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Operating Systems Portables Linux

ARM-Powered Laptops To Increase Linux Market Share 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-arm dept.
Charbax writes "Last April, Microsoft argued that it controlled the netbook OS market for devices sold in certain Microsoft-friendly US retail stores, while ABI Research claims that Linux actually has 32% of the worldwide netbook market, and that its market-share is growing. At the recent Netbook World Summit in Paris France, Aaron J. Seigo, Community leader at the KDE Foundation, and Arnaud Laprévote, CTO at Mandriva Linux, give us their estimation for next year's Linux market share (video) in the consumer laptop market. Their estimation is that Linux will dominate in ARM-powered laptops and that those may take over a significant share of the overall laptop market by their significantly cheaper prices (as low as $80), longer battery life (as long as 20-40 hours on a small battery using the Pixel Qi screens), as well as lower size and weight. Running some of the Chromium OS builds for ARM available shortly and having a full browser experience on those cheaper and better ARM-powered Linux laptops could make it a significant mass market success to shake up the Intel and Microsoft consumer PC/laptop monopoly in its boots."
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ARM-Powered Laptops To Increase Linux Market Share

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  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:41PM (#30415314) Homepage

    Linux is expected to dominate ARM-based netbooks because Windows doesn't run on ARM, full stop. That math's not hard.

    The question is whether ARM-based netbooks will sell at all. It doesn't really matter what OS a netbook is running. Nobody buys any kind of computer to run an OS. They buy computers to run apps. You can argue all you want that Mac OS X is more elegant than Windows, or whatever -- but if you couldn't get a word processor for it, nobody would use it.

    Chrome OS runs on a Linux kernel, but it offers exactly one app: a Web browser. If an inexpensive device that does nothing except access the Web is attractive to people, they will buy them. I don't really see how that will "shake up the Intel and Microsoft consumer PC/laptop monopoly in its boots," (sic) though. A Chrome OS device is not competitive with consumer PCs or laptops.

    So sure, we can expect market share gains for Linux in the future -- in the same sense that Linux has dominated the market for home wireless routers, a market where Windows is a total failure. As single-use embedded systems, Chrome OS devices seem like a natural opportunity for Linux, which is already gaining popularity in the embedded systems market.

    I'd be more impressed if Android (which also runs on the Linux kernel) made real inroads into the smartphone market. I keep hearing how many models of Android phones are coming, at the same time I keep hearing how disappointed developers are with the Android software market (in other words, nobody's buying).

  • Christ, AGAIN!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:42PM (#30415328)

    We keep seeing this story over and over and over again.


    Please, direct me to a ARM-based Linux netbook I can buy from a store right now. Any one. Even if I have to climb the dominating tower of Atom-based Windows netbooks to reach them.

    Can we all agree to put a moratorium on this story until the product it's talking about *actually exists*? Thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:48PM (#30415402)
    True. At least put Xubuntu on it, minimalist, fast and you are not restricted to privacy-invading inefficient online web-apps.

    An ARM Netbook running Chromium is a waste of perfectly good hardware. Its like buying a 1 litre beer bottle with only 10mL of beer inside in it. (sorry I hate car analogies)
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:54PM (#30415468) Journal
    I don't think browser-only is the way to go, but I don't think the lack of existing apps or games is the problem. Look at the iphone and the app store. A desktop-class browser (minus the flash and java) plus games, apps, and utilities designed for the device plus an app store could be a success.
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IANAAC (692242) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:55PM (#30415474)

    Then with the advent of JS common etc for server apps and nosql databases; installing your software on your home Ubuntu Linux server will be a drag and drop exercise. i can image many people running their own Google like apps at home. gmail, documents, etc Ged

    You must not have to support ANY family or friends when it comes to their PCs.

    Most are not capable of doing such a thing. And frankly, if they were, they wouldn't bother. Hell, *I'm* capable and wouldn't go to such trouble. Just give me a netbook that runs what I want and I'm a happy camper.

  • by Cyclops (1852) <rms@@@1407...org> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @12:57PM (#30415490) Homepage

    Most (if not all) of those ARM devices have proprietary graphics cards, so the only way to maintain our software freedom is to use framebuffer (when possible at all).

    It'll mean nothing [to dominate the ARM devices market] if our software freedom has bow before the shackles of a few companies.

  • by buruonbrails (1247370) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:10PM (#30415646) Homepage
    Typical netbook apps (Firefox, OpenOffice, Pidgin) are already ported to ARM Linux, so ARM netbooks may fill the niche that used to be occupied by ASUS eeePC 701 and similar devices. As x86 netbooks move to "small, inexpensive laptop" niche, ARM devices may fulfill the role of "small inexpensive device for web browsing/word processing". Their competitive advantages over x86 netbooks are lower price and better battery life.

    The best thing about ARM-based netbook (and the worst thing for an average consumer) is that you cannot put Windows on it. So, every ARM netbook sold is a plus to overall Linux market share.
  • Re:ARM? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:14PM (#30415678) Homepage
    Young'un - may I introduce you to this neat service known as Google [google.com]?
  • Re:Christ, AGAIN!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:15PM (#30415690)

    Where to purchase: http://en.smartdevices.com.cn/Buy/ [smartdevices.com.cn]

    I'm not in China, Singapore, or "Hongkong".

    Sorry. I should have specified "in the US." How about this: when I can get one at Best Buy, THEN post the story.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:21PM (#30415734)

    Of course, nobody is bothering to track how many of those Linux installs get wiped and replaced with a pirated copy of Windows five minutes after the boxes are opened.

    With the ARM-based laptops, I'll stick my neck out and guess it's "zero".

  • by LBt1st (709520) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:33PM (#30415852)

    Yeah sounds simple and fun to us geeks but try explaining to the average joe what a server even is.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:37PM (#30415870)

    So it only costs $1200 or so? That's one hell of a Christmas present.

  • by Entrope (68843) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:43PM (#30415912) Homepage

    A lot of these netbooks don't have graphics cards at all -- they have frame buffers and graphics accelerators that are part of the same system-on-chip that contains the CPU. (That level of integration is one of the key reasons the hardware can be so cheap.) Your point stands -- if the only way to get decent graphics acceleration is through an NDA or closed-source libraries, its extensibility and maintainability are significantly impaired.

    On the bright side, both TI's OMAP series of chips and Intel's Poulsbo design use the PowerVR SGX core, so if anyone cracks that nut it should yield benefits for a lot of end users.

  • Where to buy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Skal Tura (595728) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:43PM (#30415916) Homepage

    I see tons of hype lately of ARM based netbooks, desktops etc etc. yet i cannot find them for sale anywhere. Not newegg, not local stores etc. and google results tend to produce only reviews. No one sells, but lots of reviews sounds to me like most of these devices are completely vaporware.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:44PM (#30415926)

    Why is this guy modded funny? What he says is true. Most people are not geeks. The only thing they think when they buy some app or game at Best Buy and then it won't install on Chrome or Linux is "that's shit, I'm going back to Windows, which at least works".

  • Re:Christ, AGAIN!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The_Wilschon (782534) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:10PM (#30416118) Homepage
    FWIW, the story talks about "Linux Market Share" of netbook sales. Given that "China, Singapore, and "Hongkong"" have a much larger combined population than the US, availability of the devices under discussion in those markets *does* have the potential to significantly affect "Linux Market Share" of netbook sales.

    To make a bad analogy, let's suppose that we had a story posted on Slashdot that claimed "In Korea, only old people use email.". Would it then be at all relevant for you to say "Show me a young person "in the US" who doesn't use email, or don't post the story?" No. Nor is it relevant now to gripe about non-availability "in the US" of a device which is purported to have some percentage of the *worldwide* market.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:34PM (#30416328)

    The question is whether ARM-based netbooks will sell at all. It doesn't really matter what OS a netbook is running. Nobody buys any kind of computer to run an OS. They buy computers to run apps. You can argue all you want that Mac OS X is more elegant than Windows, or whatever -- but if you couldn't get a word processor for it, nobody would use it.

    Good point, but you mix a couple of factors together. Nobody would buy an OS that didn't offer a word processor, no, but sometimes the particular word processor it offers isn't important. Some people do buy a computer to run Word, but most buy a computer to do word processing. If you can offer equivalent functionality then they'll go with the machine that otherwise best serves their needs. Since both Windows and OS X offer word processors, some people do buy Macs because of the OS.

    Chrome does offer a word processor - Google Docs. Whether it (and all the other apps people use) works sufficiently well to provide equivalent functionality to Word, Open Office, Works, or whatever is important, but so is the OS.

  • by Cyclops (1852) <rms@@@1407...org> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:55PM (#30416572) Homepage

    You are most certainly wrong here. From what I heard, they will use nVidia Terga GPUs, for which it will be pretty easy to have a driver.

    Yeah, I must be wrong. Surely. That's why nVidia GPUs are fully supported by Free Software, and I wouldn't have to loose my rights to nVidias's proprietary software licensing. NOT! On all accounts. Nouveaux isn't really Free Software (it still carries blobs), and nVidias's drivers are as proprietary as it can get.

    Besides: What is all that talk about “software freedom”?

    It's my rights to run the software for any purpose, study, modify and distribute it. Software licensing that forbids any of these actions is just plain immoral and I can't accept it's terms and conditions.

    It’s just a driver. If you really thought that to the end, you would have to only use hardware with all the specs available!

    Just a driver, hey? Well, that just only hides that you have a horribly slow interface, perhaps not so energy efficient, without any bells and whistles! Is it still just? Not important at all?

    And which are buildable with openly available tools, whose specs are available too, etc, etc, etc. Basically the ability do dig stuff out of the earth, to build machines with it, that build machines, that build your laptop, where you can put your free software on.

    Please tell me where I can legally get nVidia's, PowerVR's etc... as Free Software [ff.org] so I can build it with openly available tools. Oh, heck... I don't need code, just get us those specs which are available as well...

    Everything else is just ignorance.

    And to say the best about you, you must be an ignorant.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:27PM (#30416844) Homepage

    Only if properly marketed and heavily promoted...
    Most linux distros already have desktop class browsers, including flash and java combined with a package manager that functions just like an app store... Users just don't realise that, and there is no marketing propaganda telling them differently.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:36PM (#30416952)
    Basically, they all said it was shit. They didn't like how they couldn't play their existing games or use their existing apps, for instance.

    I doubt many netbooks let you play any games on them for one reason or another (crappy resolution / CPU / memory etc.) so I don't see that as a valid objection. What is a valid objection is that Linux distributions tend in general to be incredibly poor from a usability perspective compared to commercial offerings. Even the best of them (which is Ubuntu) still has flaws to catch out the unwary. Chrome OS had better polish the experience to a shine or it will suffer by comparison with Windows or OS X.

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:50PM (#30417096)

    Believe me dump cheap 50-80 Dollar arm based netbooks suitable for websurfing etc... into the supermarkets as pickup items along the candy and beer and people will pick them up on the run.
    I am speaking in potential of hundreds of millions of machines which can be sold that way and probably even more in the third world as cheap surfstations!
    I think what we see here is just what happened to the calculators, first expensive and scientific only then the common ones medium expensive and then becoming cheaper and cheaper and now they are sort of a present if you open a new bank account etc...
    The Netbooks just follow that way, and I cannot see where Microsoft wants to be in this market with their prices of 50 USD per WinCE license, if Google gives away the alternative for free and shares even the income of the searches over those machines with the hardware makers!
    50 USD price difference was enough to keep NVidia out of the netbook market with their ION Chipset it is currently enough to drive phone makers away from Microsoft! And in a segment of 50-100 Dollar Netbooks it will be enough to kill WinCE on ARM netbooks before it can even make a foothold!
    The only advantage of Windows is not present in this segment that is the load of desktop applications so Microsoft is on equal ground here and they usually loose if they cannot use their monopoly to gain ground in other segments!

  • by Nutria (679911) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:20PM (#30417330)

    Everyone in my sphere of acquaintances has a dsl connection

    There, fixed that for you...

    There are a lot of people who live in sufficiently rural areas as to not have even decent dial-up service.

  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:38PM (#30417458) Homepage Journal

    We will see, I'm betting that the allure of of a sub-$100 netbook that can go all day on a full charge and can check email and browse the internet will be attractive to a lot of people.

  • by grcumb (781340) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @06:46PM (#30418380) Homepage Journal

    We will see, I'm betting that the allure of of a sub-$100 netbook that can go all day on a full charge and can check email and browse the internet will be attractive to a lot of people.

    Especially the next 3 billion customers who can't afford anything else.

  • by Risen888 (306092) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:50AM (#30420822)

    it is the little programs I call the "gottas".

    That stuff fades. It's ephemeral. I used to "gotta have" WordPerfect 6.

    No, seriously. Listen. We're give-or-take 25 years into the "PC era." In that eyeblink of time, the applications we've run, the capabilities they've had, and the platforms that they've run on have changed more times than I can name in one paragraph. No one over the age of 25 was "born using Windows."

    The software monoculture that we are living in now is an historical anomaly.

Breadth-first search is the bulldozer of science. -- Randy Goebel