Tablets

10 solid Linux distributions for your netbook

You don't have to settle for an OS that's a bad fit for your netbook -- there are numerous alternatives, some of which can provide a near-laptop experience. Jack Wallen runs through the pros and cons of 10 viable Linux distributions.

You don't have to settle for an OS that's a bad fit for your netbook -- there are numerous alternatives, some of which can provide a near-laptop experience. Jack Wallen runs through the pros and cons of 10 viable Linux distributions.


If you've purchased a netbook, you're most likely looking at either Xandros Linux or some version of Windows. Although the Xandros operating system is a serviceable operating system, it always seems you are using an operating system hindered by hardware. However, it doesn't have to be that way. There are plenty of flavors of Linux out there that can be installed on your netbook that will give you a similar (if not identical) experience to that of your standard laptop.

Some of these will be "remixes" of popular distributions make specifically for the netbook hardware. Some of them are just the run-of-the-mill distribution that happens to run perfectly on the netbook. I will say that the installation of these distributions is made very simple with the help of Unetbootin. With the help of Unetbootin, you can place any of these distributions on a USB drive for easy installation.

One word of caution: You can put any distribution on your netbook, but it's not advised. Why? Because of the nature of the netbook, you need to avoid too many writes to the RAM drive and you don't need a swap partition. So you'll want to favor distributions that offer a version specifically for the netbook. You can use a regular distribution, especially if your netbook uses a standard hard drive -- but you may have some problems down the road.

Let's take a look at what is available.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Eeebuntu

This Eee PC-focused distribution might well be the best Linux for the netbook. As you might assume, Eeebuntu is based on Ubuntu. This makes perfect sense for netbook users, as Ubuntu is one of the most user-friendly Linux distributions. The developers of Eeebuntu offer three varieties for your netbooking pleasure:

Standard: This is the full-blown version of Linux. With this installed, you will feel just like you are using a regular laptop (minus the regular-size keyboard and screen, of course.) NBR: The Netbook Remix is a version of Eeebuntu with a special desktop that provides much easier access to applications. With this flavor, you will find using the keypad much more efficient because applications are set up in tabs. This is somewhat like the Xandros Linux for the netbook but done much more elegantly. Base: This version of Eeebuntu is the smallest, most lightweight of the three. You will find GNOME, Firefox, configuration tools, and not much more. This is best for netbooks with little storage space or for those that need to be nothing more than tiny Web browsing tools.

2: OpenGeeeU

Another Eee PC-centric distribution, OpenGeeeU is based on the Enlightenment-based OpenGUE operating system. This means you're dealing with the Enlightenment desktop, which makes perfect sense for a netbook. Why? It's lightweight yet highly functional. This distribution offers a touch of eye candy to a piece of hardware not usually associated with eye candy, and it will seem like a full-blown Linux installation. You won't feel shorted on features. Because of this, you will want to have a minimum of 4GB of on-board storage space for the operating system.

3: Mandriva

Mandriva is one of the standard distributions that does run well on netbooks. In fact, Mandriva has partnered with a new company, Gdium, which will be producing a netbook with a special version of Mandriva installed. This version will have a fast boot process; a customized, lightweight desktop; and a full line of codecs for playing all types of media. If you're running an Acer Aspire One, you'll need to make a few modifications. The first modification is to the /etc/modprob.conf. Add this line:

options snd-hda-intel model=acer-aspire

This will make sure the netbook speakers turn off when headphones are plugged in. The next modification is to add the following line to your /etc/rc.d/rc.local file:

/sbin/modprobe pciehp pciehp_force=1

This will make sure the card reader sees a card when inserted. On an Eee PC, Mandriva Spring 2009 will work out of the box.

4: Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is one of the lightest Linux distributions to begin with. Not only is it light, it's fast, and it offers everything you would need for a netbook. Once installed, the speed of Puppy Linux will make you glad you made the switch. But this speed does not betray the usability of the system. Puppy has a browser/e-mail client, thanks to Seamonkey, an editor, thanks to Abiword, Xara for graphics editing, and plenty of other outstanding solutions for mobile computing needs. Puppy Linux will require some setup upon installation. Most important will be the wireless. Out of the box, Puppy supports the wireless features in the Eee PC, but you do have to configure the connection. There's no need to load a module or add any other packages. For new users, however, Puppy might not be the best solution simply because of the setup.

5: OpenSuSE 11

OpenSuSE 11 is another main distribution that works great out of the box, except for a little tweaking necessary to get wireless working for some netbooks. On the Eee PC 900, you'll need to add the rpms for:

madwifi-kmp-default-ng
madwifi-ng_r3366+ar5007

so that wireless will work. Put those on a USB key to transfer them to the machine so they can be installed.

There might also be xorg.conf configurations to get the proper resolution and 3D support going. As you can see, this list keeps growing -- which should help you to draw the same conclusion I did: Although OpenSuSE is a rock solid entry for the netbook market, it is not for the faint of heart or those new to Linux. The installation alone would send the new user back to Xandros. If you are dying to get a flavor of SuSE on a netbook, you could always opt to purchase an HP Mini Notbook 2140, which comes preinstalled with SuSE Enterprise 11. Yes, Enterprise!

6: gOS Cloud

gOS Cloud is an operating system created specifically for netbooks. The idea behind this distribution is that it turns your computer into nothing more than a Web browser. This might seem highly limiting, but if you think of the overall purpose of the netbook, you'll realize that nearly all of the work done is via a browser. If you've ever used gOS gears, you know how well this concept can be put to use. This version of gOS lets you surf the Web, e-mail, and chat. If you combine this with a service such as Google Documents, you can expand it to handle documents and such. Unfortunately, gOS Cloud is not yet out for public consumption, although it will be released soon. Versions will be released for specific netbooks, so installation will be simple.

7: CrunchEee

CrunchEee is an Eee PC-specific edition of Crunchbang (#!) Linux. Crunchbang Linux is a spin-off of Ubuntu, and its Eee PC variant boasts a sleek OpenBox desktop. CrunchEee ships with Firefox, VLC, Skype, Flash, and plenty of other handy applications. You will find another, very useful, application called Eee-control, which is a control application for anything Eee PC related. Like Eeebuntu, CrunchEee uses the Array kernel. So this distribution will work perfectly, out of the box, on Eee PCs. It will give you the lightweight feeling of Puppy Linux with the ease of use of Eeebuntu.

8: Slax

Slax is based on Slackware and offers a unique experience, in that you can customize your distribution even before you download it. By using Build Slax, you can add whatever you need to make your Slax fit perfectly. Slax is based on the KDE desktop and is actually meant to be run from a flash drive, although it can be installed permanently on your netbook. If you decide you want to install Slax onto your drive, you can use the Slax Installer from the KDE menu.

9: Debian

Debian is always one of the best distributions for nearly any purpose. It is stable, reliable, secure, and has TONS of available packages (more than 20,000) to install. Debian can be installed on most netbooks. You might run into issues with the resolution, but you should be able to correct them by editing the xorg.conf file. Most likely, however, you'll have to start out with an Ethernet connection, because the wireless will need to be tweaked to get it to run. To do this, you'll have to install a non-free version of the madwifi driver. The easiest way to do this (with your netbook attached to an Ethernet connection) is to install the module assistant like so:

apt-get update

apt-get install module-assistant

m-a prepare

m-a auto-install madwifi

Reboot your netbook, and wireless should be supported.

10: Fedora

Fedora on a netbook can be a good experience -- depending upon your hardware. On the Eee PC 70x series, no problem. On the Eee PC 9x/1000 series, there are some issues. On the Acer Aspire, no problem (even the Webcam.) One of the major downfalls of using Fedora on any netbook is boot times. Of all of the distributions above, Fedora will have the slowest startup times. Once running, however, you will find the experience solid.

Other choices?

Not all of these distributions is perfect, but they will all serve the purpose of the netbook: Be online and handle network-related tasks. Have you tried any of the above? Or have you tried one not on this list? If so, what was your experience?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

44 comments
tux67
tux67

I have recently installed Jolicloud onto my Acer Aspire 1, and it is very good. It alos has an app store of sorts, that makes new Linux users able to get what they need and install it with the minimum of fuss.

gldolliver
gldolliver

#!CrunchBang full distribution and Kuki kernel = Acer aspire One Utopia.

sunworks
sunworks

On a Samsung NC-10, EVERYTHING worked from the start, no extra drivers or tweaking needed. Correct graphics driver, wireless, webcam, bluetooth, sound, ethernet, etc... And it's fast. I added Picasa and a couple other cool programs and the result? The owner called two days later and asked if I could do the same thing (install MEPIS 8.0) on his main home machine. Could not have asked for a better distro or better results.

mikep
mikep

SimplyMEPIS, a Debian based (including compatible) KDE 3.10 Distro has for years been the understated king of rock solid stability and OOTB functionality and hardware support. It's no different with netbooks, and now moreso with the growing list of Community Remnasters available through the MepisLovers.org forums under the section Package Sharing. There is AntiX, the only official remaster and others like Cano-Be with KDE4, besides others with various light desktops like lXDE and XFCE, all made possible through a remastering script available from the Mepis Wiki. SimplyMepis comes with a set of Assistants available from the System menu, one of which creates a bootable USB Flash drive that can be used to run this Debian based kit directly from Flash Drive, with the only requirement being that you edit the grub cheatcode vga=791, changing it to vga=8. Mike P

Sonjaaa
Sonjaaa

What are OpenGeeeU and OpenGUE exactly? The website you link to only seems to mention OpenGEU and Geubuntu. Are these related to the two you mentioned?

kenleyba
kenleyba

I'm not a fan of the minimal distro's like Puppy and Slax. A few glaring misses, Ubuntu netbook remix, EasyPeasy and what about Fedora XFCE respin? Ken

parnote
parnote

I run PCLinuxOS 2009.1 (the FULL, regular installation) on my Sylvania Meso g netbook without any alterations. My netbook runs exceptionally well and is very responsive with PCLinuxOS 2009.1. Anyone looking for a full and stable Linux OS for their netbook should give PCLinuxOS a try.

tlkummell
tlkummell

In the third paragraph, the author mentions a word of caution. "One word of caution: You can put any distribution on your netbook, but it?s not advised. Why? Because of the nature of the netbook, you need to avoid too many writes to the RAM drive and you don?t need a swap partition." Can someone expand on this? Does this mean that a netbook with static RAM storage will, at some point, become unusable?

mckinnej
mckinnej

Nice list. Slax looks interesting. What version of KDE do they use? Based on their web site they seem to be using their own numbering system.

ericswain
ericswain

Consumers have learned to turn to Microsoft as a company that has always had a vision of our future when it comes to technology. Everything from personal computers to talking radios, Microsoft has always been on the cutting edge. At the same time if we look back we find that this isn?t the only time that Microsoft did not have to foresight to see what was clearly emerging. Back in the early 90?s the internet was more novel then real and Microsoft left it as such. With the internet boom in the late 90?s Microsoft found themselves off guard and scrambling to catch up. Now it seems as if they found themselves in the same predicament, leaving the door wide open for the competition to come in and show an alternative solution with no real solution ready to counter. Although Linux has been fighting to break into what was previously an iron fisted grip on the PC market they didn?t shy away from a trend turned phenomenon in what is Net Books. This may be their chance to show the general population that there is actually a good alternative to the operating system. This is fueled by the other ball Microsoft dropped, the internet. If Microsoft would have stepped back and watched our economic trend and looked for the next big thing it might have caught the net book in its infancy and built an operating system around it that people would have seen as cutting edge. If that would have been the case people would be saying ?Linux, what?s that?? Because Microsoft dropped the ball we are finding that people do have solutions and alternatives to Microsoft especially when using light apps or pushing everything to the cloud. Now this isn?t to say that Net Books are a new thing, I mean look at the HP Jornada, I mean I still own my 720 with Windows CE. Everyone at the time thought that this was the next big thing but we were missing one key ingredient to really have this device take off, wireless networking. That just didn?t exist then and if it did we probably wouldn?t be touting Linux or even Net Books as today?s next big thing, but we find that history has a way of repeating its self and showing that something are better the second time around. Linux didn?t bite the first time around but when they were asked to develop an operating system around the EeePc they jumped at the chance and launched a platform for Linux to really grow and capitalize while Microsoft still sits on the sidelines waiting for Win7 to finalize and who knows by then it just may be too late.

Mr.Si
Mr.Si

This is very good to know, thank you! I am a mepis user and have just gotten hold of a lovely Blue NC10. Mepis is always my first Distro of choice and to know it performs wonderfully with now tweeks is exactly as I thought. Very useful to know, thank you.

mhenriday
mhenriday

I have no experience with the OS and little with netbooks, but given that the system requirements for Xubuntu are so undemanding - CDs require 128MB RAM to run, or 192MB RAM to install. Desktop install requires at least 1.5GB of free space on your hard disk. - it should be good to go for a netbook.... Henri

geekydewd
geekydewd

I thought the same but then noticed that Ubuntu Netbook Remix is listed as a variant under the heading of eeebuntu. I think it would have made more sense to list Ubuntu as the heading then variations under that heading ....

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

SAM Linux uses the xfce desktop manager which is supposed to be less resource intensive than KDE, and Fluxbox is used by DSL, et al, so it should be small and fast as well. Even though it has split from the PCLinuxOS tree, Tinyme Linux would also be a distro to try on a netbook.

pgit
pgit

On a test box running Mandriva cooker (development for the next release) I crashed the system pretty thoroughly, and just about the same time saw mention of PCLinuxOS, which is a spin off from Mandriva. "stability" was the word that caught my eye. It's been running PCLOS in live CD mode since, a few days now and it is incredibly stable. I also like the fact they've stuck with the far more developed (mature) KDE 3.

pgit
pgit

KDE 3.5.x, there's a mix of packages eg some 3.5.9, some 3.5.6, it depends on who packaged what. I've used Slax for a long time, one of my favorites. Just about every week I find myself grabbing my Slax 5.1.8.1 live CD to recover files from dead windows machines. The "modular" approach is unique, worth the investigation. Plus the very concept of the live CD is thanks to the fellow who invented the scripts, who happens to be the maintainer of Slax as well.

Jaqui
Jaqui

is he missed the best option for a GNU-Linux distro. One that will support the hardware perfectly, and have EXACTLY the applications you need, with nothing extra on top. Linux From Scratch!! http://www.linuxfromscratch.org

cbellur
cbellur

Not only did Microsoft fumble on their view of the importance of the web in the 90s... They continued to falter. It took them years to come up with a decent enterprise web application development platform, and .NET is kind of a ripoff of J2EE. After all these years, it has still not managed to take a lead in large enterprise computing. Zune came years after the iPod -- almost a decade. XBox came out long after other game consoles were numbing people's thumbs. What's next? Is Microsoft going to get into home mortgages? They are the classic large and latent organization, straight out of the Mancur Olson textbook on organizational theory. Products like Xbox are successful because they are hermetically sealed away from the rest of their organization. I completely understand. I work at a company that is

mewombat
mewombat

I do use Xubuntu on an eee 901 and it is by far the best system I have had on a netbook so far - miniscule real-estate used by the sidebar, fast, and looks good to boot. It was also one of the few distros that I tried that would pick up my wifi setup and jack into the net with anything resembling ease. Initially I wanted crunchbang (#!) but it wouldnt install to SDD, so XU set up to look like it, with a black bacground and conky on the side, is a very good compromise for me.

chris
chris

when you use the live disk to recover things, do you manually copy things to a flash drive or via FTP or what? am interested as a friend yanks the drive and puts it in an external case and access things that way. Would like to know more options

chris
chris

having "EXACTLY the applications you need" means Quickbooks. At least a lot of my clients (small business types). That's what they use and that's the end of that discussion. makes me sad, but I understand their viewpoint.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

for General Joe this is way beyond where they want to go.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It would depend on if SSH is installed as a service on your liveCD but there is another option. on deadbox boot from liveCD on deadbox mount the drive (if not mounted during boot) on rescuebox use WinSCP to connect to deadbox on rescuebox download desired files FTP-client style. For this, your liveCD has to either have ssh running as a service or available for you to run as a service. It's likely going to be the latter if at all since enabling services by default is not the better way. liveCD boot and copy to USB external drive is probably your best bet though.

chris
chris

I figured as much, but as he is a windows guys (and not interested in learning linux ways) I wanted to find the simple solution. So, even though the windows disk will be mounted as read only, copying should work, eh? Good enough for some data recovery. Thanks again

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Boot from liveCD - copy to flashdrive - ftp over network - scp/sftp over network (saves allowing FTP on your server when SSH is there anyway) From my short testing of Clonezilla: - it will write directly to disk if you have a writer - it will write .ISO to network storage by NSF or SSH (not sure about FTP or CIFS) My go-to these days is Backtrack which will mount any media it finds during boot. It boots to a text prompt initially so may be better suited to older hardware that gives the graphic liveCD desktops an issue. For that older harware, it may also be worth looking at Damn Small Linux or Puppy which are both available in liveCD formats and bootable USB (though, that may be an issue for older hardware also). There is also a forensics focused distribution which does not automount drives as writable; you can analyse a drive without corrupting the chain of custody by writing too the drive. I can look up the name if of interest. I'd probably start with this one if I had to pull a drive and slave it into another box. On the hardware side, I'm shopping for a SATA dock at the moment. There is just something cool about turning hard drives into "removable media" with a simple docking station. If one has to do a lot of drive recovery, it's probably a must have instead of a spare internal cable.

pgit
pgit

Usually it's as simple as plugging a USB drive in and copying off files. Slax, knoppix and Mandriva will mount the thing "live," helix needs the device plugged in and running at boot. (so does windows in safe mode) They also pick up the network normally, I have an ftp server for storing files, also accessible over samba (windows file sharing) Which one I use depends on the size and com plexity of the data set. The more complex stuff gets pushed over via ftp, which is slow but good at preventing errors. Every now and then you get a machine that just won't boot a Linux live CD. Some of the lower end dells, with intel graphics just don't want to boot Linux without a whole lot of coaxing. When time becomes and issue I'll just drag the drive out, slave it in another machine (with Linux installed) and recover files from there. I have so many computers laying around I can afford to have one dedicated to only this task. Just this week I had a machine that would only boot helix, and I forgot to plug the USB HD in at boot. So I was going to have to shut the machine down anyway, I dragged the drive out and slaved it in the Linux box and was done with it in half an hour. BTW the machine was a Dell 2400, intel chipset including on board graphics. Very unfriendly to Linux.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Well, where a specific brand name is required, that application will always dictate what OS platform can be used. Quickbooks, AutoCAD, Photoshop (the 10% most normal people won't ever use).. those are going to make the platform decision for you. For me, it's an info sec utility and gaming, and boredom. A system with only one bootable OS on it would bore me to death; no variety, no right OS for the task. Gaming from the DX9/DX10 library is better done on Windows but I get to tune it for the purpose and use all the hardware vendor's win32 utilities. As for Info Sec, if your testing Windows protocols, it's easier with a Windows workstation. It's also very nice to pop open Cain in the background and get a pretty clear picture of what clear text protocols are spraying authentication info all over your network. As long as gamers are locked in by DirectX and businesses rely on specific brand name software; the OS level will be chosen for them. Thankfully, more cross platform programs turn up every day.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

let me clarify though as that can be taken to be absolute when it's not. First, IT's job is to manage the systems and learn new systems that will improve management of information within the company. When you have a Windows issue, you learn how to fix it if you don't know. When the company gets a new server or software package, IT learns it. IT currently has to learn Vista and soon Win7 if they've skipped Vista all together. If the solution is Linux based, it's IT's job to learn it. They can't say "yeah, we're not going to use routers because we know Windows and it's not IT's job to learn Cisco." It doesn't really matter what brand name is on the item in that regard. The second condition being if "there is a benefit to switching." Change as an IT make work project is madness but if something can provide a clear advantage then not investigating it is irresponsible. If IT's fear or learning is the only hurdle in benefiting from any new technology then the IT structure may need some serious reconsideration. This is not an absolute though. Regardless of the technology currently implemented, if it works and there is no greater benefit from alternatives then an IT department pushing for a change becomes suspect.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

they already have them. Why bother learning new Linux skills to do the same things they already know how to do in Windows?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"In general people do not want to spend their own to learn about an IT system." Especially not about a system that cost only $300.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Give me an OS that can run all my native Linux apps and I'm there. Give me an OS that can run all my native osX apps and I'm there. For 90% of the software users needs, your still thinking in terms of brand names. You don't need Word, you need a word processor. You don't need Outlook, you need an email reader. Heck, Thunderbird is not complicated to get familiar with and it has native builds on at least four major platform families (Win32, Linux, BSD, osX). But, I believe I also mentioned that specialized software will continue to dictate what platform you run. If you need AutoCAD specifically or the 10% of Photoshop normal people will never touch then those are going to dictate what OS you can run on top of. Going the other way with true SSH integration; you'll need osX or another Posix related platform. Last, it's not really meant as a Windows vs Linux thing even. There is no technological reason why a clean preinstall Linux can't be a perfectly viable platform. It only becomes complicated with specific brand names become involved which technically only limits it to specifically required specialized programs most people don't actually need. But, if you only have win32/win64 based software and can consider only those specific program titles then Windows is the platform for you. It doesn't have to be in part or in full but it's equally important that you have that choice. You could try ReactOS though as it's goal is specifically to clone the win32/win64 platform so you can run all your Windows programs naively. I've not looked at it myself so I can't tell you how it's maturing.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

that can run all my current windows programs native and I'm there!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Well, them and other retail or service providers anyhow. Red Hat, Novell, Mandrive, Canonical; they need to provide the marketing. Them and other companies who compete in the server and desktop platform market anyhow. You don't need to even market "Linux"; go the way of the mobile phones. You buy the phone, you poke at the menus and carry on with life; no need to know what kernel runs the platform. Anyhow, it's just occurred to me over and over with each "Linux needs to market better".. well,.. Linux isn't a product or a retail outfit, it's a chunk of software. It's the retail distribution maintainers that have a finished product composed of Linux and other software components. The Linux Foundation isn't going to be bringing out the non-profit big guns to rival Microsoft's marketing geniuses any more than postfix, KDE or any other component project is going to. I think the distributions that aim for the retail market need to advertise more. More public awareness can't be a bad thing. Novell spoofed the Apple adds early on but that didn't go further than the internet video site rounds. I've seen Suse adds in trade magazines also though. Red Hat is still the flagship brand for business servers also. Well, when I was buying it was Windows, Red Hat Enterprise, Suse or VMware available by preinstall or delivery with no OS. Outside of business, your down to Canonical and Mandriva right now I think. I don't know if Lindows (under the new name) is still keeping up with the "as easy as Windows" goal. ReactOS would also be interesting with a bit more maturity. It's aiming for a win32/win64 native platform without Microsoft. An affordable OS that runs all the desirable Windows applications could be very interesting.

chris
chris

if people start (pre-emptively) with that, customers would be more willing to "endure" the change. the problem it the sales guys care about commission (in the big chains) [note: as I would if my salary depended upon it; not knocking them], because that is what they are paid to do. But, if linux could have a campaign (some marketing) around the great benefits and have an ease of transition program it would be fantastic. now we just need a sugar daddy....

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This goes back to the old round-a-bout argument that people are going to require time or money to learn a Linux based system yet magically, never had to learn how to work Windows. I still don't see a reason why a properly done preinstall can't be just as easy as Windows or osX. Take an OEM, give them Mandriva, Debian or Ubuntu and make sure they smooth out the driver issues if any. Documents, email, browsing, Flash, music and video; done. You recieve your product with preinstalled base software and available repositories preconfigured so hardware support and install is covered. It's got icons, a mouse pointer, a keyboard.. pointy-clicky and your all set. The icon doesn't look like the letter "e" but it says "Internet Browser" under it so off you go. Your computer appliance doesn't have a program you need; pointy-clicky from the repositories - easier than Windows even. The reasons seem to be more about politics and brand recognition than any technical limitation. I'm off topic I think here now. Basically, everything requires education or support. How is it expected that a computer should require no support or education while everything else is accepted with those two requirnments. Was everyone born with Windows user knowledge? Did no one ever have to pay to get a new device and understand how it benefits them? Is there some cache of new users who instantly understand how best to use Windows because I'd love to by meeting these people between visits to user desks answering the same questions yet again.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

In general people do not want to spend their own to learn about an IT system.

chris
chris

if a computer had everything you needed to do what you wanted, who cares, right? the issue, as I see it, is people who buy something and then, without any education or support can't do something they want to. So, they run back to where they knew they could. Normally that is something like doing something that required MS (some IE app (banking), Quickbooks, etc). With some education or support, these people could find linux solutions, but they aren't going to waste their time. I think if expectations are set and options explained, lots of people would like and enjoy linux. just ask everyone who has been hit with AntiVirus 2009