Low-Cost Computing Leads Linux Desktop Charge

Sometimes revolutions come in modest packages. After a lengthy wait, it appears the low-end PC is leading the way for mass acceptance of Linux.
Posted January 30, 2008
By

Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley


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Linux adoption up until now has been rather staggered, to say the least. "Joe Average" has yet to show any sustaining interest in Linux. And yet in 2007, this began to slowly change.

After a long-fought battle for Linux desktops adoption, we’re seeing a new breed of Linux PCs filling a unique need – offering a simple to use, easy to maintain computing option for the masses.

A niche within a niche

The idea of low cost computing is hardly a new concept, yet low cost computing with lower cost of overall ownership is not something that has seen much success. Perhaps for the first time in history, we have truly viable alternatives to the problematic Windows PCs. An alternative that does not cost a mint to purchase outright.

The common user Linux desktop path was initially paved by the likes of Linspire and later on, Xandros. Today, we see Xandros making a strong appearance on one of the smallest Linux-powered notebook computers to date, the ASUS Eee. And while in many regards Linspire pioneered the low-end Linux PC for casual consumers, they still have yet to show anything "concrete" within the notebook sector.

This will hurt them in the long run as Ubuntu, Xandros, and another Ubuntu variant, gOS, all have managed to overtake Linspire in the news rather suddenly due to their success with notebook computing.

What casual users clearly want from Linux computers

Users want results, not marketing-speak or some hard-line Linux user's stance on niceties of software politics.

Offering an alternative to this type of hassle is largely what has driven Ubuntu to success. It’s also why PCs that offer an Ubuntu variant, known as the gOS, have bucked all predictions with record breaking sales. But gOS is not alone here. No, Linux needed to be brought onto compatible hardware to become palatable to the mainstream market.

And this is where Everex came in.

Early on, when Everex opted to use gOS, the two parties wisely littered the PCs with various Google applications in all the right places so that retailers would have a difficult time keeping these PCs on the shelves. The result? It worked with users everywhere. Retailers such as WalMart sold out almost overnight.

But one company made famous for their work with motherboards had been working a project that made the gOS towers look like small potatoes. The company behind this history making product release is known as ASUS.

Like Everex, ASUS struck gold by using a customized Linux distribution that quickly caught the eye of advanced users and new users alike. ASUS cheated in a sense however, as the company has been marketing their notebooks as pre-loaded with Xandros Linux, yet also as being XP compatible. Clever as this is, it certainly does not firm up a strong ASUS commitment in the eyes of many Linux users, myself included.

But all of that aside, Everex and ASUS have managed to break through into a new market of users who previously would not likely have given Linux the time of day. In short, the gamble to attract casual Linux users is working.

But ASUS is not alone here. Everex appeared again with a partnership made with Zonbu that in my opinion, brought more overall value to the Linux notebook world for those who need a simple managed solution.


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