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Linux Pre-Installs In the UK Hit 2.8% 289

Posted by kdawson
from the small-but-encouraging dept.
schliz alerts us to a story out of the UK PC distribution channel. It seems that the percentage of systems pre-installed with Linux has gone up 28 times since Vista shipped, from 0.1% in January 2007 to 2.8% last June. Still not huge numbers, but Apple did OK for years with similar market share figures. Linux's headway comes in the face of the marketing money that manufacturers pass out to distributors, money that has historically been important to their profits: "In the late 1990s competition was so keen that distributors were said to sell at or below cost and take their profit direct from the marketing funds they received from vendors. Vendors nowadays keep watch to see their marketing funds are actually spent on marketing, but distribution runs on single figure profits and vendor marketing funds are a crucial aid."
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Linux Pre-Installs In the UK Hit 2.8%

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  • For How Long? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) <xanadu@inorbiOPENBSDt.com minus bsd> on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:26PM (#24474337) Homepage Journal
    I'm a big Linux user, I have been since the mid-ish / later-ish '90s sometime. I do have to ask, though:

    How long do these machines stay running Linux?

    If someone wanted a new and cheap PC, get a Linux one and format c:
  • Re:For How Long? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:29PM (#24474371)
    How long do these machines stay running Linux?

    If, as I speculated above, these machines are Eee PCs, then they probably stay running Linux for all their operational life. The target market for such machines wouldn't know how to reinstall an OS. Wiping a disk and installing Windows, then locating drivers for all the hardware, then setting up firewalls and antivirus... well, that's fine for the hobbyist, but the average user is just going to stick with what's on the system as it arrived. Windows needs to become a lot easier for the end user to configure and install if it's going to become a viable competitor on the mainstream ultraportable.

  • Re:For How Long? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garett_spencley (193892) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:31PM (#24474377) Journal

    This is a very valid point, but that doesn't mean everything goes down the tube. It's great marketing. Even if the users never boot into Linux the word still got to them. And I suspect that many who do format and install Windows will at least boot into Linux once or twice and give it a shot. A few may even stick with it when they see it does everything they wanted the cheap PC for anyway.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:38PM (#24474463) Homepage

    apple makes money at 2.8%. do you really think that all these vendors pay X/each copy distributed?

    On the other hand, Linux has been constantly improving on a shoestring budget so anything they make on this is more than that. I'm pretty sure there's money in there, not great money but enough to push Linux forward. If you invest in the stock market thinking Canonical will be the next Microsoft you're almost certainly wrong, but hopefully this means that in a few years Linux is a market share you can not ignore.

  • Re:For How Long? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10link ... inus threevowels> on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:42PM (#24474503) Homepage

    From what I heared at least initially asus supplied instructions for installing windows and a CD full of windows drivers with the linux based EEE.

    I dunno if this has changed since they started selling them with windows.

  • Re:For How Long? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g0dsp33d (849253) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:43PM (#24474509)
    Makes up for all the "Vista" machines that are running Linux now. This laptop for example :).

    I would also guess that most of the people who know how to switch operating systems tend to head in the opposite direction of what you suggest.
  • Re:Linux will grow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:50PM (#24474573)
    I increasingly find that lots of software is linux only or works better in linux.

    I think it's a cultural thing.

    Whenever I have something reasonably complex in mind to do in Windows (let us say... some kind of manipulation of PDF files), and I think 'Somebody must surely have programmed this already - I'll check online!' - I find pages upon pages of applications promising to do just as I wish, but they're all crippleware, non-functional unless I pay somebody money for them. Or they're riddled with advertising, or worse. Because every Windows programmer who has faced this problem has found a solution and immediately had fantasies of making a million selling software on the internet.

    Whereas when the same notion strikes in Linux, the results are all free software, and far more functional than the Windows shareware shite, because some hacker in the past has faced the same problem as me, and has published his solution to the community.

    Windows programmers hoard their creations and try to make money from them, and no one programmer can really benefit much from the work of any other. Linux hackers release their creations freely, and every hacker can improve and build upon the work of any other. Small wonder then that in order to get any decent software on Windows, one must either pay a licence fee to a corporation and sell one's soul to an EULA, or hope to hell that some software from the Unix world has been ported across.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... minus herbivore> on Monday August 04, 2008 @08:21PM (#24474847) Homepage
    Microsoft's error in not predicting the potential market size for small, low cost systems running a full featured OS, is to everyone else's advantage and we will all progress because of it.

    MS is terrible at predicting computing trends; hell, they failed to predict the INTERNET. However, they usually manage to come up from behind and eventually dominate the market. Look at how Windows CE eventually beat Palm.
  • Re:For How Long? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by burnin1965 (535071) on Monday August 04, 2008 @08:28PM (#24474905) Homepage

    How long do these machines stay running Linux?

    If the customers are anything like the Windows customers they'll be running linux until the box is dead.

    If they are an out of the ordinary customer who does their own OS installs then it wouldn't make much sense to buy a box with linux pre-installed when you can buy boxes with no OS, or to save even more purchase the parts themselves and build the box.

    I'm sure some of them will end up running Windows but its more likely that it will be due to a want or need to go back to Windows apps rather than going through the trouble to get a cheaper box.

    From what I've seen of vendors that sell Windows and linux boxes there isn't much of a cost benefit to buy the linux box over a Windows box, in fact its not uncommon for the Windows box to often times cost less than a similarly equipped linux box. Its never been fully explained why by the vendors selling the boxes, but its been speculated that they are subsidized by the proprietary software vendors.

    If it does turn out they are being purchased on the cheap and a pirated copy of Windows is installed, oh well, I guess its pay back for me and everyone else who has purchased multiple laptops over the years and being forced to pay a Microsoft tax even though the laptops would be used to run linux.

  • by tristian_was_here (865394) on Monday August 04, 2008 @08:46PM (#24475031)
    I doubt we will see kernel.org on the stock exchange but its good to see GNU/Linux is moving forward. Living in the UK I see GNU/Linux sees hurdles especially with ISP's because they require custom software to enable internet connections on first use.
  • Re:Linux will grow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Monday August 04, 2008 @09:07PM (#24475163) Homepage

    Yeah, so? I don't begrudge paying people for their work. It's kinda' how the world works. (...) Regardless of what other people are doing, you're still whining about having to compensate other people for their work. Cry me a fuckin' river.

    And trying to avoid paying is also kinda how the world works. Saying "this is payware" and offering that is a fair deal, the problem is when you're trying to find a gratis solution in the Windows world. Some are very upfront about that there's a gratis version and a payware version and what the differences are. Others are plain old deceptive, probably not to the point of being criminally fraudulent but where it turns out the gratis version is so crippled it's practically useless and only a ruse to make you pay. Or that it comes bundled with ad/spy/malware that they hid way down in the EULA or otherwise downplayed until you try to install/use it.

    Open source software has a refreshing air of honesty. It tends to do as advertised, even if it only claims to do half of what the Windows solution claims. Often the shortcomings are in fact pointed out in a TODO or as potential future improvements. Just knowing the license type is generally enough, there's no reason to read to see if it requires your firstborn or anything like that. All of this cuts down on the transaction costs [wikipedia.org].

    It's often been said that open source software is only free if your time is worthless. Well, in my experience trying to chase down a gratis/cheap Windows solution is even more costly than a free Linux solution. Natural selection doesn't happen much in shareware, you find oodles of crap hanging around waiting for some sucker to buy it. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but they are typically larger, more well established projects and not the kind of half-hobbyist shareware software.

  • Re:Linux will grow (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2008 @10:22PM (#24475595)

    You're trolling or you've just been looking in the wrong places. The latter is something easy to do in the world of windows where you have > 90% of the world's applications to choose from. Snapfiles [snapfiles.com] freeware section is a good example of free software that is not "cripleware", though there are also shareware selections available.

    For Linux, you can also find free software, but MANY times the programs themselves aren't fully functional or contain serious bugs. If you have the time and know how to fix it yourself, that is an option, but not a viable one for most people.

    What you fail to understand, is that within the Windows world there are different types of programmers. Those who, like you say, horde their creations. Yet, there are also those that release free software for absolutely no charge. Both types exist, but you only present one side. No decent free software on windows? Liar.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @03:23AM (#24477081)

    No one is going to use it. They're going to put XP on it, legit or pirated. A simple way to avoid the M$ tax.

  • Re:Linux will grow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NickFortune (613926) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @05:11AM (#24477477) Homepage Journal

    Windows programmers hoard their creations and try to make money from them, and no one programmer can really benefit much from the work of any other. Linux hackers release their creations freely, and every hacker can improve and build upon the work of any other

    And it's not just the software. Do a bit of googling to find out how to apply an emerging technology or methodology. If your target platform is Windows, chances are you'll find a couple of dozen teaser blogs by MS MVPs all pimping their latest book.

    Do the same thing for a linux deployment, and you'll get a handful of Howtos.

  • Re:For How Long? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @06:00AM (#24477667)

    The manual for the Linux EEE includes very detailed instructions on how to wipe Linux and install XP. (The manual for the Windows EEE does not contain instructions on wiping XP an installing Linux).

    Presumably because only an idiot would pay £30 extra to get the Windows version then put Linux on it, and they don't want idiots bricking their laptops so that they have to go back to the shop for a reinstall...?

  • Re:For How Long? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @06:15AM (#24477741)
    Slashdot really needs a '-1, Whooooosh' mod.
  • by PReDiToR (687141) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @08:20AM (#24478307) Homepage Journal
    And a whole bunch of people are trying to get Linux to run on those devices instead of those semi-operating systems.

    It won't be long til most phones and PDAs run Linux, either replacing the OS or pre-installed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @08:54AM (#24478565)

    I've met a few people who won't budge from IE6 because they 'don't like' Opera, IE7, Firefox or Safari.
    They never have a good reason when pressed - so I can only assume that it's because they are resistant to change and/or the idea of tabbed browsing confuses and frightens them.

    Common excuses:
    "I don't like the way other browsers look."
    "I don't like the way the other browsers work." (WTF?)
    "I don't see why *I* should need to change."
    "It's too much hassle."
    "Ever since virus xyz, I only trust MS software." (Again, WTF?).

    The only way to get these people to stop using IE6 is to stop making sites that support IE6. Hopefully, they'll eventually become so marginalised that they will have to get a better browser; even if it is just IE7.

  • by jeremyp (130771) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @08:59AM (#24478591) Homepage Journal

    No, actually the numbers don't mean anything. Of course there's going to be a steep rise of any new product just after its introduced as it goes from 0% to anything%. The important thing is that the growth must be sustained.

    What if most of the 2.8% are people who would previously have bought a Windows PC and wiped it to put Linux on? It would mean Linux's installed base is not going up. Once they've all recycled their old PCs, the market share would them stay static. If it stays static at 3%, companies like Dell are going to look very hard at whether they continue to offer Linux as an option because the cost of supporting two operating systems instead of one is not zero.

    No, I think you have got a story if it's at 4 or 5% this time next year and the trend is consistent. But bear in mind, the iPhone achieved a peak of 27% of the smartphone market in under a year and it's that sort of magnitude that counts as "good news".

  • by KURAAKU Deibiddo (740939) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @08:59AM (#24478593) Homepage

    You are aware that Mac OS X 10.5.x (Leopard) is POSIX compliant and conforms to the Single UNIX Specification [apple.com], right? The difference in file system layout that you're complaining about most likely has to do with user directories being in /Users instead of /home, and mounted volumes in /Volumes instead of /media, assuming that you're comparing it to Ubuntu. If you're really concerned about having exactly the same paths between OSes, you can use 'ln -s' exactly the same on Mac OS X as you can on Ubuntu. Although for a home directory, it's pretty pointless, since ~ and $HOME work exactly the same way on Mac OS X as any other *nix distro that I've ever used (including Ubuntu).

    Just because your sysadmin is lost without Apple's GUI does not mean that Mac OS X encourages ignorance and obfuscation. Sure, most Mac users use GUI applications instead of terminal-based applications, but it doesn't mean that you can't. (I should know; I run both Mac OS X and Linux boxes, and probably my most-used application is Terminal.) You don't have to use the GUI. 90% of the time, I control my desktop via SSH. (If you want to do this on Ubuntu, you'd need to install the 'ssh' package. In Mac OS X, sshd is included by default, but is not running as a service until you enable it.) I watch video in my self-compiled SVN of mplayer, controlling it over SSH while doing other things on my laptop (in fact, I'm doing that as I post this). It's silly to base your assumptions of what can be done with Mac OS X based on your observations of one person. I know people who run Ubuntu who only know how to do things the GUI way, but that doesn't mean that Ubuntu encourages ignorance and obfuscation.

    I've helped quite a few people migrate to Ubuntu/Kubuntu because they're sick of Windows and don't want to have to buy new hardware. I really like what Canonical is doing. But you really can't say that Canonical can't learn anything from Apple (or Apple from Canonical). Mark Shuttleworth has been quoted talking about emulating and surpassing Apple [eweek.com]. While I currently think that Apple's Aqua is a more polished interface than Gnome and KDE, there are definitely things that Apple didn't come up with first (e.g. multiple desktops were not built into Mac OS X prior to Leopard [Spaces [wikipedia.org]], although there were third-party add-ons that would enable this). And the KDE developers aren't standing still, they're continuing to innovate with KDE4. Canonical is working on an interface lift for Ubuntu 8.10 [arstechnica.com]. The Gnome developers continue to incrementally improve Gnome.

    I don't think anyone seriously believes that Linux is suddenly trying to be a cheap knockoff of Mac OS X.

    Having competition and choices is good for everyone but Microsoft.

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