A blog for the enterprise open source community
I’m guilty of getting XP netbooks, but I run LinuxJay Lyman, April 10, 2009 @ 2:27 pm ET
I’m not sure whether folks are really hungering for more discussion or input on the Microsoft share of the netbook market, Linux share and potential, yada yada yada. However, I need to get this off of my chest. Back when I looked for and found, despite difficulty, the perfect Linux netbook for my wife, we were thrilled to open a box that was the first pre-installed Linux machine we ever purchased. Sure I have four or five other computers running various Linux distros, but those were all dual-boots, Windows wipe-offs or, as in the case of my original HP Linux notebook, a deceased Windows install. So yes, we were excited with pre-installed Linux.
However, the Acer Aspire One with Linpus Lite left something to be desired. After having written about the latest Fedora, I was disappointed in the experience from Linupus, based on a much older version of Fedora. It was far too simple and stymied, really. By the second day of ownership, my wife was clammoring for me to put on the Ubuntu, which she’s used on our numerous laptops that have the OS installed instead of or alongside Windows. We gave the Linpus a shot, but in the end we were far more anxious to try out Ubuntu on the netbook. I downloaded the Ubuntu Netbook Remix 8.04 image, copied it to a USB key and then fired it up on the A1. All of the hardware, including Webcam and wireless, worked without skipping a beat. The UNR interface, though, seemed still to be somewhat over-simplified, even for our in-house 9-year-old. Not to worry though, we switched with a click to the traditional, regular Ubuntu desktop environment and found it to perform quite well and offer much more in terms of flexibility, applications, workspaces and more.
Now to my WinXP mea-culpa. We were enjoying my wife’s netbook (notice WE when it was actually HER birthday present) so much, we were anxious to get additional machines for our daughter and for me. With prices still at around $200-$300, it seemed pretty doable, but we would have to wait awhile. Amid further frustration in finding Linux models available, I began contemplating the dreaded Microsoft tax, but also figured I should give Windows XP a try on these devices. When we were looking for an XP model for me, we found a good deal on another A1 with the larger, 16 GB solid-state hard drive (a requirement in my opinion). It was such a good deal, in fact, that we went ahead and ordered two. I kind of justified this by figuring it would at least maintain the generally agreed upon 30% Linux, 70% Windows share figures for the global netbook market.
The Windows XP netbooks, additional A1s based on our good experience, soon arrived. White for my daughter and coffee brown for me (I think I like hers better, but she won’t trade me now). They were just as shiny as the Linux version my wife had received months earlier, but there were a couple of things that were different. My wife’s Linux netbook came with a vinyl sleeve to cover the device when it was closed or packed. Mine did not. My wife’s 16GB netbook arrived with 16GB of internal, solid-state hard drive capacity. Even though it was advertised the same, mine came with 8GB internal, solid state capacity and an unused 8GB card in the netbook’s SD port. It’s worth noting that my daughter, a lifetime multi-OS user, had no interest in test-driving Windows XP, but instead wanted Ubuntu on her netbook ASAP.
I, however, wanted to test-drive XP on the A1. It started with some weird, ’90s video game music that was reminiscent of our WebTV device (it was still fun). I registered my WinXP netbook, declined the auto updates and waited for the software to install. Once it booted, WinXP on the A1 had a sluggish mouse. Unlike the Linpus or Ubuntu experiences, it came at me with options for camera, toolbar and search engine software as I tried to play around. The wireless worked out of the box, but I was somewhat taken aback by Explorer, which I hadn’t used in years. It was OK, but like the touch-pad mouse, seemed a little slow. The main differences were a faster boot with Linux, faster browsing with Firefox on Linux, and the ability to run the vanilla Ubuntu dekstop, which provided a far more sophisticated and satisfying computing experience than Windows XP. I commonly run a browser, email client, instant-messaging and office documents in multiple workspaces on my A1 with Ubuntu. This compared to the sluggishness of multiple Explorer tabs and the inability to have multiple workspaces in Windows XP.
So while I have indeed contributed to the official Microsoft share of the U.S. netbook market, I am on record here as saying all of my netbooks, including the two Windows XP ones I got for a total of $500, now run Linux. Thus, Linux has 100% market share here, even if the official statistics don’t have it right.
Comments (11) Categories: Software