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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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:31PM (#30415230)

    I've showed a few friends and relatives some of the virtual machine builds of Chromium OS. These are "everyday people". A couple of them are school teachers, one is a doctor, one a pharmacist, and the other a college student. None of them are overly technical.

    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.

    Only the college student uses GMail. The rest of them use Outlook or Thunderbird and their ISP's email system, so they didn't see any benefit there.

    One of the teachers already has a MacBook from her school, and says it works perfectly fine at the Starbucks when she gets her morning coffee. Plus she can use all of her other apps.

    None of them said they'd use Chrome OS on a regular basis. It just didn't do anything useful for them.

    • by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:54PM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bert64 (520050)

        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 mhall119 (1035984) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:55PM (#30416570) Homepage Journal

      I think you're missing a very, very big point here, and that is that even if there is a Windows 7 port to ARM, those people would still not be able to play their existing games, or use their existing apps, because those games and apps were written for x86 architectures. So the when the ARM netbooks come out, you will have your choice between Linux and the vast majority of Linux's apps, or Windows and the vast minority of Windows apps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrXym (126579)
      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 flaw

      • Gaming on a netbook is actually not very bad. We're not talking big budget titles, but lots of indie stuff runs perfectly well. The market for Bejeweled was huge and that runs just fine on a netbook.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:41PM (#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).

    • The question is whether ARM-based netbooks will sell at all

      They well could do. As I said below 2008 showed that if a laptop is cheap enough it will sell. I don't know about Google's approach, it would get some kid on facebook , so for many it would be good enough.
      I hope they do well, then every other company will come out with there own Linux offering.

      • They well could do. As I said below 2008 showed that if a laptop is cheap enough it will sell.

        That's exactly right. If Microsoft's own history shows one thing, over and over, it is that "cheap and good enough" will win out over "expensive, slick and over-engineered".

        Of course, MS would be aware of this. So we'd expect them to try and leverage their market position to make linux netbooks go away, either by persuading retail chains not to stock them, or OEMs to stop selling them.

        Hmmm....

    • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:36PM (#30415868) Homepage

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

      The small internet appliance market sort of started in Japan, so it might be worthwhile to look at what's happened to the trend there. The same application and comfort level issues existed there and yet the netbook and appliance market has continued to grow, and continued to poach traditional PC and laptop sales.

      30 years ago I used to hear people ask,"What would I do with a PC?" 15 years ago companies would tell me they get along just fine without the internet and electronic mail. I heard the same thing about iPods and iPhones. So when average users don't see the utility of new technology, that doesn't mean you should close the book on it.

      I've noticed over the years that price and efficiency eventually win out. Every time Linux netbooks break a price barrier, $150 then $100, you'll see more people take an interest.

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @05:28PM (#30417398) Homepage

        The small internet appliance market sort of started in Japan, so it might be worthwhile to look at what's happened to the trend there. The same application and comfort level issues existed there and yet the netbook and appliance market has continued to grow, and continued to poach traditional PC and laptop sales.

        That's true, but the Japanese technology market doesn't really run parallel to that of the United States. Products with small form factors have always been more popular with the Japanese than with Americans. Personally, I love small laptops. The idea that you'd go out and buy a "portable" with a 17" screen seems ridiculous to me. But prior to the advent of netbooks, I would have to seek out a Japanese supplier to find something in the form factor I liked (Fujitsu, Sony) and I would have to pay a premium for it.

        On the other hand, I am told mobile phones are now pretty much the primary means of casual Internet access in Japan. That includes not just Web browsing, but if you told someone you needed to send an e-mail and asked if they had a PC you could use, they would look at you strangely. "E-mail" means those little electronic messages you get on your phone. PCs are for games.

        That attitude doesn't sound crazy to me, but my hunch says it will be a long time before Americans give up gMail in favor of doing all their messaging on their phones. Maybe Japanese are just more amenable to working with tiny devices because the high cost of real estate in Japanese cities means they don't have a lot of space store computers, but there might be cultural reasons, too. I was once told that American mobile phone suppliers could make phones as small, thin, and light as the ones you can get in Japan, but those models always test marketed poorly with Americans. Most Americans seem to equate "small, thin, and light" with "flimsy, cheap, and hard to handle."

        I've noticed over the years that price and efficiency eventually win out. Every time Linux netbooks break a price barrier, $150 then $100, you'll see more people take an interest.

        Here I agree completely. And price is what they keep buzzing about. But when the products are finally released, the manufacturers can't deliver. (See JooJoo/CrunchPad.)

        My hunch? While yes, you can get an ARM CPU for a couple bucks, I'm betting the cost of engineering and manufacturing an ultraportable, ultra-micronized electronic device to the quality standards demanded by the U.S. market costs a decent chunk of change. Big manufacturers (as opposed to TechCrunch) have the best chance of success, not just because they are recognized brands, but they have the infrastructure in place to pass UL certification, FCC certification, etc., etc., and still make sure that every fifth device that rolls off the assembly line won't fail QA. It all comes down to economies of scale -- but there's the rub, because it's yet to be proven that there's even a market for these devices. Chicken, ponder egg.

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:54PM (#30416004)

      Also, Linux has tons over tons of apps that run on ARM, as opposed to any other OS out there. I mean my portage repository has 13,628 packages. Nearly all of them run on ARM. And that is only the main repository! (With over 180 smaller ones.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      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

    • Doesn't Windows Mobile (WinCE) run on ARM?

      I can see Microsoft slappin' the "Microsoft TAX" on these ARM netbooks by sticking their Mobile OS  on it, with a few tweeks... >_<
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Yes, it does, but that will cause a lot of problems for consumers..
        They will buy the "windows" version because they think its the same as the desktop, get it home and find that it isn't and won't run the apps they have (and its hard to find any apps that even will run on it)... If they buy a linux one they have no expectation of it being the same, and there will be a much larger repository of apps too.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Doesn't Windows Mobile (WinCE) run on ARM?

        Probably... but most Windows apps won't run on it without recompiling. And people don't buy Windows to run Windows, they buy Windows to run Windows apps.

        So if you're going to buy a new netbook that won't run your old Windows apps anyway, there's much less reason to spend $150 rather than $100 just so it runs Windows rather than Linux/Chrome/whatever.

        I guess C# and the like could be an option, but running non-native code on ARM seems like masochism to me.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @03:36PM (#30416352) Journal

      I'd say it'll have a niche, I just wouldn't count on it being a really huge one, or it being their "main" PC by any stretch. I for one would pay less than $100 for one, just to have a little laptop to surf when I'm at the doctor's office, but I doubt I would get on the thing more than an hour a week, if at that. But most guys here seem to act like if the ordinary folks were just exposed to Linux, or that if you can find the perfect "Average Joe" distro, that suddenly Windows would find itself on the ropes. But it ain't the OS, hell working PC repair since the days of Win 3.x I can say that most folks don't know WHAT OS they are running, it is the little programs I call the "gottas".

      You see every average Joe and Jane I've worked for has had 1 or more programs that according to them they "gotta have", period. And they ain't gonna care how pretty or secure your OS is if it can't run the "gotta", well it just ain't gonna be real useful to them. Like the retired graphic artist down the hall, who even though he has a nice new AMD XP box I built, had to be taught by me how to use a KVM switch and have me build him a NOS 1.5GHz Win2K box because his new AMD wouldn't run his "gotta", Macromedia Xres. The girl whose PC I just fixed brought her camera software, which turns out she has carried over through 3 cameras now, because that software is her "gotta".

      So you see it isn't that Linux is bad, or that folks just need to be exposed, it is the "gotta have" software that keeps folks in Windows. A lot of my customers are looking at either sticking with XP or getting Windows 7 Pro simply because their "gotta" won't run on Windows 7 without XP mode, and without their "gotta" it just isn't that useful to them. So while I'm sure it will sell some to guys like me that know what ARM is and just want something cheap, I don't know how well that will translate to Joe and Jane. I have a feeling that they are gonna have to warn folks at retail or have a lot of these things get returned when folks that don't know about anything but Windows, which there is quite a few of those, believe me, try to install their "gotta" and find that Windows x86 don't run on Linux ARM. And if they lock it down with Chrome I don't think even I'd take it. I want to choose what apps I have and have the option to change distro, thanks anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Risen888 (306092)

        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.

    • 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.

      True, and if they are targeted to the 'cloud' marketing spin as netbooks are for the most part, then i don't see conflict or any reason for them not to sell.

      If they can push portable 'cloud terminals' (tm) out the door at $100 or less, they will sell lots.

    • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:50PM (#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 IANAAC (692242) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:41PM (#30415318)
    I run Linux full time, with an occasional Virtualbox WinXP session running (for one stinking application).

    If I can run everything I currently run on my x86-based netbook/laptop, I'm all for it.

    Unfortunately, I don't think I can run everything I need just yet.

    Forget the "Cloud" - it doesn't interest me.

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

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:42PM (#30415328)

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

    WHERE ARE THE NETBOOKS!?

    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.

    • Re:Christ, AGAIN!? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:53PM (#30415454)

      The Archos 5 Internet Tablet.

    • by dgym (584252) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:59PM (#30415518)
      But we were all told about the 10 ARM netbooks that would appear on the market by Q3 2009. It is now Q4 so they must exist, and you must be wrong.

      I'm pretty sure this is a Microsoft stunt to make their market share look better. If you can't make geeks buy Windows, then make sure they don't buy anything at all because of all the sweet smelling vapourware on the perpetual horizon. Then again I'll blame them for most things, including a sock I lost.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        I'm pretty sure this is a Microsoft stunt to make their market share look better. If you can't make geeks buy Windows, then make sure they don't buy anything at all because of all the sweet smelling vapourware on the perpetual horizon. Then again I'll blame them for most things, including a sock I lost.

        That's nothing, when Vista came out I lost a pair of underpants... while I'd been wearing them!

    • Re:Christ, AGAIN!? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cyclops (1852) <rmsNO@SPAM1407.org> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:59PM (#30415526) Homepage

      Here's one (and I have the SmartQ7 model): http://www.smartdevices.com.cn/ [smartdevices.com.cn]

      Nice and cheap.

    • by Sique (173459)

      All the netbooks I ever bought were Linux based ones, even though none of them runs the original Xandros anymore. But with Ubuntu Netbook Remix they are going strong.
      Why you can't get hold of a Linux based netbook is beyond me. It wasn't hard for me. I just entered "linux netbook" in the search field of the online store of my choice, and there they were.

    • by mrphoton (1349555)
      I saw this windows CE netbook on sale in the UK: http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=257308 [maplin.co.uk] Maplin is an electronics/gizmo store, but I have seen one or two others on sale in medium sized chains. I has been on sale for a year or so so I guess it can not be doing too badly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I bought a Touchbook made by Always Innovating. I've had it for a couple of months now. It's ARM-based and it runs Linux. I bought it because I wanted a touch netbook (to complement my tablet PC).

      I bought it over the Internet, not in a store -- but I can assure you it exists.

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

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:18PM (#30416746) Journal

      Yes please! I would LOVE to pick up a couple of these sub $100 ARM Netbooks that we keep hearing about, if for no other reason to see if I can sell them to the local college kids who would probably like an ultra long battery web box that does note taking. But we hear these stories over AND over AND over again, but the things just never seem to show up? What is this Duke Nukem Forever?

      Please don't get me all hyped up thinking about about profits and then to only find this is another vaporware that will be released "sometime in the future". Hell if we are gonna do the "sometime in the future" I might as well say that sometime in the future I'll have my Alyson Hannigan Sexbot with the Buffy Season 2 Leather Outfit. Of course Alyson Hannigan is a perfect being, on which even the FCC agrees [theonion.com], and therefor replication will take time, but come on! This is a Netbook running a cell phone chip for the love of Pete!

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I happen to agree, as id love to get out of the x86 world on my laptop, just out of principle.. I did it on the desktop, but now that has become a dead end too ( thanks Steve Jobs.. grr )

      And no, i don't want to buy an old Tadpole.. i want something current. Wifi, bluetooth, 8 hours battery life etc.

    • by cenc (1310167)

      N900, runs linux on ARM.

      Can be bought from dell and amazon to name a few

      http://maemo.nokia.com/n900/ [nokia.com]

      Now, everyone is going to jump on "that is not a notebook". You need to start waking up to the fact that computers are being replaced by all-in-one devices, and I say thank god as I am tired of hauling around 100 pounds of cables and crap on both long and short trips.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:46PM (#30415366)

    There's no way I'm believing Linux has a 30%+ market share of netbooks right now. You can hardly find any to buy, and people want to run what they're familiar with, meaning they want Windows.

    What I want is something Microsoft doesn't want me to have: an ARM netbook with a high res screen and a 20 GB SSD. So far the screen res is too low on all the netbooks I can find, and for some reason they all have spinning disks. Load it with a distro that doesn't suck, and which effectively supports the gfx chip and wireless network, and I'm there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      My understanding is that Asia accounts for the largest portion of the netbook market. Due to price constraints, Linux comes pre-installed on more netbooks there than in the U.S. and Europe, and that's the source of the 30 percent figures you hear.

      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.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:21PM (#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".

        • Well some people probably will install WinCE then they will try to install Intel based Powerpoint and then they will give frustratedly up because it will not get in their mind why this does not work although it looks the same.

    • You can hardly find any to buy

      I think that's why Apple opened there own stores.
      Even with their longer history, higher public awareness and slicker GUI interface.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      What I want is something Microsoft doesn't want me to have: an ARM netbook with a high res screen and a 20 GB SSD.

      Both of these would whack the price up substantially - you'd have to pay laptop prices.

      So far the screen res is too low on all the netbooks I can find, and for some reason they all have spinning disks. Load it with a distro that doesn't suck, and which effectively supports the gfx chip and wireless network, and I'm there.

      The closest you'll find is an ultra-compact laptop - something like a Dell Latitude E4200.

      Of course, this means you'll have to part with a lot more money.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:46PM (#30415370)
    It's the Year Of The Linux Desktop^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Netbook!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by selven (1556643)

      I believe you mean:

      iIt's the Year Of the Linux DesktopESCc7hNetbook!

      Heretic.

  • I have a netbook, there are two points that would be nice. A better resolution in the more or less screen screen space, and for it to have a dual-core processor. Yes I know you can get that and more in a laptop and even for a similar price, but the size of a laptop is why I got a netbook. Dual core is nice to work on something without the computer running like it's in molasses. Would be nice to run compiz and other stuff without it bogging the netbook down.

    • >netbook
      >compiz

      you're doing it wrong

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Why? there are low power mobile graphics cores being used in cellphones today that could easily handle compiz...

        • Yes, they probably could handle it. And I could get a 70's Toyota and give it a fancy metallic paint job with flames, but I am not sure why I would.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I just activated compiz on my LT3013u so that I could use Expo. It has an Athlon 64 and a halfway credible GPU and is only nominally a netbook anyway, so I'm not sure what this proves, except that I would do it on other machines too, if they could handle it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by icebraining (1313345)

      Maybe you need an ultraportable. I've got a 12.1" HP DV2 (AMD Neo CPU), which is kind of an hybrid between an ultraportable and a netbook. The CPU only has one core, but way faster than most Atoms.

      The main problem is power consumption and therefore battery life. With a TDP of 15W, it lasts way less than a regular netbook.

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:48PM (#30415398) Homepage Journal
    This is not hard to believe because 2008 showed that if a computer is cheap enough it will sell regardless of well known OS.
    I would how ever like to warn against complacency. There are warts in Linux that do not get fixed, such as the flickering screen in Ubuntu boot and shut down, despite attention from distro's (others, such as suspending a computer, are only on a minority of chip sets and can be fixed when working with a Manufacturer) It seems that Linux needs a business to focus on it and ensure that the customer experience is fully taken into account (with deference paid to hackers and community organisations such as Gnome, Kde etc).
    One thing to ask your self is would Apple (or other unnamed companies operating in the OS space) allow such a case of the above screen flickering, or would it be dealt with even if the X server had to be replaced (if that is the problem)
    • I don’t think your argument is valid, as nobody will pay the 2000% price toll to get from a $80 smartbook with a flickering screen to a $1600 one from Apple (assuming usual Apple pricing) without that problem.

      If I just have to live with flickering on startup and shutdown, and for that get a $80 smartbook... then I’ll buy a sixpack of ’em. ^^
      Nobody cares about that, except Apple fanboys and art majors.

      Besides: Don’t you think that when they are the manufacturer of the hardware and the

    • by cenc (1310167)

      ummmm, that sounds like Ubuntu's problem (likly on your particular hardware), not a problem of linux or any of the hundreds of other distros that I know of.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``One thing to ask your self is would Apple (or other unnamed companies operating in the OS space) allow such a case of the above screen flickering, or would it be dealt with even if the X server had to be replaced (if that is the problem)''

      Don't know the flicker you're referring to, but I've owned Apple computers whose screens flickered on startup, and Windows at least used to do that, too (haven't seen versions after ~2001).

      Does that answer your question?

  • $80 is a lot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I can just heat some tap water if I want vapor and hot air. Let me know when I can buy a Linux laptop that runs 20 hours on one charge and doesn't cost more than $80.

  • ARM slow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by electrosoccertux (874415) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:53PM (#30415450)

    an ARM guy came to our institute to demo their $150 ARM system, it had Ubuntu on it, and while it could play 1080p HD video, the GUI was remarkably slow for normal tasks. Responsivity matters, and my Atom netbook certainly feels faster than that ARM+Linux.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It can be slow(ish) and incompatible with Photoshop, MS Word and Call of Duty. I don't care, as long as it runs a web browser, a terminal and an email client for a full day on one charge (with headroom for an aging battery) and doesn't cost more than $200. Oh, and I have to be able to actually buy it too. That seems to be the primary problem with these things.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Well, your choice. $150 and slow, or $600 and fast. Or anything in between.

      And nobody will argue, that having the choice is a bad thing. :)

      I, for one, will just buy a dozen of those for $150, and build a Beowulf cluster and a Password Swordfish style screen out of them! :D
      They will *still* have a better price/performance ratio than your PC. ^^

      • My AO751h was $300 (after bing $50 of cashback), sports a 7.5h battery life on lowest brightness, has a full keyboard, and has a 1366x768 resolution screen.
        The GMA500 in it I've gotten to accelerate 1080p video as long as it's VC.1, AVC, or WMV9 (but only in DXVA checker for WMV9).It's amazing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Since it was able to play 1080p video, I'm guessing it was Tegra? Nvidia somehow managed to convince people to talk mostly about its HD playback acceleration (which is pointless on such device), which is handled by DSP/GPU of course.

      What they don't talk about is that Tegra is based around ARM11 CPU core. Which is...a bit ancient. There are other solutions based around Cortex-A8, which is almost two times faster per clock. Even faster Cortex-A9, which can be also multicore, is upcoming.

  • Chrome OS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:53PM (#30415452)
    With all the hype about Chrome OS recently, I think people are forgetting that Ubuntu and Debian also have ARM ports, so you can pretty much run anything on an ARM. Of course, that wouldn't be any different from the current situation, so it probably doesn't really matter.
  • by Cyclops (1852) <rmsNO@SPAM1407.org> on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:57PM (#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 Entrope (68843) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:43PM (#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.

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cyclops (1852)

        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

    • by selven (1556643)

      In terms of long-term software freedom, it's better if we focus on getting market share now so more people will bother writing open source drivers for Linux in a decade.

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

    by Skal Tura (595728) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:43PM (#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.

  • ... the year of Linux on the desktop^H^H^H^H^H^H^H ARM-Powered laptop.

  • Almost all the netbooks are now shipping with preboot OS, going by names like InstantOS, QuickWeb, InstantWeb etc. They are all based on splashtop linux or its competitor. They boot ultrafast, typically under 10 seconds and offer web, skype, photos, music and video access. The GUI is totally locked down and it is impossible to get behind it to Linux. Often times it does not have much of writable space and the main Windows Hard disk partition is not writable. So it becomes super secure device to access the n
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:10PM (#30416688) Homepage Journal

    I'm building a PIC-based micro-sub-netbook-mini that's going to last 40 weeks on a set of two AA batteries.

    It won't have an OS or browser or whatnot, but it's going to run 40 weeks on a set of batteries, man!

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