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OEMs Looking to Ubuntu for Netbook Market 224

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the big-bad-microsoft-gets-left-behind dept.
Anon writes "Mark Shuttleworth provides much more detail today about development of the Ubuntu netbook platform, and says OEMs are calling Canonical when they want to start building netbooks. Channelweb notes: 'It's actually a big deal. For example, Dell CEO Michael Dell has been carrying around an early version of a Dell mini-notebook, and referring to it as the device for the next billion Internet users [...] Asus has become an industry rock star by using GNU Linux to power its Eee PC. HP's niche Mini note runs SLED 10 Linux. The iPhone, of course, doesn't run Microsoft software. Is anyone paying attention in Redmond?'"
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OEMs Looking to Ubuntu for Netbook Market

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  • They are listening (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:13PM (#23716521)

    And here comes the next round from a company on it's way out the door and no longer truly innovating: litigation!

  • ASUS Eee PC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by murp (1304761) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:23PM (#23716631)
    Actually, if you read the latest Distrowatch Weekly [distrowatch.com], they say that Linux on the Eee PC is almost a thing of the past.
    • Re:ASUS Eee PC (Score:5, Informative)

      by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:39PM (#23716837)

      Actually, if you read the latest Distrowatch Weekly, they say that Linux on the Eee PC is almost a thing of the past.
      Which is especially strange since the linux version of every model of the eeePC is outselling the windows version on Amazon [amazon.com]. I would say it's the larger hard drive, but the older model linux version is selling better too and it has a slower clock speed than the XP one. I don't know, I don't pay attention to this stuff.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tknd (979052)

        A lot of people are buying the linux version for the larger SSD and installing Windows xp themselves.

        I've tried the default Xandros linux and it didn't cut it for me. For browsing the net and doing simple things like reading a document it is fine. It will even read your usb thumb drives and other things without issues. But it is hard to customize and does not like you going about installing your own software. I expect that Ubuntu for netbooks will be much easier to customize and will likely be a real repla

      • by Kjella (173770)
        Probably some sort of deal - we give you Windows for such and such, you push ads for us. Linux got plenty developers but few marketers to compete with Microsoft, it's not so easy to convert one into the other. Still Linux keeps improving so I figure it just means Linux will be a lot better than Windows by the time people realize that it is.
    • by kesuki (321456)
      well, i never trusted Asus in the first place(for personal reasons).

      They've gone to the dark side, the linux version was just posturing, to get microsoft to cave, on pulling windows XP support.

      Let's face it, getting Linux on home broad band routers was pushing it. getting linux on internet only laptops? with touch screen inputs? you can bet microsoft will help those OEMs 'see the light' of putting clunky, windows OSes on their devices.

      At least as geeks, we can promote Linux as a 'desktop replacement' for
    • by symbolset (646467) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:46PM (#23716931) Homepage Journal

      Like the author didn't find the linux eee booth and decided that was a lack of marketing push, a step on the road to deprecating linux on the eee.

      I don't see this at all yet, and if I did it would not worry me. There are plenty other and bigger OEMs fishing for the premium experience you get with linux on the netbook now. Asus got an early lead but if they want to throw their advantage away and return to differentiating their product only by price and color that is their right. There are more than enough other mfrs eager to push the mindshare across the threshold and bring about the unchained era of personal computing.

      It will be chaotic for a while. That's when the interesting things happen.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        Having used an EEE 900 series with windows (it is my brothers) the experiance felt just fine to me. I could run normal windows applications including some older games just fine and the screen size wasn't a problem for most applications (the only time I had to go into top/bottom scroll mode was for a settings dialog in itunes).

        To a non techie if it doesn't run windows it's not a PC.

        ASUS's default windows install needed a bit of cleaning but that is nearly always the case with machines from the big OEMs.

        I thi
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Excelsior (164338)

          To a non techie if it doesn't run windows it's not a PC.
          Interesting that you state that as a matter of fact. My non-techie fiance uses an Eee every day and the only thing I've ever heard her say is how much she loves it. Of course, she doesn't even know what a "PC" is. She does know computers don't usually fit neatly into her purse, weigh next to nothing, and start up quickly.

          Further, many non-techies love OSX. I'm not sure where you got your opinion from.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by locofungus (179280)
        Asus got an early lead but if they want to throw their advantage away and return to differentiating their product only by price and color that is their right. There are more than enough other mfrs eager to push the mindshare across the threshold and bring about the unchained era of personal computing.

        Actually I think the eeepc is another example of the fact that manufacturers "just don't get it" when it comes to "free" software.

        The eeepc has a significant number of closed source bits and pieces. Most of the
    • When user see that they can get more with less money, it's a difficult deal to resist...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThePhilips (752041)

      Do not get me wrong - I'm all for Linux. But I guess the mini-notebook producers have put Linux there because they didn't need anybody's permission to do it. First. Second. I think they also tried to provoke M$ to get some bargaining chip in negotiations.

      Now that new market have opened, rest assured, M$ will do anything to grab it.

      After all they already brought XP from dead...

      • This is exactly it. Manufacturers are learning that if they ignore the WinTel platform definitions and just give us the good tech that makes sense, we'll gobble it up.

        Some of us will even think of new and clever things to do with it. It sounds scary, but that's where you build the brand values that matter in the long run.

    • Re:ASUS Eee PC (Score:5, Informative)

      by notdotcom.com (1021409) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:10PM (#23717189)
      ..but if you read Linux Format, the cover story this month is the Eee PC and the Eee 900. From (Linux Format's TFA: "A current poll of Eee users shows that only 29 percent are running MS Windows."
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855)
        Really usefull, a poll on a Linux biased site asking their visitors what they're running on their eeePC.
  • by lyml (1200795) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:25PM (#23716665)
    See, I told you soo; 2008 is the year of linux on the desktop. For real this time.
    • For a certain stretch of the definition of the word "desktop", I suppose.
    • Re:2008 is the year (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:36PM (#23718439)
      I've commented on this before in a Previous post. We are not trying to bring about the year of Linux, we are trying to prevent the LAST YEAR of Linux.

      See: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=572739&cid=23648009 [slashdot.org]
  • by sconeu (64226) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:26PM (#23716681) Homepage Journal
    "Is anyone paying attention in Redmond?"

    Yes.

    At least OLPC [engadget.com] and Asus [engadget.com] are.
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:28PM (#23716705)
    It really is pretty simple here - there are those who want overcoded, overprotective, overhyped operating systems. And then, there are those who want to use their computer.

    The eee, Netbook remix, ume-launcher and all OSS-friendly friends fit into the latter. Let's face it - the operating system is slowly melting into the background. Vista, for instance, is trying to kick and scream its way back to the front of your widescreen LCD - but sooner or later, people are going to 'ho-hum' them into oblivion, and get on their Intarwebs the easier way.

    P.S. lolsauce.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thekm (622569)
      "It really is pretty simple here - there are those who want overcoded, overhyped, overprotective, operating systems. And then, there are those who want to use their computer."

      ...I thought I knew what operating system you were talking about until I got to "overprotective" and then you lost me, but I think my head was swapping in "secure" to mean the "overprotective" part, hence the mix-up. You can be "overprotective" and completely screw up security at the same time... like a father that is always barging
  • Linux critical mass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by poopie (35416) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:29PM (#23716715) Journal
    I'm sure that Microsoft and most hardware vendors are really not thrilled that customers aren't demanding exponentially faster machines with exponentially more RAM and disk space.

    How do you drive customer upgrades to more bloaded OSes when customers are demanding devices with lower cpu/ram specs?

    As the price of systems drops from thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars, having to pay Microsoft hundreds of dollars for OS + Office licensing becomes a non-trivial fraction of total system cost.

    Also, you can bet that the hardware manufacturer's profits on a $500 device are razor thin. If they can cut $20 to $100 or more off the cost by using Linux, it's worth it.

    So, at this point, I have to wonder whether Microsoft is going to try to converge WinCE code with Vista code for Windows 7 to have a single OS that can run on phones / UMPCs / netbooks / laptops / desktops (or at least the same codebase even if CPUs aren't the same). That's probably going to be hard for Microsoft. I expect they'll try to reimplement apps in silverlight instead.
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:40PM (#23716853) Journal

      So, at this point, I have to wonder whether Microsoft is going to try to converge WinCE code with Vista code for Windows 7 to have a single OS that can run on phones / UMPCs / netbooks / laptops / desktops (or at least the same codebase even if CPUs aren't the same). That's probably going to be hard for Microsoft. I expect they'll try to reimplement apps in silverlight instead.


      I'm sure that's what they'll want to do, but for Microsoft the chief problem is while everyone else is concentrating on mimimalistic systems whose specs were top-notch six years ago, everything in Microsoft's code base has been going the other way. By the looks of it, they're going to try to reposition Windows XP for low-end systems, because it will run reasonably well on these systems. Vista and Windows 7 are going to be no-shows. There's simply no evidence I can see that suggests that Windows 7 is going to be any less a resource hog that Vista.

      And good luck to them recoding for Silverlight. I think they're going to need it.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      How do you drive customer upgrades to more bloaded OSes when customers are demanding devices with lower cpu/ram specs?

      Microsoft figured that out 15 years ago... You sell OEMs and customers a nice lean mean OS, and then provide critical security updates which steadily increase the CPU and memory load. That way, your system is seriously dragging, and the next version of the OS, with no such updates, seems reasonably quick compared to your bogged-down old OS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fwarren (579763)

      So, at this point, I have to wonder whether Microsoft is going to try to converge WinCE code with Vista code for Windows 7 to have a single OS that can run on phones / UMPCs / netbooks / laptops / desktops (or at least the same codebase even if CPUs aren't the same)

      Microsofts choices are few

      They can keep selling XP on small devices. But linux is still capable of being scaled down further. Where it goes XP can not follow.

      WinCE cant run real Windows XP software. It does not even compare to what can be run in Linux. No body wants CE. Microsoft has not even offered it as a choice.

      Vista and Windows Seven are two heavy

      Microsoft would be forced to write a new OS or bring back windows 98. WinCE is too different under the hood. It does not even have the concept of "curre

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cato (8296)
      This also applies to low end desktops that are still far more powerful than PCs a few years ago - even in the UK which often has overpriced components, you can build a PC yourself for £100 (including delivery and tax, no monitor/keyboard/mouse) = $200 US. A recent PC magazine spec'ed this out and the 'premium' version was only $240 - and at this price point Windows XP OEM is £50 or so, a 50% increase, compared to Ubuntu/Kubuntu which works very nicely in just 512MB. If you are cutting specs to
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:29PM (#23716719)
    Just call it Linux. Calling it Gnu/Linux completely ignores the work that's gone into making Linux a household name. "Linux" is a weird enough name, throwing a little-known water buffalo that nobody knows how to pronounce is disastrous.
    • by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:31PM (#23716749)
      Maybe a new name would be best?

      How about "Tux & Friends" ? :p
      • by Provocateur (133110) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:35PM (#23717487) Homepage
        GNU/Linux is the new term to use over a bad breakup. Instead of the tired ol'

        I faked every one of them!

        you can say

        And it's GNU/Linux!

        then you storm out and slam the door. Can be used with soon-to-be ex-girlfriends and/or soon-to-be ex-bosses. Can be preceded with the phrase "And another thing:", which is more effective when spoken quite emphatically.
    • by pembo13 (770295) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:38PM (#23716819) Homepage
      You can call it what you want. But at least on Slashdot, you should try to be specific.
      • by the_humeister (922869) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:40PM (#23718475)
        Right, so I should call my system KDE/x.org/GNU/Linux? Otherwise GNU/Linux would just imply that you're just using the command-line interface.
        • Otherwise GNU/Linux would just imply that you're just using the command-line interface.

          Not at all. It implies that you're using that OS that the guy who coined the term GNU/Linux refers to with that term. And that term definitely was intended to refer to all of the GNU project software including - for example - Gnome.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by the_humeister (922869)
            If you're using Gnome, then it should be called GNU/x.org/Linux. What if you're using KDE on FreeBSD? It should be called KDE/x.org/FreeBSD, right? The problem with GNU/Linux is that it's awkward and cumbersome (especially if you use the officially sanctioned hard "g" sound, yuck!). Personally, I just tell people I'm using Debian 4.0 and where to get it and be done with it. None of this need for a 10-20 minute dissertation on the appropriateness of Linux vs. GNU/Linux
    • by Kjella (173770) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:42PM (#23716871) Homepage
      Don't worry, the consumers will be sufficiently confused by there being ubuntu linux, suse linux, fedora linux, mandriva linux and so on. The most damage it could do is that people mistake it for another distro. At any rate, I think GNU/Linux is either redundant or insufficient. "Linux" is enough to identify it, to describe my system KDE/x.org/GNU/Linux would be in order. I think all four are about equally fundamental to me, I don't think I'd run any other three if one was missing.
      • You don't actually need GNU or Linux to run KDE/x.org since those can be run on any unix-like system or even MS Windows
      • by mweather (1089505)

        Don't worry, the consumers will be sufficiently confused by there being ubuntu linux, suse linux, fedora linux, mandriva linux and so on.
        They seem to handle the different flavors of Linux and other OSes on their cell phones. In the end it's up to the interface. If it's familiar and/or intuitive, they'll have no problem using it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by DittoBox (978894)
      Lets apply that logic to, say, other operating systems:

      - Mhac Oh Ess Ecks
      - Wendoze Mee
      - BeOhss
      - Windows Ultimate Venti Burrito Triple Shot FTW!!!110#cough

    • by mweather (1089505)

      Just call it Linux. Calling it Gnu/Linux completely ignores the work that's gone into making Linux a household name.
      Calling it Linux completely ignores the work that's gone into making GNU/Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:37PM (#23716813)
    The iPhone, of course, doesn't run Microsoft software. Is anyone paying attention in Redmond?'

    if anyone is a bigger offender of lock-in it's apple. why do slashdotters act like it's some kind of victory? is this about a brand or about freedom as you all caw on about?
    • by khellendros1984 (792761) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:06PM (#23717129) Journal
      I think in the case of Apple, it's the lingering mindset that they're the ailing underdog (which was true for a number of years). I think that as they become larger and stronger, they're losing some of the underdog image, and some people (such as yourself) are beginning to notice that they're just a company, and worse in some ways than the companies we love to ridicule for their success (Microsoft). People as a whole aren't logical. Expecting them to be consistent is further straining credulity, haha.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by battjt (9342)
      My Ubuntu Dell laptop is an open system of open APIs.

      My macbook is a closed system of open APIs. (at least I can guess what is going on, even if I can't change it)

      My w2k VM is a blackbox. I don't have a clue what it is doing or why or how to change it. (and that's why it is sandboxed in a VM)

      Apple is a step better than microsoft from my perspective and it just works where Linux hasn't. It's been a long time of watching Linux develop and my dell ubuntu box still didn't work when I took it out of the box (
  • LIMP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deanston (1252868) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:41PM (#23716855)
    OEM such as Dell and HP has always relied on MS to tell them when to upgrade hardware and drivers, but all the time half listen and looking for cheap outs, ergo the Vista flop. They've long lost the ability to innovate or motivate on their own nor understand their users. Linux companies ought to beware of established OEM as partners when they come knocking looking for help on that next sale to bail them out. As soon Ballmer slip a 'We'll give you a Windows XZ for a nickel!', the same OEMs will drop Linux on a dime. And will the same vendor offer dedicated support to help novice users upgrade the ever-evolving OS 3 times a year? To ensure long term success and real Linux traction, whoever the Linux company is supplying the netbook OS must keep up the positive user experience for years, not months.
  • by cptnapalm (120276) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:42PM (#23716875)
    It seems to be the case that, while the Year of the Linux Desktop may never arive, 2008 may be the Year of the Linux n(ote|et)book.

    In trying to compete for the desktop, the open source guys have managed to get a strong foothold on the newest, latest, cheapest portables. Perhaps not the particular victory which was sought, but perhaps victory here would gradually translate into victory on the desktop. If people like what they use most of the time (Linux on the portable), it would be reasonable that they would want the same thing on their own desktops.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I guess what I'm a little worried about is if the market perception becomes that Linux is only good for small portable computers/cell phones/etc, that the larger distros will stop paying as much attention to the desktop.
      • Linux has always done well with Servers. Thanks in no small part to the Techie/Admin.

        Low end consumers at one end, and a constant battle for the hearts and soul of the server. I guess the middle ground is (eventually) going to have pressure from both ends.
    • That's a big if..... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crhylove (205956)
      I wasn't particularly enamored with the distro pre-installed on the eee. Other than a nice webcam and skype implementation (which is not FOSS, so really, what is the point?), I found it a big cludgy, unnecessarily kid like, a little unreasonably slow, and basically not nearly as clean or simple as standard Ubuntu, OS X, or Windows XP. Now, if they put out a Linux eee clone that was even cheaper, and ran faster and basically looked and felt like a clean XP install.... Then, yeah, I think people would enjoy
  • by Macka (9388) on Monday June 09, 2008 @06:56PM (#23717031)
    I've tried playing around with the Eeee PC, and while I can see the appeal, the GUI experience is a bit sucky. Gnome as is, just wasn't designed with a screen that small in mind, and it shows with the amount of real estate consumed by control buttons and what not in proportion to the data.

    What's needed is a kind of minimalist mode, where contol buttons and menus don't get in the way, but can be exposed easily and intuitively as they're required. That's going to be a lot of very hard work.

    • by Drooling Iguana (61479) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:06PM (#23717133)
      The EeePC doesn't run Gnome by default, and it does run a very minimalist interface. Not minimalist enough for my tastes, but that should be mitigated when the 9" ones come out.
    • by tknd (979052) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:41PM (#23717555)

      Ubuntu netbook remix or whatever it is called is going to address this by providing a new interface designed for small screens. Ars [arstechnica.com] has a bunch of screenshots and more information. The solution isn't perfect but is in a step in the right direction.

      This (good interface real estate usage) is one area that I have to give credit to Apple for doing very well. Apple interfaces are very clean and for the most part a good use of screen real estate (minimal window border, fewer menus and toolbars). Gnome tends to be a little on the fat side with buttons, menus, and toolbars but hopefully that will start changing with this new market. I do wish that application developers would stop using the default "file" menus as a crutch to stuff things into or stuffing toolbars with buttons all over the place (gimp, open office, old versions of ms office, many IDEs). On small screens that becomes especially annoying since there is no more room to grow the windows.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NullProg (70833)
      I've tried playing around with the Eeee PC, , and while I can see the appeal, the GUI experience is a bit sucky.

      I haven't bought one yet because I need the new wider screen for my wife. When I do buy one I'm following the instructions here:

      http://wiki.eeeuser.com/ubuntu:eeexubuntu:home [eeeuser.com]

      Not to dismiss Gnome or KDE, but try Xfce (No, I am not affiliated).

      Enjoy,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324)
      Oh my...now even some slashdotters assume that desktop Linux = Gnome?... :/ (Eee Xandros install runs KDE)

      Oh well, I guess still better than computer = Windows...
  • Dell has the bucks and "political" power to get some of the big commercial software packages ported to Linux.

    Maybe they can convince Adobe to port all their stuff. If Linux had the Adobe apps (and Flash, for God's sake) and Quicken, that would go a long way to filling the major gaps in the software library.

    Of course, there is still the problem of games, but I think that is becoming less-and-less of an issue as consoles take over the market.

    Hell, Dell should just *buy* Canonical, and spin off their
  • Why do you think the Gates Foundation has sold so much Microsoft stock?
  • Not just Netbooks... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dominique_cimafranca (978645) on Monday June 09, 2008 @08:16PM (#23717899) Homepage
    Here in the Philippines, we have full-sized laptops going for $400, the cheapest they've ever been. Not Via processors, mind you, but dual core. Not just no-name brands, either, but Acer and Lenovo. And they all ship with some version of Linux or other. I've seen units preloaded with Ubuntu, and the horribly named Linpus is very popular with Acer notebooks.

    However, it's likely that once the buyers bring the unit home, a bootleg version of Windows gets loaded on it. Linux is preloaded just to show that the unit is working.

    On the other hand, netbooks aren't really living up to the name. They're coming in with more memory and more disk space -- case in point is the Deep Blue H1 [blogspot.com] (not sure what the designation is in other countries): 1GB memory and 40GB hard disk, and all of $300.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by miscz (888242)
      Linux is preloaded on such machines mostly because Microsoft "convinced" the governments of many countries that no computer should be sold without OS to reduce piracy. Manufacturers get around those laws by preloading Linux and even sometimes FreeDOS - seems that they have a good sense of humour :)
  • by juventasone (517959) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:07PM (#23718257)
    I imagine Microsoft is being short-sighted and deciding they don't want to promote another platform like Windows Mobile that will never sell a $300 Office or any of their bread and butter.
  • i can imagine the oems really grasping this opportunity to get away from microsoft. if one considers that ibm even sold off their notebook business to get out of their contract with microsoft, the emergence of a new market must be a god-send to the oem of today.

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