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Linux For Housewives. XP For Geeks. 511

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the or-just-cheapskates dept.
Talinom writes "ZDNet has an article sure to raise the hackles of any self-respecting geek. They report that housewives buying small laptops like the Asus EE are causing Linux usage for that demographic to spike. A reporter for Tech-On states that 'Retailers and contract manufacturers in Taiwan say that novice PC users there, like students and housewives, tend to buy the Linux version of the Eee PC701, while geeks go for Windows XP.'"
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Linux For Housewives. XP For Geeks.

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  • by jeiler (1106393) <go.bugger.off@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:03AM (#24116667) Journal
    Taiwan culture is not US culture, of course. I imagine that even Geek culture is different between the two cultures.
  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iXiXi (659985) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:04AM (#24116687)
    Well, I am not sure that housewives can't be geeks. Maybe they confuse geeks that are buying XP with idiots? I wouldn't think that a true 'geek' would give a rat's buttocks about what OS came on the hardware. I put what I want on there when I get home.
  • Reasoning? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LightPhoenix7 (1070028) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:07AM (#24116729)
    The article was short on details (aside from the study being in Taiwan), but my guess would be that the "geeks" are the ones playing video games, and unfortunately most of the big titles are constrained to Windows. On the other hand, a computer you're only using for e-mail and web browsing should opimally be as cheap as possible, and you certainly don't get cheaper on an OS than free.
  • Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:09AM (#24116769) Journal

    I didn't know that the day would come, when I would feel more unfamiliar (didn't say uncomfortable - but I guess that's coming, too, with Vista (oh yeah, I don't intend to move to Vista - ever)) in Windows than in Linux. But, alas, that day has come and now I have no clue how to troubleshoot Windows anymore. It's just way too arcane and complicated. In Linux and Solaris I know how to at least start troubleshooting, and then I can search the 'net for specific keywords (error messages, log entries, etc.). Some of this could probably be done with Windows as well, but I just find the "whole experience" of troubleshooting it, more hairy and unsettling.

  • Re:Reasoning? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:15AM (#24116891)
    And also for the most part the average person doesn't really care if it runs Linux, Unix, Windows, BeOS, or whatever. They just want it to work. Being cheaper is a large factor when the price of the computer is only $200, and $50 difference is a lot. Also being so cheap if the consumer knows if that the Linux version isn't fully adequate, they can just get the Windows version. Yes, you can install XP over Linux on the EEE PC, but for the average consumer going to the store and spending $250 is a lot easier than figuring out installation of a new OS. Especially these days where you can't get XP at retail anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:16AM (#24116913)

    Windows XP is a dangerous toy, much like a sports car: High upkeep, hard to handle, always broken in some way.

    Housewives don't want to play with the computer, they want to get the job done. As long as they stay within the preconfigured range of capabilities, Linux is fire-and-forget.

  • Sounds reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 427_ci_505 (1009677) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:16AM (#24116933)

    I've never bought a copy of linux.

    Or windows, for that matter.

    _>

  • Re:Reasoning? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rhys (96510) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:17AM (#24116953) Homepage

    Only an idiot is going to try playing a video game that needs windows (read: new enough to not be well supported by wine) on something like an eee pc.

    That said, if they'll ever actually release the 1000 in the US, I'm planning on getting one and will probably load WoW on it (cedega/wine) anyway... Just to be able to use the money printing machine^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hauction house from hotels/etc.

  • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:17AM (#24116965)

    And this shows that Linux is now usable for non-geeks when preinstalled. Many of those users wouldn't be able to reinstall their Windows either ;-)

    There is still a lot of software that is only available for Windows (in particular games), but the OS itself is just as usable as Windows.

  • Browsing and Mail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:18AM (#24116967) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, what does the average person need. Browsing, mail, photos? Sure, for multimedia Linux may not have the integration that something like Mac OS does, but neither does XP.

    In many cases a more technical person has to have a Windows OS, either because they have to test against it, or they code in Visual Studio, or run some XP only app.

    The prevailing mindset is that it is better to run the same OS at home as at work, if, for no other reason, the work software can be often be used at home as well. But with all the free and cheap software, and with the often extreme difficulty of keeping a MS Windows machine running, it is no longer a sure bet to run MS Windows at home. Many people are realizing that MS Windows is targeted to the corporate user, and requires corporate resources for the average person to use.

    *nix, OTOH, if it is kept simple, and has some vendor support, can be run by the average person.

  • Games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:18AM (#24116973) Journal

    Geeks play games that run under XP. Housewives (househusbands, most of the rest of the universe) don't play games often, and when they do, they're browser-based or included in the OS.

    Nothing to see here.

  • by Icarium (1109647) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:21AM (#24117045)

    It's interesting to observer how the mere mention of the word 'geek' on /. is automatically assumed to mean someone who has at least an interest in IT.

    Geeks were around before computers. Not all geeks are IT savvy, not all IT savvy people are geeks.

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CKW (409971) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:24AM (#24117103) Journal

    No no, this makes perfect sense.

    Housewives don't play video games and download a bajillion "utilities". Geeks do.

    Housewives want to browse the web and use e-mail, and have a stable safe system.

    Geeks love the chaos and security challenges that is posed by Windows.

  • Re:Games (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dyfet (154716) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:32AM (#24117285) Homepage

    So let me get this straight, geeks want to play games on tiny screens and, for most games in today's market, what would be greatly underpowered hardware?? What do they play, minesweep??!

    While I don't have an alternative explanation to immediately offer, I do find that particular argument far less than compelling to explain this phenomena, at least from the geek part.

  • by adsl (595429) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:33AM (#24117317)
    I hate to say this on slashdot, but the Linux version of the eeepc comes with better hardware out of the box. It also presents a proposition for users to wean themselves OFF Mr Softy products. i.e. if they can live with Linux on their small form factor Asus, then why pay for MS Office and other MS products when Free, or very economical, Linux apps are readily available! You don't think that MS is concerned about this? That's why the small form XP was suddenly made available for these machines at a rock bottom price. So it seems that housewives and MS know something geeks don't!
  • by denzacar (181829) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:40AM (#24117447) Journal

    Housewives - buying Linux version of the EeePC cause it is CHEAP.

    Students - buying Linux versions cause they will promptly replace it with a pirated Windows version. Why pay for an OS when its available FOR FREE?

    Geeks - buying XP cause they DON'T WANT TO BUY VISTA and they DO want to buy a computer with stronger/better components.
    Such machines usually come with a OEM version of Windows whether you like it or not.

    BTW... article is crap.
    It fails to even say if it is the case of Linux and XP versions of EeePC or are they talking about Linux EeePCs and XP preloaded PCs in general.

    If the operating system (OS) doesn't need to emphasize business use, Linux is a good choice, because its graphical user interface (GUI) software is quite mature. Retailers and contract manufacturers in Taiwan say that novice PC users there, like students and housewives, tend to buy the Linux version of the Eee PC701, while geeks go for Windows XP. The Linux version comes with a launcher providing pre-installed applications, Web services and other features at a click. The design was probably adopted to make the system even easier to use.

    Maybe because that was NOT THE POINT of the article?
    Something about the title... I don't know... ("Ultra Low-Cost PCs Dominate the Market")

    Really guys... Why this flamebait?

  • Geeks play games (Score:3, Insightful)

    by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:44AM (#24117563) Journal

    Geeks play games. Housewives don't. OK, that stereotype has been busted by some of the "casual games", and the game demographic in general has become more evenly balanced. How about this: Geeks need XP for work, housewives don't. Follow this with: They're using it as their primary OS, but what are they running in a VM?

  • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:48AM (#24117657)

    Nice troll, but I'll explain the difference to all the previous Linux installations:

    Among geeky types, it was already widely believed that Ubuntu (for instance) is just as easy to setup and use as Windows. But those people already have computer knowledge which may help them over some points where a non-geek may feel stumped. So they do not exactly represent the average user.

    Computers that come preinstalled with Linux have been rare, and this is the first time lots of them get into the hands of non-experts. So people like GP's girlfriend are the real test of how newbie-friendly linux is. One of them is anecdotal, lots of them make a valid test. Give it a few months and both your and my post will be irrelevant because the results of the test are out.

  • by PunkOfLinux (870955) <mewshi@mewshi.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:51AM (#24117717) Homepage

    Even as little as a little under 2 years ago, the wireless situation on Linux was terrible. Now, we have drivers for nearly all popular chipsets, encryption. Now, if we could just get all the damn extra buttons on my lappy to work...

  • by craagz (965952) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:53AM (#24117747) Homepage Journal
    and housewives are known to spread news like wild fire too..
  • by AusIV (950840) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @09:56AM (#24117797)
    I've said for a long time that Linux is great for the least technical users and the most technical users, but the more mid-range users will have problems.

    In my family, my mom does just fine on Ubuntu. She checks e-mail, browses the web, writes documents, etc. Occasionally she'll say "Do you know of a program that will let me ...", and I'll install it for her and show her how to use it. That's how it worked on Windows, that's how it works on Linux.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, I want complete control of my system. I want to be able control exactly what services run. I want to script specific events to happen at specific times. If the mood strikes me, I want to modify a program to better suit my needs. I have the knowledge and ability to do this, and Linux fits the bill far better than Windows.

    In the middle, there's my dad. He got me my first computer when I was three. He has some exclusively Windows software that he needs for work, and they won't run under Wine. He'll frequently go out and download or buy a software package and install it himself. The expectations he has of his computer were defined by Microsoft going back as far as DOS. He's a quite competent computer user, but I suspect he'd have problems adapting to the differences presented by Ubuntu.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#24117923)

    And Apple will be late to this party as they've got their hands full with the iPhone and Snow Leopard. Apple has a history of missing these big shifts - if they haven't invented them - as they did with towers replacing desktops in the mid-90s.

    Apple missed a lot when they didn't have a focused CEO at the helm like any computer. Whether you like or hate Steve Jobs, he has Apple focused on a strategy. It may or may not be the right strategy but they are working on the two or three things that they think will keep them ahead. It is clear that Apple wants no part in the ultra-cheap computer market. They have never wanted that market. That market is killing Dell right now. IBM left the entire consumer market completely probably because they saw what was happening.

    Also Apple has a history of using technology that they didn't invent if it works for them. In fact, they have led the market in using new technology that they didn't invent. The first iMacs were the first computers to use USB (and abandon their proprietary APC interfaces). USB was invented by Intel. AAC is their default music format and was invented by the people who created MP3 to be the successor to MP3. Macs today are Unix machines that come with a variety of Unix open source software like Samba.

  • Nature (Score:2, Insightful)

    by labmonkey09 (992534) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#24118073)
    5 is 500% increase no? Or is that an arthmetic exception? Really, no suprise. Devices with fixed levels of functionality are a perfect place for LINUX. That is, the underlying complexity of the interface, OS install, app install, and maintenance tasks are masked just like an iPod or mobile. No suprise that geeks like Windows. It plays games. And, all the anti-MS talk was bound to backlash. Kids like what their parents hate. Think Windows is crap dad? Watch this...
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by alex4u2nv (869827) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#24118183) Homepage

    Lets draw the line between Dorks and Geeks ;p

    Geeks and housewives use Linux. (wine to play games). Yes, Wine, because a geek has more fun getting the game to run, than actually playing it.

    Dorks use windows XP, complain about Vista, and bajillion of utilities.

    Graduating Dorks use Apple. Not because they're down with UNIX,POSIX, or FreeBSD. But because they stand out from the other windows users. ;)
    Conclusion, I'm right: article wrong!

  • by foxalopex (522681) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:25AM (#24118323)
    I actually like WinXP SP2 despite having the knowledge to hack Linux onto a Linksys NSLU2 and compiling some of the packages myself on it. As much as folks complain that WinXP crashes, I've haven't seen that nasty blue screen in years. It comes from knowing how to set XP up and making sure your hardware isn't messed up. I haven't met many folks who actually go through the number of steps I do on a new WinXP setup which might explain why it works so well for me. When you use Opensource software such as SeaMonkey or Media Player Classic and FDDShow with WinXP it actually becomes very useful. I remember back in university when XP came out we were impressed. And these are CompSci students working on Sun Enterprise systems. Where Linux still shines the most however is as a stable server and of course it has a front-end interface (compiz) light-years ahead of Vista. XP's strengths are in games, video playback and pirating. To a geek like myself that's why I've stayed with XP. Everything works with near perfect stability and I have a blend of opensource and closed-source / pirated tools to fit my needs. For a regular person who doesn't care however and just wants to surf the web, Linux would probably work fine.
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:39AM (#24118553)

    I have been living this reality for awhile now. My parents and grandparents use Ubuntu (I forced/tricked it onto them), and are getting along just fine. When it comes to basic computer use, Linux has been ready for the Desktop for about a two years. I myself cannot stand using it, since all the weird apps I use only work with Windows. I like Linux, but it is the applications that are important, not the operating system.

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spymagician (1303515) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:07AM (#24118971)
    Since the Asus EEE mini laptops actually come with a Linux distro pre-installed, I'd have to say your theory is critically flawed. They're buying the LAPTOP not the OS. It's incidental that the laptop has a Linux distro on it.
  • Re:Hmm.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zlogic (892404) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:21AM (#24119221)

    Heavy gaming and double-booting? On an Eee PC?

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:31AM (#24119411)

    Ugh, tell me about it. We had to buy a Vista laptop for my wife to run a medical practice management app, and it's a dual-core system with 2GB of memory. By all accounts it's a fast computer, but by the time Vista finishes booting, all of the "update me!" dialogs have been clicked, and it's actually ready to use, she's cussing at the thing.

    Let me guess, it's an HP with (approx) 40,000 pieces of crapware installed?

  • free xp (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bearbones (532127) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:40AM (#24119531)

    the xp 701 and the linux 701 cost the same.

    so, why not get the xp license to use for free,
    and then install linux yourself on the laptop.

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:54PM (#24120667)

    I'm calling bullshit. My wife got a really good laptop a couple months ago and it takes well over a minute to boot XP and I know for a fact that Vista takes longer to boot than XP(I have Vista on my laptop that used to have XP). If it takes only 15 seconds to load Vista and Firefox, you have a far better system than "decent".

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jasonjk74 (1104789) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @01:50PM (#24121741)
    I would even go as far as to say that they don't even realize it's not Windows initially! After using it for a few days and wondering why they can't install any of their software, they probably ask "What kind of Windows is this?" Then they probably ask "Where's Word, Excel,etc."
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hitmark (640295) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:36PM (#24122607) Journal

    given how integrated the hardware and software is on these machines, one could say that they are buying a internet appliance...

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hitmark (640295) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:37PM (#24122651) Journal

    at that point, stick to linux...

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:37PM (#24126315)

    Relax. Real geeks don't use Windows, never have. Anyone who calls themselves a geek and is using Windows is probably just a soft white male American consumer who is a product of an ignorant war-mongering fascist society. I expect George Bush uses Windows. I rest my case.

  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:40PM (#24129607)

    why would they do that when they have "internet" "spreadsheet" "wordprocessor" laid out in simple menus

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