Ubuntu Confirms Linux Netbook Returns Higher than Anticipated

MSI candidly told us that Linux netbooks see a 4 times higher return rate than netbooks that are preloaded with Windows XP. The comment has attracted lots of comments and interpretations about Linux OSes on netbooks across the Net. But there was also some room for interpretation in the comment, notably what about Linux netbooks that are not made by MSI? Frankly we can understand why someone would return a Wind running SUSE (see our review of the Wind U90X). But what about other netbooks, like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 or Acer Aspire one, that contain tailored interfaces that make them easier to use? Well, when we touched base today with Gerry Carr, marketing manager at Canonical (the creator of the Ubuntu operating system) we learned that MSI’s research extends beyond its own products. See his comments below, but it seems Linux’ future on the netbook is bleaker than we thought. “We don’t know what the XP return rates are. But I will say that the return rate is above normal for netbooks that offer open-source operating systems,” Carr echoed. Carr highlighted a few reasons why Ubuntu-running netbooks are returned more often. “Unclear selling is happening, typically online. The customer will get their netbook sent to their home and they imagine to find something like a Microsoft desktop, but they see a brown Ubuntu version. They are unwilling to learn it and they were expecting to have Windows.” Carr stressed that, in these cases, it doesn’t even matter how good or bad the Linux OS is. These customers just don’t want to try something new. “We said a long time ago, we didn’t want to make a Windows clone. It has a different interface especially with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. We think it’s a better way but it’s not the same way people are used to. That unfamiliarity can take a while to learn and there is an education that has to be stressed.”

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  1. carlleigh Says:

    FUD. They bought the wrong computer. Its not surprising that they returned them.

    Hey did you hear about the old dude that went to the pharmacy and bought some pills only to return them an hour later. He was muttering Viagra not birth control, Viagra not birth control…..

  2. ModaX Says:

    I can’t believe how lazy people are. In my experience, Ubuntu laptops are easier to set up and use than vista laptops. I installed Ubuntu on my laptop 6 weeks ago, it was the very first version of any sort of non-microsoft OS I had ever tried, and I fell in love with it so much I’m now getting a brand new centrino 2 laptop preinstalled with Ubuntu. So anyway that’s my rant for today.

  3. dim Says:

    Quite strange to hear it, otherwise why so many people bought before Palms? then iPhone? – there is nothing in common with Windoze.. Just consider netbook like a big Palm with keyboard and be happy to learn just litte new staff! :-)
    Rgds,
    -dim

  4. Lawrence D'Oliveiro Says:

    Give it time. Microsoft can’t keep selling Windows XP forever.

  5. Veikko Says:

    I think the biggest reason is that people are expecting to buy a small laptop, and when they get the thing they go “Wait, what? I can’t run program X on this because it’s Linux?”.

    It’s a bit of an identity crisis. Technically they are laptops, and if you install Windows on one, you can do basically whatever you can do with a normal laptop, albeit a bit slower. But if you have Linux on it, it turns into a “netbook” that has a bunch of preinstalled programs and a very narrow variety of 3rd party programs you can add later on, if you can install any at all. The repositories aren’t exactly bulging with millions of popular and useful applications that people like to use (More like, 20 different varieties of notepad). So, people think they’re buying a laptop, but instead they get a glorified internet tablet.

    Of course if you’re familiar with Linux, you can always tinker away the lonely nights and put stuff like Wine and crossover office in it, but that’s really not what the customers want to do. It’s not about learning the “new way”, because the new way of doing stuff is worse for them and doesn’t bring any benefits over the old way. It’s just more work and more hassle for less work being done.

  6. David Mills Says:

    “We don’t know what the XP return rates are.”

    So how can you tell that Linux returns are 4 times higher.

    Also, IIRC, 80% of Asus netbooks sales are the linux version, so for a same defect rate, you would expect 4x higher returns (unless the current figures are adjusted for that of course).

    Also, what are the _real_ figures (ie not relative), if it’s 1% return vs 4% return that doesn’t ring the same tune as 20% return vs 80% return. It make a lot of difference, but both scenarios fit with the articles posted.

    These articles are full of spin, whereas there could be some real numbers underneath that are worth talking about.

  7. IanK Says:

    The reason for the higher return rate may have to do with the specs of the machine. Linux is usually included with the lower-specced, cheaper, slower machines with 512 MB of RAM and a 3-cell battery. What do you expect? Of course there’s dissatisfaction with crappy systems.

  8. Cal Says:

    And i guess why for vista they are not returning anything.

  9. Veikko Says:

    “The reason for the higher return rate may have to do with the specs of the machine. ”

    Interestingly, Windows XP clocks longer battery uptimes on EeePC:s than Xandros does, because it uses less resources and has better power management. It’s quite counterintuitive, but true. Windows XP was originally made to work adequately in machines that only had 256 megs of ram and quite feeble processors. Xandros has troubles running programs in the older 512 MB Eee because it’s hogging up most of the ram and cpu.

    Linux in itself doesn’t automatically mean that the system runs well on low specs machines, because you have to specify which distro and which options and what is included. For example, if you decide to run your user interface as a java application in Firefox 2, of course it’s going to eat more resources than the stock Windows desktop. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of solutions these “netbooks” have.

  10. Sascha Says:

    I thought the quotes from this MSI guy were already funny but it’s getting better.

    Well, let’s start with MSI:

    Guess how many Linux Netbooks MSI sold? 2000? 5000? maybe even 10 000?
    Wow, i love statistics that i haven’t “tuned” on my own. So and they have this awesome Suse Enterprise Desktop preinstalled.
    Congratulations MSI you just started one of the biggest global Linux bashes with no substance at all.

    Well, how about Ubuntu? I am trying to figure out what they are looking for with this statement but…..
    Again how many Netbooks can you grab in in the stores with a preinstalled Ubuntu or Netbook Remix (which is is definately not a netbook OS at all!)?
    Forget it!

    Not sure if this is a big april fool thing that missed the right schedule or whatever….
    Again, the quotes from this MSI guy about some internal stats are just hilarious. Asking this guy about feedback from Linux customers is like asking Sarah Palin about her foreign experiences (Well, i know that she can see Russia from Alaska ;) )

  11. Vexorian Says:

    Sascha it will be useful if next time you actually get informed before posting shit up, thanks.

  12. Andy MJ Says:

    You cannot compare the MSI product to the ASUS Eee PC phenomenon, at the moment. If they are selling the MSI netbooks with SUSE, without a tailored OS like the ASUS EeePC, then I could see the problem. I’ve seen these netbooks promoted in Staples, and Besy Buy. The retailers know nothing and the end-user just sees a cheap price, without understanding what they need the device for. At some point the OS will not matter. However, this will take some time and we are not totally there yes. Yes, people are not ready to totally understand Linux, but this is changing (just very slow). I’ve used many Linux distros, and my kids have no problems understanding how to use it. However, who are they marketing the devices to? Where is the targeted marketing efforts from Dell, HP, etc…

  13. Jason Says:

    Why don’t they use a better distro for these things like TinyMe or even Xubuntu? Also are any of the “easy interfaces” open source yet? I’ve got TinyMe running on a P4 1.4Ghz with 128MB RAM which means it would run quite well on one of these netbooks especially if they include the proprietary codecs.

  14. asdf Says:

    http://ubuntu-virginia.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=869249

  15. Northernfrog Says:

    Well , i think there are many points . Why are underpowered netbooks loaded with linux while the fullpowered com e with xp . Give’s wrong message immediatly . Second are codecs , are they included , probly not . Most people unfamiliar with linux will only click and expect it to work . They will have no patience to learn when the first thing they want is to play . It’s like buying a motorcycle , first one wants is to ride and then learn after . Would one like to have to learn how to set up the bike first , really , first i’ll need to install the spark plug , next put on tires , then assemble brakes , put the chain on …..etc. NO I DO NOT.
    Also with the biggest market being the USA , creates a problem . Most people in the USA are affraid of the Microsoft wrath of copywrite infringement . Almost all distro come with warning if one resides in the USA about copywrite infringement which after all lawsuites on music piratcy i believe scares most away . If these points are delt with , then Linux will thrieve ! Anyway thats my opinion .

  16. sk43999 Says:

    >>“Wait, what? I can’t run program X on this because it’s Linux?”.<<

    Many years ago I wanted to run a program called “X”, and the only OS that it DID run on was Linux. Still running X today.

  17. Chris Lees Says:

    sk43999, I appreciate the joke, but X also runs on Unix and Mac OS X :-D

  18. ger Says:

    Chris Lees: Although OT, you left out Cygwin/X. Yes, X really does run on Microsoft Windows.

  19. Linuxgoodness Says:

    Just publish package prices instore and online for winds with linux and a complete app suite installed vs winds with just XP and ad supported works(i’m assuming they’ll come with some such crap or a demo of office), then give options with prices(even OEM prices) of various versions of office and other application software factored in, suddenly people might start to look more seriously at using the linux versions considering the value for money compared to a winxp one.

  20. Bernard Says:

    I got an Acer Aspire One 6 weeks ago. I’m 99% happy with it. Really light, yet I can run Opera, Skype, and Lotus Notes on it (Notes 8 works perfectly under WINE). The only problem I’ve had with it is my IDE crashes on it all the time (but then again, it crashes all the time on Windows too). Like so many others have said, without further details these statistics are not statistics, just numbers. The day I bought mine, the only other people buying anything in the store were also buying a linux AA1. The next week the store had gone from selling 2 brands of netbook to selling 8 brands (mostly linux). The aspireoneuserforum.com site has 7k Linux posts vs. 2K XP posts. One of the major problems on the AA1 had a software fix from the Linux users in a matter of weeks; some weeks later a Windows user posted a Windows solution, but refused to share the code (so who’s to say he didn’t just copy the GPL code…). Getting from the simplified UI provided by Acer was a couple of clicks and editing a couple of lines in a file. By my benchmarks my 1.6ghz 512mb ram AA1 is running as fast as my dual core 1.7ghz 1gb ram Vista laptop. What’s not to be happy about it. Secure enough to use on any wlan, and light enough that I can’t notice it in my bag.

  21. DMG46664 Says:

    I think Ubuntu’s strategy is flawed. Just like they release Ubuntu and Kubuntu, they should release a windows clone look and feel. There is no technical reason why both can’t be included initially on the notebook and when customers who aren’t prepared to learn a new interface phone up technical support they can be instructed on how to get the interface they are familiar with. This insistence of open-source zealots to do things their own way is an absolute pain, which you can see in other products such as gimp refusing to have default userinterfaces that look like photoshop. (forcing knowledgeable users to use branched versions like gimpshop). Building software that can present itself differently to different users (preferably dynamically) is part of the tenants of good design!

  22. budi Says:

    Can anyone tell me why Asus EEEPC has no such problem and became a spark in the netbook explosion. i think it’s the interface look and feel, not because it is linux. Xandros in Asus EEEPC is just pretty and very easy to use, that’s why it is very successfull. So, it’s the product’s software design. Think like an ordinary user who sees it for the first time for something that is completely new in almost every aspect and it comes in brown or other poorly designed interface (remember, Mac and MS have pretty interface). So what do you think? Linux zealots and coders won’t be able to understand this. You right, linux is very powerful OS, but it is butt-ugly from time to time. MS understand this, so do Mac, and that’s why they have bigger market share. As for linux, mostly it is free, you don’t have to pay a dime for it, secure and powerful, power the internet, and people return it.

  23. RudgeTech Says:

    I have to chime in here. Linux is not Windows. Why should it try to look like, act like, or do what Widows does? It is Linux. It does what it does better, looks better, and acts better than Windows. If you buy a new phone, you have to get used to the new features of your new phone. If you get a better OS you have to learn the new features of your new OS.

  24. Victor Restless Says:

    Linux is a modern tragedy. The supporters are all good guys, but like many other good guys, they are misguided by their refusal to compromise.
    Linux could be, and perhaps, should be, the majority choice of OS.
    Instead it is a deliberately obtuse system, for people who want to be ‘different’, for some reason that we dont care about.

    Mac OS X is everything that Linux might have been, but its too late. With OS X running on Intel, who the hell needs the appalling pain and fuss of Linux?

    Linux – the OS for those who have nothing better to do than f**k about with Linux.
    As I say, a modern tragedy.

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda…..didnt.

  25. SPM Says:

    MSI has high returns because its Linux distribution is a poorly supported cobbled together distribution. The two leading netbook suppliers ASUS and Acer properly support their Linux preloaded distributions and they report roughly similar return rates for their Linux and Windows netbooks.
    http://ostatic.com/blog/asus-ceo-says-linux-netbook-returns-on-par-with-windows

    ASUS also sells similar numbers of Linux and Windows netbooks, and in total, Linux preloaded netbooks account for 30% of total netbook sales. Both the MSI and Acer Linux distros are easier to use than Windows and require far less maintenance (eg far more stable, no anti-virus or anti malware updates, tap F9 on boot to restore to factory settings). Linux only becomes complex if you try to install another distribution (so does Windows for that matter if you try to install say Vista on a laptop purchased with XP).

    MSI has similar spec and price, but only 5.7% of market share compared with about 70% shared between ASUS and Acer. There must be a good reason for this.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2008/dec/10/acer-asus-netbooks

  26. Chippy Says:

    Mac OS X is everything that Linux might have been, but its too late

    FYI Mac os is Unix with a KDE frontend, Linux is actually almost a unix clone. The unix people have been trying to sue the hell out the the guy that coded linux. I’d like to also add that I have somewhere around 17 pcs running in my house most of them Ubuntu and a few windoze box’s and amazingly enough all my linux machines not only look and run better they do not crash like all my windoze box’s do. Also I do spend most of my F**king with my systems but it is not out of necessity it’s for the fun of it. I’ve gotten most of my friends and family hooked on ubuntu due to the fact that it is way easier to use and they are tired of massive virus infestations and the large instability of all of microsofts products. As for mac os and unix I’d own a mac if i could afford one there for I do the next best thing I buy powerful machines and run linux. All of the major manufacturers are disgusted with Microsoft and are seeking linux alternatives within the next few years all systems with an asus motherboard in them will have a dedicated linux boot rom like the old risc os machines. Microsoft had there run they got greedy and sloppy and the times they are a changin!!!

  27. MS Says:

    STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

    Forget the Microsoft PR from paid shills, just look about what Microsoft execs say in private about Linux (note – this is not heresay, this is verified documentation presented in court). Source – Microsoft documents presented in the Comes vs Microsoft case:

    1) Microsoft states several times that their products are seriously lacking in various aspects and Linux is fully capable of filling that gap.

    2) Yes, Microsoft says “Linux is easy”! So, don’t take my word for it; ask the “experts”!

    3) Microsoft acknowledges that Windows has a serious security problem, unlike Solaris or Linux systems. In the same sentence they also debunk the myth that Windows problems are solely due to their marketshare.

    4) Some other quotes from Microsoft:
    My conclusion: We are not on a path to win against Linux We must change some things and we must do
    it immediately.

    I have more and more clients asking me about it.

    Is it something to worry about? I believe so.

    We feel a huge threat from Linux.

    I am scared.

    http://thebeezspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/01/microsoft-debunks-linux-myths.html

    Microsoft has reason to be worried – Linux netbooks are seriously impacting on the company’s share price and revenue. This is partly due to Linux which has about 30% to 40% of the netbook market, and partly due to Microsoft cutting its royalties to virtually zero or even subsidizing Windows on netbooks to try to keep Linux out. This is out of fear that should people actually try out OEM preloaded Linux on netbooks on any large scale, they will also adopt it widely on the desktop.

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/microsoft_layoffs_netbooks_sales_are_killing_us

  28. WT Says:

    Folks, we are the exceptions……. Like one of the posting said, we don’t buy cars to fix it up. Most people just want to buy a laptop and use it….. repeat….. USE not FIX. They can’t even figure out how to edit a text file….. I believe those who actually purchase a laptop do not even think of copyright or legal stuff……. I don’t think about any copyright issue with the ABS in my car……..

  29. Listen to WT Says:

    People have all kinds of needs for their PCs. Gamers want to use windows…. casual people want to user an OS that is compatible with all the software they see in stores… people also like sticking with what is familiar to them, *especially* if they are *not* very vested in the subject.

    As a CS grad I say this… for people who UNDERSTAND and VALUE the strengths of *nix, they see it as the superior OS. For those who do not know, or value commercial strengths over security/performance/etc, Windows is the current way to go.

  30. nc10 buyer Says:

    It’s an ease of use issue for me.

    I just purchased a Samsung nc10 that came preinstalled with xp. I had intended to install ubuntu’s netbook mix on the machine until I learned that suspend/resume isn’t supported. Aw shit Ma, I can’t dance! Started looking around at other distros but it wasn’t clear whether they support suspend or not. Don’t want to go to the trouble of installing the distro only to find that it doesn’t.

    For me, the whole point of a netbook is to be able to turn it on and use it 5 seconds later. Not 10, not 20, but 5. Right now, with no poking around.

    The software I use runs on linux so that’s not a big deal for me. I just want to be able to turn it on and use it right away. So for me, I’ll wait until ubuntu figures out why suspend/resume doesn’t work on the nc10.

  31. OSFencing Says:

    Interesting debate. Linux vs Windows, reminds me of the Mac vs windows debates; very heated. In this debate, like any other, statistics can always be skewed in favour of the side presenting the argument (as the saying goes; “there’s lies, damn lies and statistics”). I can’t say I’m a great Microsoft fan and welcome any alternatives that give users choice. But this is not because I’m against MS, but because I don’t want any one company/organisation being the monopoly (although it’s funny that people complain Microsoft only gives them one choice (including myself), yet people also complain they don’t know which distro of Linux to use because there’s too many to choose from (I have also been guilty of this in the past). I must concede, the ‘one choice’ MS Windows has resulted in a wide choice of compatible applications and hardware drivers).

    I use Vista business on a daily basis at work and am quite happy with it (my laptop is beefy enough to cope with it). I have Ubuntu installed at home and am quite happy with that also (I was very impressed recently when I reformatted and installed ubuntu 9.04 as everything just worked straight off (just had to activate NVidia drivers – not difficult)). Having said this, having used Windows longer, I am very familiar with it and can quickly sort problems, where as, Linux takes me time to find solutions and sort problems. But as I said, I am more familiar with windows, so that makes sense.

    In the race? between Mac, Linux and windows, I can’t say Linux is there yet. There still seem to be problems that require the command prompt (or terminal if you like) to solve. Having said this, Linux has come a very long way in a relatively short time. Then again, when you look at OSX (BSD derived OS), how come Apple have taken a Unix based OS and made it into a very popular, useable and friendly OS, where as Linux distributions still seem to have some way to go? Budget? Marketing? People also say that Linux is too far removed from windows to be easy to learn. Yet OSX is almost at the other end of the spectrum and yet people don’t complain about that being hard to learn (coming from a Windows background, I found OSX harder to adapt to than I ever did Linux).

    I do believe people buy netbooks thinking they will be at least as powerful as a laptop and are then disappointed with the reality, regardless of the OS running on it. I also believe that people will expect things to work like Windows and find Netbook based Linux distros ‘not the same’ which adds to the disappointment. Has there been any tests between various Linux distros vs XP running on certain netbooks? It may be difficult to assess usability, but speed of operation can be measured.

    Bottom line is that Linux will become more popular, although I don’t think Linux will ever overtake windows or OSX in the popularity stakes. Linux does have a good supportive community and has the technical resources to improve. However, it will never have the same marketing clout as Microsoft or Apple. Microsoft has a market share advantage and a VERY large budget. People wont support the underdog Linux as much as the underdog Mac because Mac has that ‘must own’ presence about it achieved through good design and marketing (and lets face it, Linux is very adaptable and can be taken in any visual/UI direction developers want. But it still, essentially, remains VERY Windows like). The biggest thing Linux has going for it is it’s free. Is that enough though?

  32. Joe Says:

    I think the problem is obvious. They’re used to XP. I’m glad I have XP as the primary system. I run Ubuntu on an external drive as something to play with and learn. I think as I become more comfortable with Linux I’ll abandon XP, but until the I’m glad I have a dual boot system. Maybe that’s how they should preload it.

  33. Alison Says:

    I have one of the few netbooks to have been sold in the UK with Ubuntu preinstalled. It is my first computer and I bought it precisely because it does NOT run Windows. I use the latter at work and I am sick of the sight of it. I also bitterly resent Microsoft’s virtual monopoly.

    As far as I am concerned, the biggest obstacle to the success of Ubuntu Linux, apart from the vested commercial interests of Microsoft, is the lack of a viable TECHNICAL SUPPORT infrastructure aimed at ordinary home users. Individual computer manufacturers cannot afford to create such an infrastructure from scratch. Canonical urgently need to develop a support infrastructure that home users could then sign up to. Internet forums etc are no substitute for a telephone helpline / live support.

  34. Douglas Says:

    I just purchased a Samsung Netbook. I am pretty frustrated by how bloated the computer is with all of the programs from Windows and Samsung. I would like to use Ubuntu – but I am not clear about a couple of things. Do I need to install Linux on the netbook before I install Ubuntu? Or is Ubuntu the OS and it just happens to be a particular flavor of the Linux OS? Also, since I don’t have a CD/DVD ROM drive for my netbook, is there a way to install Ubuntu from the internet? And if I do, will it reformat the hard-drive to wipe away all of the Window/Samsung data? Or do I need to reformat the hard drive first, then install Ubuntu? (Which would require an external CD/DVD drive. Would appreciate some guidance. Thanks.

  35. Sam   Says:

    Hi,

    You can download a live-cd from ubuntu and install linux (ubuntu is a distribution of linux, meaning there are several others (but still linux) out there) from the cd.
    If you don’t have a external cd-drive, boot up the live-cd from another computer (you can do this without changing anything on that computer, when you shut it down and remove the cd, no traces will be left behind, unless you deliberately leave them behind) and there you will find in the system menu “Usb Startup Disk Creator”. Run that, select the cd as source and than you can install your netbook off the usb-stick (or run a live version as well, which will be less performant, however).
    When booting the pc, press F12 to select the USB stick as boot up device…
    good luck !!

  36. Sam   Says:

    People generally don’t appreciate things that come for free (that’s a marketing/sales fact).
    Even not when it’s better than the thing you have to pay for.

    I’ve been running Ubuntu as an Windows System Engineer (meaning I perform maintenance task on 99.9 % Windows Clients, Servers & Networks) for over a year and a half. The advantages over Windows XP on my own laptop discovered, I would never want to switch back. Although I still wouldn’t recommend it to people that are used to working with windows or with specific windows software)
    Got my mother into using Ubuntu for surfing the web and writing documents, though :-)

  37. Stew Says:

    I am a long time Linux user. The new netbooks have not dropped below my utility device threshold purchace point yet. Is there a way I can have access to these returned netbooks as refurbished or openbox items?

    I’ve looked, I can’t find them. Maybe the article is a piece of FUD??

  38. bond Says:

    I understand that people are used to Windows, just like an old shoe. They have invested their time and money to learn Windows. Therefore, I feel it doesn’t hurt Ubuntu to make the look and feel very much like Windows. May be just to help the poor user who is otherwise faced with a steep learning curve required for understanding Linux.

    There would always be people who would hack Linux to do their fancy stuff, but for the newbies, the best approach is to keep it simple, so that they can at least take small steps instead of being intimidated by the arduous task of learning a new OS from scratch. Hence, I feel Ubuntu should go to a certain degree with the flow rather than differentiating themselves completely from Windows. I would definitely like to think of Ubuntu as a more stable version of Windows :) . Which does not crash as often and doesn’t require crappy patches, expensive antivirus software and system crashes every alternate week.

  39. tully Says:

    If netbooks would install Slackware Linux with a KDE front end using the Redmond theme, pay the $35 to the Crossover folks for their simple Wine, put Open Office and Firefox on it, and market that, I bet they’d sell fine. It would run circles around Ubuntu and XP.

  40. GreyGeek Says:

    MSI is aware that when Linux is run on their mobos using the Foxconn BIOS, the BIOS contains SEVEN different locations where Linux, if detected, is sent to bogus vector addresses, thus causing instability and crashes.

    http://ubuntu-virginia.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=869249

    and after a lot of community pressure and PUBLIC embarrassment they honed up to it:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=2292

    Tell me again why some of you think the reasons you’ve dreamed up out of thin are are better explanations for Linux netbooks returns rather than the proven fact of sabotage.

  41. Keith G Says:

    If only they would customize the Ubuntu color scheme to be blue or green, they would see the returns go down dramatically. I don’t know who decided that brown was an appealing color for a workspace on a computer, but they’re wrong, period. I always change it, because the brown is depressing and old looking.

    You may think I’m joking, but look at that Microsoft Zune that came in brown… did it sell? No! Make it a nice appealing blue or green color, and people will keep it!

  42. Carlo S Says:

    The big problem is fined with Linux is that it makes it very difficult to do some of the basic things… Like installing new programs…There is no reason that when I’m login as ADMINISTRATOR with ADMINISTRATOR privileges I should be able to do anything I want…Include screw things up..But right now I cann’t install something as simple as Opera without having to put some stupid command line script in to get passed the security… Windows for All its issues at least allows the user to do things with it…Open source or controlled by a Big Corp… I’ll take the Big Corp.. The OS is supposed to help the user and put up road blocks….Until the Linux world realizes this ,but Most linux people are Zealots so you wil fall… When the GOOGLE OS comes out there will be ONLY 3 LEFT…. WINDOWS MAC OS and GOOGLE……

  43. Patrick S Says:

    Linux will always be playing catch up on software and hardware. They have to reverse engineer nearly everything because 3rd party vendors don’t write code for them. But it’s also the fault of the Linux people, they want to keep so many flavors of it around. Another example. I installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my netbook…. no problem… but then I upgraded to Ubunty 9.04 and the sound stops working. What’s the fix? Typing in about 30 LOOONG commands into the terminal. Which then disabled the wifi from working, which is dependent on a 3rd party driver.

    I’ve been following Linux for over ten years. They always have claimed they are on the verge. But never get there. And never will.

  44. Greg Says:

    “Linux will always be playing catch up on software and hardware”. I have a stack of CDs with windows drivers rthat came with my peripherals, none were needed for ubuntu. Tho there are some devices that are unsupported, a surprising number of things work without the need to ‘add’ drivers. I have ubuntu64 at work talking to an HP network printer, no need to add a driver; the guy next to me has Window 7 64-bit and is still waiting for a driver for that printer.

    There’s other problems with windows. Even ‘preinstalled’ windows configurations don’t always have the drivers configured properly, and installing from scratch is much more difficult (usually) than installing ubuntu (in my experience, anyhow). I have an acer laptop. The preinstalled Vista claims to burn DVD-roms, but in use, it froze and destroyed the disk. Installed ubuntu on it, had no problem burning DVDs.

    When you compare (a) to (b) and point out all the problems in (b), you have to be aware of the bzillion problems in (a) which people just quietly work around every day, because if you don’t have a choice there’s no point in complaining. People sometimes talk like Windows works perfectly all the time, which is utter rubbish (try creating a file called ‘con.txt’ on various OS :-) ).

    It’s interesting the comment about ‘linux netbooks get returned because they are lower spec’. Windows has generally required ‘recent’ spec hardware, so older machines won’t support the new OS. Up to about 5 years ago, there was always a hardware reason why you wanted to upgrade a 3-year old machine: things like USB, PCI, USB2, wifi, *much* faster CPU, *much* better graphics. But not any more; today, compare a current machine to a 3-year old machine and you’ll find about the same interconnect technology, more CPU cores which are only a bit faster, more RAM and possibly a faster GPU (which has little impact on most apps).

    So, if I have a 3-year old machine which is fine for the apps I was running 3 years ago, why can’t I keep running those apps on it? In the case of Windows, the answer is, ‘because we need you to switch to W7 and your old machine won’t run W7′. It will run ubuntu, though. I recently installed ubuntu 9.10 on an Eee 901 PC (4G drive, 512 M ram), this is a netbook which was discontinued basically because it didn’t run XP properly at that spec, and it runs ubuntu 9.10 just fine (900 MB free on the drive, too, with office, gimp, ff, g++ toolset installed).

    So, in the past we were buying newer machines for the much better hardware, and getting a new Windows as a side effect, but now we are supposed to do it just because Microsoft is forcing us to.

    So, there are going to be a vast number of perfectly good 2,3,4,5-year old machines out there which are being basically orphaned by Microsoft since they won’t run W7. Ubuntu them up !!! 10.4 is out today! If you don’t want to run linux, give it to someone who will or donate to a school.

  45. Greg Says:

    … forgot to finish the point yesterday… There is a lot of potential to do useful things with ‘small’ machines, bigger than a smartphone, smaller than a laptop. There’s no reason such machines can’t be quite inexpensive … in other words, instead of getting more and more computer for the same $500, why can’t we get the same computer for less and less money (I have a 1997 laptop which cost $3K, ran W95, and which I used for electronics design, and software development, etc, and the Eee PC is much better spec than that was, except for screen size – but we are now told that the Eee is a ‘netbook’ and is only good for browsing and email??? No, mine is a full blown linux box that fits in the pocket of my winter coat. I can log into it remotely if I want a full size screen!). Well, in the mainstream the answer is that they are hard to sell because Microsoft won’t support them (in part, because of economics: As the cost of the machine gets lower, the Microsoft tax becomes a greater percentage of that cost, so the machine couldn’t actually be sold at an attractive price). Linux, on the other hand, will support them. This is a whole new market segment which will thrive if more people figure out that they don’t need Windows.

  46. Dale Says:

    Open source software will take over. It is inevitable.

  47. netbook deals Says:

    This is simply what happens when consumers buy certain models just because they’re cheaper, without taking into account the other important factors.

  48. Mike Says:

    I used to sell EeePCs with Linux preinstalled. On a number of occasions, after a lengthy chat discussing the benefits and problems with linux, before having them returned by people complaining that they weren’t told that they didn’t run Windows.

    Some people are prunes who just nod and smile!

  49. darren Says:

    I installed Ubuntu on an acer one netbook, it was bought with linpus linux installed, a year or so ago to try it out, now every pc in my house is windows free, my kids love using Ubuntu, and a few friends have also made the switch, it is true however, that if you are not confident with using a computer, the differences case ton take some getting use to..

  50. Kim doan Says:

    I’m a techie (MCSE/CCNP) who can use any Linux flavors out there. I must say that the “reloaded” Ubuntu version for Netbook is too dumb-down. That’s a mistake as users want something that resembles a ‘normal’ computer interface. I have had to re-install linux (Lubuntu version) on my netbook just to make it run more efficient and look somewhat like Windows or Mac.

  51. Jim Says:

    In response to this attitude: “Give it time. Microsoft can’t keep selling Windows XP forever.”

    How long exactly have they been selling, oh I dunno, bread, the hammer? lol

  52. spookie Says:

    I think the problem with netbooks with Linux preinstalled, at least in the beginning, was they were locked down so tightly–at least the ones I bought. (And returned.) I ended up buying netbooks running WinXP and installing Linux myself–one with Ubuntu and another with Puppy. The netbooks with preinstalled Linux I purchased had VERY small software repositories which included NONE of the FOSS applications I routinely use on my other Linux boxes or my Mac OSX and Windows boxes. I NEED the functionality of OpenOffice.org and the lame-a$$ed substitites offered would not suffice. I’m accustomed to the GIMP, and would prefer to use it since I don’t need to learn several interfaces for image editing. YES, GoogleDocs and Picasa/Picnic ARE available in the browser–but NOT at 35,000 feet! Local editing MUST be available, and it just WASN’T on the Linux netbooks I tried. They were virtually useless as delivered, unless you were 4 years old!

    Installing Linux isn’t for the non-geek just yet, so my option just isn’t viable for a mainstream audience right now. The Ubuntu install was rougher than the Puppy install–I had to futz with with drivers quite a bit to get my hardware running on Ubuntu while Puppy was pretty smooth. I can’t necessarily blame that on the the distros, though. The hardware was not identical nor even from the same OEM and it’s possible, had I reversed the installs, that the Ubuntu would have installed smoother on the other hardware and the Puppy would’ve stumbled in the same places Ubuntu did.

    Canonical is in a good position to push the install of more mainstream Linux pre-installs on big-name hardware. Ubuntu is as easy to use as Windows and I find Windows users willing to use it. They are not willing to use the pre-installed netbook crap because it doesn’t do what they want and need it to do.

  53. spookie Says:

    @bond

    The point is that, though people are used to the MS way of doing things, it’s not necessarily the ideal way. Sometimes it is. Sometimes another way is more efficient. Sometimes there are several ways that are equally simple. FOSS offers CHOICE. And as others have pointed out, there are front-ends for Linux distros that make your box look and act a lot like a Windows box. There are others that are different in subtle ways but are pretty intuitive for the Windows user. Many think the KDE desktop is easier for Windows users to adapt to, so maybe Kubuntu is the distro you speak of. I’ve had good luck with plain vanilla Ubuntu for my Windows friends and family–it may look different (the browns have turned off some and enthralled others but the color-scheme can be changed) but the functionality is similar, and a few of the geekier have really liked Puppy for it’s newbie-friendly forums.

    I don’t think the answer is to make Linux distros into Windows clones that geeks can hack to do what they want. There are, and should be, Linux distros for geeks and Linux distros for the more tech-challenged.

    I would love to see Puppy distributed on netbooks, especially low-powered netbooks. It’s maybe the easiest distro I’ve ever used.

  54. Dan Says:

    Perhaps people who are used to linux based systems are used to a level of performance from their netbooks/laptops that the atom chip cannot deliver.

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