Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 31st May 2009 10:44 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Back when the whole netbook thing started, Asus was king of the hill with a focus on netbooks with Linux pre-installed. Since they were kind of popular, it didn't take Microsoft long to start working together with Asus to 'port' Windows XP to the Asus line of netbooks, and with that, to other netbooks as well. The result was that Linux netbooks are now harder to find for many people. While Dell committed itself to Linux on netbooks, Asus has decided to just skip the first date and jump right into bed with Microsoft.
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There are some geeks inside their linux bubble that are light years away from business realities.

Why do you say that? There are plenty of geeks that make money off of Linux, from major corporations such as Red Hat, to smaller vendors who do pre-installed desktop Linux such as System76. Why is it that people always insist that there is no money to be made with Linux?

Companies, and especially cheap hardware vendors are in desperate need for cash, because their margins are so low, compared to their costs. They need to find ways to make money, it's vital to stay in business. Netbooks are definitely not cash cows like Apple products.

I agree with you, but in the same end, that's the business model they chose, with high volume and low profits. Apple chose a different model, and have been very successful at it. One thing that could be tried is as more platforms become available (from ARM, VIA), to maybe shop around for a lower cost platform, and either undercut competition by a large margin to help increase volume, or undercut by a smaller margin to increase profit per unit.

And to make money, you have to offer what your customer wants. Most computer users want Windows, they don't want Linux, in spite of geeks wanting it to be the opposite.

It's important to remember why Linux is being preinstalled at all by any vendor. Customers wanted it. Dell began installing Ubuntu due to overwhelming response on Dell's Brainstorm. Also, if it's so obvious people want Windows and not Linux, then why is there a need to actually create an advertisement to tell us this?

IMO, I think Asus just hurt it's reputation and a (although maybe small) portion of it's supporters. It's stint with Linux lasted less time than Dell's. Than Dell. Think about that. Asus created a movement to at least offer an option for Linux on netbooks. Even HP and Dell offer this. Now they're offering less choice than their competition, using the same hardware platform, and they expect this to boost sales? Let's hope that light at the end of the tunnel doesn't turn in to a train...

Reply Parent Score: 9

Liquidator Member since:

It's important to remember why Linux is being preinstalled at all by any vendor. Customers wanted it. Dell began installing Ubuntu due to overwhelming response on Dell's Brainstorm.

There is a need, but what about the ratio between customers who want Linux and those who want Windows? What about the proportion of those who want the Linux version to install a pirated version of Windows? I'm asking because the overall market share of Linux is around 1%, and I don't know why it would be different on the netbook market. People use what OS they feel more comfortable with, no matter if it's a desktop computer, a laptop, a netbook, etc... The overwhelming response on Dell's brainstorm is because a lot of geeks have rushed to have their voice heard.

Also, if it's so obvious people want Windows and not Linux, then why is there a need to actually create an advertisement to tell us this?

Because ASUS has burnt its wings with the poor Linux netbooks that Windows users didn't like that much. A communication campaign is necessary for ASUS to recover its brand image and for Windows users to know that ASUS has the right product for them.

Reply Parent Score: 2

mabhatter Member since:

The bigger difference I see between Asus and HP/Dell is that Asus didn't really do any work for their Linux distro. They didn't use Xandros... they used a "free" derivative and payed some no-name company to support it far less than they paid for windows even after Microsoft lowered the price. Asus invested essentially nothing in the distro other than cheap stuff to throw on their cheap computers. The early units they didn't even bother to make sure all the hardware components worked properly..... that has nothing to do with "Linux" as the OEM is the one organization with the rights to write and release those drivers for linux and Asus choose not to polish up the drivers but to release a broken product.

Dell on the other hand is using Ubuntu.. from Canonical... and they're willing to choose the hardware that works properly (even if it means limited choices) before they ship something. They're paying the Linux company for actual support after the sale.

The real issue is that most OEM providers, especially the cheap ones, provide little to no driver configuration or end user support. In spite of the OEM license requirements that OEMs are supposed to SUPPORT Windows users, very few actually do. Most skate by with the default Windows Updates and letting users fend for themselves getting drivers from the chip makers like ATI or Nvidia or Broadcom directly. When it came to Linux netbooks they thought they could get away with "community" support instead of being a company that PAID for support and getting developers' hands dirty with fixing actual problems.. and it came back to bite them.

"Linux" isn't the problem.. the problem is cheap OEMs that can't handle making a functional product when it's not handed to them for free and they have to work at it. Most of the netbook OEMS shipped netbooks with missing drivers and non-working hardware in the Linux version and didn't seek out working versions (when often it existed, or required changes from the default configuration) or pay to write the drivers needed. It's squarely on OEMs that shipped broken systems, not on "Linux" no matter how badly OEMs want to wash their hands.

[edit]Put it another way: When the Linux Rumors first started on Eee Asus was rumored to be paying $5!! a copy for the Xandros knock-off. Then they got a "good deal" and rumor was knocked the Windows price down to $25 a copy... That's the whole problem in a nutshell. Why wasn't "linux" worth $20 a copy (for R&D and support) in the first place? They've sold upwards of a million units imagine $20 a copy for support in Canonical's hands... it would nearly double their income and provide funds to buy the drivers/support needed to do the product right.

Edited 2009-06-01 13:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

Windows Sucks Member since:

You are 100% right. If they could get the Netbook companies to go standard on something like Ubuntu it would be great.

Right now it just seems like when it comes to Linux everyone wants to 1. Dumb it down and 2. Make it seem like you have a big toy.

Netbook remix with the ability to turn off and on the Remix part is what is needed. Ubuntu needs to be PUSHING as many companies as possible to ship with NBR as the Linux version of default. Even if they have to give it to the OEMS for now to get them on board and let them pay after it is shown that it can sell.

They also need to include some good docs and make it easy to update. And they need to get off the 6 month release cycle for OEM versions. Go with a 1 year to 18 month release cycle (Which works well for Apple)

What would be a good is if they could when they push out updates then attach a small fee like Apple does for the iPod touch. For people using OEM NBR they could charge say $9.99 or something and when the update came out it would pop up in the updater telling you all the new features, how to protect your data, how to pay the fee and then allowing you to update. They could make some much needed money off this and put out a more stable version.

I don't know about everyone else but I don't mind Ubuntu making money charging people for OEM versions etc.

Reply Parent Score: 2