuntu was simply that it took months of effort to try and get it to work with all my laptop's hardware. You can't expect the consumer to dash off to linux forums, be shouted down for being a "noob" asking questions, and then have to read up on the in depth detail of linux to actually understand the instructions about how to install the (right) drivers (which may involve stealing some Windows drivers off an XP install when it comes to things like WiFi), and then to top it off may even find they have to recompile the kernel!!

Whilst I love linux on a server with standard basic hardware, my experience on the desktop with various flavours of linux has been less than pleasant. I can therefore understand how Apricot could reach this conclusion.

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Avi

Made this decision to ensure ... a smooth installation of their operating system,"

Versus:

"Apricot believes that this will be a more attractive product offering for their target customers, because as soon as it is switched on, it is ready for use."

Either the customer has to install their OS, and therefore want the easier one to install, or they don't and it's ready out of the box.

You can't have two plus points being that you don't need to configure it to use it and that the configuration required before use is really easy.

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No wonder they fail

No wonder Apricot is no big success - they even fail at this most basic step, of including the better-performing and fewer-problem causing operating system from their list.

Linux is not more complicated - it is only complicated to people that do not give it the time and attention that they had given Windows.

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Unhappy

Not again!

Microsoft certainly know how to win friends and influence people and in consequence have had a very rough ride with the somewhat premature release of the imperfect Vista, which was also not properly supported by the available hardware.

What a shame that they coninue to act the bully boy rather than just compete. As more people learn this, they will seek alternatives. That is human nature.

Nevertheless, SuSe might provide an unfamiliar user with difficulty in configuring wireless connections unless a simplified tool has been included. On the other hand Ubuntu would just run, as already stated above.

The comment about installation is enirely rediculous, Ubuntu and most Linux install easily and quickly and require reinstallation less frequently. Updates and upgrades are very easily achieved and generally do not require a reboot unless there is a change to the kernel. Similarly installing additional software is a breeze and usually free. In any case, there is, presumably, no initial requirement to install either of the systems as they will already be pre-installed.

Time for a class action?

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Linux

@ TimM

I can understand you having problems with an 'old' laptop you've put ubuntu onto, as I'm going through the same process myself just now. But I figure it'll be worth the effort to be free of 'Billshit 'in the end.

However, any half decent manufacturer would be doing all the things you list, and making sure the kit works 'out of the box' before letting it go out of the door, so maybe it's them (Apricot) who are the 'technotards', or just plain lazy.

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Coat

Apricot?

s/Apricot/Cheap rebadging co. what bought the name/

You only need to look around the website (it won't take you long to find a bunch of broken links) to realise just how cheap they are.

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Gates Halo

So ?

Teh first thing I did with my Eee was to remove Linux and put XP on it, this would just save me that job.

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Coat

Doe's Apricot deserve success in the market ?

"Apricot has made this decision to ensure customers have a smooth installation of their operating system"

Are you planning to sell the computers to your customers without an operating system installed ? Or, can't you provide a Linux restore disk like the Windows one ? And if you can't manage that why should anyone buy a computer from you ?

"The Linux version proved too complicated with initial testers, who would opt to purchase and install XP any way"

Translation: Our "initial testers" were desktop Windows XP users who want XP on their desktops, their notebooks, their netbooks, and wont buy an iPhone because it doesn't run XP and they probably don't have any real use for a netbook anyway. Also, they spat the dummy when they couldn't find the Internet Explorer icon thingy.

What you're telling us is that you don't want to do the work necessary to bring a real quality product to market. And that you've got your target market wrong.

"Apricot believes that this will be a more attractive product offering for their target customers, because as soon as it is switched on, it is ready for use."

If its not "ready for use" when the customer turns it on, thats not the fault of any GNU/Linux distribution, thats your fault.

So basically Apricot, what you're telling us is that you're not nearly as motivated as Asus, or Acer, or Dell, and you therefore don't deserve that piece of market share that others are putting a lot more work into capturing than you are.

I'll get my coat...

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Boffin

MCA

@Dabooka: Apricot were in the business of X86-based small servers and some of their boxes had interesting security features like a powered door on the front of the box restricting access to the floppy/CD drives.

They made the mistake of whole-heartedly adopting the Mirco Channel Architecture that IBM put forward as the next development in PCs, as seen in the PS/2*. IBM did this because they were trying to get back their monopolistic position that they lost wrt PC hardware design. All the other PC makers avoided it like the proverbial plague and went with a different design EISA until PCI came along.

I liked the Apricot stuff, they thought about the field engineers and had some nice designs that didn't chop your fingers to bits as soon as you took the case off. I used an Apricot keyboard for ages after they went bust because it was bomb-proof and quiet.

*That's an IBM PS/2, nothing to do with playstation, you noobs. That's where the name "PS/2 connector" came from before USB keyboards were invented.

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Linux

WAAAH, WAAAAAH, I'M TOO STOOPID TO LINUX!!

These people need to get real! I've had virtually no problems with Linux - any distro - whilst Microsoft eats the RAM from my notebook. I've got a good-spec notebook, and the only problems have been that the notebook was made for Vista, ergo low-quality graphics card.

They need a slap.

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Linux

Fail

I was interested in this for a SCC, looks like I will get an eee now.

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Losers!

For those who just want basic services such as web/internet/word processing, Linux has a lot going for it. I acquired an Aspire One yesterday, Linux-flavoured, and it has a nice, simple interface on it, easy for the non-techie to use. Of course, as a techie I find it too restrictive, but that's easy to fix, although I did break it for a while and had to exercise some creativity to get it to boot. Wireless was simple, no harder than the equivalent XP stuff.

So Apricot, Linux does not have to be hard if you put a bit of work up-front to make it easier. Just leave a way for those who do have knowledge to get under the covers and tinker.

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I think they mean too complicated - for the sales team

Given the utter lack of ability of pretty much all PC sales staff, it wouldn't surprise me if the real reason was that the sales people would focus on selling the easy stuff they understood: such as windows, rather than have to learn how to navigate the the menus, functions and methods that linux (or a Mac, for that matter) would require. Meaning that the sales would suffer, simply because the sales people would never demo the unit to prospective customers.

Of course the really hard part of selling a Linux lappy to "the man in the street" is coming up with a convincing response to the question "why can't I just have XP?"

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Fruitcakes

"as soon as it is switched on, it is ready for use"

What! With Windows? Shome mishtake, surely...

Who are Apricot now, anyway? Still rubbish at marketing, apparently.

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Sigh...

I jumped into this comments thread hoping that the usual anti-MS crap would be avoided this time ... now I realise how silly I was, as I get just that - ill-thought-through anti-MS crap from nearly all of the posters above.

Remember that Apricot is trying to produce a mass-market product, i.e. a market that is wider than just a bunch of IT geeks and fanatics. If you gave a Linux one to my parents, for example, they would not have a clue how to use it. It's a simple fact that people find Win XP much, much easier to use and there you go, that's why Apricot went for it. Good on them for braving the wrath of the vocal minority (most of which appear to have posted in this comments section already) for dropping a product that would have cost them dear in support costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Its very NuLabour in here.

Blame everything except Linux itself.

MS CUT THEM A DEAL! THEY'RE ALL TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND!

Or maybe the people in their focus groups didn't like linux. Maybe they didn't like having to learn to use a whole new OS, and a whole new suite of office apps, and a new web browser, and a new IM client and so on and so forth.

For a non-technical person familiar with Windows, little things in Linux are confusing as hell. Changes in terminology, Verbose error messages, Everything being in a different place. Stuff like that totally throws someone who isn't sure of what they're doing. And of course there isn't anyone they can ASK, nobody they know will be using it, and the responses in this thread are a pretty good representation of what you get for asking "Stupid" questions on a support board.

Besides, what will you all do when using Linux isn't an act of rebellion anymore? Create your own OS? Switch back to windows to stick it to all those trendy morons using linux?

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....I worked for 'em

@ Dabooka and gizmo32 they actually did nice servers almost to the end. We were I believe, first to market with a whole raft of features and tech including multi processors and hotswap SCSI backplanes.

As gizmo32 points out, some manufacturers cases left you dripping blood after opening the PC for upgrade/maintenance. The apricot cases were by contrast a joy to work on. Robust too, one of the FT4200 servers having been struck by a 4x4 in a ram raid on a dealers premises remaining operational, needing only a panel or two replacing by all accounts. Whilst the FT4200's were wheeled, I wouldn't fancy other manufacturers chances in such an impromptu crash test.

There is no connection to the old Apricot or indeed Mitsubishi Electric PC Division (Apricot Computers), it's simply someone trading under the name. The guy running this operation did something similar with Acorn, but had to walk away when it became apparent that there was a dispute over ownership.

As far as Linux support goes, I'm sure that everyone who must have linux will simply install it themselves. Last I heard, the staff of the company offering this product was rather few (extremely), I'm sure this is a factor.

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For the next six months only?

Or are they betting on MS allowing XP installs beyond then?

It was probably more to do with the complication of having to support TWO rather than one OS.

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Stop

Linux Doesn't Understand User Interface

After reading the comments above, I have been somewhat amused by the anti-Microsoft remarks about Linux superiority. Linux has a place..... Just not as a desktop OS. Now, the reason this is its because MS and Apple have way better understanding of user desktop interface. They keep the design simple and intuitively. How many people( non-computer nerds) need to see the CPU usage level ? How many need to see multiple-desktop, 20 task-bar icon, and a crappy brown background(ubuntu) - like many Linux distros have. Its really not about how easy its to install, important although not crucial ; but its about the user experience afterwards. Microsoft and Apple spend millions of dollars researching for better user interface and then comes along an OS that copies most of that (uh oh here comes the flames). The same can be said about the iPhone. These so called "iPhone killers" out there, while an improvement in features, they offer poor user interface. They put too much stuff for the user too see all at once and then wonder why it doesn't sell as well apple. As a software engineer undergrad, I have a hard time understanding what would motivate someone to write free code. Well, if you read this far your probably bored like me or passionate about the subject. :)

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@TimM

Try putting XP or vista on an old laptop.

Linux you have to search really hard, but it will go on. you may miss anything other than SVGA, but unlike MS's SVGA it does go to 1920x1280x24bit. Trackpad may not work and sound may not work. But the machine will work and plug a mouse in and you're sorted for a cheap lugbook. XP? It Linux had those problems with the laptop XP likely won't fare any better except be stuck ad 256 colours at 800x600.

Really, MS, work out what is possible under SVGA rather than go with what you always did. Take a risk.

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Anonymous Coward

Badge engineers

I'm an ex-Apricot engineer from the 80s/90s and I despair of these blokes from Nottingham who've acquired the Apricot name. Mind you, the old Apricot's management sometimes opened their legs for major industry players, so maybe I shouldn't be too harsh on the new people.

My 4-year old laptop is dual boot Ubuntu/XP. Ubuntu took under an hour to install, XP most of a day. My girlfriend's 8-year old laptop also runs Ubuntu perfectly and surprisingly fast, even the PCMCIA wireless card plays ball. MS stuff is just so 20th century.

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Re: Badge engineers

You've got it spot on. This has nothing to do with the Apricot of old and is simply a pair trying to cash in on an old brand. A quick googling reveals they tried to do the same with Acorn a couple of years back:

http://www.drobe.co.uk/riscos/artifact1594.html

I predict they'll be equally as successful this time!

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Brand whores and technotards

Reason for returns from disappointed punters: "I want Windows blah-blah with Microsoft Windows blah-blah-blah, and I must have Extortio Corporation's Anti-Virus blah-blah installed with full update-and-other-buzzwords-I-don't-understand capability. Now where are my Nikes? I'm off to Starbucks!"

TimM: "Well my experience of Ubuntu was simply that it took months of effort to try and get it to work with all my laptop's hardware."

The idea with this is that the OS is already installed: Apricot have to do the work of making the hardware function correctly, which should mostly involve specifying half-reasonable components up front, instead of just putting their logo on the units from some random consignment after it arrives from the Far East.

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Gates Horns

@chris

I hope you have a valid copy windows.

Then again, MS dont care if pirate or not (until they eliminate ALL competition)

Download a mp3 illegally, fine $20,000 per mp3?

Download windows illegally - a pat on the back from Gates and Balmer.

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Anonymous Coward

@gizmo23

You're absolutely right about MCA being a foolish diversion for Apricot. I worked on those products and they were an engineering nightmare plus they burned up design bandwidth that could have made so much more money on other projects.

As for those motorised doors, well I designed them, and though they worked fairly well, I still think it was a really wanky concept :-)

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Too bloody right its complicated...

...and when you ask how to do something with Ubuntu on a forum, instead of helpful answers, you get a string of abuse. I spent most of a day trying to get a friend's Eee to connect to WiFi using WPA-PSK [TKIP], I searched the web and all I got was a load of incomprehensible gibberish. I asked on a couple of forums and got the response that I was too stupid to use Ubuntu. I'm not that stupid because I use computers that work!

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Yoof Tested!

My (sony Viao owning) Grandchildren picked up my new EEE701 and said "whizzy"

will you give us one each for christmas (answer - No! buy your own)

They played with all the bits an bobs and never even realised that it was NOT

a Windows machine. (Linux ? What's that? Something else from Acorn ??? !)

Worked fine for me straight out of the box. The underlying system seems far more

complicated than on my faithful RISC OS machine, but then, I' m biased ;)

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Linux

Linux is hard work for *simple* tasks

I got an Acer One with Linpus a few weeks ago and have to say that it's splendid and now does exactly what I want it for.

However for the basic tasks that I suspect most new users would undertake when acquiring a new machine such as setting up a printer, being able to access other computers on a network and even installing a new media player (VLC) you have to head to the command line. - as a Linux Noob, this took me hours and hours.

It's doable and there are helpful Linux forums out there (honest - the AspireOneUser forum is pretty good), but I can't see me getting one for my mother or the kids (unless I was going to do all the setup work for them I suppose).

XP just works and does these simple tasks with a point and a click - no Sudo Yum cryptics involved.

I assume this is why Apricot has dropped the Linux edition, not because of the operating system installation, but the user setup side of it.

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re: Linux Doesn't Understand User Interface

Of course.

The User Interface is up to the Window Manager.

And they understand User Interface very well.

MS have MDI and that really IS a pain in the arse to get to grips with. Unless you're working on one app at a time. And even then, if it's a busy interface (Photoshop/Maya/AutoCAD [heck, Office 2007 and its ribbon!) you really DO want some of that crud OUT of the main program window and then you really DO want multiple desktops.

Just because you've been able to put up with a single desktop, doesn't mean that's all you need. Else WindowBlinds would not have been such a popular addition to the Win9x line.

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re: MS CUT THEM A DEAL!

Well Linux being too complicate IS bullshit.

So there has to be a reason for this bullshit else insanity is the only option left. And a company with insane employees isn't worth buying from. So we're giving them the best interpretation.

After all, it's better if they are doing this for money rather than because their brains have left for a holiday.

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Linux

And in other news...

...free-thinking prospective netbook purchasers strike Apricot from the list of potential suppliers. Wazzocks. Bet it would work fine with Xubuntu. Apricot will just sink back into the soup because they have no USP.

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Interfaces and startup

I have an Asus EeePC. It has a simple interface - no 20 icons, no powerbar.

It runs Linux.

I have assorted other computers, some supplied by an organisation that insists on using Windows.

The Linux ones are ready to use when they are switched on for the first time after the OS is installed.

The Windows ones are not. They demand serial numbers.

Who was the genius, by the way, who decided to put the serial numbers on labels on the underside?

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Re: Linux Doesn't Understand User Interface

Why not tell the truth and admit that you've never used a modern Linux distro. Because if you had you would realise how daft your comment comes across as.

Also why say that Linux doesn't have a role to play as a desktop OS when so many of us use it for this purpose every day?

What do you think the purpose of the Gnome and KDE projects are?

Go educate yourself.

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Usable

"Apricot is trying to produce a mass-market product"

You mean, like the EeePC, which was Linux only (until MS recovered from the shock)?

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Linux

It's not Linux, it's just the distro on the netbooks

"However for the basic tasks that I suspect most new users would undertake when acquiring a new machine such as setting up a printer, being able to access other computers on a network and even installing a new media player (VLC) you have to head to the command line. - as a Linux Noob, this took me hours and hours."

That's because most of the netbooks (including the Eee and the Aspire One) run dumbed-down versions of Linux - fine if you want to use what's supplied out the box, but a pain to get anything else working on. Decent Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, have more user-friendly ways of doing all these things.

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Slightly off topic

One of my daughter's friend's mother is a nightmare with her laptops (XP and Vista installed). Some years ago I installed Linux on an older desktop for her as a temporary measure. This is still going strong and said mother has had no problem using it, unlike the aforementioned laptops, and I have not been required to maintain it at all - not even once.

Ergo, it does not take a geek or fanboy, to use Linux.

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for real?

They really said it was too complicated? Yes, setting up most Linux systems from scratch is perhaps too complicated for most users. However, I thought the whole idea behind purchasing something that it preinstalled is that, well, it's fucking preinstalled and therefore I wouldn't need to do it.

Sounds like a piss poor excuse for "Microsoft gave us a better deal if we didn't sell Linux", or some other real reason for them making that decision.

That's Apricot off my purchase list then.

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I've tried to install XP on my 901

Messed it up trying to get Rosetta Stone running. No problem to install a Linux Distro from a thumbdrive, but how does one install Windows XP home without a DVD drive and a floppy for drivers?

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