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Linux For Housewives. XP For Geeks. 511

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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  • BLASPHEMY! (Score:4, Funny)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:02AM (#24116627)
    Housewives with Linux??!?! Geeks with Windows?!?! Dogs and cats living together?!?!? MASS HYSTERIA!!
  • I 4 1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mipoti Gusundar ( 1028156 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:02AM (#24116639) Journal

    I 4 1 amd welcomming our new script bashing apron wearing apple pie bakeing overlady's!

  • by jeiler ( 1106393 ) <> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:03AM (#24116667) Journal
    Taiwan culture is not US culture, of course. I imagine that even Geek culture is different between the two cultures.
    • by mikkl666 ( 1264656 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#24116853)
      Well, I lived in Taiwan for quite a while, and I think Windows is quite common among geeks because (for no clear reason) MSN Messenger has become the No. 1 communication vehicle among the young folks. No one ever asked my ICQ No. or mail address, just my MSN name. Which I still don't have, by the way.
    • 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 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 Icarium ( 1109647 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:21AM (#24117045)

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

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

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

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

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

      BTW... article is crap.
      It fails to even say if it is the case of Linux and XP versions of EeePC

    • 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.

  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iXiXi ( 659985 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#24116687)
    Well, I am not sure that housewives can't be geeks. Maybe they confuse geeks that are buying XP with idiots? I wouldn't think that a true 'geek' would give a rat's buttocks about what OS came on the hardware. I put what I want on there when I get home.
  • Reasoning? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LightPhoenix7 ( 1070028 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:07AM (#24116729)
    The article was short on details (aside from the study being in Taiwan), but my guess would be that the "geeks" are the ones playing video games, and unfortunately most of the big titles are constrained to Windows. On the other hand, a computer you're only using for e-mail and web browsing should opimally be as cheap as possible, and you certainly don't get cheaper on an OS than free.
    • Re:Reasoning? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:15AM (#24116891)
      And also for the most part the average person doesn't really care if it runs Linux, Unix, Windows, BeOS, or whatever. They just want it to work. Being cheaper is a large factor when the price of the computer is only $200, and $50 difference is a lot. Also being so cheap if the consumer knows if that the Linux version isn't fully adequate, they can just get the Windows version. Yes, you can install XP over Linux on the EEE PC, but for the average consumer going to the store and spending $250 is a lot easier than figuring out installation of a new OS. Especially these days where you can't get XP at retail anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rhys ( 96510 )

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

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

  • by 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 Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:17AM (#24116965)

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

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

  • Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:09AM (#24116769) Journal

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

    • Re:Windows (Score:5, Funny)

      by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#24117143) Journal
      But, alas, that day has come and now I have no clue how to troubleshoot Windows anymore.

      Silly, you don't troubleshoot Windows anymore.

      First, you reboot.

      If that fails to fix the problem, you roll back to the last restore point.

      If that fails, you reinstall from the recovery partition.

      And if even that fails, you call it a hardware failure and buy a new one.

      Troubleshoot... Kids these days, sheesh.
  • 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!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

      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 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PunkOfLinux ( 870955 )

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

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:16AM (#24116931) Homepage Journal

    2008 will be the year of XP on the desktop!

    Er, laptop. whatever.

  • Sounds reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 427_ci_505 ( 1009677 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:16AM (#24116933)

    I've never bought a copy of linux.

    Or windows, for that matter.


  • hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Peter_The_Linux_Nerd ( 1292510 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:17AM (#24116957)
    Does this mean I am going to have to start using UNIX if I want to feel like an elitist-asshole?
  • Browsing and Mail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#24116967) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, what does the average person need. Browsing, mail, photos? Sure, for multimedia Linux may not have the integration that something like Mac OS does, but neither does XP.

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

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

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

    • by AusIV ( 950840 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:56AM (#24117797)
      I've said for a long time that Linux is great for the least technical users and the most technical users, but the more mid-range users will have problems.

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

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

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

  • Games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#24116973) Journal

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

    Nothing to see here.

    • Re:Games (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:32AM (#24117285) Homepage

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

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

  • by John Jamieson ( 890438 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:19AM (#24116989)

    I bet this is tough news for a bunch of us. It's not that I have a problem sheding the geek moniker, I welcome it.
    But discovering you are not who you thought you were is still hard.

    It is rather like growing up in a "not respected" family, and then finding out you were born a royal, and switched at birth.

  • 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 pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#24117059) Journal
    Linux For Housewives.

    Hey, some of us read Slashdot at work! Can we at least keep the porn off the front page, please?
  • 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 adsl ( 595429 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:33AM (#24117317)
    I hate to say this on slashdot, but the Linux version of the eeepc comes with better hardware out of the box. It also presents a proposition for users to wean themselves OFF Mr Softy products. i.e. if they can live with Linux on their small form factor Asus, then why pay for MS Office and other MS products when Free, or very economical, Linux apps are readily available! You don't think that MS is concerned about this? That's why the small form XP was suddenly made available for these machines at a rock bottom price. So it seems that housewives and MS know something geeks don't!
  • by jeebusroxors ( 812064 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:36AM (#24117359)
    Wimins? On computers? What will they try next....
  • Geeks play games (Score:3, Insightful)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:44AM (#24117563) Journal

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

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:04AM (#24117923)

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

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

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

  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @11:25AM (#24118323)
    I actually like WinXP SP2 despite having the knowledge to hack Linux onto a Linksys NSLU2 and compiling some of the packages myself on it. As much as folks complain that WinXP crashes, I've haven't seen that nasty blue screen in years. It comes from knowing how to set XP up and making sure your hardware isn't messed up. I haven't met many folks who actually go through the number of steps I do on a new WinXP setup which might explain why it works so well for me. When you use Opensource software such as SeaMonkey or Media Player Classic and FDDShow with WinXP it actually becomes very useful. I remember back in university when XP came out we were impressed. And these are CompSci students working on Sun Enterprise systems. Where Linux still shines the most however is as a stable server and of course it has a front-end interface (compiz) light-years ahead of Vista. XP's strengths are in games, video playback and pirating. To a geek like myself that's why I've stayed with XP. Everything works with near perfect stability and I have a blend of opensource and closed-source / pirated tools to fit my needs. For a regular person who doesn't care however and just wants to surf the web, Linux would probably work fine.
  • 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.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!