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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 gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:06AM (#24116725)

    Most geeks realize that Windows for a few dollars extra (or the same price) is worth it, even if you're not a fan of Windows.

    I wonder if they've gotten these things to successfully dual boot. Yes, I realize there's not a whole lot of disk memory, but you can add more, no? Even if it's plugged into an external SD slot?

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:08AM (#24116757) Journal
    She loves it because it fits in her hand bag, "it runs linux eh? what's linux? It does what I need it to do and it's cuuuttteee"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:12AM (#24116839)

    Housewives are used to getting the products that have the best cost-benefit ratio.

    The Eee is a machine that provides wireless web browsing and email, instant messaging, etc.

    And it's cheaper without XP.

    It's a no-brainer then.

    As for why do geeks prefer XP? I can speak for myself and say that I thoroughly know the beast, it is a pleasure to google for the most wild assed software/driver you can think of and find that due to the widespread presence of the thing, pretty sure SOMEONE has gone through the same ordeal as you, and has posted a workaround.
    It works, and given current hardware configurations and provided that you configure it properly, it is FAST.

    I know it is light years away from an elegant OS from an academic's point of view, but I rather have XP on an Eee and be open to all the possibilities of interaction with other peripherals (oh, how our choice of words reveal one's age) than spending time tweaking linux.

  • Yes and? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Corporate Troll (537873) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#24116861) Homepage Journal

    I bough the 701 4G a few months ago. My father in law liked it so much, and after hearing the price, ordered two for his kids: 4yo and 12yo. (Kids from his second wife: I'm not married to a 4yo or 12yo).

    Anyway, I'm surprised to hear the geeks take the XP version. I'm actually quite happy with the default Xandros install. It even has perl, ruby and python for crying out loud!

  • by scenestar (828656) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:14AM (#24116875) Homepage Journal

    I guess that instead of the year of the linux desktop we should be celebrating the year of the linux laptop

    Funny, Considering the fact that Linux + laptops used to be one of the biggest headaches in the world.

  • Re:Reasoning? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Madball (1319269) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#24116969)

    I wouldn't say anyone (sane) would buy an eeePC for anything but retro gaming. My guess would be that for what an eeePC is built to do, the OS is not a differentiating factor for Ms. Housewife. She doesn't give a damn (as you say). And if it's a few bucks cheaper and does the same stuff, she's going to buy it.

    A "geek" may realize that he's getting a nice discount on the XP model (getting XP and 4G SD card for $68 incremental dollars equivalent).

  • by WibbleOnMars (1129233) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#24116985)

    Taiwan culture is not US culture, of course.

    Maybe not, but the UK is much more similar, and I've stood in a Dixons store here and listened to the salesman talking to a novice about the EeePC on display, explaining its OS as "Linux is low powered and suitable for a beginner."

    Granted, Dixons aren't the only people selling EeePCs, but they are definitely targetting EeePC at the less technically savvy.

  • by 4e617474 (945414) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:20AM (#24117029)

    I can think of several reasons a geek might get XP while preferring Linux. A job that lets you telecommute but doesn't supply a notebook or a Linux-friendly way on to the VPN. Getting locked into XP through years of acquiring familiar apps and tools. Shelling out cash on specialty hardware before checking Linux compatibility. Pouncing on the chance to snap up XP just to hedge their bets before they can only count on finding Vista. And then there's always the people who intend to dual-boot. You'll see them buying XP, then they'll get Linux without alerting the media.

    TFA article is pretty clear on why the housewife wants the Linux Eee PC. But it doesn't even tell you what they meant by "geek" - fondness for games? already uses more than two programs that didn't come on a computer? computer literacy? - much less offer any reasoning.

  • by Van Cutter Romney (973766) <sriram.venkataramaniNO@SPAMgeemail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#24117057)
    ASUS did a very good job by selecting hardware that is supported by Linux. I am a relative n00b to Linuxdom and I was able to re-install Ubuntu on my eee 900 (of course, with all the help that the Internet has), get all the devices working (webcam etc. which needed quite a bit of work), setup dual boot with Windows XP (setting up grub and all that...) and even managed to destroy and restore my MBR afterwards.
  • EEE, the new iPod? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dreemernj (859414) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#24117065) Homepage Journal
    iPod's were purchased by everybody and their mother. People with no interest in computers or high end stereo equipment or portable audio all of a sudden bought expensive iPods. Now people with not a ton of interest in computers, and definately not in really expensive ones, see a computer that's inexpensive and has an OS that is actually very friendly to newbies, and they are eating it up.

    If you haven't tried an EEE and are surprised by the idea of non-geeks using Linux, you should try one with the default setup. A few people I know that were never particularly adept at figuring stuff out in Windows, people that definately don't qualify as geeks, have been picking up the cheapest EEE to use for web browsing and music playing. Then, all of a sudden, they started doing things like switching to the full desktop mode, adding new applications, doing what they have to to get the EEE to support what they want to do.

    I'm no UI designer, that's for sure, but there is definately something about the EEE's flavor of linux that has gotten a lot of non-computer types to delve into really learning about and customizing their OS. That's not the case with everybody obviously, but in general there is a level of accessibility in the EEE's setup that seems to just make people happy.
  • by jeiler (1106393) <go.bugger.off@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#24117263) Journal
    A good point, and good to remember, but ZDnet and Tech-On both used the term as well. Maybe the automatic assumption of "geek = IT" is more widespread than /.
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:37AM (#24117391)

    Exactly. They also like the speed. The last thing they want to do is wait for Windows to load, defrag for an hour, update the antivirus, and then start using facebook...

  • Re:Hmm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chiger_bite (801427) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:45AM (#24117577)

    I tend to agree, to a certain point. I've been watching the netbook market pretty closely over the last several months. A large majority (not all) have better hardware specs on their windows systems than the linux systems (usually because windows requires more). It would not surprise me to see the Geeks buying the system with better hardware and re-installing with whatever OS they fancy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:47AM (#24117633)
    My wife just spent the last 3 weeks in Columbia using our EEE 701. She is a professional, and has not used Linux before. she managed to send emails and use the skype web cam quite sucessfully. we have an Iphone, but the EEE was easier for her to use. I even use it quite often and I am in an I.T. Dept. it just works, is small and if you screw it up it has a solid state rebuild built right in.
  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:49AM (#24117675)

    Aside from MSN working fine in linux, you should note that MSN has become the number 1 platform specifically because microsoft set out to build a monopoly with it, so they could manipulate you into exactly the position you just claimed. There were already perfectly decent messenging platforms before MSN, so their intent is obvious.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <[moc.eeznerif.todhsals] [ta] [treb]> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:51AM (#24117727) Homepage

    For a housewife...

    The OS is already installed, actually installing it isn't something the housewife wants to do.

    Additional apps are already installed with the Linux version, XP has a far more limited set of apps... The housewife may or may not want to use those apps.

    If she does need additional apps which aren't included by default, which is far more likely with XP, the process to acquire them is much easier in Linux (load up the package manager, select the apps from a list and let them install) as opposed to the XP method or either buying physical media (and reading it with what, these small laptops lack optical drives) or downloading it (from where? cant expect a housewife to search for apps and download them in confidence, especially since she has always been told not to download and run things from the internet), and then manually run the installer, keep hitting next a few times, and once installed try to find out where it is (often in a subsection of the start menu labelled by the program vendor which you can't expect users to know, rather than being categorised by function or even the program's name)

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

    by evilRhino (638506) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:56AM (#24117793)
    It actually makes sense because the Windows version is cheaper, or so I've heard. Geeks shouldn't have a problem installing Linux if that's what they want eventually. If they wanted to switch to Windows after opting for the Linux box, it would cost them extra money. I don't think you'll be playing hard-core games on " budget ultra-portables".
  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:06AM (#24117961) Homepage

    Spending the better part of a decade as a computerist in Asia has led me to the conclusion that most "geeks" there are pretty lightweight. Of course there are many exceptions among Asia's 2 billion people, but by and large, those who fancy themselves computer boffins tend to be content with installing pirated software on Windows, and most of them couldn't program their way out of a paper bag. Per capita, geek culture in Europe and the Americas is a whole lot more interesting and impressive.

    Part of this is probably a result of the widespread piracy in the region. The financial incentive that draws some to Linux elsewhere doesn't really exist there. Also, Chinese and its satellites are follower cultures, and it's not so common to do things that are truly strange or new.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:10AM (#24118051)
    Please cut your geek card across with a pair of ceramic scissors and hand it in at your local Citizen's Advice Centre for controlled demolition.

    True story, I once worked with an ex-Dixon's manager who admitted they looked for ignorant and easily cowed staff because they could exploit them, whereas the technically capable could easily get better weekend jobs somewhere else. Of course, you can guess the kind of managers they employ.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:31AM (#24118413)

    Geeks want the XP version because the harddrive is larger.

    Then one can install linux on top of that machine and keep the larger drive.

  • Re:Yes and? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:27PM (#24119321) Homepage Journal

    I'm actually quite happy with the default Xandros install.

    I keep wanting to dislike its Playschool interface, but I just can't. Almost every program I'd want to run on a tiny, net-oriented laptop is preinstalled with a big icon, and my "Favorites" tab has everything I actually use on a regular basis. I've installed "advanced mode" so I can have a full-blown KDE session, but once I loaded it to verify that it actually works, I went back to "simple mode".

    But Firefox 3, oh how you're wanted.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:28PM (#24119341)
    I use Linux most of the time, my job at work centres on securing telecoms applications servers that invariably run Linux - but I also recognise XP fills a lot of the needs that Linux cannot just like XP cannot fulfill my needs for writing scripts and programming at the shell prompt.

    But the fact is, I have two PDAs that are Windows based and for synchronising calendars and emails, for the moment it has to be Outlook and Activesync to do that.

    I also spend a lot of time minimising the footprint of XP as much as possible - I truly hate with a passion the default XP UI but I've used "Classic Explorer" for years now & can live with that.

    Then I get XPLite, strip out the MS-provided apps that I never use and stick on my favourite free stuff like VLC, Media Player Classic, Firefox, Notepad++, The Gimp and a few others. And once I've thrown PuTTY on, I can SSH to my home server wherever I can get a low bandwidth Internet connection if I need my shell prompt.

    To be honest, I've always thought of a geek as someone who just tries to find the best software to do the job he/she needs to and there's plenty of free or Open Source apps on Linux and Windows that are useful tools to have.

    Yes, Linux does most of the stuff I need to do with computers and one day it would be nice to be able to just use one OS - but XP fills the gaps quite well and apart from a bit of extra time administrating more OSes on my PCs, I'm pretty happy with my whole computing experience.

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

    by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc,famine&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:29PM (#24119359) Homepage Journal
    This is why my mom now runs ubuntu. She kept asking me how I dealt with stupid windows problems, and I kept having to tell her I didn't. She finally said, 'well, can I use linux too?" and the answer was "yes".

    A year down the line and it does what she wants it to do. It boots, gives her access to the internet, comes with a thousand solitaire games, recognized the HP printer/scanner without drivers, and comes with a basic word processor.

    A switch to gmail allowed her to control her spam problem she had with lycos, and gave her an ultra-basic IM capability in the process.

    It is surprising that the year of Linux on the Desktop came not for the geeks and power-users, but for joe luser. Linux + a small, cheap laptop really does make for a "computer as an appliance" setup.
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Narpak (961733) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @12:43PM (#24119589)
    Also for some reason people seem to neglect the fact we are speaking about housewives and geeks from Taiwan here.
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @01:11PM (#24120063)

    Yeah, I had to wipe my HP tablet. Then I found out HP puts the crapware on the install disk, too! Ugh.

    I reinstalled it using the Vista Home Premium DVD that came with my Dell desktop (ironically), and now it runs smooth as silk. And as an added bonus, when I go to System -> Properties, Vista thinks it's running on a Dell.

    I'm sure as hell never buying HP again. I knew to expect the crapware, but I didn't expect that much of it, not by a long shot-- and putting the crapware on the install DVD was just icing on the cake. Dell for me from now on.

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

    by mpfife (655916) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @01:20PM (#24120187)
    And hence the reason those 'non-geeks' are buying linux versions over windows. When you're simply looking at utility and both do the same job externally - then price is probably the biggest concern to you.

    I'd bet $10 the reason the linux versions are more popular isn't because housewives have become educated about linux/windows - but its about which one is cheaper with the same features.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @01:42PM (#24120501)

    A couple years ago, my gf's sisters hard drive crashed and windows wouldnt boot. Dell or whoever said they would send a new hard drive and it would get there in 3 weeks or so.

    In the meantime, I just gave her a knoppix CD and told her she might be able to browse the web with it. She's not really tech savvy at all. Well, about two weeks later I saw her again at her house and she was playing MP3's that were saved to her HD (the one windows wouldnt boot off of), working on a report she had saved to her hard drive, browsing the internet, chatting on AIM, playing one of those second rate linux games, etc. etc. When the new hard drive came, I dont think she even bothered installing it for a while.

  • by phaana (1235178) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:17PM (#24121107)
    True enough. I have some anecdotal evidence on that. I administer the network in my student residence because I'm the only CS major/science major there (yes, majority of residents are women and yes that's a good thing). Whenever any resident comes to me with a software problem like a virus in their Windows system, or some kind of "it was working a few minutes ago" etc., I just tell them to go for Ubuntu. Most of them don't, but I have had quite a few people convert to Linux, most of whom are art students, law students, medical students, philosophy majors etc. And the important thing is, the ones who take the time become MORE PROFICIENT at administering their Linux machines than their former Windows boxes. The reason is simple, we have LOTS of forums and documentation and instructions available online for how to get your Linux box working, not as much is available for Windows. Regards.
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @02:48PM (#24121703) Journal
    Maybe where you're at,but where I live Age of Empires I & II rule the female crowd. I even learned from my last boss and make sure I have an AoE demo running when a female comes in to buy a box. They look at it for a second,go "Oooh,Age of Empires!" and start playing. If it plays AoE I & II well(for some reason III they don't care for) then you usually have a sale. Why that game,I have no idea. But that stupid AoE is like catnip to them. I have even seen them start typing all these weird commands like "pepperoni pizza" and it turns out they've played it so much they've memorized their favorite cheat codes!
  • Re:BLASPHEMY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2short (466733) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @06:09PM (#24125817)
    Makes perfect sense to me, except for the part where I'm a housewife...

    I've got an EEE running the stock Linux. When it comes to OSes, my preference is not having to care. My EEE runs Firefox, and it runs rdesktop to turn it into a remote terminal for my Windows box at work. That's all it ever runs. I'm sure XP would do those too, but probably slower and more expensively.

    For the things an EEE is good for for most people, you don't have to care what the OS is, so most people take linux because it's cheaper. If you're actually doing something on an EEE where you have to care what the OS is, you've got to be a geek.

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