back to article Linux risks netbooks defeat to Microsoft

Ubuntu-based things do well in tech circles, but the consumer space is different, as gOS discovered when Wal-Mart blamed poor demand from baseball caps and mullets for its decision to stop selling Linux-loaded PCs. David Liu, chief executive of Emeryville, California-based gOS, is undaunted. Indeed he is optimistic that Linux …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Circular Logic

    Mr Liu,

    Sponsor a Champion championing the System, leaving Windows in ITs Wake. An Out of this World Suggestion which makes a Lot of Common Sense.

    And if IT Cracks Windows too because of exposure of Inherent Business Intelligence Faults in its Programming which open source/Open Source has avoided with its Model, then so be it..

    As the other article, here today on the Register, highlights ...... ....... ignoring major defects doesn't fix them and thinking that defects should remain when they are known, just because they are an inconvenience which hits the bottom $ line, just isn't an option. It smacks of trying to keep people dumb rather than sharing the SMARTs. And that is Totally Illogical and Perverse too when it is All for the Love of Money Root.

    Penguins don't have Money and they do no Evil to Man or Beast or Environment which is QuITe SMART. Man on the other hand has trouble doing anything Right, with artificial obstacles put in his way by other men, invariably, which is Real Dumb.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Where's the analysis?

    Not a good picture, not the best article.

    Microsoft have a monopoly on desktops and laptops primarily because of their business practices. For example, to get a Windows licence at a sensible price, manufacturers like Dell and HP have to commit to pay for a Windows licence on every unit they sell, even if it ships without a Microsoft OS.

    Does the article tell us whether the same monopolistic business practice applies to PDAs, netbooks, appliances, set top boxes, etc? No it doesn't. Does it point out that it was Microsoft that ended "choice" in the world of the handheld PC/PDA market? Who remembers the HP Jornada 720? I do. Smaller than a subnote, and given today's technology a modern equivalent could have been an Asus-killer *and* a Nokia-killer. But MS killed the relevant variant of Windows CE, and now Windows Mobile is all they talk about (though Windows CE does still exist if you look hard enough, and are happy with the choice of ARM, ARM, ARM or ARM hardware, rather than ARM, MIPS, etc...).

    Instead, the article covers in the depth the whinges of yet another distro supplier (one my 10+ years of Linux-fiddling, from set-top-box to datacentre, have never previously uncovered?). The People's Liberation Front in Life of Brian had nothing on the thousands of fools who argue among themselves for who's got the one true best-for-everyone Linux, without being able to see who the real enemy is.

    If you want some Linux coverage with bite, how about digging into how companies like MontaVista and others can make money out of GPL software while not making their GPL-derived software freely available as legally required by the GPL? The "Busybox hall of shame" used to do something like this but eventually gave up (they had a product to ship, and they probably had lawyers calling them too).

    Could do better. Fixed in the next major release?

  3. Charles Silver badge

    Barrier of entry

    The biggest problem Linux faces in the end-user world is that there are tons of compelling reasons to stick with Windows (the giant product library), but the most important one is not a product but a service. For Linux, the only way you'll get an average end-user to accept your product is to make it "turnkey" simple: turnkey as in you turn it on and it goes with no intervention on the user's part--and no matter what the user's machine presents to the OS. But the Linux world's base philosophy of customizability ultimately clashes with this simplicity--many kinds of customization leads to information overload for most people, causing them to balk.

  4. Patrick O'Reilly
    Gates Horns

    He's right you know.

    There are currently no linux based Small and Cheap PC's available on they're all the windows versions.

  5. Doug Glass

    Hot Dayaam !!

    I didn't realize the ball cap wearing, mullet topped NASCAR lovin' boys (and gals) had such clout in the market.

    All they gotta do to fix this broke thang is have Ubuntu associated with chewing tobacco, cheap beer, and pickup trucks and Linux will blow the wheels off the Windows tank as it flies by.

  6. Mark
    Gates Horns

    Re: Barrier of entry

    Linux is pretty much "turnkey". Windows is much, MUCH further from turnkey. That line is a load of complete bollocks.

    What's the problem is that MS sit on propriatory protocols and butt-widening EULA and license costs to make non-MS software unusable:

    Exchange: Works with MS blessed closed source apps. And non-MS apps blessed are always late to the game because MS writes the server to fit their other programs and after all the work THEN tells others who pay mucho dinero for blessings how to rewrite their app.

    AD: Works with the *correctly versioned* blessed OS.

    MSOffice: Obscured format even MS don't understand (but get to take years developing the new version in secret so they can get something that "works" even if they don't understand why). Doesn't even work with other MS apps and barely consistent with the same MS Office version on a different machine.

    Sharepoint: Another hook to tie beancounters who get OTHER PEOPLE to write their documents (and reformat again AND AGAIN) into MSOffice. Works with only The Blessed.

    Server CAL: Pay for a windows license even if there's no windows. No financial advantage and you get "that configuration is not supported" so lose your "enterprise grade" support contract. Nice.

    EULA: Squeal little piggie! May not even be allowed to connect heterogenic systems together.

    So for businesses, non-linux is sabotaged from as many directions as MS can manage to make it hard to go non-Windows on *anything*.

    For the home market, either your ISP only supports Windows/IE, your bank only supports ActiveX/IE or you have more than one computer so if you've invested in Windows, MS are going to make it hard for you wherever possible.

    THESE are the reasons why Linux (and Apple) don't take off: not utility, usability, cost or power. MS already have their dick so far down your throat there's no room for anything and you can't talk loud enough to be heard.

  7. Andrew Cockbill

    Less choice please

    Linux could obliterate MS in this space....if there was one single distribution that everyone worked on to make it the obvious de facto choice for SCC's. From a technology point of view, it is the correct decision as it needs less resources to provide a compelling experience.

    Unfortunately the very nature of linux development works against them. Every developer has their own opinion of what would be best, and merrily makes there own ideal system, which almost always bears no relation to what the average person wants.

    People actually crave 'simplicity' this is sad, as computers are not simple, and never have been. This means that people actually crave familiarity, which leads them inexorably to choosing the thing that most closely resembles what they have. Offering thousands of different distributions all subtly different is not a good idea, it is in fact identical to the marketing scam used by large telecoms companies to confuse punters into buying the wrong contract. People are utterly paralysed by choice when they cannot process the differentiating factors....

    Have one system that everyone can come to understand, standardise on it...sure keep all that customisability so that us geeks and the teenagers can play, but make it simple and consistent at first glance. People want to buy a toaster, not a multifaceted bread grilling appliance.

    And I say this all as a happy penguin lover...just a realistic one

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux and the windows user

    I've heard so much about Linux that I decided to try it, (being a non techie windows user(able to install and uninstall windows)--I bought a version of Linux at wall mart, ($22.00 was never able to install it, try as I might, there were just things i didn't understand.

    I would try again BUT it doesn't play the microsoft games my grandchildren love to play and what about my Age of the Empires?

    Gentlemen if linux installed at least as easy as windows then u'd have a go getter, allthough i still think it's gonna hafta play games that run on windows.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    When will OSS types finally realise the truth of this....

    OSS in itself means Jack to end users outside the 0.05% of people to whom it's the be all and end all. And it's that 0.05% of people that are the public face of Linux.

    As I type, I can feel the red mist starting to decend, but time and time again I see (and read) OSS "advocates" banging on about how preferable OSS is, for so many reasons, before completely missing the point that, to any market of any size it's completely unusable on the desktop - untidy, picky and, worst of all, inconsistent in operation. Reliable it may be, but if in practice that means that it'll confuse me every time in exactly the same way then reliability is a moot point.

    These same types then sneer that those that don't understand why all that's far less important than the "danger" or using a closed source OS or App and finally to complete their unintentional self-parody pass some lamer than lame comment that emacs users are complete w@nkers, or such like...

    It makes me so, so cross, because Microsoft have no right to own any market, their software isn't great, it isn't robust, but they focus on marketing it and delivering in as best they can. They get away with substandard delivery for two reasons:

    1. Steve Jobs is quite happy where he is thanks very much

    2. The OSS community is far happier comparing and categorising navel fluff than acutally delivering a consumer (and some would say enterprise too) desktop

    Now that might just be a failure on the part of "the community" to engage with the market in the correct way, but for the most part I think it's just the lack of a critical mass of OSS fans that actually have the sense to understand the point.

    Small factor machines won't be bought by hobbiest users who are moistening up at the thought of learning how to use a Shell. They'll be bought by people actually wanting to be productive, and the Linux Desktop currently (and probably never) doesn't come close to cutting it.

    "But it's free as in beer" is just a hopeless message, a laudable one, but hopeless as a tool to win hearts and minds from the windows world.

    So guys, a few requests...

    Could we have a single standard desktop environment? One that people can develop to style for? So Apps work in a consistent manner?

    How about say 3 or 4 key applications in each genre that compete with their Win/OSX counterparts rather than dozens of alpha stage packages?

    How about targeting to reduce the instances of forced use of the Shell?

    And there's the rub, OSS advocates will read my requests in horror - unthinkable, heracy!

    Without those things Linux will remain in the Comms room. Which is a pity, because there, where it has all the tools it needs it excels.

    And that of course it why Desktop Linux will still be "right around the corner" in another 10 years and why Linux devs will remain the very definition of busy fools.

  10. Vendicar Decarian

    Lintards never learn

    Lintards and Unitards will never get it.

    After 30 years of Unix/Linux failure they are undaunted in maintaining the same old brain damaged philosophy that perpetrated the initial failure.

    If Linux can't make any headway when it's up against Vista then what does that say about it ever becoming something other than a 30 year long running gagg?


    My last experience with Linux was installing Ubuntu 6.whatever.

    It pestered me for several days to update the OS. And finally when I gave it permission, the updates Cacked all over the OS.


    Linux, the never ready for prime time OS.

    Vendicar Decarian

  11. Don Mitchell

    Windows vs. Ersatz Windows?

    I don't think the open source community really gets consumers or has ever card about them. It cares about owning the space that Microsoft (and Apple) built.

    People buy PCs, not to sit and admire the operating system or to feel part of some political mass movement. They are practical, they want to run games and applications, and they want to be compatable with most other computer users. That means windows, and it has little to do with "microsoft's business practices", it's pure momentum.

    To break into this space, Linux would have to offer a radically new and better technical solution and offer a big collection of innovative games and applications. It comes nowhere near doing that. Systems like Ubuntu are at best an ersatz copy of windows functionality and look-and-feel that isn't compatable enough to run any of the standard apps.

  12. Bruce

    Inaccurate statements

    The statement:

    "From a general operating system perspective - there's still a lot of packages to download"

    Is flat wrong.

    I have Fedora Core 5 installed on my Dell M60.

    GIMP - free photoshop like image editor - included.

    Firefox - Explorer equiv - included.

    C++ compiler/debugger - included.

    OpenOffice - included.

    **This is not the complete list of what is included. Just do a custom install and select everything to find out.

    With Windows, I would have had to buy and install the OS, followed by Photoshop, Visual Studio, MS Office. With FC5, it was all in one distro.

    On a side note: The power management on FC5 seems to work better than the power management on Windows when running battery only. My notebook's battery lasted longer on a flight when I was running FC5 than windows.

    I think the "Anonymous Coward" at the first posting slot, is correctly stating the real reason. It doesn't cost anything additional for the vendors to supply a notebook with Linux.. unless Microsoft is requiring all have Windows installed as part of their 'bargain'.

  13. Martin Owens

    A problem

    The real problem is the lack of law enforcement against Microsoft's illegal business practices. The fact that Linux can make any headway is like watching one of those hero guys from Japanese cartoons that seem to never be defeated against super, giant, ultra fighting things from space.

    People will move to Linux, now we can push ubuntu I'm confident that it'll win out in the end. It's not like we could die of irrelevance when the mac and windows worlds are so poor at giving people ownership.

  14. Drew

    It's the Channel, stupid

    Useability is not a barrier, it's a red herring. If useability was an issue, we'd all be using Macs.

    How do you install MS Office on MS Windows? (The simplified version)

    1. Search for an online vendor, choose one

    2. Look at the licensing options.

    3. Spend an hour or two figuring out the best and cheapest out of a dozen or so licensing options.

    4. Get out your credit card.

    5. Purchase from online store (a multi-step process in itself).

    6. Wait for a couple of days.

    7. Open box, insert disk.

    8. Install software.

    9. Enter 365-digit "license key" to "activate" the software (should Microsoft deign to allow it.)

    10. Reboot

    11. Go out and earn the $500+ that Visa is gonna bill you next month.

    12. Use software

    How to install OpenOffice on Linux? (In full)

    1. Type "yum install openoffice"

    2. Use software.

    Windows: 12 steps (at least!), 2 days

    Linux: 2 steps, half an hour.

    Now tell me again how Linux suffers from poor useability.

    The REAL barrier is the sales channel. Getting them to sell Linux devices

    would involve CHANGE and they don't like that. Channel sales people are bottom feeders, they won't put any effort in. If they can't find the SKU inside a minute, they won't bother.

    Stay on the path, follow the crowd, don't stand out, don't make waves.

    Should they sell Windows and the standard add-ons at 10% margin?

    Or should they sell Linux and make 100% margin on helpdesk and services?

    Oh, no. That's too hard. They'll stick with the 10% they know. W*nkers.

    Windows is NOT easier to use, it's just more familiar.

    Now bugger aff and gie us peace.

    Joke Alert? The channel is a joke.

  15. Svantevid


    "For Linux, the only way you'll get an average end-user to accept your product is to make it "turnkey" simple: turnkey as in you turn it on and it goes with no intervention on the user's part"

    From the perspective of someone who had to install Windows and Ubuntu OSs, Ubuntu is easier to install and maintain/upgrade... everything the average user needs is already there, and there's a centralized update that covers every one of your programs. As a bonus, I don't have to restart my PC every time I download an update, an XP "feature" which for some reason seriously bothers me. I don't see how it could get any simpler than that, barring the OS that can read users' minds.

  16. Simpson

    Linux Therapy

    You come in here every few months and say that you want to make more friends. You say that you want everyone to like you and get along with you. Every few months, you say that you are ready. That you have changed.

    But it is always the same result.

    You go to the party and you expect everyone to love you, just because you are there. If they don't tell you how great you are, you get angry and start calling people names, knock things over, cause a scene, and storm out.

    Then you come in here and start complaining on how bad they treated you, and say you are never going back. But if they don't invite you to their parties, you complain about that too. Then call the host and ask if you can go to the party.

    Why do you keep doing this?

    When you went to Joe's party, you refused to play any games with his kids. Not even monopoly. You kept insisting to play linopoly, but they didn't know what that was, because you just made it up yesterday. When Joe asked what the problem was, you started screaming "JOE SIX PACK", "JOE SIX PACK" and "YOU'RE KIDS ARE DUMB". This sort of behavior doesn't help you. Why would he invite you back to his house?

    When none of the guests at Mr. WalMart's party would talk to you, you got on the microphone and said "You are all mouth breathers. I'm out", and left the party. This sort of behavior doesn't help you.

    You always tell me what great friends you are with Mr. R.P.M. and Mr. D.E.B. But just the other day, Mr. R.P.M. was in here and he said that he saw you and Mr. D.E.B. out together. He went over to say hi, but you pretended you didn't even know him... You told him that you didn't remember him... That you might know him through Mr. Package, but that you wouldn't even talk to him if Mr. Package wasn't at the table with you and Mr. D.E.B. That's just crazy.

    You need to introduce your friends to each other and get along, you can't just focus on the person you came with. That sort of behavior angers and confuses the people around you.

    And that one popular girl.. You know the one. The one that used to pretend that you didn't exist. You need to get over her. You guys have a lot of the same friends. These new people you want to meet, they all know her. You can't force your new friends to pick sides. If you try to, they will pick her. You may think she is a shallow slut, but she is popular. While you my friend, are an arrogant, prick.

    You have a choice to make.

    If you want to get along with everyone, you need to change. You can't keep calling everyone dumb and expect them to change to fit your needs, people just don't like that. You will need to change to fit everyone.

    If this will not work for you, stop trying to be someone you are not. Stop worrying about all the people who don't like you. Stop being angry at them and calling them dumb. Accept who you are, and try to enjoy the friends that you already have.

  17. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Oh, and hey.

    I wasn't even thinking here. See my last post. Here's the quote I'm replying to:

    "From a general operating system perspective - there's still a lot of packages to download. That's not something you are going to see my mom use," Mann said bluntly. "Until it gets to the point where it's drop-dead simple or devices lock down functionality, you aren't going to see much uptake among consumers."

    Pick, say, Dell, OK? Multi-million dollar company. You order a system with Windows, they send you a blank computer and a Windows install disc, right?


    They probably have a special DEPARTMENT of people who spend all their time generating installed Windows images, generating recovery discs, checking to make sure all the drivers work, and so on. (Not saying they don't make mistakes, just suggesting that somebody is doing that as their job. Full-time. Probably several somebodies.)

    OK, let's assume for a moment that some company (like Dell) gets serious about Linux. Are they going to hand you a blank computer and an install disc? No, they're going to pre-install Linux for you. All those packages that Mann bluntly said you have to download? Well, like what? Give me an example.

    There's no reason Dell can't generate install images for Linux that includes all the functionality of a Windows machine, including a virus scanner and a firewall if you really want. (Oh, and, um, a free Office suite.)

    Why assume that Dell MUST only ship the default install, and that it will require massive package downloads? Oh, patches, yeah. But Windows needs that too, so there's no difference there.

    (I just installed ClamAV. I admit that it took an extra click and typing in my password more than I said in my last post. Mea culpa. But it took about 30 seconds to start the install. And that's on a REALLY slow old laptop.)

    So: assuming Mom is your average user, she needs web, e-mail, maybe IM, maybe Office, maybe a printer, maybe a reader for PDF files. OK, the printers are tricky, though God knows why, but that's a rant for another time. So load it up with installed drivers for all the printers you're currently selling.

    It's NOT THAT HARD, people. I really wish people would stop assuming that Microsoft somehow has a monopoly on usability.

  18. Nexox Enigma

    HP / Suse experience

    I got one of those HP mininotes recently, and I let it take me through the Suse out of box experience. I was rather surprised that they hadn't actually set up the OS for the device - I had to select screen resolution and all sorts of technical stuff. Not that I minded, since after I grabbed the useful-looking config files I reformatted and installed Slackware, but I can see how this could confuse some people.

    And it isn't exactly difficult to make a Linux image thats at least partially pre-configured for each type of machine you sell. Seems like an obvious thing to do, really. Then again the HP guys said that they fully expected people to install their own distro as soon as they got the notebook.

  19. Herby Silver badge

    We should all contribute to a Linux AD campaign

    Lots of Linux users, each front $1.00 towards a BIG media (TV) campaign. Better than those "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" sillyness (even if they are true to some extent).

  20. Darryl

    Nice to see they're not just copying Windows anymore

    That screenshot looks like a pretty faithful OS-X rip-off. Do the icons on the 'dock' bounce up and down too?

  21. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Plenty of time

    "too many packages to download" on a pre-installed Linux box? Amanfrommars is more coherent.

    For years, manufacturers would not pre-install linux. Now that there reviews of Linux machines, distributors will not sell them. So what if it takes another few years for distributors to give Linux machines an equal place on their websites. The market will still be there and Microsoft will still be losing market capitalisation.

    @Charles: End users do not want a giant product library. They may want a few specific things and get pushed into Windows because of one of them. If someone wanted a really enormous software library, they would use Linux. As the article says: there are too many packages to download. Even Microsoft have caught on to the fact that people are not making enough software for Vista for them to claim there is a giant product library - hence all the news that Microsoft are failing to get free software programmers to develop for Vista.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Half right...

    Maybe not on but I've just come home with a new Linux Acer Aspire One that I bought in the shop itself. :-)

    (Having said that I'm about to spend a diverting afternoon putting Ubuntu on it anyway, which I suppose is partly the problem...)

  23. Stan

    Depends on the point of view

    He is right, things are moving very quickly at the mo and open source has to do it's best to keep up but there are a few other points that have a big influence on the issue.

    Windows Calculator Edition (or whatever it's called now) is the best thing they have for small devices and it just doesn't cut it. MS will already have a system in development for lower powered devices but even if they rush it out of the door its not going to be here any time this year and it will be a beta at best judging by any of their other recent releases.

    Big names are involved now. Steve harping on about the 300 unidentified patents means sweet FA when it's the responsibility of the supplier and the supplier is dell, HP, IBM etc. Now these folks are involved hardware manufacturers can no longer ignore linux as it is most definitely mainstream now and has a clear and well defined set of sales figures to state just how much business they are loosing by ignoring it. ATI and nvidia are already getting into a pissing contest over who loves linux more and this is only the start of it.

    Software companies are under no illusions that MS will be king until hell freezes over and most major names have made it clear they are getting ready for an emerging market. Even games companies are paying attention, notice how many new titles "just work (tm)" with wine? Almost as though they have included it in their test process.

    The biggest potential threat isn't MS, it's apple. The devices are changing and so is the way we use them and apple does know a thing or two about making nice interfaces. If apple where to widen it's target market a few notches lower then they could really clean up and leave open source more or less dead in the water, plus they have already been saber rattling about their new ultra-portable so there is a good chance system is more or less ready.

    Either ways MS has already dropped the ball with that godawfull thing called vista, by the time they come up with something usefull and modern that can run on low powered hardware they will be lucky if they can even see the ball any more. The ironic part is Bill Gates actually got this one right when he predicted a rise in tablet PC's yet MS are the ones left behind.

  24. marc

    Not enough money in it

    Unlike Windows, Linux doesn't require £100 worth of add-on software to get up and running. Retailers rely on this to stay in business.

    Also consumers don't mind paying for software. Being able to walk into a shop or order a piece of boxed software and a manual , something that you know will work (because you have Windows version 'X') is much better than using some obscure command (aptget) to install some piece of half-baked ammature software (let's face it, a lot of it is..!) that might or might not work, and may not be compatible with your work PC. Apart from Mozilla and Netbeans, I can't think of much open source that rivals proprietary alternatives. Open Office is certainly not as good as MS Office.

    Despite it's flaws, Windows works and it's a defacto. This is better than 30% of people using Mac, 40% using Windows and the other 30% using various Linux distributions.

    Companies don't mind paying either. Even £30 grand a year for all their software that they know will work. For them it's like an employee that works 365 days a year, and never phones in sick. Bargain.

  25. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Who cares?

    I don't care if "Linux dominates the desktop" or "Linux dominates the PDA/subnotebook" as it certainly dominates my desktop and my Nokia N800.

    I use Linux exclusively at work at home because I Need To Get Shit Done and Windows always craps out when I depend on it.

    I honestly don't give a damn if anyone else uses Linux, or Windows, or Mac or whatever.

  26. Volker Hett
    Gates Horns

    If I could lay my hands on a Linux Netbook ...

    I'd buy it, but here they have only Windows equipped ones.

    Billy because he's behind it

  27. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    Product library: You're right. This is the MAJOR reason Windows isn't just dead by now -- it's simple inertia. "All" software's made for Windows, so people keep getting Windows; people get Windows, so "all" software is made for Windows.

    As for Linux needing to be made more turnkey, this problem is more perception than reality. Take an Ubuntu install, or several other modern and complete distros*, and stuff plugs in and just works MUCH more frequently than under Windows. You don't even need to pop in a driver CD! As new hardware comes out, regular distro updates make that hardware also out-of-the-box supported. But, people read about the horror stories*2 where stuff DOESN'T work, assume that's normal, and conveniently overlook the horror stories of Windows setups gone wrong.

    I've installed 1000's of copies of Ubuntu (7.04, 7.10, 8.04, and now 8.04.1, now using an automated network install, except on the few boxes that are too old to netboot, then I use a CD.) What didn't work out of the box? 1) Machines below the minimums -- just don't bother if you have a below a PII, or a machine you can't get 192MB into. It'll be too slow. Xubuntu *might* work. 2) Dell Optiplex GX1P and similarly old Dells, have a Crystal Sound 4236 sound card. cs_4236 has to be put in /etc/modules, it's a non plug'n'play ISA sound chip so it just isn't detected; when told to load the driver, it does work. *THAT'S IT*. We've had P2, P3, P4, Xeons, Dual Cores, all fine; ethernet? Broadcom 100 and gig, Intel 100 and gig, 3com cards, SiS, Via Rhine, NE2000 clones, Realtek, certainly others, no problems. Video? ATI, NVidia, S3, Via, Matrox, some Number Nines, Cirrus Logic, certainly some other oddballs, no sweat. Sound? The CS_4236 has to be manually set, but EMU10Ks, Soundblasters, the onboard Intel, NVidia, ATI, SiS, Via, basically all of them, all work fine. Firewire, USB, scanners, printers, webcams -- in the interest of full disclosure, I couldn't plug all 4 webcams in at once, two of them didn't seem to get along with each other. Wireless went from CRAP support in 7.10 to being almost 100% in 8.04.1 (ndiswrapper works for the rest.)

    Windows? Heh. Plug it in some generic Dell that has Intel 810, let alone a 915... 16 color VGA. No ethernet support, either for Intel 100mbit or gigabit. No sound. No support for Broadcom ethernet either. Plug in a 3com ethernet card so it can get online -- oh, nice, the "search for drivers online" doesn't find any! Fancier machines? No SATA, no Firewire, no Bluetooth. Of course now, with the newest machines, the hardware vendors have been pushed into not even supplying XP drivers, for people who are ditching Vista (and not just ditching Windows entirely). And, as a bonus, get the drivers for one machine, and they won't work on another model with an identical chipset! Ouch.

    *"Complete distros" meaning ones that aim for ease of use. Gentoo, for instance, it won't do a thing when you plug in some USB printer or whatever -- that's up to the user. I love gentoo, but I would NOT just give someone a gentoo setup and say "have at it". I've been churning out 1000's of Ubuntu installs where I work, and they just work out of the box.

    *2 Usually wireless hardware. Which, can work with ndiswrapper if it doesn't go out of the box. I don't expect some random person to be able to setup ndiswrapper. But, it's easy and convenient for Windows fans to forget, "some random person" usually can't get new kit going under Windows either if it's any harder than "pop in the CD. You're done!"

  28. Allan Rutland

    Very right

    Have been selling Eee's ourselves, and ok...nice bits of kit and all that. And for the simple note taking and web use utterly brillient. But Joe public do have a tendancy to cringe away from what they do not know. Everyone slightly techy who plays with one, loves it, yet Joe public it's a big scary new world which most shy away from.

    The second problem is one which the Linux community wouldn't want to solve though, and that is one of uniformity. Show Joe public two different netbooks and they get utterly lost as why aren't they both the same OS. For Joe public who gets utterly confused on something as simple as a USB flash drive, all the different distro's is yet another confusing factor. Until (if) the day the different distro's can come together to make one common uniform release (can't see it ever occur) the variety will be one of the factors which limits Joe publics take up.

  29. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    I'm a litte confused

    "From a general operating system perspective - there's still a lot of packages to download. That's not something you are going to see my mom use," Mann said bluntly. "Until it gets to the point where it's drop-dead simple or devices lock down functionality, you aren't going to see much uptake among consumers."

    Let's see. Suppose I've gone completely insane and want to replace, say, Lookout Excess with an E-mail client that, say, doesn't go looking for ways to infect the machine. Simple, yes? Just Google for E-mail programs and sort through the crap until I find one that's a) free and b) does what I want. (Note: last time I did that, there was no such thing. I ended up buying a copy of Pocomail.)

    Then I run around looking for their download page -- usually simple, but not always, depending -- download the thing. Then go through the install process.

    OK, not that hard.

    OK, let's check that function in Ubuntu. I pick Ubuntu because I'm reasonably familiar with it and it's probably the most popular at the moment. Well, let's see... first of all, it ships with an E-mail client already, but so does Windows. IIRC it's Evolution. But I don't like Evolution. So I click Applications, Add/Remove, type "mail client" into the search box, and a few seconds later I have a list. I have to read the descriptions and maybe do a little research if that's not enough, but I have a list of e-mail clients to work from. Now I happen to like Claws Mail, having already spent some time doing the research, so I tick the check box and click "Apply Changes". Voila, in a few minutes I have my mail client installed.

    It's actually rather convenient to use the repository. But apparently his mom finds it easier to search on the 'web.

    Of course, maybe I don't like any of the choices in the repository, in which case I need to -- dare I suggest it? -- search the 'web, so maybe I'm no better off. But Windows doesn't give you the choice.

    And chances are Mom would rather stick with Outlook, and Sonny there isn't going to rock the boat by, say, installing something less vulnerable. But you see my point -- an awful lot of the programs you are likely to want or need are a few clicks away and can be installed automatically.

    And Ubuntu comes with an E-mail client, web client, office suite, games, calendar, and so on by default. Does Windows come with all that? Well, mostly, except the office suite. You either have to pay for Microsoft Office or download OpenOffice (or StarOffice) and install them yourself.

    But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, he's not important.

    For your average "Mom" user, once installed competently, a modern desktop Linux should be as easy to use as Windows. Admittedly if you want something not available via the repository you may have to do some work to install it, whereas Windows installers are usually pretty straightforward.

    So it's going to depend a lot on a lot of factors. But I object to the assertion that a) if you run a new Linux install you automatically have to install a lot of packages (which ones?) and b) the implied assertion that it's easier to do in Windows, all the time.

    Updates and patches? Nearly automatic in Ubuntu. It tells you when there are updates ready. One click to start the updater, another to apply changes, a third time to shut it down when it's finished, and the only time you have to reboot is if it's something like a kernel patch. Windows? I don't know about Vista, but I always have to spend several minutes of my first XP install setting up the Automatic Updates, Firewall, and Virus scanner settings, along with setting the thing up not to keep pestering me if I don't have them set the way Microsoft thinks I should. Fortunately I've done it enough times to be able to go through it quickly, but will Mom know how to do that? Ubuntu comes installed with the updater already set up the way I like it. Let me know when updates are available, and let me decide when I want to apply them.

    It's not as one-sided as it used to be, pal. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  30. Pete "oranges" B.

    Am I the only one...

    ... who cannot resist pronouncing "gOS" like "DOS" rather than "gee - oh - es"?

  31. Goat Jam
    Gates Horns

    Linux has no chance

    While Microsoft is PAYING vendors to ship Windows in preference to Linux

    Microsoft truly are an evil empire.

  32. Cavehomme

    My PC clueless wife loves Ubuntu

    Well, not to be sexist in any way whatsoever, but my wife despite her relatively young years never somehow got to grips with PCs or using them. A few years ago she learned how to use Outlook Express, also firefox, then more recently Skype. She could never work out how to print things, save, etc etc. A fear of computing probably, for whatever reasons.

    Well, after several problems with XP SP3 completely f**** things up on my network and making XP home and XP prfessional not play with each other (a bad attempt by Microshaft to get punters to upgrade to Vista), and decided to stop arsing around and set up a dual boot with Ubuntu 8.04 on it, as default.

    Well it's like she suddenly discovered America. She loves the simplicity, logicality and aesthetics of Ubuntu. Whilst I hate brown, I must admit she is completely right, and more importantly for me to support Ubuntu my work is an ABSOLUTE minimum compared to frigging around endlessly with XP and all the crapware and so-called security packages (of which you need half a dozen to keep you reasonably secure).

    Whilst Ubuntu is not brilliant, it certainly is massively competent, and is much easier than MS to work with and support for 80% of things. And that's what it really comes down to, the 80 / 20 rule. MS fails badly, Ubuntu wins clearly. 80% is all most people need, yet the arguemtn always focuses on the nerdy pointless 20% and some of you lot spend 80% of your time tossing around with that 20% crap.

    Roll on Ubuntu. Still some way to go, but certainly getting there.

  33. Cavehomme
    Thumb Up

    Linux Therapy - inspired, spot on!

    Linux Therapy - inspired, spot on!

  34. Mark


    You seem to have bipolar disorder. Your inane commenting stared off talking about Microsoft and Windows and then you burst out with some hare-brained waffle that seems to be trying to lead someone to think you were on about Linux.

    NOTES: AD is a protected secret. As such, Linux ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PLAY. Nothing to do with Linux not asking, nor Linux users asking, not even about MS Windows users demanding they be kept out. Just MS crying about is "innovation" (which seems to be "steal someone else's work and exhaust them in litigation or add bits that, although people shared with me, I'm NOT SHARING BACK").

    If you want how MS act when asked nicely if they will play, have a look at the Massachusetts IT department when they asked that MS implement a standard (as in one that anyone is allowed to implement) for Office formats. What did they do?

    a) Go home and make up one "kid-on" open spec and demand that be used

    b) Slander and libel (using works you never heard in a bible) when the state said "no, that's not a standard"

    c) Get the head of the IT department sacked

    d) Still not get their own system to work with the standard they created

  35. Mark

    Re: Very right (and on "Uniformity")

    But what *I* want as a uniform Linux is not what *you* want as a uniform Linux. The impasse is you requiring that I suck up whatever YOU decide should be there.

    And where's the uniformity in Windows?

    XP and Vista (when you include the 64-bit versions which *operate* differently) gets about 20 different versions (double for OEM whose license is different, so you need to know each).

    Add in the dozen server configurations of Vista/2003 and the older versions of still supported Windows server OS's you have what? 60-80 different versions of Windows?

    Now add in that Office doesn't look anything like Office did, that Outlook looks different from other Microsoft apps (and is again different from Outlook Express and versions from a while ago), we have NO uniformity of Windows.

    Unless you have "you don't get a say in ANY Windows uniformity" as the uniformity....

  36. Mark

    "Despite it's flaws, Windows works"

    Anyone else notice this? If it has flaws, IT DOESN'T WORK.

    OK, if you *really* know computers you can either make it work or work around the flaws.

    But if it isn't 100% working it's flawed.

    At least that seems to be the idea when it's Linux and not when it's Windows.

    PS My sister has an iTunes account and the computer has software (a LOT of software: three kids) for the kids to play on. The DRM protections means her CD will not burn music from iTunes because of these game copy protections.

    "Why should they care about me burning my music to CD's?" was her question.

    "They don't care. They definitely don't care if you can't. That's your problem from their point of view" was my response.

    But she'll put up with it because she doesn't want ANY change to the computer. She'll put up with Windows being broken and when she buys a new computer, it will have Windows on it. Why? Because under Linux she's been told it doesn't work and it's too hard and MS is just so much better. And, despite proof that Windows doesn't work, she won't change. Always hoping "next time it will work".

  37. Mark

    @Don Mitchell

    Linux has NEVER CARED about taking from microsoft. The OS was originated by Linus because he wanted a ***UNIX*** system on his 386. Not because he wanted something to replace Microsoft Windows on his 386.

    It's quite common though for people to assign to others their own faults. It means either they aren't bad (because others are no better) or it can be twisted so that YOUR problems are because of THEM and so you're just the victim.

  38. Mark

    Re: Less choice please

    And Ford Motor Cars could rule the motorcar industry if they just made the one car, rather than all this "choice" that is so confusing to users.

    What complete and utter wank.

  39. conan


    It doesn't matter how simple it is to install Linux. Consumers don't install their operating systems.

    It doesn't matter how simple it is to install open source applications. Consumer's don't install their applications.

    Linux may be easy to use; but everyone uses Windows at work, so they're familiar with it. They choose Windows because they've seen it. Linux has to be not just better than Windows, but so easy to use that someone who is comfortable with Windows finds it easier.

    And it has to have a name. "Linux" is no good - there are loads of distros. There needs to be one, whose name everybody knows, so it becomes familiar. When somebody says "Why not get a Linux PC next time?" to their neighbour, their neighbour has to say "I was thinking about that actually, I've heard they're good" like they do with Apple Macintosh computers. Then if somebody goes to a shop to buy a PC with Linux, they get sold a PC with the same Linux as everybody else they've ever met with Linux, so it's familiar.

  40. Nick H
    Thumb Down

    Lol - there you go Linux people...

    Stick your heads in the sands. Preach the same old tired crap.

    You can say what you want. You can list it. You can sing it. It doesn't matter. The reality that you choose to ignore is that out of the box, windows is easier to install and, for the most part, easier to use. The moment 'command line' becomes involved, you've lost the race. The moment you have to pick between 5 different desktops, you've lost the race.

    Understand - I'm no windows fan. And sorry, comparing the problems Mac has had vs windows doens't cut it. Mac's can say they are better and still lost to marketing/extortion, whatever. A viable consumer linux desktop is barely a toddle in the scheme of computer years - the linux communities biggest itself. One only has to read the whiny ass posts to see it.

    Conan hit the nail on the head - the distro thing is an unmitigated disaster, as far as desktop penetration goes.

    In fact, you should all print Conan's post and put it on your walls. Linux might have a chance then.

  41. vincent himpe
    Thumb Down

    Has anyone LOOKED at gOS.

    It looks like a fisher-price toy ... Its an operating system for kids. They like the oversized flashy icons. And apart from that , you can't really do anything useful with it.

    lets see here what an average person uses ( i take my dad who is almost computer illiterate as example.)

    If he were to be using linux :

    - internet browsing - works (he uses opera which is cross platform)

    - write a word document - That would be a no. There is openoffice but that is 'broken'. It cant evenr ead office2007 files.

    - make an excel spreadsheet - no again (see above)

    - print to his all in one HP printer - sorry no drivers for loonix

    - scan and fax with his all in one - no again no drivers.

    - Arrange his photos with Photoshop Elements - no again (photoshop doesnt run on loonix)

    - sync his smartphone (gps/phone from htc) to the pc - no again

    So out of 7 things he does daily or weekly , only one works .... if Linux is the solution , i want the problem back !

    Linux is a 'closet' operating systen :

    - it eather sits in a closet as a server ( for which it is excellent by the way ! )

    - it is glorified by pale skinned , pmply faced kids that hack away at it . They live in what can be described as a 'closet' and never even come in the real world.

    As long as the linux community can't get their sh!t together, and :

    - Make a distro that 'feels' like 'wind-woes' ( from a user perspective , minus all the crashes and security holes)

    - Get rid of 200 different distos each with their own quircks

    - Make a unified self deploying installer that works on ALL distros (right now it is horrendous. this installer only works on that distro , this thing requires this and that as prerequisite , which sometimes break other installed programs , because now they need updating too.)

    - Stop bickering about vi vs emacs and gnome vs kde in all the forums and blogs, and go write some usefull applications instead of half finished junk like the Gimp ( Oh and please , hire someone to come up with real names. It's 2008 for crying out loud ! 4 letter program names that are abbreviations, and command lines went the way of the dinosaur ... )

    - Get some serious software companies on board to write applications (like adobe and microsoft [yes even them ! Microsoft has office for Mac , so they could easily do it for linux] )

    If the above can't be done i fear it will remain a closet operating system. Which would be a shame. It's got potential , but t is being held back because of all the inside fighting. And here is a final hint ( aimed At Shuttleworth, who last week or so, caled for yet another graphics desktop ) STOP MAKING MORE GUI's ! We dont; need 400 different graphics desktops and 5 bazillion colour scemes. What we need is working applications !

  42. P. Lee Silver badge

    netbook vs pc

    Most of the arguments here miss the point. People buying netbooks accept limited functionality and a high price in return for a small size unit and style. Similar to those who buy Mac's - there are limited numbers of games and apps, but users are happy with the ones that are there and "just work". These are not the same people who upgrade their games machine every couple of years to the highest ghz cpu & gpu on the market.

    This is where linux can shine. These units are not very upgradeable so no need to aptget xyz or recompile webcam drivers from source. Games are not high on the agenda beyond solitaire and mahjong. Its a bit of an appliance so the interface can be a different as long as its good, in the same way we don't need a "start button" and a huge list of apps on a mobile phone. As long as the apps (web, email, office productivity and pim) and os are robust and data file formats are easily exchanged there shouldn't be too much of problem.

    Given that these are probably secondary devices, cost isn't such an issue for the consumer, but it has to look good (hardware as well as software) and be a status symbol. That means your customer is really aspiring to a Mac Air, not Vista. Unless your cardboard box and hardware is as cool-looking as Apple's, you will struggle.

    Certainly there is an opportunity for linux - if that even matters. It probably isn't one for the little chap working in his garage. Its about vast sums of money being spent on hardware styling, packaging design and channel incentives. Its about branding and its the kind of thing Sony might be able to do. It really has precious little to do with the OS or the GUI and even the capabilities of the applications are not the primary factor for this market.

    Tux - a cuddly penguin _and_ a great name for a netbook.

  43. Craig McCormick

    Money talks

    M$ strikes again with its anti-competitive business practices.

    I only read up here nowadays out of interest. This industry sucks massively with innovation and common sense being stifled to meet the needs of the M$ shareholders. I've left the IT profession altogether to do a 'feel good' job and stop banging my head against the wall, supporting crap software that has better equivalents which are being stifled by the bigger boys or held back by the idiotic in-fighting within the open source community.

    It's only going to get worse. The Linux, UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems don't stand a chance against the all powerful marketing and ant-competition departments of Redmond. This, despite the Unices of the world powering some of the most mission critical systems around.

    But idiots on the desktop will always tip the balance in M$'s favour.

    IT has to be the most soul destroying industry there is.


  44. Mark

    @vincent himpe

    you complain about the name "GNU Image Manipulation Program" with a name like "vincent himpe"????


  45. Mark

    @Nick H

    "out of the box, windows is easier to install "

    You don't even have to install it!!!! It's included "out of the box".

    Now, if your computer needs a little TLC which will you do:

    a) buy a new one (no reinstallation necessary)

    b) reinstall (which is far, far, FAR worse than making a Linux install)


    Ignorant peasant.

  46. Anonymous Hero
    Thumb Down


    "And Ford Motor Cars could rule the motorcar industry if they just made the one car, rather than all this "choice" that is so confusing to users"

    Comparing the car industry to the PC desktop industry....what complete and utter wank, like comparing apples and oranges.

  47. Mark
    Gates Horns


    Well, make your argument to the idiot twonk that said that all that was needed was Linux to be "Turnkey".

    Why is "Windows" better? It doesn't look like a window to me. Is it double-glazed? It's a stupid fucking name. Change it, Ballmer!

    What? They didn't listen to me??? Well, that's EXACTLY WHY Windows Vista will NEVER take off! Stupid named products, no consideration for users and no turnkey operation!!!

  48. jim

    like being in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic

    A few months ago I bought an ASUS EEE with Xandros Linux. I was pumped about finally cutting the cord to MS. What a letdown. Absolutely zero support from ASUS, or Xandros, nothing but finger-pointing in every direction. Trying to install something new, or configure the system differently, turned out to be an enormous pain, a lengthy 'scavenger hunt' of Googleing on forums, repositories, incompatible packages, semi-defunct open-source projects, conflicting information, trial-and error...

    As soon as it's cheap and easy to do so, I'll be putting XP on this system and getting on with my life, and LInux will remain right where it's been for the last 15 years.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ He's right you know

    @Patrick O'Reilly

    "There are currently no linux based Small and Cheap PC's available on they're all the windows versions."

    Can only assume you didn't spend too much time looking. The website (and stores) both stock various linux EEEpcs, the original SCC;

  50. D

    There are at least 100* more copies of Vista than Ubuntu out there

    It really is about time that the linux devotees started asking themselves why they can't give away a free product, at least to all IT professionals who "should know better".

    All I want is a stable OS that will give me browsing and applications similar to Dreamweaver and Photoshop. I tried Ubuntu, it had nothing like dreamweaver and the OS ran painfully slowly and kept hanging. I looked around for reasons why but after six hours gave up. I could have persevered, and have no doubt that if I had it would have eventually run at blinding speed. But why should I bother? I was able to reinstall XP in less than an hour and it worked just fine, I never use more than 10% of processor capacity so efficiency isn't an issue. I run thunderbird, firefox and open office as default apps, so have no aversion at all to OSS.

    I'm not interested in learning the guts of a PC operating system, any more than I'm interested in the operating system that my washing machine or playstation 3 run on, I just want to switch the bloody thing on and start working just like the washing machine and the PS3. The fact that some anoraks no doubt think that I'm "lame" for giving in so easily does not bother me in the slightest. If linux can't win people like me over it has got sod all chance of success in the open market.

    There's no reason why linux has to be so inaccessible, it's just a reflection of the mentality of the people who build it who seem to have no grasp of the needs of the average end user. Without a philosophy based around making it a turnkey solution linux is destined to remain a badge of geekiness and nothing more.


This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019