Major systems vendors and Linux
Posted Mar 1, 2007 21:28 UTC (Thu) by wilck
Parent article: Major systems vendors and Linux
Sorry to be the devil's advocate here, but...
It is one thing to ask for pre-installed Linux on a web site, and another thing to actually buy one. Initiatives like this one always receive a lot of attention in the community. But this has been tried before, often without commercial success. It is more important to dicuss how the community can help such an initiative than to be radical and insist on "100% free" systems. Once a vendor makes real money with preinstalled Linux, others will follow very soon. Creating "Ready for Linux" systems creates costs (for development, cerftification, testing) which need to be covered.
Installation is not the problem nowadays. The question is what people do with their preinstalled systems. Who is going to actually use the preinstalled Linux? Long time Linux people will reinstall anyway (upgrade, get their distro of choice, make their partitions, etc.). Windows users will try to install their favorite applications and games, fail miserably, and probably wipe Linux off the hard disk on the next day. This leaves basically only people with very low demands as users of the preinstalled OS.
The user experience is extremely important. Many people are curious about Linux, but premature claims that "Linux is ready for the desktop" have caused many people to try it and be disappointed. This is the worst thing that can happen to Linux because these people go around telling others that Linux sucks (and we can't even resent them for doing so). If this happens, "lowering the barrier" turns out to have an adverse effect on "mindshare". Unfortunately, many pre-installed Linux systems are badly engineered, so that most of the minor hardware (i.e. everything except hard disk and VGA) isn't even configured properly.
Finally, I doubt that HW vendors will develop "a great interest in working with Linux-compatible hardware", as the article suggests. 99% of business is still made with Windows desktops. These dictate the requirements, and the price dictates the choice of HW components. If the components happen to work with Linux, fine. Otherwise, the Linux customers have to renounce advanced features, or to download propietary drivers, or to buy a more expensive model.
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