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The Economist Suggests Linux For Netbooks

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-they're-clever-guys dept.

Operating Systems 445

Trepidity writes "In its roundup of how to choose a netbook, The Economist suggests that users 'avoid the temptation' to go for a Windows-based netbook, and in particular to treat them as mini laptops on which you'll install a range of apps. In their view, by the time you add the specs needed to run Windows and Windows apps effectively, you might as well have just bought a smallish laptop. Instead, they suggest the sweet spot is ultra-lite, Linux-based netbooks, with a focus on pre-installed software that caters to common tasks. They particularly like OpenOffice, which they rate as easier to use than MS Word and having 'no compatibility problems,' as well as various photo-management software." Besides which, does Windows offer spinning cubes for coffee-shop demos?

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No compatibility problems? (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106879)

Nonsense, OpenOffice Word has a ton of problems with mathematical formulas, also I've had problems with images that open fine on msword but don't under OpenOffice. Otherwise it works well, I've moved from Word to OpenOffice.

Re:No compatibility problems? (4, Interesting)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106907)

The formatting got me, Converting between OpenOffice to word gives a lot of problems with Mathematical Formulas.

Even for non net books, Linux is just better than windows for mobiles. It uses significantly less resources and my usable battery life has increased by at least 30% from switching from Vista to Ubuntu. Mind you this is on a high end laptop, Vista feels like a dog while Linux(Ubuntu) runs smoothly.

Re:No compatibility problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26106973)

How does everyone keep getting their ubuntu to be fast? Admittedly, my ubuntu is a little bit less sluggish than my vista, but it's way worse than my XP SP3 (which is a well kept and cleaned out system). The only linux distro that I've ever been able to get to feel 'snappy' is ArchLinux...

And that was ofcourse with a bare install and OpenBox as WM, no other eyecandy, lightweight software (leafpad instead of gedit, you get the point).

I'm really interested, because for now, the OS with the best functionality/speed ratio seems to be XP, with Arch second, and the others far behind. (Yes, I know Arch and Ubuntu are not seperate operating systems)

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Informative)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107143)

Try turning off desktop effects. Most slowness in Ubuntu are related to eye candy and un/badly supported graphics cards and chipsets. If you do have a brand name video card, install the proprietary driver. Or just install IceWM. It's in the Ubuntu repositories along with scores of other window managers.

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107195)

I don't know abut Ubuntu, but on many distros, you can turn off or suspend real-time indexing. Otherwise, you're indexing the file system, any web pages you crawl, etc. That takes a lot of juice.

Re:No compatibility problems? (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107265)

I don't know abut Ubuntu, but on many distros, you can turn off or suspend real-time indexing. Otherwise, you're indexing the file system, any web pages you crawl, etc. That takes a lot of juice.

In ubuntu it is too hard to turn off indexing. It always DOSs the machine for me and the speed control seems to have no effect.

IMHO it should be off by default.

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107353)

I remember a few weeks ago I get an email from the computer science cluster admin yelling at me for going way over quota. I wrote back, puzzled, because I hadn't used the account for much of anything in years.

Turns out it was some "beagle" thing they were using, it had, over the years, continually indexed my home dir until eventually it bumped me over quota (I was at about 50% after I deleted all the beagle shit, so at least it plausibly had something to index)

Proposal: merge indexing and backup service;)

Re:No compatibility problems? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107517)

[citation needed]

Re:No compatibility problems? (2, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107593)

Beagle is a huge problem on single-core machines. At least on dual-core, you still have enough spare cycles so you can turn do a "ps ax | grep beagled" and then "kill -9" it.

Re:No compatibility problems? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107383)

Too hard?
        -System->Preferences->Search and Indexing
        -Uncheck "Enable Indexing"

And lastly in 8.10 it is off by default.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107585)

Ubuntu isn't fast -- it's on par with XP SP3 if you look at benchmarks, but it requires less memory to remain usable. Smaller distros are faster, even if you remain in the Ubuntu line (for instance, install the LX Desktop Environment in 128MB Ram).

Linux is generally not "snappy" as you call it because things aren't programmed that way.

Finally, Arch and Ubuntu are separate operating systems.

Re:No compatibility problems? (5, Informative)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107255)

openoffice.org-dmaths
Formula editor improvements for OpenOffice.org

This is a package you can install on ubuntu to add additional support to openoffice concerning formulas. Have you tried this?

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107507)

Formatting of mathematical formulae can break between MS Office 2003 and 2007, too. 2007 does support the old, compatible equation editor, but it's not the default, and the add-in for 2003 for viewing 2007 documents renders 2007 equations as poor-quality images. So although no compatibility problems might be an overstatement, OO.o is probably no worse for eBook compatibility (where macros won't matter) than Word.

I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106953)

The target market for netbooks is generally "normal people", who are more or less by definition not editing Word documents with mathematical formulas in them.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106969)

Still, I hope they fix it. I've been forced to submit documents as pdfs instead of .doc because of this issue... But you're right, the average user could care less about editing mathematical formulas.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107047)

If editing formulas was really a big concern for you you would be using LaTeX like all the cool kids.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107533)

Editing formulae is a big concern for me, but my customers demand .doc format, and laTeX to Word conversion just doesn't cut it, unfortunately. For college work I use laTeX, but even that is likely to change as they are moving over to electronic submission and require .doc format too (although to their credit they are promoting OO.o as the way to generate the .doc files).

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107665)

What purpose does electronic submission serve? In my experience, the only times I had to submit my writing electronically were those where so much had been written about a topic that a professor/grader required the assistance of a database to detect plagiarism or a lack thereof. I would expect such a database to analyze the text of a document, and such text could be extracted trivially from plain text, rich text, html, word documents, wordperfect documents, openoffice documents, pdf, dvi, etc. without significant effort.
If the client/professor/grader was expected to proofread and annotate the document for future editing and resubmission it would be significantly easier to show such annotation in red ink on good old-fashioned tree pulp than to laboriously enter comments into an electronic document.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (5, Insightful)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107133)

Odd; I always thought most people would rather have a PDF than a Word doc, unless they were collaborating with you. Certainly, if you're submitting a final, formatted document you'd want to use a format that specifies the rendered output exactly (PDF, Postscript, whatever Microsoft's new-ish one is) instead of one like ODF, Office formats, and TeX input files, which don't.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107283)

Microsoft's new-ish one is XPS, don't ask me what it stands for though.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107371)

eXpensive Piece of Shit?

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107563)

As consultants, we deliver documents such as safety cases that the customer takes ownership of. Our formal deliverables are always PDF (for the reason you give, and also so that it's relatively fixed so nobody is likely to come back with a modified version and say it's ours. But most customers ask for .doc as well, so they're not locked in to us for subsequent changes.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (0)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107107)

I certainly do not use OO for math, LOL. I am definitely one of those "normal people" you are taking about. I recently bought a Dell 1525 Inspiron for 650 dollars. I told myself there was no way I was ever going to buy another laptop over 1K especially for what I use my laptop for! All I do is surf, email and write. I haven't even coded on this laptop yet and for my limited coding skills, this laptop is fine. I don't need a powerful laptop, especially when the life for laptops is so short.

I looked at the EEE PC, for a low end laptop for a couple hundred dollars it was OK, I mean it really seems great for someone is grade school to junior high maybe. It could work for someone if they were really mobile. It seemed to be between a hand held and a laptop to me, my hands were fine with space that was on the board, but it just wasn't a great experience, maybe it is because I am used to Dell or Apple. I think most people will stick with what they have bought before and what worked for them in the past.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (0)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107243)

I then went to look at the prices for Office 2007 and I said, nope, I will just download OO, and it works just fine. I typed up a huge business report and put together a presentation in OO and three other homework assignments. There weren't any problems on either end opening or viewing my work with my instructors. I found out students can get Office 2007 for $40 bucks off of a website at school, so I bought it. Vista hasn't given me any trouble so far. Everyone talks about how horrible it is, but it seems fine so far.

Re:I'm guessing that wasn't on their radar screen (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107547)

The target market for MS Word is generally "normal people", who are more or less by definition not editing Word documents with mathematical formulas in them.

Students who have to add simple equations every now and again to Word documents for class use WYSIWYG equation editors; professionals who regularly include complicated mathematical expressions in their writing use either free LaTeX or non-free Maple/Mathematica/what-have-you.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107005)

Are these images just certain formats or is it always some random image. Personally I'm glad that I have no need for formulas in Word or OOO, making formulas never was a bright spot for Word and I haven't needed to try it in OOO.

Re:No compatibility problems? (5, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107013)

Nonsense, OpenOffice Word has a ton of problems with mathematical formulas, also I've had problems with images that open fine on msword but don't under OpenOffice. Otherwise it works well, I've moved from Word to OpenOffice.

In my experience, OpenOffice certainly does open some documents in a way that looks strange. In the vast majority of those cases, those documents also look strange when moving between different versions of Word. So, compatibility isn't absolutely 100% perfect with a specific version of word, but it is damn near 100% compatibility if you consider "Word" as a whole, rather than "Word" as the exact specific version of Word you happen to have installed on the specific system you use most.

And, most of those documents are indeed stuff like formulae which aren't widely used, and for which Word is sometimes not really the best tool for the job. When I worked in academia IT, I had the insane good fortune to work in a department where everybody was comfortable with the idea of using latex for their papers. I think I had to deal with fewer than half a dozen issues related to latex in the whole time I worked there. OTOH, when I was in Windows support, I'd call half a dozen MS Word issues a light week!

Re:No compatibility problems? (-1, Troll)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107263)

You look much less stupid when your doc has a .doc extension as opposed to .sxw or whatever is used now for OpenOffice.

I've had to deal with folks who considered me incompetent because of my docs not opening up correctly or whatever. I have dealt with using older versions of Word and folks seeing something weird. I have dealt with folks who wanted ASCII and when I sent them a .txt (ASCII) file, they told me that they can't open it (a recruiter).

We will have this problem until there is an XML open standard - period. If they see a ".doc" extension, then they give you the benefit of the doubt. Sorry, but the sender is always the moron when it comes to emailed documents.

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Informative)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107347)

ODF (the format used by OpenOffice.org now and earlier) is an XML open standard.

Re:No compatibility problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107531)

ODF (the format used by OpenOffice.org now and earlier) is an XML open standard.

Not earlier. Unless my memory is failing me, .sxw was the default file type until not long ago.

Re:No compatibility problems? (5, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107545)

We have an XML open standard: Office Open XML. The free software community just refuses to implement it because they hate innovation and enjoy kicking puppies.

Re:No compatibility problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107583)

OT: but did you notice that your website is hacked? http://lectures.forkforge.org/ [forkforge.org] shows Hacked by JaCKaL.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107053)

I'm sure you're an expert on the capabilities of the program whose name you don't even know.

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107113)

I guess you mean OpenOffice Writer.

Let's see: I write scientific articles choke-full of all sorts of formulas. And I have never ever had a single problem with OpenOffice's formula editor. To be quite frank, I find it superior to Word's, in that I can better predict the outcome of what I'm doing, and can better control the layout of my formulas.

So, I don't like to say this, but your arguments against formulas in OpenOffice is really some kind of horseshit.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107225)

He is talking about importing formulas from Word.

I tried it and then stopped trying because it didn't work very well.

Re:No compatibility problems? (3, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107307)

Well.... f*ck. I can't go back and edit my post now.

I hereby officially retract what I wrote there, about horseshit. I stand by what I wrote about OO.o's excellent formula editor, though.

Re:No compatibility problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107381)

Let's see: I write scientific articles choke-full of all sorts of formulas.

...on the subject of auto-erotic asphyxiation?

Re:No compatibility problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107259)

OpenOffice Word

OpenOffice Writer you mean!!
By that huge naming mistake I can tell you are a liar that never ran openoffice.

Go jerk off!

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107279)

Yeah, that's not the half of it. Try to effectively work with:

* Any special-formatted or with-formula spreadsheet
* Any document (spreadsheet or word processor) with locked/read-only content
* Any Word document with specific layout requirements

You'll find it's somewhat beyond irritating.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107327)

I've never had problems with those types of docs. In fact, there have been quite a few password locked docs that just didn't ask for a password and opened just fine.

In fact I've only had problems with documents with built in forms. Those don't quite work right, but otherwise no problems.

Re:No compatibility problems? (2, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107449)

Nonsense, OpenOffice Word has a ton of problems with mathematical formulas, also I've had problems with images that open fine on msword but don't under OpenOffice. Otherwise it works well, I've moved from Word to OpenOffice.

That's been my experience as well. I use NeoOffice on my Mac; and while it is generally compatible I occasionally get some strange artifacts when opening PowerPoint files. Overall, however, NO/OO is compatible enough to be a viable alternative; you just need to verify the files will open properly if it is a "mission critical" file; such as one you are planning to have printed, or will be use as a presentation, from a machine that may not be running NO/OO.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

NorseWolf (734866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107475)

I use OpenOffice and MS Office extensively and often interchangeably. For Writer/Word and Calc/Excel, this rarely means trouble, unless you are relying on special macros.

However, Impress has still a way to go to be used as a PowerPoint replacement. Animations are jerky, and when viewing PowerPoint files colors and drawings are often rendered incorrectly, and it has a bad tendency to insert weird characters into the text, especially around line breaks. Although it is usable to review presentations for your own sake, the quirks renders it unusable for presenting all but the simplest PowerPoint slides to an audience.

Users of Access should not expect an easy time using Base. I guess one could argue that Base doesn't even try to be compatible with Access, so some might find this criticism unfair. On the other hand, if the goal is to convince users of MS Office to make a switch, it's a hard sell if you have to tell them that they must re-learn much of what they know.

Re:No compatibility problems? (1)

critical_point (1430417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107661)

That's because you are supposed to use LaTeX for mathematical formulas, didn't you get that memo?

Spinning cubes? (3, Funny)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106895)

Besides which, does Windows offer spinning cubes for coffee-shop demos?

No, just flying chairs

Re:Spinning cubes? (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107187)

No, just flying chairs

There really should be a screen saver for that.

Re:Spinning cubes? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107295)

Besides which, does Windows offer spinning cubes for coffee-shop demos?

No, just flying chairs

I heard that the Balmernator is graduating to spinning cubicles - with the marketroids still in them - if Windows 7 is as big a flop as VistaME.

ooooh red..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26106913)

merry slashdot Christmas!

It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy it? (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106929)

The big problem here is whether you'll be allowed to buy a mini notebook with 1GB and a 120-160 MB hard disk without Windows. Microsoft certainly does not want notebook vendors selling them that way, and has effective strategies to induce them not to do so.

I expect they start with legal bribes, price structures effecting both the vendors larger systems and the smaller ones, and if that doesn't work the patent portfolio comes out and they discuss whether you'd like to cross-license on their terms or be sued.

All of which means you won't see many of the Linux machines at retail. So, the customer has to self-install, which is beyond most of them.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107063)

microsoft will lose, they can not dictate what hardware specs or what operating system is installed other companies put in to their laptops, this bullying by microsoft needs to stop some judge with cajones and integrity needs to put microsoft in their place...

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107151)

Theres nothing illegal about it. Microsoft does dictate hardware specs to manufacturers, as they have in the past and will continue in the future. If the manufacturer wants to continue selling MS products on their machine, they have to play by their rules. Why do you think they cant sell you a system with no OS?

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (2)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107223)

yeah, i would rather buy a PC or laptop without an OS (or with Linux) than with windows included,,,

some people just refuse to use/want or buy windows, i am one of them...

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (4, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107435)

Actually, they took a lot of crap about that during their antitrust trial. Dell especially loosed MS's grip. They don't have nearly the bargaining power they used to now.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107077)

I'm not quite as cynical as you in that I don't think Microsoft can stop this revolution.

In order to make money they have to charge something for their software. Linux will always be cheaper than a Windows machine.

Apple were smart in positioning themselves as the luxury computer brand.

Linux has made inroads in cheap ultra-portables. Windows has no-where to go. It's too slow for ultra-portables, it's too low quality for a luxury product.

Ultra-portables are probably the future of computing. We're getting to the point where mobile contracts are being sold with a free ultra-portable.

To me, it's much like what happened when the RIAA got in bed with Walmart. The RIAA stabbed record stores in the back by dealing with Walmart.

The record stores had their interests aligned with the RIAA. The more music they sold, the more money they made and the more money the RIAA made.

However, Walmart was a different animal. To Walmart, music was just something that took up shelf space. Suddenly the RIAA was competing with every other product.

The RIAA found that it couldn't dictate the terms any more because Walmart had no qualms about dropping their product if they couldn't get a good deal. The RIAA, owing a good chunk of its revenue to Walmart, suddenly found itself to be Oliver saying: "Please sir, can I have some more?"

In the past Micrsoft could bully system builders because they are like the record stores used to be . They have a vested interest in selling units which is mutually beneficial for both the system builder and Microsoft.

However, computers are now becoming so cheap that they're being given away as a part of other deals. The people crafting these deals don't give a crap if it's Microsoft or not. They can't be bullied because their main line of business has little to do with Microsoft.

Economics is a force more powerful than any individual company. Microsoft is not above this. Vista, to me, just confirmed that Microsoft is just another company. They don't need to make too many more mistakes before it starts to hurt really badly.

I think we're beginning to see the end of the Microsoft monoculture.

1998 called. It wants its issues back. (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107091)

You talk as if this is something MS might try, when we all know that they've been doing it routinely all along. But this kind of tactic doesn't seem to be working with netbooks. Companies seem to have no trouble making and selling simple Linux netbooks.

The sad thing is that this is not entirely a win for Linux. Yes, it means increased market share. But it only succeeds because there's a basic set of Internet tools that everybody uses and that can be implemented on any widely-used OS. That being the case, vendors might as well use an OS that doesn't come with license fees.

But that means nobody will be able to make a living writing applications for these netbooks — they already have all the software their users need. Most desktop applications will continue to be coded against Microsoft's convoluted, inconsistent, and buggy APIs and platforms.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107123)

Lots of people make money coding for cell phones and PDAs. There is plenty of demand for software for netbooks and Unix platforms are easy to write for.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107335)

But this isn't a cell phone or a PDA. This is a device that is specifically for people who don't need to install anything.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107493)

All netbooks let you install software, they just require something advanced; an artificial barrier. The sort of thing an installation routine can handle.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107607)

The problem is not that people can't install software, it's that people won't. Netbooks are purchased by people who see regular laptops as overkill. People who plan to run serious applications will buy regular laptops.

Hackers, as always, are an exceptions. But they're a small part of the marketplace. And many of them will still prefer regular laptops, even if they run Linux on them.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (2, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107653)

Are you sure about that? When I see the demographics: kids, college students, train commuters it seems like form factor is what is driving netbooks. But yes I would assume people who are spending little won't spend as much on software....

And I'm not talking about serious applications. Serious applications don't do well on cell phones but complex alarm clocks, mini games and expense report mangers do.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107235)

But that means nobody will be able to make a living writing applications for these netbooks — they already have all the software their users need. Most desktop applications will continue to be coded against Microsoft's convoluted, inconsistent, and buggy APIs and platforms.

My nephew runs commercial games on his ipod touch.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1, Flamebait)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107345)

You do know that the iPod touch is not a netbook, right?

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107519)

The ipod touch has use cases which overlap with netbooks. Games would be one.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (5, Insightful)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107293)

It means more people will view the web through a browser that is not IE. More people will use an office suite that supports ODF. More people will want music and videos without DRM. Even if not a single extra Linux app will be written (which I doubt), Linux as a platform will be supported better.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107415)

Yes, this does help to make web apps less IE-centric. But that trend was already underway. Even MS is helping with it, but giving in to demands for better standards compliance in IE. But a more heterogeneous browser software base does not mean a more heterogeneous desktop software base. All the leading browser engines run on Windows.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107339)

But that means nobody will be able to make a living writing applications for these netbooks -- they already have all the software their users need.

Netbooks increase the application space, which means more opportunities for niche software. For example, now that netbooks are so cheap, more companies will give their employees one to use on the road. So now there's more opportunity to add value by writing code for a particular business need that just opened up because of the cheap netbook? Or for charging for modifying gpl software to cater to a particular need, and contribute back to "the community" at the same time?

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107463)

People can make a living writing applications that have depth, like PhotoShop, or are timely, like TurboTax for the specific tax year, or that have tremendous liability and accuracy issues, like TurboTax, or that, again like TurboTax, aren't written for love, and aren't written by programmers at all but by accountants.

If your software doesn't have depth, or timeliness, etc., it's too late to make money from it. This isn't particularly an Open Source issue.

That leaves us with games, and netbooks aren't game machines, and all of the content you vend via web sites, which is probably where any money to be made will come from.

Re:1998 called. It wants its issues back. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107565)

Photoshop? Turbotax? Why would you want to run these things on a netbook? For those, you'd want a proper laptop.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

Mr. Pibb (26775) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107139)

The big problem here is whether you'll be allowed to buy
a mini notebook with 1GB and a 120-160 MB hard disk without
Windows.

Given TFA's reference to Businesspeople and the current climate of data security breaches and cross-boarder laptop seizures, it is probably NOT advisable for businesspeople to carry around more than 10GB of data with them. Rather, they should access it by VPN or via encrypted flash storage.

For the rest of us nerds though, who like to have hundreds of gigs of por^H^H^H relevant facts and figures with us at all times, will be able to do as you say, self-install.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107205)

The big problem here is whether you'll be allowed to buy a mini notebook with 1GB and a 120-160 MB hard disk without Windows. Microsoft certainly does not want notebook vendors selling them that way, and has effective strategies to induce them not to do so.

I expect they start with legal bribes, price structures effecting both the vendors larger systems and the smaller ones, and if that doesn't work the patent portfolio comes out and they discuss whether you'd like to cross-license on their terms or be sued.

That won't mean anything to a chinese company willing to sell a netbook online for a hundred bucks.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107373)

That won't mean anything to a chinese company willing to sell a netbook online for a hundred bucks.

Which won't mean a thing when that Chinese company suddenly finds that its exports have been blocked and that the US media is filled with stories about how they use lead, melanine, or Polonium-210 in their manufacturing processes.

Nothing that can be proven, of course, but then have you ever asked to see proof when that has happened before?

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107683)

Last I heard more people returned Linux Netbooks then any Windows models. The average person still does not want to learn Linux. Asus, has said it will discontinue Linux netbooks because of low sales.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107315)

So buy it with Windows and get [networkworld.com] your [linuxjournal.com] refund [linux.com] .

Consider the refund as a payment by Microsoft for you installing Linux.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

proselyte_heretic (1030466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107349)

Needing a computer with 1gb of ram, and especially a 120-160 GB hard disk (I assumed you meant GB for hard disks) is exactly what the economist is cautioning against, treating a netbook as a general laptop, and not a machine designed to do a small set of specific tasks.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

deanston (1252868) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107379)

The problem is with OEMs and marketers, not MSFT. If past year serves a good experience, MSFT does not have to convince OEMs to put Windows first. Wal-Mart shelved the gPC, and Acer and Eee both start advertising more XP books than Linux. The failings of Vista should have given Dell and HP a good window of opportunity to push for Linux OS, but what did they do? CHARGE MORE FOR DOWNGRADE TO XP! The turning point will come only if there is 1) a clear profitability from Linux netbooks; 2) there is a ton of volunteer army of Linux geeks willing to help the average citizens; 3) there is a great consumer "Killer App" only available to Linux; or 4) Google come out with a gNetbook. Otherwise consumers vote with their pocket books will go for what they are used to (Windows) every time.

90% monopoly brainwashes a LOT of people. And getting people to change their habits is the hardest thing in the world.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107455)

1) a clear profitability from Linux netbooks

Dell is ready with this interesting product, of course only with Ubuntu and XP (no Vista):
http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop-inspiron-9?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs [dell.com]

>>2) there is a ton of volunteer army of Linux geeks willing to help the average citizens

No... there must be an army of geeks able to design GUIs for average citizens.

>>3) there is a great consumer "Killer App" only available to Linux

For me, the "lack" of a really "Killer consumer App" is enough: antivirus!

>> 4) Google come out with a gNetbook.

sorry, I didn't got this.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107417)

The classic case is the Dell mini 9. This costs more to buy fully loaded hardware and linux than it does after the cashback offer with the xp version. but then I guess you are only getting an 8 year old obsolete os with xp but a fully supported and modern os with Uuntu 8) maybee that should cost more as the premium OS choice.

Re:It's right for you. Will you be allowed to buy (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107447)

The big problem here is whether you'll be allowed to buy a mini notebook with 1GB and a 120-160 MB hard disk without Windows. Microsoft certainly does not want notebook vendors selling them that way, and has effective strategies to induce them not to do so.

I know that at least from my local computer stores here in Norway I can chose between Linux or a Version of XP when buying an Asus EEE [wikipedia.org] . So you are definitely "allowed" to buy a notebook without Windows in some countries; and I don't believe Norway is the only place where this is the case.

Slashdot suggests saline for scrotums (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26106993)

I buy my saline kits from Chase Union Ltd in Movi, Michigan. The cost of a 1000 cc bag of sterile saline, drip tubing, sterile wipes (to wipe down your sac and all around) and catheter needle is with shipping around $25.
You can call them at +01 (248) 348-8191 and ask for item "MF 100" a scrotal inflation kit.

To do the saline, take the bag of saline and put in a microwave for about 5.5 minutes at low heat to warm to a bit above body temperature;about 100 degrees or so. Unwrap the outer plastic packaging and put the saline bag aside. Unwrap the drip tubing which comes with the kit and move the clamping system down toward the end opposite the vial type thing and CLOSE IT SHUT. Take the larger end of the drip tubing and uncap the protective cap........open the warmed bag of saline and remove the clear cap. Insert the drip tubing nozzle into the saline bag opening. Find a curtain rod, pot rack (which i have and use in the kitchen) shower rod or something elevated above you. Hang the bag of saline with the tubing attached and shut off. THEN VERY IMPORTANT. SQUEEZE SOME OF THE SALINE INTO THE VIAL ABOUT HALF WAY -THEN OPEN THE CLAMPING DEVICE AND BLEED ALL AIR OUT OF THE TUBING. YEAH YOU LOOSE A LITTLE BIT OF SALINE BUT THIS IS A MUST. YOU DON'T WANT ANY AIR OR AIR BUBBLES IN THE DRIP TUBING! REPLACE THE CAP ON THE WORKING END OF THE TUBING.

Before hand, while the bag of saline is warming either take a hot shower, or fill a basin or kitchen sink with very warm water sit in it for 4-7 minutes. The idea is to warm your ballsac skin up and let it get loose and hang.

When you have finished warming your sac, and you have the bag of saline (BLED FROM AIR), you are ready to grow.

With your sac still very warm use the wipes provided with the kit to wipe down your cock and ballsac. By the way, you will want an adjustable leather cock ring , nylon rope, or other type of removable cock/ball ring to wrap around cock and ballsac after inserting the catheter needle.

With you sac still warm and wiped down with antiseptics, sit in a chair with a towel underneath. Open the catheter needle don't get pansy here but with one hand, take the catheter needle and the teflon sheath that covers it and WITH THE OTHER HAND TAKE YOUR BALLSAC MOVING YOUR COCK OUT OF THE WAY AND DECIDE ON THE LOCATION OF THE INTENDED CATHETER NEEDLE. YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON THE AREA EITHER TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR BALLSAC AND UP CLOSE TO WHERE THE COCK CONNECTS. YOU PLACE THE CATHETER NEEDLE RIGHT BELOW THE COCK OR A LITTLE LOWER BUT TO ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER OF THE DARKER SKIN DIVIDING SKIN WHICH IS IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SAC.

DON'T GET SQUEEMISH BECAUSE THIS DOES NOT HURT. BUT INSERT THE CATHETER STRAIGHT DOWN CAUTIOUSLY INTO YOUR SAC. MOVE YOUR TESTICLE ASIDE YOU ARE GOING TO GO INTO THE BALLSAC CAVITY NOT THE TESTICLE.

YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A PRICK SENSATION,THEN A POP SENSATION AS THE CATHETER NEEDLE PIERCES THE MUSCLE TISSUE OF THE SCROTUM.

KEEP PUSHING THE CATHETER NEEDLE IN. IF IT GOES IN AND YOU FEEL FROM THE OTHER/OPPOSITE SIDE OF YOUR BALLSAC THAT THE NEEDLE IS THERE, THEN STOP.

Pull out the needle itself leaving the teflon sheath inserted into you sac. Tie yourself (cock and balls) off with some sort of removable cock ring or rope or robe tie or whatever.

Sit down, don' t plan to move around too much for the next 30 minutes - hour. Have your beers/soft drinks or whatever already out of the fridge. You will want to stay idle and focused while you do this.

While sitting, and close to the hanging bag of saline and the drip tubing, remove the protective cover of the end of the drip tubing, connect the drip tubing to the catheter sheath in you sac. THEN START ADJUSTING THE CLAMPING DEVICE OPEN TO ALLOW SALINE DRIPPING TO APPEAR IN THE VIAL UP BY THE BAG OF SALINE. ADJUST FOR AN EVEN DRIP DRIP DRIP FLOW AND NOT A STEADY STREAM OF SALINE.

If the saline doesn't drip at first, try pulling the catheter sheath out a bit until you at first experience a small burning sensation;it goes away almost immediately.
Work on the sheath depth and the clamp until you get a good flow of saline going into your sac.

Don't move around too much......or be cognizant of how much you move around while the saline drips into and starts to bloat out your sac. You can always shut off the flow of saline with the clamp, disconnect and move around take a p, whatever......
If you disconnect, take the small stopper thing that is still attached to the needle and plug the teflon sheath to prevent leakage.

I like to use liquid vitamin E on my sac while it stretching and expanding;you should / can put oil or handcream on your sac while it is expanding. The sac is very stretchable but to expand up to 18-20 inches within an hour or so stresses the tissues,so things need to be lubricated somewhat..

GO SLOWLY.DON'T TRY TO REACH A MAX THE FIRST TIME. GO WITH WHAT YOUR BODY/SAC IS FEELING THEN STOP.

When you have finished doing the amount of saline you want to, feel comfortable with, can accept, close off the saline bag with the clamp, and disconnect.

Over filling/stress of the sac can cause osmosis leaking/sweating.. Do an amount of saline at first that is comfortable and not stressfull/hurting by all means. I have over done before and.you don't want to walk around with your sac dripping water out of it.and the after results cause chapping etc which takes a few days to peel and recover from.

Some of the saline is going to migrate into your cock. Your cock girth is going to become much larger than you have ever experienced.

AFTER YOU DISCONNECT FROM THE SALINE BAG, SIT AND WITH "SUPER GLUE", YES SUPER GLUE ON HAND, WITHDRAW THE CATHETER SHEATH.
AND WITH A TOWEL, PLACE SOME PRESSURE OVER THE HOLE THE NEEDLE CREATED......YOU MAY HAVE SOME BLOOD OR BLOOD MIXED WITH SALINE TRYING TO EXIT YOUR SAC! THEREFORE THE TOWELS

DON'T WORRY KEEP PRESSURE OVER AND DOWN ONTO THE HOLE FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO LET THINGS REST AND ANY BLOOD COAGULATE.

REMOVE THE "PRESSURE" TOWEL AND WITH SUPER GLUE, PLACE A FEW DROPS ON THE HOLE TO HOPEFULLY SEAL IT UP QUICKLY. KEEP THE COCK RING OR EQUIVALENT ON DURING THIS AND CONTINE TO LUBE YOUR SAC.

IF ALL IS GOING VERY WELL, IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES, YOUR SAC AND THE HOLE IS SEALED AND YOU ARE DONE.

IF ALL THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL, YOU MIGHT NOT GET A GOOD SEAL THE FIRST TIME JUST PEAL OFF THE SUPER GLUE RESIDUE AND START OVER.

At first your sac will be very tight,but over the next few hours or over night, keeping the cock ring on less tightly or without a cock ring your sac will relax and begin to stretch.

The saline will take a couple of days or more to absorb into you body. That is okay,Saline is sterile water adjusted to normal body PH.

Enjoy it, flaunt it if you are inclined, watch the perm stretch and sac tissue growth that happens over time.

You will need to p a little more often than regular as the saline absorbs into your body, but just enjoy the weight and feel of what is between your legs.

I hope this helps....If your nuts and sac are normally pretty big or even small and you want more, this will blow you away with the results.

Take care
Read the rest of this comment...

B.S. (1, Troll)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107117)

What kind of economists are they? Never heard of the "Broken Window Theory"?

that's unfortunate (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107145)

because linux simply doesn't support the majority of my needs. i'm sticking with xp.

Re:that's unfortunate (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107617)

Don't worry, it will.

A bit too early... (2, Funny)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107155)

..for the Year of the Linux Netbook.

Year of the linux desktop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107161)

.. or year of the linux crotchtop?

One issue (1)

swood78613 (1210234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107171)

The netbook is ideal for mobile connectivity. Good look getting your mobile broadband device to play well with Linux.

Re:One issue (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107385)

Sprint offers support for their EVDO mobile broadband. Verizon's works in Ubuntu. I don't have either, but from a cursory google search, it would appear that there's no more issue with mobile broadband than, say, bluetooth or firewire support.

Re:One issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26107393)

Actually, that was one of the most important features added to Ubuntu 8.10. Every Mobile Broadband device I have tried has been plug and play, literally.

It even works great for random Windows Mobile phones (with unlimited data plans), just connect via USB or Bluetooth and bam, instant connection.

I think you should probably take a look again and reevaluate Linux compatibility in this area.

Re:One issue (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107429)

Haven't used Ubuntu have you? Ubuntu supports mobile broadband devices pretty well last I knew.

Re:One issue (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107439)

The Huawei modem, used by most GSM networks (ie everyone outside the US and Canada) works out of the box in most modern linux distros.

It's a wash (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107207)

Walmart.com currently lists 13 mini-laptops.

gOS Linux at $300
7" screen, VIA CPU, 512 MB RAM, 30 GB HDD

Windows XP at $350
8.9" screen, Atom CPU, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HDD.

SUSE Linux at $400

9" Screen, VIA CPU, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB Flash, and a webcam. Not sold in stores.

Windows XP at $400

9" Screen, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB HDD and a webcam. In some stores. Mini-Laptops [walmart.com]

The Economist ~ understates ~ the advantages of being able to run your Windows apps on your netbook - and there is really nothing in F/OSS of interest to the general consumer market that isn't available for Windows.

Re:It's a wash (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107299)

Could it not be the case the Linux computer runs the same as the Windows XP equivalent, at each price level, even with different hardware specs?

Re:It's a wash (1)

aaron.axvig (1238422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107391)

Could be, but who cares. People are used to Windows...let them run Windows.

in some contexts yes, in some contexts no (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107445)

The main point of the article as I read it is that it makes more sense to treat netbooks as powerful PDAs rather than as weak laptops. People don't really expect their smartphones, for example, to run Windows apps, but instead expect them to have some useful functionality built in that is not too hard to figure out. Seen that way, a netbook with a web-browser, decent office package, and some camera-syncing software built in ought to be sufficient for many people, especially those who do much of their "real" computing on the web (use gmail, manage their pictures via flickr, etc.).

Re:It's a wash (2)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107437)

MS will litteraly give XP away to the vendors now ratherthan risk having people/customers break free of the win32 app stack.

Re:It's a wash (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107503)

In terms of cost, as long as MS can provide kickbacks, or as long as MS has the scale, whatever one wants to believe, MS will cheaper. For instance, the Dell has a $25 discount on the MS machine, but not the *nix machine

What they are probably talking about is overall functionality. While XP is very good, it is dated. We are not talking about Vista here, and I doubt that MS Windows 7 will run on these machines. However, because the OEM is free to play with the *nix, they can pick and choose as necessary so the netbook can have a modern OS, that can run the current apps, without having the limitations causing by trying to run an OS designed for a more powerful machines. Even though MS is frantically trying to fit XP into a smaller footprint, their success migth be limited.

Finally! (3, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107229)

Finally, the big breakthrough.

This time it's definitely true: 2009 is the year of Linux on the deskt... netbook!

Bogus hypothesis or am I being trogdolytic? (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107405)

Small, cheap mini-notebooks like this, or "netbooks" as they have come to be called, are not as fast or as capable as a big computer

Really? My "big" computer is a 5-year old Shuttle with a 1.8 GHZ P4, 160GB HDD, 1GB RAM, built-in Intel 82845G/GE graphics, a DVD burner, and an Atheros-based wireless card. I didn't claim it was brand-spanking new. I've got a couple of even bigger computers, but the Shuttle is faster and has more RAM. My Acer Aspire One is a little slower on some tasks than the Shuttle, but faster on others, and doesn't have an optical drive. I can live without the optical drive. The Aspire One replaced a 4-year old Averatec 3250 laptop which had a 1.67GHz Athlon, 60GB HDD, 512 MB RAM, onboard S3 Unichrome graphics, a CDRW/DVD ROM, a RaLink RT2500 wireless chip. The Averatec, like my AA1, came with WinXP. If a 1.67GHz Athlon with 512 MB RAM and a 60 GB HDD was adequate for WinXP four years ago, why isn't a 1.67 GHz Atom with 1GB RAM and 120GB HDD? Besides, I didn't buy my AA1 to run WinXP, I bought to run Fedora and Ubuntu and Puppy Linux, which is does very well, thank you.

Normal users listen to music (1)

srivatsanm (732361) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107549)

Geeks like their toys - and they(we!) know what to do with the toys. They don't need an advice column to tell us to run linux. But ordinary users do need this advice. And most of them listen to music on their computers, or at least use their PC's or laptops to sync with iPod. iTunes and iPod are no longer used by only "some" users - they are used by a vast majority. And until linux can run iTunes, recommending linux would be a generally bad idea when such advice is targetted at 'normal' users. The least that such advice columnists can do is to note that there are some defciencies to this advice that readers should be mindful of. For eg., if the assumption is that a netbook is a 2nd or 3rd computer owned purley for 'roaming' purposes, maybe this is not a huge concern. But 'normal' users tend to own 1, or max 2 PC's. Many don't care to own even 1, and if they can get a mobile PC for $300, they'd jump at it. And if it won't run iTunes, they'll return it, or worse, complain about linux (bad publicity is worse than no publicity).

OS X (0)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107621)

I'm planning on picking up a netbook (Samsung NC10) so that I can slap OS X on it and replace my aging iBook (2001 model). Sure, the netbook will be incredibly underpowered for a lot of things (that's what the desktop machine is for), but it will be a step up from the iBook, which still gets a fair amount of use as a small web-browsing, chat, light workload machine. And on top of that, the thing is tiny. I can cover about 1/3-1/2 the cost after selling the original Airport card (those things still go for 40-50 bucks on eBay!) and stripping it down and parting it out. Not a bad little upgrade.

SSD (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107651)

My friend (not a Linux user at all) says the same: Netbooks need to be cheap and should have a long running time. Flash drive instead of moving parts hd. Linux is the natural choice for that.

Only problem is: Most of the hardware is very poorly put together and the software is much worse. How much does it cost to pay someone to make a useable image of Xubuntu or Fedora sth. and put it on one of those things? Is that really so difficult?

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