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The Truth Behind the Death of Linux On the Netbook 406

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-a-horse-analogy dept.
eldavojohn writes "Groklaw brings us news of Microsoft holding the smoking gun in regards to the death of Linux on netbooks. You see, the question of Linux on netbooks in Taiwan was put forth to the Taiwan Trade Authority director, who replied, 'In our association we operate as a consortium, like the open source consortium. They want to promote open source and Linux. But if you begin from the PC you are afraid of Microsoft. They try to go to the smart phone or PDA to start again.' It's simple; fear will keep them in line. PJ points out, 'So next time you hear Microsoft bragging that people prefer their software to Linux on netbooks, you'll know better. If they really believed that, they'd let the market speak, on a level playing field. If I say my horse is faster than yours, and you says yours is faster, and we let our horses race around the track, that establishes the point. But if you shoot my horse, that leaves questions in the air. Is your horse really faster? If so, why shoot my horse?'"
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The Truth Behind the Death of Linux On the Netbook

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  • by hansraj (458504) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:28AM (#28401259)

    Taking the whose-horse-is-faster analogy from the summary, if you decided not to challenge me to race your horse with mine because you are afraid that I might shoot your horse instead of my actually shooting the horse then you can't really claim that you have a "smoking gun" about my evil intentions.

    All that is quoted in the article is that someone said they are afraid of Microsoft. That in itself doesn't even come close to a smoking gun against microsoft. Unless "smoking gun" now just refers to something that is just a circumstantial evidence.

    I despise MS tactics and personally suspect that there might actually be some truth to whatever is being implied here, but come on, this article is nothing but preaching to the choir.

    • by FudRucker (866063) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:36AM (#28401317)
      more like microsoft just up and killed your horse and then claimed it won the race that they would otherwise have lost
      • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:59AM (#28401911) Homepage Journal

        more like microsoft just up and killed your horse and then claimed it won the race that they would otherwise have lost

        Obviously you should have made a better horse, if it were so easy for Microsoft to have killed it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Elektroschock (659467)

          No, it is more that Linux points at their cash cow and they pay ASUS to continue with Windows. Of course Asus invests in Linux, because they are not stupid.

        • by node 3 (115640) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:04PM (#28403595)

          Obviously you should have made a better horse, if it were so easy for Microsoft to have killed it.

          Horses have the inherent weakness of being able to be shot. The problem isn't the horse. Even MS's horse can be shot. The problem is that only MS has a gun.

          So, instead of finding out how each horse compares with the other on the racetrack (MS's horse would still most likely win, but it won't be a 95% (or whatever the actual value is) market share, which they get by default if they don't have to race), all we've found out is that horses can be shot, and MS has a gun.

          That's the problem with anti-competitive behavior. The market can't work if it never gets a chance to. If we want the best products at the best prices, we need fair competition.

          • by orasio (188021) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:15PM (#28404369) Homepage

            That's the problem with anti-competitive behavior. The market can't work if it never gets a chance to. If we want the best products at the best prices, we need fair competition.

            Get over it. There is no such thing as a functioning free market. The only way "the market" can work is when it's heavily regulated against "bad" competitors. At that point, it's no longer a free market.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by rdnetto (955205)
            Solution: build an open-source gun.
      • by RDW (41497) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @11:20AM (#28402059)

        It's more like consumers wanted horses, but were (briefly) offered zebras. The netbook companies made much of how the zebras looked pretty much like horses, and could do most of the things that horses could. The zebras were healthier and more resilient than the horses, ate less (you couldn't fit much hay in the early netbooks), and were cheaper to buy. And back then, microsoft was trying to sell a new breed of pretty horse, which they wanted people to like, even though the new horses were slower than greedier and more expensive than the old workhorses. But consumers weren't quite convinced by the zebras. They were used to working with horses, they had one at home, and another for the kids to play with, and some of their horse tackle didn't fit the zebras. And then the netbooks got a little bigger, so they could easily feed a horse, and Microsoft realised that if they bred some more workhorses from the old stock that people were used to, and sold them cheaply to the netbook companies, then everyone would lose interest in the zebras. And so everybody was happy, except the Mac users, who still didn't have a netbook for their leopards.

        • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:53PM (#28403061)
          But consumers weren't quite convinced by the zebras.

          Kudos for your choice of analogy. I was getting very tired of cars. ;-)

          But this all reminds me of an axiom I used to hear all the time back in the '80s when I was making a good living out of contracting on all sorts of non-mainstream big-iron machines:

          "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

          I happen to know of a middle-manager at a then well-known Burroughs site in London who did indeed get fired for doing exactly that. But my point is that as a crushing monopoly, IBM's dominance expired, and there is no reason to assume that one day Microsoft's will not do likewise. I'm not saying Microsoft will go bust (neither did IBM), but there must inevitably come a time when MS will have to re-evaluate its position in its marketplace.
    • by just_another_sean (919159) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:39AM (#28401341) Homepage Journal

      Having RTFA I can say that there is a lot more to it then just an off hand remark by a Taiwanese executive. No one seemed to be showing off Linux products. Any hype that companies like AMD, Intel and Acer made about using Linux seems to have dried out completely. And there sits MS, fat and confident that they can continue to tell hardware companies what to do and they'll just fall in line.

      Hyperbole? Maybe. But history *does* seem to suggest otherwise...

      • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:01AM (#28401491)

        The first netbooks; the ones so successful they started the entire trend; were based on Linux. It is very strange that we have quite a few of the first people posting here people claiming that nobody tried Linux based netbooks. That no one is "showing off" Linux products now is likely because Microsoft made it clear to them that they had better not.

        • by hitmark (640295) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:39AM (#28401761) Journal

          When the eeepc first hit the market, two things showed up:

          1. Blogs and forums about how to get terminal and root, so that one could edit the package repo list and install debian packages.

          2. Blogs and forums about how to install xp...

          Asus eeepc used a xandros made distro, based of a somewhat aged debian version...

          Acer aspire one used a linpus made distro, based of a similarly aged fedora version...

          MSI wind used opensuse, but messed up when it came to drivers...

          I'm not fully sure what HP is using...

          Dell uses ubuntu...

          HP and dell was slow onto market, and may well be the ones that triggered the price climb towards the low end laptop range. The first HP model was higher priced then the rest when it first launched, with the excuse that it was aimed at the prosumer or business market.

          Also, Acer at least ended up shipping windows models that had more bang for mostly the same buck. Only asus did the opposite when they launched the 900 with more flash storage on the linux model vs the windows one, at the same price.

          And speaking of flash storage, it seems that most netbooks these days comes with a hardrive rather then flash. Sad really, as my opinion was that flash, tho giving less overall storage, allowed for a more rugged machine. Comboed with the price, that allowed for a machine one could "abuse" a bit more. And all had a SD slot anyways, so if one needed storage, grab a couple of SD's and stuff them in the wallet or some other container and swap them as needed...

          • Distros, flash... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by temojen (678985) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:50PM (#28403043) Journal

            I bought a (Windows) Acer Aspire One 8+8 because that's the flash version that was available at all locally. I have to say, they screwed up big time with the default software. So much was loaded by default that the thing crawled. As it is, I never planned on running it with windows anyways; I need it as a technician's tool and I find Linux more productive for this use (may be based on having many years more experience with Linux than WinNT).

            My experience with it has brought up some interesting thoughts...

            Most of the netbooks seem to be set up and marketed on the assumption that they're being bought by unsophisticated users for web (facebook, twitter, etc.) and email access on the go. While this may be true for some, it's certainly not true of me and a sizeable (but low percentage) part of the market. There must exist a sizeable but diffuse niche of technicians and contractors who need a light-weight and robust technician's tool, not an adolescent's toy.

            So here's my idea for a product that some manufacturer could probably market successfully via direct marketing: A netbook roughly the same specs and form factor as the Aspire One 8+8 but with a mainstream KDE based distro plus a few extra tools:

            • Minicom (for router maintenence), firefox (works better for me on the small screen), KOffice (.doc and .xls reading with less footprint than OOo),
            • A secondary SD slot where the card does not protrude,
            • an eSATA port,
            • internal 3G card,
            • Bluetooth support and included bluetooth headset,
            • 3G card, CF Card hd0 (not proprietary hard to source SSD), and memory expansion slot all accessible via a door on the bottom
            • A hard-sided, watertight carry case, with included tools such as USB-Serial adapter, DB9-RJ45 console cable, USB-IDE adapter
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Good post. I have a 900A linux Eee (posting on it right now), and I supplement its SSD with SD cards. 4GB is not a lot to run an OS in, but it's certainly possible with linux.

            However, the default OS shipped with this thing was pretty worthless, as well as bloated. It was clearly intended to be useful for only a few specific tasks. It was also not intended, apparently, that you store anything on the disk---including software updates. It preserved the original system as shipped, making it extremely quick and

        • by OmegaBlac (752432) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:54AM (#28401881)

          The first netbooks; the ones so successful they started the entire trend; were based on Linux.

          I remember. Funny how it wasn't really that long ago. Asus EEE was running Linux and then many other OEMs started pushing out Linux based netbooks until Microsoft panicked. Then we start hearing reports that OEMs were making half-assed attempts with Linux on netbooks by shipping netbooks with driver issues, not optimizing the OS for netbooks, or just completely "fumbling the ball" in other ways. Then articles began spreading regarding the number of returns of Linux netbooks. In a short period of time there are almost no Linux netbooks that can be purchased while Microsoft Windows has quickly went from a market share of 0% to just about completely dominating the netbook market. Now any OEM that shows off their new Android based netbook at these trade shows, and receive positive reviews, suddenly pull the plug on their projects a short-time after? Of course the U.S. DoJ doesn't appear to be in any rush to investigate Microsoft in regards to this situation, even with a new administration at the helm. Guess those "campaign contributions" from Microsoft are reaping dividends as I type this. This whole situation is just disgusting.

        • by Chelloveck (14643) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:55AM (#28401883) Homepage

          The first netbooks were largely adopted by geeks, who like Linux. Then some people who were born and raised on Windows looked at the machines and thought they were pretty cool; too bad they didn't run Windows. The manufacturers looked at which OS had the biggest market. It's not a hard decision, and doesn't require any goofy back-alley coercion.

          Or, this was the manufacturers' plan all along. They wanted Windows, MS priced it too high. So they brought out the first generation with Linux, knowing Microsoft would freak and drop the price to almost nothing.

          Either one works for me. Yeah, I'm sure MS was there pushing the manufacturers, but overall I'm pretty sure it's a case of you can't rape the willing.

        • by ihatewinXP (638000) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @11:08AM (#28401973)

          Picked up an HP Mini 1000 series 10" about a month ago when my original Macbook Pro drank a glass of water as a stop gap measure. I have run this thing through 4 operating systems and (goddammit) it has been my primary computer with about 8-10 hourse use daily in that time.

          First was winXP - as you can infer from my screen name I have never been its biggest fan.

          Second was OSX using iDeneb - such a pain in the ass to get everything working right that it completely undermines the entire idea of having a mac. Clones will never kill Apples marketshare.

          Third round Ubuntu Netbook Remix... Ok, the install was a breeze, the price cant be beat, and it picked up 90% of the hardware without a hiccup. Not bad. Until you start using it - graphical glitches everywhere. There is some single window dashboard on the netbook version that is sluggish and confusing garbage - turn it off first to even attempt to have a decent time. It still fails on so many common tasks without tweaking / dl'ing that it failed "The Wife Test" and that was it.

          I cant see some hardware manufacturer sitting down and saying "Yes, this is the best way to show off and sell my hardware" after using it for a week.

          Fourth and finally: Windows 7. Mac zealot since '99 here - first gen iPod and iPhone fanboy - and I have to say Windows 7 is by far the best thing Microsoft has put out since Windows 2000. THIS is what is going to kill Linux on netbook - the fact that Microsoft realized that they couldnt hand this segment to the Open Source community on a platter and designed an OS to run GREAT on a 1.6 Core Solo with 2GB of ram.

          XP is garbage. Linux had a great chance to lead this market. But now Win7 is here and there is no way in hell the user experiences can be compared. [That said I am still just biding MY time for another macbook ;]

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Please. In the entire first GENERATION of netbooks, it was much easier to find Linux ones on the shelf than Microsoft ones. In fact, IIRC, first-generation netbooks didn't even have enough storage to run XP if they wanted, except maybe an exclusive few.

        Why don't you see Linux on netbooks now? The main reason is that the minimum netbook hardware spec can easily run XP now. A healthy proportion of them have HDs, and those that have SSDs have much larger SSDs than the first generation.

        I'm sorry to break this t

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by rbanffy (584143)

      It's not like Microsoft never had a smoking gun on its hand.

      I doubt they still threaten OEMs by e-mail. A "It's a nice OEM price you have here. It would be a shame if your competitors got better conditions" dropped over dinner or on a golf course is far less useful for antitrust lawyers.

      Still, we can see it's very effective.

    • Hey, Microsoft is not stupid, they didn't happen to be multimilion dollar company by chanche entirely.
      Of course lots of pushing and threathening is done behind closed doors and no microphones ! assuming they do not do it is surely naive and close to stupidity.

      What you are left with is "things happening" that if properly understood point to the right direction.
      Eg: How come that governments (especially US) do not mandate a document format that is not encumbered ? (sole property of Microsoft ?)

      • by MathFox (686808)
        Does anyone remember BeOS?

        Microsoft Settles Anti-Trust Charges with Be [internetnews.com], off course without admitting doing anything wrong. I wonder why MS paid Be that $23.3 million.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tjstork (137384)

          Does anyone remember BeOS?

          I do and I actually wrote a couple of things for it. For the most part, BeOS torpedoed itself when they switched from BeOS 5 to that whole Network appliance push they were trying to make. BeOS had a viable business selling copies from their download site. If they would have just stuck it out, I think they would have been able to make a go at it, especially considering that the entire value proposition of having an operating system designed to work with massive numbers of CPUS tur

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:07AM (#28401535)

      This is a good example of what I find is one of the least desirable traits of the Linux community in general: a tendency to blame everyone else for any failure, whether it's the user who's too stupid or Microsoft who's too mean.

      Fairly widespread deployment of Linux on netbooks was a great opportunity to get some real user feedback and identify problems that could be addressed, but instead all that comes of it is whining about Microsoft. Sure, MS has a bad track record and I have no doubt they tried their best to use their influence in this case, but it appears the Linux community is completely squandering the chance to address real end user issues and making excuses instead, just like MS does.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mad Leper (670146)

        Very true. When netbooks first appeared, the FOSS community was convinced that this would herald the end of Microsoft as there was no way M$ could adapt fast enough for this new market.

        Well, consumer demand for XP and the exceedingly poor performance of Linux on these same netbooks lead to a flood of returns, and the manufacturers responded. Even OSX on netbooks proved more popular that any flavour of Linux and that requires more effort to set up than any Linux distro.

        This so called "smoking gun" is reall

      • by beej (82035) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:55PM (#28403079) Homepage Journal

        This is a good example of what I find is one of the least desirable traits of the Linux community in general: a tendency to blame everyone else for any failure, whether it's the user who's too stupid or Microsoft who's too mean.

        Damn right!

        Sure, MS has a bad track record and I have no doubt they tried their best to use their influence in this case

        Wait...so you are blaming Microsoft? ;-)

        Let's look at it this way, via a hypothetical conversation:

        ASUS: "We designed an ARM-based Android netbook."
        MS: "We don't support ARM."
        ASUS: "It's OK; we have Android."
        MS: "What percentage of your netbook product line runs XP?"
        ASUS: "About 95%."
        MS: "If you release the ARM netbook, we'll raise your price per unit from $15 to $100."
        ASUS: "Well, I guess that's the end of the ARM netbook. Can we somehow make a public apology?"
        MS: "All too easy."

        Now I ask you: is there any level of mind-blowing Android or Linux OS awesomeness that's going to change that outcome? Don't hold back; really cut loose with your imagination. The answer: no. There's no way they can make up all that expense with one new product.

        I could be mistaken. ASUS might have just spent all this R&D and Q&A money on a new kick-ass product, and showed it to the world, and only then realized that Windows didn't support ARM. Or maybe they got too much positive feedback, so they pulled it.

        Did you watch the video here [tweaktown.com]? This is one sweet machine that vanished. And from the looks of it, it's not because of the shit OS.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:48PM (#28403857)

          The point is, it doesn't make the slightest difference what MS did or didn't do. The Linux community has had a decade and a half to come up with some awesomeness that they can convince people to use when they give it away. It hasn't happened? Why?

          I think the answer is that Linux developers develop Linux for themselves. If someone criticizes it, they rationalize away the criticism (or just attack the person), rather than try to improve the OS. THAT's why Linux isn't competitive with Windows except on servers, where there's a Linux geek to take care of them.

          If Linux were up to snuff for end user use and MS tried the "we'll raise the price from $15 to $100" trick then ASUS would just tell them, "well, we're getting Linux for free, and everybody likes it just as much, so piss off."

          The only reason MS could pull that trick, if they did is because Linux is not competitive with Windows. Rather than take feedback from this (or any other) opportunity and make it so, the Linux community has chosen to whine about conspiracies instead.

    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:17AM (#28401601)

      All that is quoted in the article is that someone said they are afraid of Microsoft. That in itself doesn't even come close to a smoking gun against microsoft.

      I suspect whoever controls (or fails to control) monopolies there might disagree. When a monopoly has purchasers afraid to do business with competitors, the fundamental supply-and-demand mechanism at the heart of the capitalist trading system is completely undermined. Also, being "afraid of microsoft" is vastly different from being afraid that microsoft's products might be a better choice.

      • by tjstork (137384)

        I suspect whoever controls (or fails to control) monopolies there might disagree.

        It's a cheap excuse. Coca cola and Pespi both try to do exclusive deals all the time. There is a reason you get Coke at McDonalds and Burger King, and not Pepsi. I actually hate Pepsi, and I thought it was a victory for freedom when Burger King switched to Coke. There is huge competition between Coke and Pepsi, trying to lock in these winner take all deals. But, it can only go so far. Many convenient store chains still ca

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Microsoft has a reputation as a gun slinger. It is a well earned reputation. The OOXML ISO incident only happened recently and the list of crap Microsoft has pulled is longer than I will ever know. If you think for a moment that fear is not a weapon Microsoft wields, then you haven't been paying attention.

  • by ClaraBow (212734) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:31AM (#28401269)
    Linux has come a long way and it is ready for the average user. Yes, Joe-six-pack can use linux with a 15 minute tutorial in the basics. I just want to scream knowing that Microsoft is still undermining the market and retarding progress!
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      So long as all you want to do is use what's already been set up for you, in a stock configuration. Want to plug in an extra monitor? Well, that's kind of tricky....

    • by jbolden (176878) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:56AM (#28401889) Homepage

      Take a look at the Netbook discussions from a year ago. Limpus, Netbook Xandros.... weren't quality. The Linuxes that shipped with Netbooks weren't really good enough in particular in terms of software choice and package availability. Almost every /. person who bought one ended up putting on a different Linux. That means an OS install. And those OS installs were complicated because of obscure hardware which often required specialized driver packages.

      It wasn't ready.

      Linux has been ready given a strong backing for a decade. What it lacks though is the sort of strong backing. Something like Mandriva's OEM Netbook Linux pairing with a Dell would have been perfect. But then where are Dell's cost savings?

  • by selven (1556643) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:32AM (#28401279)
    Good for the horse analogy union that they seem to be making a comeback against car analogies. Horse analogies were always superior to car analogies - they are more maneuvrable, can use almost anything in nature for fuel (car analogies only compatible with Octane Troll and Flamebait) and they don't need a bailout.
    • by hansraj (458504)

      ..they are more maneuvrable, can use almost anything in nature for fuel

      You bastard! I couldn't find any animal-food store nearby, and believing you made my horse drink petrol. Now he doesn't look so good!!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the terrible pollution from their exhaust;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blue Stone (582566)

      That, good sir, is complete horse shit.

      (the inherent vulnerability in the equine metaphor)

      • Sorry good sir. All the complete horse $hit has mysteriously vanished from the tracks and the stables. The Apple trees are gone too.

        The carbon compounds you see are from proprietary, non-reproducing animals like the mule on the desktop, and a smaller animal similar to the well liked Pony, is being developed for riders with lower speed riding needs.

        Talks are underway in Michigan to return the land back to quadraped friendly parkways suitable for buggies. The whips may be found on the internet.

    • by sdpuppy (898535)
      I've been getting tired of this car analog thing on Slash Dot -

      people have been beating this dead horse for too long now.

      Oh wait...

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:34AM (#28401287) Homepage Journal

    It's easy to see Ballmer, gun in hand, claiming "Now, mine is faster".

  • by MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:36AM (#28401315)

    if i shoot your horse, i'd bet to hell mine is faster than yours. my horse would beat any dead or crippled horse.

    now... anyone got a horse i can borrow? xerox?

  • by gTsiros (205624) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:39AM (#28401349)

    he kills your horse so his horse is the only one left standing.

    you are free to go on worrying which one would be faster.

  • Gibberish (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blackpaw (240313)

    The summary was pure gibberish. I only deciphered it because I had fair idea of what was intended in the first place.

  • Cunning Plan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by turgid (580780) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:45AM (#28401385) Journal

    What these companies need to to is to club together to form a new "independent" company that makes netbooks. This company would only sell non-Microsoft netbooks (whether that was Linux or some other new-fangled OS) and thus be immune to Microsoft's mafia tactics.

    No turnips required.

  • The real reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asavage (548758) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @09:51AM (#28401425)
    There are two reasons why it is hard to get a linux netbook these days. First, Microsoft panicked and started letting the netbook manufacturers put windows on for next to nothing. Second, even the better manufacturers put a barely usable Linux on the netbooks that wouldn't allow you to install any software without using the command line, broke the wireless when you installed software updates, etc. Some of the manufacturers didn't even include working webcam drivers on their Linux netbooks.
    • by fermion (181285)
      Also, when a netbook with MS WIndows is cheaper than a netbook with Linux, one assumes that there is some sort of kickback going on that makes the net cost of licensing MS products negligible. Evan accounting for the alleged increased integration cost for linux, the netbook itself uses the same hardware, which is the primary costs.

      For *nix to succeed to netbooks, someone, as Apple did, is going to have sell a premium netbook with a working OS that fixes all the problems listed. It is going to require a

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Agreed, though actually there are rumors they subsidized the hardware.

      I'd also add:
      3) They didn't truly customize the netbooks. They shouldn't have had an OS but rather there should have been end user images you just select and installed via. the web.
      -- college student (non engineering)
      -- college student (engineering)
      -- professional commuter
      -- middle/high school student
      -- IT professional
      etc...

      Take advantage of Linux's strengths.

  • OEM laziness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javacowboy (222023) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:00AM (#28401487)

    I can't remember where I read this, but from what I understand the reason Linux died on the netbook was because the netbook makers didn't bother to install the right drivers for various hardware components and didn't configure them properly. This resulted in many Linux netbooks getting returned.

    OEMs tend not to want to write their own software or do much configuration. Their business model has traditionally been to assemble commodity components, load Windows on them, and maybe the odd driver not included in Windows.

    It will take a polished corporate effort such as Moblin or Android to get a non-Windows OS on netbooks.

    • by OmegaBlac (752432)

      It will take a polished corporate effort such as Moblin or Android to get a non-Windows OS on netbooks.

      Unless of course the companies that want to sell a Moblin or Andriod netbook continue to mysteriously ax these products before they hit stores selves.

      FTA:

      On Monday, Qualcomm showed an Asus Eee PC using its new ARM Snapdragon chips to run Google's Android Linux. From all reports, the skinny, little Android-powered netbook looked great.

      So, this was a good day for Asus right? A new ARM-powered Asus

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hitmark (640295)

      MSI was the one with the driver issues (and also the one that first complained about return rates on their linux model).

      Asus and Acer are the ones that use odd offshots of debian (xandros, asus) and fedora (linpus, acer). and the versions they based those of are not even close to the latest...

      Still, as one think about it, asus probably got its inspiration from OLPC and intel classmate, and envisioned linux as just some "featurephone firmware" that would not be messed around with much ones installed. They al

  • Horses... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:03AM (#28401521) Homepage

    "If I say my horse is faster than yours, and you says yours is faster, and we let our horses race around the track, that establishes the point. But if you shoot my horse, that leaves questions in the air. Is your horse really faster? If so, why shoot my horse?'

    Because then my living horse is faster than your dead horse, obviously.

  • by PinchDuck (199974) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:23AM (#28401637)

    Whereas Microsoft is a corporation with focus, clarity, and direction. Linux seeped into the netbook niche because it was the best alternative at the time. Any new computing device that needs an O/S and hasn't yet gotten a proven business model for making money is a perfect platform for Linux. It plays to Linux's strengths. The netbook craze caught MS completely unawares, and Linux was very successful for a year or so. Then MS focused on that segment, clarified their offerings, and went directly at the manufacturers to make sure that XP was a viable option on that platform. In other words, the market morphed to a situation that played to Microsoft's strengths. No conspiracies or dead horses here, just the standard business cycle. I hope to pick up a netbook, and I know to get one that has Linux, but most people just don't care, and are familiar with XP. They see the familiar "Start" button and gravitate towards that. To each their own.

  • Don't forget Intel (Score:3, Informative)

    by dpilot (134227) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @10:25AM (#28401649) Homepage Journal

    If anyone these days has the balls to take on Microsoft, it's Intel. Intel has Moblin, and just sunk a pile of money into Moblin. I suspect they're also a bit tired of getting the screw-deal from Microsoft, too. Intel's entire low-end is pretty much zero profit - they make all their money on the high-end that piggy-backs on top. The lion's share of profit on low-end computing goes to Microsoft. Most live with it, I suspect Intel is tired of that situation.

    Not that Intel doesn't have their monopoly abuses, too.

  • Microsoft isn't really shooting the competing horse. They know that they can't do that because it is illegal. It would also draw the government's attention to the problem of fixed horse races, and open the door to more legislation. No one really wants that.

    The hardware vendors are more like the race track operators. They provide a venue in which anyone can compete, and will gladly let anyone participate if it reflects their business interests. Except that they have one little problem: the owner of the

  • The great mystery of computing is not that Linux is not in the consumer space, but that Windows is so entrenched in the enterprise space.

    Windows is inherently a consumer operating system. It has a developer mythology that the dream Windows development is to make that one product that you can sell and make millions with. It's got a rich set of services developers can use to build consumer products, and it treats a product like a product, a property that can be bought, traded, and rented. You've got a well documented set of graphics and sound APIs, a halfway decent networking stack, and a bunch of tools that are frankly geared towards producing consumer products and these things support a healthy consumer market. Consumers, to some degree, actually like to spend money, so that Windows is non-free actually enhances its perceived value in the consumer space. If you receive something or buy something that doesn't work in Windows, its not something that you try and sort out and fix, its time to move on to another product. Everything is a black box good that you pay for, it either works or it doesn't, and that's what people on the consumer level want.

    On the other hand, Linux is a total corporate and government system. It has a developer mythology that "welcome to the basement of megacorp, I've got a jar skittles.. we're both cogs.. here's your cube." Thus, the economic prospect that in the Linux world, your work product is worthless in the market sense, but, your boss gets to use the economic benefit of it over and over again, and, if you can get to keep working on it for a bit, that's pretty interesting and you get a paycheck for it. If you want to get rich with Linux, it won't be by making an application. You'd have to make a consumer black box out of it by hosting a web site using it. But all the development and other tools of Linux have a certain corporate basement feel. Nothing is really a consumer level product, but, everything has all sorts of rich nooks and crannies to do a bunch of different corporate tasks. Consumers don't need to replace social security numbers in a giant database with some new form of proprietary identifier, but Linux developers do, and that's where the strength of Linux tools lie.

    Do you really want Linux to be a consumer system anyway? To some extent, that means getting rid of an awful lot that is lovable about Linux. It means polishing out (getting rid of), that barely documented switch to a command where an author left a note saying "uh, this piece of code I put in and got to work for this one thing that I was doing but I'm not really maintaining it", or, to not have that feature at all, or, even worse, have the feature, but not the warning. In any case, there's nothing about Windows that reminds me of the guy in the basement offering some skittles in the basement of the power company, but Linux has that in spades, and I like skittles.

    For Linux to be a consumer system, we have to have a world where we take art seriously. That means no copying of images, or songs, worrying about who owns what, and, in a corporate world, all of that is a pain in the rear. If we made Linux into a consumer system and had a consumer culture with it, there's no way you could, from your basement, tell the next bit of bits in your desk to get in line, just like all the other bits. We're all just corporate cogs, hey, here's some skittles.

    Me thinks that rather than charging to get consumers to adopt Linux, it should be to drive Windows out of the corporation.

  • Origins (Score:3, Informative)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @11:05AM (#28401949) Homepage Journal

    The first "netbook" that started all the craze was the XO... everyone wanted one, even paying twice, donating one to schools to get one of those. And run Linux. The first next ones (asus, msi, etc) consolidated the trend, and run linux too. Till last year, most if not all netbooks had Linux as alternate (if not main) OS. And a bunch of distros/interfaces of linux specialised in netbooks started to show up (eeebuntu and similar, ubuntu netbook remix, moblin, android, etc)

    Then the campaing started. Microsoft using a chainsaw to manage to show XP in an XO. Then saying that Linux netbook returns were 4 times higher than Windows ones (at least what an msi exec said [ostatic.com], an asus one denied that [ostatic.com]). Some vendors giving lesser options/specs for Linux netbooks than for Windows ones. And linux offers and showings in netbooks starting to fade

    The next incoming market for Linux in small pcs are arm based net/smart books. Started with linux in general, then Android, but recently started a push to say that the right OS for that platform is another Microsoft one, Windows CE [osnews.com].

    Clearly this is not a smoking gun... the room of Neo's "guns, lots of guns" is tiny compared with the amount of weapons Microsoft is using in all fronts to try to stop the flood. Will it succeed? I only hope that not.

  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    That summary made no sense. I read it twice and still couldn't figure out what point the author was trying to make so I wasn't even interested in the linked article.

  • When netbooks were initially released, they were perceived to be a niche/hobbyist market, so putting Linux on a netbook made sense from both a fiscal and a market standpoint.

    Microsoft realized that they were on the verge of losing out on a potentially lucrative market, so they quickly reversed course on sunsetting Windows XP, and under some very netbook-specific licensing conditions, made it available to manufacturers for cheap.

    When the average user was presented with the choice of Linux -- a "new" OS t

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#28403741) Homepage

    Couple of problems here

    • Whenever Linux and Windows netbooks were made equally available to the public, the public has mostly chosen Windows. For example, Linux and Windows netbooks were (and still are) readily available from Amazon, and Windows, and if you check the top sellers, Windows dominates.
    • The quote doesn't say anything about Microsoft pressuring anybody. As one of the commentators on Groklaw pointed out, is can quite reasonably be read as simply saying it is hard to be different from the vast majority, and so its better to start off in a market where there is more diversity, like PDAs and smartphonest.

    Another Groklaw commentator pointed out that: (1) people are familiar with Windows which makes them tend to choose it. (2) multiple distributions confuses ordinary computer users (there was no de facto standard distribution for netbooks). (A good fraction of the Linux users who purchase Linux netbooks through out the distribution that came on their netbook and install one of the more mainstream distributions). (3) There are still ease of use problems.

    PJs response was interesting. She accused the commentator of working for Microsoft, told him he needs to update his FUD because "Linux is way easier to use now than Microsoft stuff. No comparison", and tossed off a circular argument ("If they were as difficult as you pretend, why kill it?").

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