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Netbook Return Rates Much Higher For Linux Than Windows

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the old-dogs-new-tricks-etc. dept.

Operating Systems 663

ivoras writes "An interview with MSI's director of US Sales, Andy Tung, contains this interesting snippet: "We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven't really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don't know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it's not what they are used to. They don't want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.'"

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Insert "witty" title here. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263179)

Insert derivative troll post here.

they don't know what they get until they open the (0, Redundant)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263181)

Well, duh.

Re:they don't know what they get until they open t (2, Interesting)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263289)

But Windows XP is dead. Microsoft wants you using Vista, and Vista is one of the hardest OSes to learn after using XP. Microsoft will soon enough ban OEM installs of XP on netbooks, so this talk of XP vs. Linux is mostly useless.

People come to me all the time, asking for help with setting up their wi-fi or trying to figure out some other off-the-wall issue with Vista. And I tell them, hell if I know... I wish they'd switch to Ubuntu. It is no more difficult to learn than Vista.

Re:they don't know what they get until they open t (5, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263359)

The OS may be no more difficult to learn (for everyday use; if you're a power user, though, XP -> Vista is still easier than XP -> Ubuntu), but then you also have the added learning curve of replacing every single application except possibly Firefox, if they weren't using IE before.

Which retailers? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263185)

And are they selling the returned notebooks at a big discount?

ya, really (2, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263361)

Where are the half price (whatever) cheap refurb units being sold for these netbooks then?

Education would fix that (5, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263191)

Seriously, put some videos on there that explain how to do common tasks. Tasks that are better on linux than on windows. (Like finding/installing cool toys/software/games). Make the videos right there on the desktop. Once consumers find out they can do the things they want, and easily, they will like it.

Mod Parent +1 Funny (4, Funny)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263259)

Games! Good one, sir.

Re:Education would fix that (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263267)

I guess most people don't want to be educated. They just want to use the stuff.
With Windows they can. With Linux they can't. So guess which one wins...

Re:Education would fix that (4, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263327)

Lol what? Ever seen a noob windows user sitting in front of a computer? Windows is far more confusing than Linux especially since you learn a lot of stuff working on Linux while with Windows you're just doing stuff that other people tell you. No learning curve beyond "how to keep that shit from crashing". At least in Linux the error messages MEAN something. I've corrected multiple problems already just by reading the errors in the shell and then reacting to it. Even a noob can understand that "missing library blabla" means "I need to install library blabla". Windows tells me "Wow, we fucked up, here's where. Since we can't tell you what we did this information is useless so just pass it on to us so we can pretend to actually know what went wrong.". The problem here is simply that Windows has been established in larger circles for longer, people grow up around Windows machines and then take that as the only feasible OS effectively conditioning themselves to a certain manufacturer. Same goes for Apple users, grow up in a Mac house, use a couple of Macs until you're in your mid-twenties and everything else will look like the devil to you. I know people that can't even properly type on a PC keyboard because of that. These are the kind of people that buy cars according to the button layout they're used to and color regardless of specs and mileage.

It's not that they don't want to learn, they learned the wrong stuff and now can't/don't wanna adapt because they're lazy. So I blame the people for not learning "technology" but learning "Microsoft technology" which is kinda sad.

Re:Education would fix that (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263545)

This problem will always exist sure, blame general brand recognition problems in the world for part of that. But, to beat some of this, simply programming with an "intuitive" interface is the best practice and I think Linux has done a good job with that in some areas, but obviously there's always room for improvement, there are still GUIs missing for some tasks for instance. Any way, I think both Gnome and KDE do a much better job for the most part than the Windows GUI does. It only takes a few clicks to get to most things which is very nice, unlike with Windows XP which buries stuff a bit, and most especially Windows Vista which not only buries stuff further but flashes warnings at you the whole way.

Yeah, I know I'm changing firewall settings, if I didn't know what that would do why would I be in there changing them to begin with? ZOMG I want to use a 3rd party solution instead of your own crap? You sure do make that difficult to do, don't you.

That having been said, Linux needs a few more error messages whenever programs crash or fail to run, so that users can get basic feedback when things don't work without having to run them from a terminal. Those are the good kind of feedback messages users need, to you know, help them out in doing what they were trying to do, not putting roadblocks in their way.

Re:Education would fix that (3, Interesting)

313373_bot (766001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263457)

True, but even people who hate to learn were forced to learn Windows at some point in the past. Today, inertia what is keeping Windows rolling, but as Linux becomes more and more mainstream, those people will have to learn something new. And if not Linux, then something else, after all at some point Windows will have to be replaced, it's just a matter of time. A paradigm shift can be delayed, but not avoided forever.

Re:Education would fix that (3, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263537)

The thing is, Windows was ubiquitous because it was installed on all "regular" machines. It was the cheapest way to get to know an operating system because it was already there. Now recently Linux has improved user experience significantly and now it's the most affordable thing there is. Unless you buy a new computer every time MS finishes a product cycle you'll have to fork over some extra cash to get the latest Windows (or pirate it with all the known side effects). Linux on the other hand is free today, not only as in beer but as in speech as well.

I think the faster people realize that you only need the latest hardware for gaming and high-end processing the faster Linux will continue to grow. Regular users ask themselves why they should spend 500 bucks on a new OS or even more on a new computer when they could install a free OS that does most things equally well. I personally used free Linux distros to give some old machines a new purpose and would have never done that (or would have been capable of doing so) if I had to buy a Microsoft license for each. After all there's no use in trying to sell Vista to someone who still uses his offline Windows 98 SE machine to type recipes or something.

We see more and more people who are interested in tinkering with their systems, develop small apps and do all kinds of weird stuff to the OS. Microsoft and Apple both generously avoid that by locking everything down and so the only real alternative for people who want to dive into the internals of an OS will have to use an open OS sooner or later. After all, there's no www.windows-kernel.org.

Re:Education would fix that (5, Insightful)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263277)

I remember my first Mac had a 1,44" Floppy with a very cool tutorial app that illustraded the most important steps you had to do in order to get started: click to open an app, how drag&drop works, where the apps are located, how to save a document and how to open one. I was 15 years old, and I remember I very much enjoyed the little tutorial app, it was funny and helped me getting started quickly. I agree with you here: put a quick (max 15min) comic style tutorial app on the desktop, and people will have a different view on the whole thing, and like it more.

Re:Education would fix that (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263355)

Windows 3.1 included such an app as well, i found it funny to see them explaning what a mouse is :)

Marketing would fix that (4, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263331)

People don't want to be trained. They want to be sold. The problem with Linux on the consumer desktop is nobody is selling it to them. Apple marketing makes a different machine cool and worth investing the time to learn. Maybe treating the netbook like a web/mail appliance instead of a small computer would help manufacturers do a better job of satisfying the customer. What are some stats from other netbook makers?

Re:Marketing would fix that (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263557)

The problem is, you then get into the "one device for every app". Such things become later abused by hardware and software makers to the point that you can only have "one device for every app". Think of it this way, if they marketed a netbook as only useful for checking e-mail, they might as well leave out all the games, heck, why not take out the entire package manager! Then we get to the point where the OS is not usable as a computer but it becomes a one or two application device. Now, us geeks are of course going to quickly change the OS and have a good computer, but what about Joe Sixpack who looks at a netbook and thinks its just $400 to check e-mail and surf the web, something that his $250 iPod Touch can already do, so they ignore it. And so when Joe Sixpack ignores it, and when businessmen ignore it because it doesn't run Windows out of the box, nor have more applications installed on it than their smartphone, there's little market left over except for the /. crowd which isn't enough to have multiple competing brands and lower prices.

Re:Education would fix that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263373)

"Seriously, put some videos on there that explain how to do common tasks."

What we need is a kind of trojan horse style of Education. These returns are likely due to non-technical people finding they have a different working environment, to the one they use at work or have used before. Familiarity unfortunately counts a lot for non-technical users. I think this is why porting linux applications onto Windows is vitally important, to get people to eventually accept Linux. I've reciently got my entire company to adopt Open Office on all their Windows machines. Now they all use Open Office just like any other application. Its a trojan horse approach to build Familiarity of Linux applications. Microsoft fear open source tools on Windows far more than they fear open source tools on Linux, as this introduces Windows users to the working environment they would find the same on Linux, so it undermines Windows lock-in. This is why Microsoft is aiming to undermine ODF. Microsoft wants to maintain lock in of users.

The more Linux applications are ported to Windows, the more this trojan horse style of education will familiarize non-technical users with Linux applications. It reduces the learning curve to get non-technical users to not care about "needing" Windows.

Re:Education would fix that (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263695)

That would require a functional and easy to use media stack in Linux to play the videos.

it's the manufacturer's fault (5, Interesting)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263195)

I've had two netbooks so far, and on both, the Linux installations sucked. One came with Xandros, the other with SuSE. Both were poorly installed, neither of them updated correctly over the network, and neither of them was properly adapted to the device (screen, keyboard, etc.). If I hadn't been able to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix, I would have returned the machines myself.

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (3, Interesting)

jbellis (142590) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263253)

That's too bad. My only experience is with the Acer Aspire One, which comes with a Fedora 8 variant installed and has none of those problems.

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263335)

Speedtux, what manufacturers release an unfinished product like that? Please expose them... maybe public ridicule will force them to get their act together.

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (1)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263627)

I believe the eeepc comes with Xandros, I don't know what comes with Suse (perhaps MSI or Medion, also German?).

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263413)

Ya, the Ubuntu Linux version that Dell uses on the Mini 9 is supposedly very awesome.

I would never in a millions years give a regular Joe any distro other than Ubuntu. Especially a slow-ass weirdly/non-standard configured Red-Hat based distro.

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263437)

I've heard this story a lot from seasoned users (being one myself, although I never got around to buying a preinstalled machine). Apparently the first Dell laptops with Ubuntu had the same kind of problems. Likewise a number of laptop sellers advertise as being Linux friendly but I often see small print along the lines of "this and that peripheral (most often the webcam) won't work if you pick Linux as the OS".

What is it with those people ? They pick their hardware, can't they at least pick some that's supported ? It's not as if it was difficult to find Linux supported components. It's even more irritating when you find out that users familiar with the system report that it was an easy fix.

I sometimes wonder if there isn't a clause in one of their OEM contracts stipulating that "if you supply another OS, it has to be crappy".

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (2, Informative)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263551)

Actually, the first Ubuntu-loaded laptops worked (and still work) great - I bought and am typing this on an Inspiron E1505N - all the hardware worked out of the box, except for 3D video. (Intel still had a binary blob for the wireless, but was working on releasing an Open Source driver)

There was one glitch with updating the kernel, though...but that was the only hiccup in the whole process.

Re:it's the manufacturer's fault (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263617)

If I hadn't been able to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix, I would have returned the machines myself.

It would be interesting to dig deeper into the return numbers and find out if it was problems with Linux in general or the specific OS installed on the returned devices. I believe the Linux in general issues can be addressed, but the device specific OS issues will be more difficult.

As long as every netbook manufacturer is determined to roll their own flavor, then Linux will continue to be plagued with dilution by fragmentation in the marketplace. Instead of the Windows way and the Linux way, there's the Windows way and 20 different Linux ways.

An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (5, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263201)

RTFA, and unlike the submitter, you'll see that the interviewers point out that MSI offer a poorly configured version of Linux.

I wonder what it would cost someone like Microsoft to have MSI spike the competition.

Re:An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (2, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263309)

I would think the people who actively buy a Linux version would also be more discerning customers, more likely to return it if it wasn't exactly what they wanted.

Re:An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (2, Informative)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263409)

If you know anything about computers it's easy enough to just install a different distro. The returns are the clueless people who don't know about Linux and won't learn.

Re:An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (5, Informative)

lunarpaladin (869647) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263345)

RTFA, and unlike the submitter, you'll see that the interviewers point out that MSI offer a poorly configured version of Linux. I wonder what it would cost someone like Microsoft to have MSI spike the competition.

I could have shared this observation months ago. It may have to do with the distro itself in this particular instance, but as a senior sales associate for a larger computer + electronics retailer, I can state for a fact that we get a substantially higher return rate of Linux-based Aspire One and EEE PC's compared to that of the Windows-based ones. The most common complaint when asked the reason for the return? "I can't install any of my programs on here. Office, Adobe, MSN, nothing works!" I try to take the time to assist them, showing them where they can find comparable programs and install them, such as GAIM/Pidgin and OpenOffice. Some are more than happy with that, others still want to return them. Lucky for them we have a pretty lax return policy.

Re:An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (2, Insightful)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263365)

So basically, it's not a Microsoft conspiracy to distort the market as the GP suggested, more that applications that people want to run don't work on Linux? This is hardly news; for the average user, they want Office, Photoshop and Windows Live Messenger, not OpenOffice, GIMP and Pidgin (the last one of which can easily be viewed as some kind of cruel joke by someone spoilt by the niceties and features of the official MSN client...)

Re:An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (3, Informative)

NeilTheStupidHead (963719) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263555)

I find the same thing. Several of my friends recently acquired eeePCs through a promotion offered by Royal Bank. One or two of them were interested in learning how to use the built-in OS and the others came to me to 'just put XP on there so MSN will work'; a slight challenge on the 2G models the bank was giving away. To be fair, XP does perform pretty snappily for the hardware but still not quite as snappy as even the default Xandros, which I cart around for presentations instead of lugging my 'full-sized' notebook which is 2-3 times the weight and half the battery life.

Re:An MSI problem, rather than a Linux one. (5, Insightful)

moreati (119629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263353)

I wonder what it would cost someone like Microsoft to have MSI spike the competition.

It would cost much less than allowing MSI do it in the normal course of their business. I know conspiracies are more entertaining than blaming human laziness, but trying to blame poor Linux/MSI integration on Microsoft takes the biscuit. Consider:

  • MSI are traditionally a hardware OEM, having close to zero customer-experience experience.
  • MSI were chasing ASUS, time to market would have been a big priority
  • Netbooks are sold cheap, so they're designed on a tight budget.

Of course! (0, Flamebait)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263203)

Of course the return rate is higher! Linux is NOT READY FOR THE DESKTOP! You can't buy off-the-shelf software for it at Best Buy and it's hard to use. People buy things based on the price tag without doing their research first. Most of the time, they can't even get their microwave oven to stop flashing 12:00. What makes you think they're going to want to read an extremely lengthy linux user manual?

Re:Of course! (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263261)

You can't buy off-the-shelf software for it at Best Buy

But you can buy linux at BestBuy [bestbuy.com] . If we can see strong sales of linux netbooks, we might see other software on the shelf too.

I wonder what the return rate for Macs are compared to Windows PCs? Perhaps Apple's investment in customer service is to reduce return rates when folk turn on an unfamiliar operating system. Of course when you sell some of the more expensive consumer PCs it's a lot easier to offer that level of support. To offer it when you're competing at the very lowest price point is much more challenging.

Others have suggested videos on the desktop. I recon that's a good idea. Why not throw in a DVD too - maybe use a well known actor to ease familiarity - and talk folk through how to do some of the most common tasks?

Re:Of course! (1)

tritter (1294692) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263553)

Yeah, ask Seinfeld... oh WAIT!

Re:Of course! (0, Troll)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263263)

Read a user manual? Not ready for the Desktop? Hard to use? I don't know what Linux you are talking about but the one I've been using for over two years now is easy to use, has tons of software does everything that XP did for me before and I never needed a manual I chose to read Wiki explanations for specific tasks. I had never used Linux before and I will certainly never buy windows after.

Linux IS ready for the Desktop, it's that meatsack sitting behind it that isn't. The problem with the Linux adaption is that most people are idiots who get used to Windows as the one and only way user interaction should be presented. These are the same people that don't know how to get their microwave to show the time because they had a hard enough time to learn how to do that to the VCR and now can't be bothered anymore. In that sense Linux is improving the situation because it teaches those that use it that computers are computers and the interfaces are exchangeable. I got my brother a computer with Ubuntu on it, he's 23 and doesn't know much about computers but after I told him the things he needed to know everything works just fine. Which just goes to show if you're not biased by getting used to crap for the best part of your life you can actually adapt to changes.

The problem here is an old one, dumbshit learns Word for a couple of years and when you show him OpenOffice they go "But the printer icon doesn't look quite like the one I'm used to" and can't use it. Why? Because they are fucking stupid! I can press any type of buttons no matter what they look like as long as I understand that it's what I have to do to get the machine to do what I want. If you really can't make the connection between printer icon = printing or navigate a menu that is slightly different from what you've used before maybe these people shouldn't be working with computers. It's like with a car. If you drive your old car for a couple of years and the new one has the AC knob in a different place will you sweat? If you're dumb and ignorant you will because you refuse to learn how to work the new thing. If you're smart you'll realize that stuff needs to be operated no matter how it looks.

Wiki explanations before getting network to work? (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263389)

I never needed a manual I chose to read Wiki explanations for specific tasks.

I'll assume that your run-on sentence was intended to have a semicolon after "manual". But I don't know how wiki explanations can be so useful if you don't already have networking up.

but after I told [my brother] the things he needed to know everything works just fine.

Most people buying netbooks don't have access to you. Who will train them?

If you drive your old car for a couple of years and the new one has the AC knob in a different place will you sweat?

Mac OS and GNOME put Cancel (brake) on the left and OK (gas) on the right. Windows and some other environments do it the other way around.

Re:Of course! (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263399)

...and the new one has the AC knob in a different place will you sweat? If you're dumb and ignorant you will because you refuse to learn how to work the new thing...
That is the best description of 'brand loyalty' I've seen so far. I will steal it right now.

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263431)

The problem with linux on the desktop is your attitude. You refer to users in your post as meatsacks, idiots, dumbshits and being fucking stupid. Most people actually have a fair amount of intellect to be able to learn and understand a new system, and with the right encouragement, they will succeed.

Let's be perfectly honest here, taking a windows user to a linux desktop is much more akin to taking a car driver and putting them in the seat of a motorbike for the first time. The both have accelerators, brakes, gears and wheels, and they also let you travel down roads. Sure the rules of the roads are the same (which don't need re-learning), but the act of driving is very different and they will need time to adjust. So get off your high horse, and be a bit more patient with other members of the human race in future....

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263449)

He is talking about gentoo, and you are right, users are stupid most of the time.

ah well, at least i got my sister to use linux on my laptop when her xp machine had finaly crashed, she liked it, i only had to tell her about the applications menu in gnome and she was off! :)

Re:Of course! (1, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263459)

Oh, look, the fanboi speaks.

Pay close attention. Linux will not be ready for the desktop until those "dumbshit" "meatsacks" find it as easy or easier to use than Windowsd

The real problem is assholes like you think that because you love to tinker with computers, everyone else should be willing to do so as well. The fact is that most people don't want to spend ANY re-learning to use their computer. And, they sure as hell don't want to have to use the command line.

It is not that "printer icon doesn't look quite like the one I'm used to". It is that "Text to Columns" is completely missing. It is that Joe Homeuser wants certain features that aren't available, one of which is to go to the store, go to the software isle, to the financial software section, compare some boxes, and then buy "Quicken".

What you fail miserably to realize is that they don't need to learn how to work a new thing. You want them to do so, but they neither want nor need to do so.

Your snide, arrogant, dismissive remarks shows your distain for anyone who doesn't have your interests and skills.

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263531)

It's people like you (confident linux user?) who turn people like me (new linux user) off of linux completely.

Re:Of course! (1)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263571)

It's like with a car. If you drive your old car for a couple of years and the new one has the AC knob in a different place will you sweat? If you're dumb and ignorant you will because you refuse to learn how to work the new thing. If you're smart you'll realize that stuff needs to be operated no matter how it looks.

Awesome car analogy... But with Linux, in some cases, there is no A/C knob at all. There is an extra step of finding the A/C knob and figuring out how to install it.

Some things that the average user needs, like Adobe Flash, DVD decoding, Skype, etc, require some un-intuitive steps to get working. Even with Ubuntu, my mom couldn't get the programs above working if she tried. Yet she was able do just that with Mac OSX on her MacBook. A Linux distro such as Ubuntu will be ready for the desktop as soon as they figure this out.

Re:Off course! (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263713)

Get a GNU blow-job and shut-the-byteboyz-fuck-up. You're a stain and a loud, drifting noiz. Get on the melting iceberg and drift away.

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263297)

You're right but for the wrong reason. The distribution that MSI went with sucked and they should have gone with Ubuntu netbook remix. Not some version of SUSE.

Re:Of course! (5, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263323)

Of course the return rate is higher! Linux is NOT READY FOR THE DESKTOP! You can't buy off-the-shelf software for it at Best Buy and it's hard to use. People buy things based on the price tag without doing their research first. Most of the time, they can't even get their microwave oven to stop flashing 12:00. What makes you think they're going to want to read an extremely lengthy linux user manual?

Last time I checked, Apple hardware wasn't running Windows. Yet, they've managed to take a *nix/BSD-derived OS and make it VERY simple and intuitive to use.

If [insert netbook vendor here] Executive staff can't seem to find the value in hiring a COMPETENT *nix admin to create a decent functional disk image worthy of being a Microsoft replacement, or at least as easy to use as OS X for the end user, then I feel NO pity for them.

Bottom line is *nix IS ready for the desktop, and Apple has PROVEN that. Other distros have made a large enough impact to make it to Best Buy shelves as well. Make it intuitive enough, and you don't need a 300-page user manual to figure it out.

And ENOUGH with the flashing 12:00 analogy already! Cripes, even my 8-year old knows how to set the damn time on the microwave. Todays generation of 30 and 40-somethings grew UP with tech, and the younger generation can't live without it.

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263385)

My microwave oven doesn't have a display, you insentive clod

Re:Of course! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263491)

Well by that standard Vista isn't ready for the Desktop. Do you know how much money people are making installing XP for people that have bought Vista?
I am hoping that Ubuntu will produce a really good version for netbooks. I am also waiting for Apple to enter the netbook market. OSX can scale down to netbook size.

Software not available at BestBuy? Who cares. The key to the netbook and frankly to Linux is online software purchasing. An iTunes like program like Apple has already done for the iPhone and Google is doing for Android is the answer. Why go to a store when the store can go to you. Just click and buy any program you want. Throw in media, and ebooks as well and your good to go.

Re:Of course! (1)

tmalone (534172) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263515)

You also can't buy off the shelf software for the windows based netbooks as that software tends to come on optical storage media, which netbooks cannot read. I guess you could get a USB dvd drive, but how many people want to invest in that? With Linux you just install from your distro's repositories. Much easier. No extra hardware required.

Just put them on the top shelf. (4, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263223)

Just put them on the top shelf, since the kind of people who obviously don't read the box and think installing Windows hard will be too lazy to reach them.

Re:Just put them on the top shelf. (2, Interesting)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263613)

I've been hearing about "The Year of Linux on the Desktop" for years. I think at this point many Linux distributions are ready for the desktop, at least for many common tasks. Perhaps one of the things we didn't take into account is that many home computer users are too lazy to learn something new.

For myself, I don't care whether most people use MS Windows or OS X or whatever. I just want Linux and/or *BSD to be there for me, which is why I contribute what I can monetarily to various projects, including my preferred Linux distribution.

To reduce return rates. (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263237)

Make the free, ad-less, download-able games, aspect of Linux, a more prominent part of the desktop and I suspect there will be fewer returns.

Stupid people (0, Redundant)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263241)

Are stupid.

Stupid companies (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263535)

Mock stupid people.

Re:Stupid companies (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263561)

I demand an analogy!

They ship with just a kernel... (Linux) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263247)

No wonder people find it kinda... different.
Esp. with tech stuff, the lingo matters, gringo.

Eee (4, Interesting)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263249)

My eeepc was a whole lot more useful once I got a different distro on it. Average Joe isn't going to feel comfortable installing linux on his own, editing boot records and reconfiguring this and that for three hours before the computer becomes useful. They want to hit a button and have a useful operating system in front of them.

That said, I've bought three eee's, one for me, my brother, and my wife. I've installed ubuntu and configured everything before giving them to the others, and they haven't had a problem since. My wife, who won't use windows because she's not used to it (she grew up with macs), says she likes ubuntu - I suspect her story would be different if she had to spend hours looking up instructions how to install it.

Boot-CD/DVD images (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263433)

Three hours of doing that may be fun to you, but as you point out - not for most. I wouldn't find it fun at all.. I do like tinkering with my computer, but I prefer tinkering with it from a known-good state, instead of a known-iffy state; that way if I get the thing in an unknown-fubar state, I can go back to known-good instead of back to known-iffy.

That's why I love the projects sprouting up that offer CD/DVD images of distributions that you just pop into the drive, give it a run, and if you like it - install it on the machine permanently. It's not quite 'out-of-the-box', and if you don't have another machine then the lack of "Order your CD/DVD online!" is annoying. But it's much, much, better than messing about with either the crappy pre-installed stuff or a generic distro that you'd still have to tweak left and right.

Re:Eee (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263611)

Because of the lack of CD/DVD-ROM? Sure, though now with Unetbootin [sourceforge.net] you can easily install to, well, anywhere, easily.

I plan on using USB sticks for all my Linux installation needs from now on, no more CD burning for me. Of course another cool way is to do it via your network through PXE and whatnot, but that's a little harder to set up than just a few clicks unfortunately.

Another reason: laptops in general (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263669)

Many users have no qualms about blowing away desktop PC and reinstalling. The same cannot be said for laptops.

Desktops are typically pieced together from standard hardware components. Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor, x86-based chipset. All these things are supported out of the box for Windows (and Linux). Even in the worst case scenario, the user would still have the VGA graphics and a mouse and keyboard for input.

But laptops are put together using all sorts of specialized hardware. Touch panel input. Scrolling zone on the touch panel. LCD backlight drivers. Specialized keyboards. Built-in wifi. Assuming that the Windows (or Linux) disk comes with the correct drivers pre-packaged is dangerous. You may be left with a laptop in which half the hardware is not working because it didn't get the correct drivers installed during setup.

It's safer to assume that the restore CD contains the correct drivers and simply backup from that. It also means having to go through and uninstall all the crap bundled in there. But even that is difficult to do since you never know if the bundled program is something critical (like audio or DVD).

Add to this that you may be swapping out the OS for something almost completely foreign, and you have set your users up for severe disappointment and given them nowhere to turn unless you provide them exactly what they want up front. They don't have any option except to return the laptop if they are not satisfied with it.

More to this.. (0)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263265)

According to Amazon the linux version is an 8.9" screen whereas the Windows XP version is a 10".

If the Linux version is a gimped version then it's not a fair comparison.

Re:More to this.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263405)

The Asus eee 900 series which came in both linux and windows flavors, has an 8.9" screen, the newer 1000 series, which also comes in both flavors, has a 10.0" screen. Having attempted Ubuntu use on the desktop a couple of times a few releases ago, I opted for the windows 1000H. Unfortunately, as a nursing student, I need a box that will do it all, and do it right now. Including run all of my nursing software. Sure, I could probably set up some sort of VM to run Windows on it, and I'm sure if I looked hard enough I might be able to find some nifty program that would emulate the Palm OS giving me access to a lot of nursing freeware.

That doesn't alleviate the fact that I need this machine as my primary laptop, its why I purchased it, so I can sit at a coffee shop for 4 hours at a whack and not worry about someone hopped up on chai pulling my laptop to the floor as he fumbles over the power cord. That and not having to lug around even more poundage than whats already in my backpack. Which means, again, that it needs to work, and work *now*, not work after I run into a problem and spend 3-4 hours scrolling through the Ubuntu forums or logging into the Ubuntu IRC channel and trying 4-17 various solutions that 'should probably work'.

Don't get me wrong, the guys on the forums and IRC do their best to be helpful, but the simple fact of the matter is, in the time it takes me to find and implement a solution in Ubuntu, I could reinstall windows from scratch (if I had to) and be done with it.

I find Linux a wonderful desktop for my mother in law who uses her machine for email, surfing and solitaire and has never installed another program in her entire life, doesn't need wireless capability, and doesn't run anything 3D.
In a nutshell, Linux is great for people who don't mind tinkering while they are trying to get work done, but for the rest of us? Well......sorry guys...

Familiarity (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263281)

Goes a long way. People ( for better or worse ) have been trained for over a decade to deal with windows. ( the mac crowd is smaller and doesn't count in this case )

Being able to go down to the local super store and buy the stuff you see on TV and have it work is also important.. First time you buy that new shiny game and find it wont work due to that funny OS, back it goes.

Re:Familiarity (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263377)

If Microsoft had a consistent UI over the decade I'd agree with you. but With Vista the only offering right now I strongly disagree.

Vista makes it hard for even a seasoned 20 year experience IT vetrans with Microsoft products to even find where the hell to configure a wireless adapter. Vista is more foreign in every way than the most obtuse distro of linux could ever be.
There is not familiarity, Vista is as foreign as Cyrillic is to an american.

Re:Familiarity (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263527)

I dont include vista in the mix. I know too many people that stuck with XP for the same reason. "its too different".

Re:Familiarity (1)

tendrousbeastie (961038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263703)

Are you sure you're not overstating your case just a little? If you're really honest? Vista is a little unfamiliar compared with XP, by definition, as it is a different operating system, if it was completely familiar there would be no difference and it would in fact be XP. But as more foregin than Linux, more foreign than Cyrillic to an Anglophone?

I'm not suprised (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263315)

People don't give a rip about the operating system. They just want WoW to work, they want to view their documents and they want their online pr0n.

In addition, the hardware community is so blockheaded in that they'll support OSX (Unix) but not Linux.

Case in point - I setup my father-in-law's wife with a new Dell Linux (openSUSE 10.3/KDE) system a few months back. Her only needs are eBay, email (AOL) and documents. Due to the various lack of support - both from their internet provider and hardware - I"m going down to their house today and downgrading them to Vista.

She can work fine with about 80% of her needs, but unfortuantely, the other 20% isn't there.

Re:I'm not suprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263395)

Case in point - Father in law's wife and pr0n. Wink !!!

Re:I'm not suprised (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263407)

In addition, the hardware community is so blockheaded in that they'll support OSX (Unix) but not Linux.

If Mac OS X users on the whole spend a lot more money than Linux users, I don't see how it's blockheaded.

Her only needs are eBay, email (AOL) and documents.

Doesn't AOL have web mail now? Or are you talking about AOL dial-up Internet access?

Amazing. Half assed installs cause returns (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263337)

MSI's install of linux is a piece of garbage. They barely made it run and it's junk. now they are bitching that their half assed work causes returns?

How come the ASUS eee flys off shelves where it's available and people that own them that are not techies love them in their linux install?

Oh wait, ASUS did not half ass the linux install. Ahhhh.

It must be linux's fault then.

The story headline needs to be changed... "MSI does crappy work again and bitches about it shifting blame to XXX."

Re:Amazing. Half assed installs cause returns (3, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263639)

Have you ever run an apt-get dist-upgrade against the out-of-the-box ASUS repositories? They had some real blunders in those updates including tools stop working, icons disappearing, etc. I haven't bothered to patch for a while so hopefully they've got their not half-assed Linux install sorted out.

I'll probably install Ubuntu on mine when I stop using it for a kitchen computer / photo viewer.

Hey, this is a huge success! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263341)

All in all, it's amazing how few returns there are for linux - note how the representative says that the return rate is four times higher. Unless the machines are failing all over, and they aren't or we'd be hearing about it, the return rates are at worst a few per cent of all machines sold. More likely the actual rates are less than a per cent.

If even one per cent of Windows customers return the machine, that means that the Linux return rate is four per cent. In other words, 3 per cent of customers decide that Linux is a defect they weren't told about, and 1 per cent return it for other reasons, and 96 per cent are more or less happy with the product. That's a success in my book.

Of course, some of the 96 per cent will replace Linux with a pirated Windows install, or get a friend to do it, but even that won't change the conclusion much. It makes sense since most people are happy with web surfing, email, a music player and basic office stuff. Linux provides all that in a usable package.

1 in 25 users unhappy enough to return it (0, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263731)

If 1 in 25 is angry or dissatisfied enough to return the device, and assuming that only 1 in 10 dissatisfied ever go through with the return, then you are looking at almost half the Linux version customers having a bad experience with their netbook.

Same calculation only yields about 10 in 100 users as truly dissatisfied.

keep your head in your .asp avoid seeing the light (-1, Troll)

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Soo... (1)

deadcrickets (1307745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263357)

What they mean to say is that these customers visited pron sites and couldn't install the "codecs" that were offered.

People don't want to learn? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263363)

People don't want to learn something new concerning computers? I am SHOCKED, absolutely shocked. Of course, this may be due to MSI's crappy version of Linux (according to other /.ers). I think an Ubuntu install or some other easy to use distro would do the trick. I'd go with SuSE with KDE 4.1.2 at the moment, but when KDE 4.2 comes out, SuSE's backports will become much less valuable.

Take care of your own product, (4, Insightful)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263369)

rather than blaming the users who "don't want to spend time to learn it". Customers buy your product because they need it, but few would learn it the hard way without well-organized, easy-to-follow documentation. Invest in supporting and documenting your own product and users will be happier, not angrier.

Laptop returns are 1000x higher for Windows than L (2, Insightful)

dUb (21971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263371)

If we compare overall return rate we could notice that Windows computers are more often returned than Linux computers.
Reason might be that people do not know what they get with Windows laptop. They get under-power hardware with software which actually requires more power.

Dell Ubuntu Laptop not quite ready out-of-the-box (1)

russbutton (675993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263387)

I recently purchase the cheap Dell Ubuntu laptop, for my kid to use at school, with the expectation that everything would work out-of-the-box. But of course the wireless network device didn't. As it turns out, it did have support built into the kernel, it required that an alias be configured in /etc/modprobe.d. If you want the Caribou Barbies of the world to be able to use Linux, then little things like this need some attention.

Re:Dell Ubuntu Laptop not quite ready out-of-the-b (1)

Yosho (135835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263469)

For what it's worth, your experience might be an exception. I recently acquired a couple of Inspiron 1525N's at work, and all of their wireless adapters worked perfectly out of the box.

To be fair, though, the volume control didn't work, and I had to unload the winmodem driver to get it working.

no surprise there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263403)

Is anyone surprised?
I personally know a few people that went out and bought EEEs that ran Xandros, were marvelled for the first few days, then tried to use bluetooth usb sticks which didn't get recognized, xandros' kde 3.4 obex support is useless so there's no transferring files to the EEE, tried to use external (better) webcams and they didn't work, there's no installing yahoo messenger and pidgin didn't support video/audio, and a whole range of problems. So they returned the linux EEEs and bought the XP preinstalled ones..

Re:no surprise there (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263509)

Since you are posting as AC, I'm guessing "a few people" is longhand for "I"

Re:no surprise there (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263589)

...Or maybe it's shorthand for "my strawman"

Re:no surprise there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263609)

Same AC as GP. Nice going with those suppositions low-id /.er.
Actually no, it isn't just me as I'm knowledgeable enough to know what I'm getting into when buying computers.
I was asked by friends (and friends of friends) to take a look at their linux eeepcs because they didn't know how to do various tasks or why relatively simple tasks didn't work as expected or at all. As installing Ubuntu for them would have turned me into free support service I preferred to tell them to return the notebooks and get the ones they'll be much happier with.

Fixing some manufacturing stupidities. (5, Interesting)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263435)

Alright, couple things. Yes. It is true that the vast majority of the general public don't want to learn how a computer works.

But I see some fault by manufacturers too. Couple things.

Stop shipping laptops with relatively unknown "Lets evade the MS Tax" Linux distros with little support or documentation. This whole "Get a Linux computer so we can pirate Windows" thing has gotta stop.

From now on, contract with the BIG BOYS in Linux, Red Hat, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Suse. No more gOS. no more *insert Bizzare distro no one has ever heard of here* distro.

Make sure all your drivers for your cards work and can survive things like Kernel patches.

Stop shipping broken configurations. If my Screen can support 1200x800, it better not be set to 1024x768.

Stop Advertising Linux as "Almost Windows" or "Sort of Windows" - Advertise Linux as - Linux. Put a big Penguin sign up next to the row of Linux Laptops, and say "These are Linux Laptops." and if they are

Install Wine on Linux Laptops. Show customers that they can take their Windows applications with them where Applicable.

Re:Fixing some manufacturing stupidities. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263565)

This whole "Get a Linux computer so we can pirate Windows" thing has gotta stop.

Not so much as attempting to associate linux with piracy (or even worse... with Windows) has to stop.

Busted!

Re:Fixing some manufacturing stupidities. (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263657)

Mod parent insightful. This is the insight these OEMs seem to be heavily lacking. The only thing:

Make sure all your drivers for your cards work and can survive things like Kernel patches [or upgrades].

You are probably going to have to explain that this is only going to work with open source drivers and why.

Just like MS notebook (0, Offtopic)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263463)

I would love to pay $2000 or less for a high performance laptop but I don't like the fact that I have to pay for Vista when Autodesk software prefers XP, the fact that every time I plug in a USB drive or a camera it wastes time trying to load a device driver rather than just mounting it as a generic external volume, that I have to run AVG, Adaware, and Spybot periodically to make sure that nothing nasty has gotten on the machine, and that the there is conflict in the Java system between MS and Sun, which means that sometimes some my visualization apps don't work. Not to mention general lack of a Firewire 800 port for my external hard disks. And that the cheaper machine is a little heavier and much bigger.

So, since I know what I need, I buy an Apple, add XP to it, and go on my merry way.

Not surprised (1)

cuby (832037) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263485)

The average guy takes Linux like a 2 series OS, that is hard and doesn't have their programs of choice... They don't want to learn it. Just the name scares them.

Moreover, some of these consumers don't even realise that a PC can be shipped with something that is not windows.

The really scary thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263497)

is that most of these stupid people are probably going to vote for Obama. Stupid is as stupid does.

That's why I bought an Acer Aspire One. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263503)

Their Linpus light (a spin of Fedora) sucks less than the other netbook Linuxes, Fedora repos are already configured, you can install anything you want throught yum, etc.
Granted, it's not perfect, but, as an Ubuntu fanboy, the fact I'm still keeping it after two months tells something, I guess.

new tags sucks (1)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263521)

Why there is 2x "os" tag? Or for the love of god, separate them properly with commas

Hardly surprising (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263541)

I've just bought an Acer Aspire, and I'm a bit surprised at how much trouble it can be to get the built in hardware to work. The audio doesn't work on the webcam software. Why? Why not fix it before you ship it, or use software which works out of the box. I'll just load up the browser. Firefox 2? Huh? I want Firefox 3 - hasn't there been a lot of work on the html engine, and security fixes? It must be easy to upgrade right? Wrong. A lot of the supplied apps oddly need to use libraries which are part of Firefox 2 but not 3, so you have to do a little nerdy initiation ritual to get them working again once Firefox 3. Why? Why not ship with Firefox 3? Ubuntu 8.4 does. How hard can this be? The UK Acer site doesn't even work properly - missing images and hard to locate information. I think these devices are selling despite, and not because, of the support and marketing of Acer (I have no real experience of the Asus models). It's no wonder that people are having problems.

It's a console, dammit - you're selling loads of identical boxes - it's not like Acer has to support different types of Acer (other than the choice of hard drive or solid state drive). The supplied OS is a bizarre crippled version of an old version of Fedora. I don't understand why they didn't ship a modern Ubuntu, for example - I can't believe they'd find it hard to locate developers who'd happily help customize it a little for quick booting (fixed hardware so no need to spend time every boot looking for networks, raids, etc etc which will never be present for 99% of users). It turns out that it's trivial to install the current `desktop` Ubuntu on it, but again, this isn't something which most Linux newbs are going to be able to do. Doing so, however, means you're going to me much more likely to obtain help from the Linux community than if you try and get help for Fedora 8 (crippled retro edition).

This is a perfect opportunity for Linux enthusiasts and journalists to make the case for an easy transition to Linux. If this story is true then it's looking like it's being wasted.

Why do they choose these distros? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263577)

It's like the answers to half the problems (except those that don't understand it's not Windows) is to install the Ubuntu Netbook remix. Instead there's usually some wierd distro like gOS, Linpus or whatever coming as preinstalls. I thought it was the same thing back when Wal-Mart would sell Linux PCs with Linspire. Why is it they pick these oddball distros? Is it because these are the "business partners" that talk the right talk with the vendors? Why not partner with the popular distro with a huge userbase, community and experience making the already popular product work on your hardware? Does Canonical want such a huge chunk of cash for doing it? Or is there some other reason here I'm missing? I just don't see the rationality behind what they're doing.

learning curve is inevitable (1)

ariefwn (130137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263623)

i remember the first time i use windows. version 3.11 it was. i didn't even know how i need to press alt tab to go to mixer apps for turning down a MID file screaming. going from DOS to win requires learning. people now got lucky as for linux at least the interface not as bad as win3.11 :)

but hey, some people feel better to depart with more money and got married with microsoft.. well, that's their choice.. that's why there is an XP option for netbook

Return rate vs sales rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25263633)

I'd love to see the numbers that they used to make the statement that the return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks. Compare those numbers with the number of sales of netbooks running Linux vs Windows.

If they're selling 4 times the number of Linux netbooks as Windows ones, you'd expect the return rate to be 4 times as high. It's easy to draw misleading conclusions from data, and present those as fact.

Don't blame Linux: Blame yourself. (1)

Flipao (903929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263667)

I'm probably not going to be the only one saying this, but I almost feel the need to shout it...

They don't want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store.

People have no problem learning how to use a phone or PDA, some of which already use Linux, people have no trouble using TiVO, which uses Linux. People can figure out how to operate games consoles, portable media players, etc... all of which are becoming increasingly complex, and some of which use Linux. Even in the context of desktop computing, people have no trouble learning to use Macs... From a usability perspective, users shouldn't even need to know what OS they're running, let alone "learn" how to use it.

This is why the Microsoft monoculture is bad (5, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25263717)

Back in the '80s and early '90s, people coped perfectly well with competing computers and operating systems. Sure, an Amiga was a bit different from an Atari, which was a bit different from a PC, which was a bit different from a Mac, which was a bit different from an Archimedes... but so what? People coped, just like they cope with the way every washing machine or DVD player today has a different interface. When you started using computers, you became computer literate, just like everyone's more or less washing-machine-literate and DVD-player-literate. And once you're literate in a technology, you can learn to use any form of it relatively easily.

What the Windows monoculture has done is to destroy computer literacy among most users. Now, instead of learning to use a computer, people are trained to use Microsoft Windows. Instead of learning about launching applications and using word processors, they're trained to click on the big button at the bottom left of the screen that says "start", then to click where it says "Microsoft Word". And so as soon as that button turns into a picture of a foot at the top left of the screen, and the icon they're looking for says "Word Processor", they're left bewildered and uncomfortable.

Of course, this has now bitten Microsoft too: it's one reason why Vista and Office 2007 are so unpopular. (Semantics nazis: does that count as irony?)

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