re: Cheap laptops
...and here we go. There's always one joker in these discussions who uses 5 years out-of-date, or fairly illogical, arguments about why Linux isn't feasible to the average person. Let's look, shall we:
"1. When you don't have to pay a Windows license it makes sense to get one of these laptops and bung on some dodgy version of Windows "borrowed" from a mate."
Yes, if you're installing Windows. Why would you specify Linux on a Dell laptop if you're going to install Windows? Maybe if you already have media, but otherwise why the hell would you buy one of these?
"2. Most laptop users I know will find the applications they generally want just aren't available for Linux. They'll spend a frustrating few hours trying to configure it to sync with their iPod, Palm, iPhone or whatever before binning it and reaching for the Windows XP CD (see borrowed copy above)."
That argument is tired and very out of date. Amarok works seamlessly with every iPod I've ever plugged into it. Apple tried locking Linux out with their last bunch of models, but that was easily fixed. Linux also works with my Creative Zen, both of my mobiles, my wireless network, my printer and my external DVD writer. All "out of the box" (with Mandriva in my case). The only hardware I've ever had problems with is my IR port, and I've never, ever needed to use that. Try installing a fresh non-OEM copy of XP and see how much of that works without the need for additional CDs.
"PS: I love all the Linux propaganda stories about nine year olds talking about Gnome, rooting the school IT system and how it runs spectacularly on obsolete hardware that should have been junked years ago. Unless you can come up with a better argument for using Linux other than some pseudo-religious/ideological bullshit that makes you sound like Scientologists, you'll continue to be mired in your hateful little enclave."
Yeah, and how hateful/ideological are you that statement? Linux users tend to point out the instances where it can work better than Windows (on older hardware), about how it educates and inspires kids (see the Gnome / rooting comments) and about how it is free to use and modify (in both senses of the word "free"). But, I can do anything with my laptop running Linux that I can in Windows except for games and/or specific utilities that are deliberately made incapable of being portable across multiple platforms (e.g. games that use DirectX instead of OpenGL, software such as MS Office and iTunes). Even then, most of that works in either Wine of Cedega (and there's usually viable open source alternatives if not), and no gamers are going to buy one of these machines anyway.