Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 11, 2012 7:53 UTC (Wed) by anselm
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
This was tried many times. It does not work. People find something deficient with tiny selection of “Linux preinstalled” offers and buy something else instead.
When I bought my current computer (an HP business notebook), HP did offer one configuration with Linux preinstalled. That was the bottom-of-the-line configuration with the slowest CPU and GPU, the lowest screen resolution, the smallest hard disk and half the RAM of the one I eventually got. It does not come as a big surprise that under these circumstances buying the machine with Linux preinstalled is not the option most customers will take.
On the »plus« side, the machine I bought in the end is also very nice for Linux, with basically everything working out of the box using Debian (I've so far not missed the fingerprint reader, and somebody like HP could probably get that supported by leaning on the chip manufacturer). It does make one wonder why HP does not offer a Linux preinstall for the top-of-the-line configuration rather than the bottom one.
In my experience, installing Linux on notebooks has become a lot easier over the years. Whether this is due to improvements in Linux itself or the manufacturers moving towards supported components is difficult to tell (probably a mixture of both), but the presence of any configurations of a model with Linux preinstalled is a good sign because it indicates that Linux will probably work well on the other configurations, too. There is certainly nothing technical that prevents manufacturers from offering more Linux preinstalls – the reason why this doesn't happen more often is mostly to do with Microsoft's sleazy business practices.
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