Linux

Attention: This is not big news

It has been announced that Ubuntu 11.04 will come pre-installed on three of ASUS's Netbook PCs. To that, Jack responds with a hip-hip-meh. See why Jack is so down on Linux pre-installed on netbooks.

I don't know how much you follow Linux news, but if you do, you have probably had just about enough of Ubuntu 11.04 lately. Most every announcement has been one proclamation or another about Ubuntu Unity. The critics either hate it or love it enough to make it headline fodder for weeks. I've done it. I've flip-flopped on my opinion about the new desktop from Canonical a couple of times (my final opinion is that I'm not a fan).

That desktop, however, is not the topic of this blog. Instead, I want to go on the record to say that the recent announcement of ASUS Pre-installing Ubuntu 11.04 on three of their EeePC machines (1001PXD, 1011PX, and 1015PX) is not big news.

Although the Linux community will stand up against me to say that any time a company sells a piece of hardware with the Linux operating system pre-installed is a win; this "win" just doesn't feel like a win. Why?

We're talking about netbooks. Again.

Netbooks. One of the most useless variations of the laptop ever created. They are too small, under-powered, and nothing more than a stop-gap between standard laptops and tablets. And once again a company is throwing a bone out to the Linux community by pre-installing a distribution and selling them to the public.

Is it just me, or does that seem like a step backwards? While the whole world is embracing fresh tablets with Apple's iOS or Android, Linux is enjoying netbooks. A step backwards.

This, my dear readers, is not big news. In fact, this news is so insignificant, very few will even know about it. Instead, what ASUS needs to do is step up to the plate and create the first-ever Linux-driven tablet (and no, Android does not count as a full-blown Linux tablet).

From what I recall (from Mark Shuttleworth's blog) the whole idea behind migrating to Unity was so that hardware makers could easily support a standard interface on every type of hardware -- I would think that to include tablets, laptops, desktops, and servers. But instead, what we are getting is netbooks.

Raise your hand if you use a netbook with any regularity. Yeah, I didn't think so.

Look, I'm about as pro-Linux as anyone. I'm all for open source and getting Linux pre-installed on anything that will help to bring Linux to the masses. Problem is, the netbook is not the hardware to help get Linux out there. I have been yelling this from the top of my gargantuan soapbox for over a year now -- what Linux really needs is a killer tablet with a Linux distribution (such as Elive or Bodhi resplendent with Ecomorph) that can make that tablet stand out from the masses. ASUS even has a number of convertible and tablet PCs -- why couldn't they concentrate their Linux efforts there? Even shipping ASUS Tablet PCs with Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity would be a huge step forward from the tired netbook hardware.

A Linux tablet. That would be big news.

Linux pre-installed on three netbooks from ASUS? Not big news.

What do you think? Am I overstating this? Am I missing the simplistic beauty that is Linux being sold pre-installed on Netbooks? Share your thoughts on the issue.

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.

78 comments
kb8amz
kb8amz

I have installed UNE on a netbook for my 9 year old Grandson. His hands fit the keyboard nicely. I have a netbook with UNE that I use for my hobby, Amateur Radio, more so than my laptop because battery life is superior to the laptop for offline power use. I think that it is a great idea that Linux is pre-installed on three different netbooks, but I would like to see it offered as an option on desktop PC's, and someday on a tablet.

roy.evison
roy.evison

Back in the UK, you would be grateful to see any type of computer with linux pre-installed languishing on the high street shelves.Our fair trade laws are about as toothless as a gummy eunuch. It is a bit galling to buy something with windows on only to wipe it off and no we can't get a refund here. As for netbooks, mine works fine with, or without. plugging in a bigger screen. Roy.

jasondteck
jasondteck

An original Acer Aspire running Ubuntu 11.04 (Unity!!). Faster than WinXP. Using LibreOffice. Even my wife likes it! Uses it daily. Takes it traveling.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But only for work. Corporate has decided that the netbook is the way to go for its field technicians. I hate it. My major complaint? Small. The keyboard, the display, all of it. Too small. I'm a touch typist, and unless I slow down significantly, my fingers are tripping over each other all the time. I pretty much have to scroll to see anything in any application. And just to add insult to injury, the model corporate is providing has the stupid glossy display and [u]no Bluetooth[/u]! WTF? Who makes a portable computer without Bluetooth these days? (Gateway, fwiw.) Linux on a netbook? For me, it's a waste. edit: trippy fingers

alzie
alzie

3 Yrz ago i bought an Asus EeePC 900 with Linux pre installed. It was Xandros, what a pig! I ditched Xandros for Ubuntu Immediately. I had cut my desk top Linux teeth on Xandros 5 yrz ago and, Ubuntu was a breath of fresh air after the switch. I use my net book every day as i would probably use a tablet. A quick email checker and surfer. I plan on buying a tablet in the fall, after some shake out. I want one thats Linuxable. So, i agree that some tablet vendor out there should "grow a pair", and offer a full on Linux tablet. I cant wait!

Zzyzyx
Zzyzyx

Jack most of the time I find myself agreeing with you, but lately the DRM and now this. Yikes. I love my netbooks! Yes both of them. I liked the first one so much I got a second one. The battery life is phenomenal for me plus I get a keyboard that actually allows me to type. Not having to lug around my heavy, massive, heat producing work laptop certainly makes me happy. Don't mistake my comment to mean I don't like tablets, iPads, EVOs and such. They have their place and it is a different hole than what the Netbook fills. Just don't let your opinion of the Netbook be the only or loudest opinion.

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

I've looked into this many times; it's my pet side project. You just can't get a decent Linux laptop for under a G. They are out there, but they are either not cheap enough to illicit my interest or they are just too small. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer, have this the laptop business locked down. Periodically, I've gone out shopping for parts to build and sell them online myself and the parts just aren't there - OR - the number of units you would have to buy takes me out of the running. And, I want to say: God bless those that have cracked the nut; System 76, Linux Certified, EmperorLinux, LinPC, and ThinkPenguin. But, they are so expensive that these laptops are not AS within-reach as their mainstream counterparts. Dell has put some (minimal) effort into it but Celeron processors? Please! It seems obvious, at least to me, that this may be out of self interest. It's sure is a good way to get rid of those old processors that no one would buy otherwise. What we need to do is put the same kinds of pressure, from a community stand-point, on the big manufacturers, as Microsoft does. And, don't they? You do your research and report back. An air-tight contract between Microsoft and the manufacturers is the only explanation. There is The Windows Refund: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_refund But should it be necessary to buy a $5-600 laptop with Windows installed for modern hardware just to wipe the drive, install Linux, then spend the next 2 months fighting with Microsoft on the phone for a $100? I'm sure Ballmer is happy knowing he can say in public, "Nobody really takes Linux seriously.", knowing it's because Linux is (more than likely) kept out of the market by a shrewd contractual obligation. It probably tickles him pink. I'm Microsoft's real fear is a Linux laptop that doesn't need much in the way of repair. People working in harmony - actually getting work done. An entire support industry would plummet but it wouldn't be a bad re-adjustment. What happens when you're not fixing your computer? For most of us, we are building something new with it, and higher productivity ain't bad. Although it's not selling more Macs (or is it?). Fixing this problem - THIS would be news. Another netbook? Jack, I agree with you, so few people care. I'd never get my work done on a 10" laptop. If there is a solution to this problem then we'll have news. Let me know when it breaks. Myself and a few million others would be interested.

edwardtisdale
edwardtisdale

http://techie-buzz.com/foss/ubuntu-for-tablet-pcs-coming-soon.html If there are netbooks for those that want them, and tablets for those who want them, that's just supply and demand that will determine what sells better. Maybe one person who sees an Ubuntu netbook will be drawn to an Ubuntu tablet. I think that if a desktop is small and compact enough to not take a lot of room up in the home, that Ubuntu on a home desktop can be continually enjoyed, especially with these new combined machines, that combine tablet, detachable keyboard, and phone. The desktop can evolve past the way they look presently, but still be the computer we use at home, and still be called a desktop. Kinda like a Transformer, Optimus.

ps.techrep
ps.techrep

I won't get excited about communication gadgets until gesture input devices are replaced by voice input that needs no device training, hand held gadgets replaced by worn devices and replaced on Google-like services replaced by validated content data access service providers. All the components already exist. Lip reading is in use by DHS, headset visor camera/reticule devices by the US armed forces, voice input 4th gen automatic attendant apps routinely screen calls to banks and credit card companies. The average new "smart phone" has more memory, cpu and hardware than is needed for any of these functions. Combined with 4G or later wireless online/cloud services and apps, these functions can all be integrated to provide the capability that we've been expecting for the past 20 years. The web-based internet has become a dead-end, with minuscule amounts of information of value buried under vast amounts of redundant, irrelevant and worthless dreck. With human time being the scare resource, search engine companies driven by ad revenue each year makes it harder and more expensive, not easier and economic, to locate the gold within the garbage. If Linux wants to win the hearts and minds battle, what it needs to do, is jump past the dead end "i" boxes and provide a home-based personal smart search agent utilizing paid and public databases, in conjunction with a hands-free smart agent device. Linux is better suited as a platform for such persona agents than and product from Microsoft or Apple can ever be, Those relatively small companies are not interested in the services provided to the end-user, but in the revenue they can derive by being necessary middle men by virtue of proprietary access channels - Windows and Apple OS on x86 hardware, and websites driven by proprietary versions of html and/or databases tailored to fit their capabilities. Immature alternative OSs like Android don't solve the problem of the ad-sponsored web server channel model - they only seek to drive internet traffic through a particular proprietary web service provider. Linux can also provide scalable data services with access that isn't dependent on html- formatted web pages - the last barrier to direct access to data. Human beings' sensory systems aren't evolved or designed for page formatted, advance-predicted link-connected information, they are free form and dynamically variable. Static linked websites don't meet this need. A proprietary GUIs forces the user to think in terms of one company's world view, binding innovation to restricted evolution within that company's ability to visualize the future. Proprietary GUIs become devastating and enervating each time the proprietor changes their design - expending the users' time and energy with no guaranty that whatever new features or services will provide a value that justifies the replacement of hardware, software and skills, and no guarantees of security, reliability, or suitability for use. Any discussions of hardware, apps or desktop simply indicates the way that users have been brainwashed into thinking within the limited paradigms that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs introduced decades ago. Faster, cheaper and smaller are irrelevant measures of [u]quality[/u] of information access and usage.

cloud_a_rama
cloud_a_rama

Although i do like that linux has made a big enough stand to be considered for pre-installation on netbooks from one of the best component manufacturers in the industry. My years of helping people switch to linux i am saddened that ubuntu is the flava Asus has decided to go with. I think Linux Mint would be a much wiser choice as to keep users happy with the product. i have Several Clients that used to use a older version of ubuntu and would constantly get simple support type questions from them. Once I converted them to Linux Mint the calls stopped. Currently the only calls i get from them are generally hardware issues and confirmation on component compatibility, since i have instructed them on how to shop for hardware and peripherals for their Mint systems. But those users that are familiar with linux and linux heads will most likely install their own preferred flava's of *nix.

rlutes
rlutes

I am an electrical engineer and use my netbook exclusively (Aspire One). I did upgrade the RAM and put in a 500G hard drive - the larger, 7200 RPM drive actually extended battery life for me by about 20%. Installed Xubuntu for use at home. At work, I usually boot to Windows because of comparability with some of the design simulation software. I really have not found any down side to the netbook for day to day use. If I need a bigger screen, I have a 22" monitor that plugs into the VGA port. I use the monitor for circuit board layout and photo editing (GIMP).

crbarron_48125
crbarron_48125

On http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/ They market a tablet, expandable to a netbook, that runs their own version of Linux, along with Android, Ubuntu, and Chrome; and you can hotkey between applications and operating systems without performance loss.

chaosmosis
chaosmosis

Full-time programmer here and have been using my ASUS Netbook for nearly 3 years with Ubuntu for all my personal computing needs.

dbc_techrepublic
dbc_techrepublic

I bought my wife a netbook for her birthday. Put Ubuntu Netbook 10.04 - like the interface better on it. I love it! Whenver she's looking for it, it's in my hands or my daughter's. Infinitely usable content CREATION device. Tablets are great content CONSUMERS. When I can write code, write docs, use the services of our server environment and last 8hrs on batteries ... what more could I ask for? Well I could ask for it not to be pink. Oh, wait. It's my wife's - I need to buy my own.

rmjivaro
rmjivaro

Netbooks are useless. If you have a good laptop and do more than surf and email. Linux has been pre-installed on servers, desktops, netbooks and laptops so a move to tablets would be a big deal if you give a rip about tablets. What would actually be a big deal about linux is overcoming the massive weight of familiarity by being adopted by the masses, who think that virii and malware and crashes are just normal computer issues that all PC's have (and they think a PC is a windows computer). The term PC means 'personal computer' and simply refers to a hardware specification as developed by IBM in the '70s.

jmbrasfield
jmbrasfield

I've been a Netbook user for the last three years and have found the device to be quite useful. As a member of the great unemployed masses, gone back to school at age 58 to update my skills, I bought my Asus Netbook as a portable, LONG powered computing device to use on campus to aide in my studies. I've run Ubuntu's NBR on this device since day one, most recently updated to 11.04, and love it. I can easily get 7 to 8 hours of use without having to look for a wall plug, unlike my laptop brothers and sisters who are in constant search for an available wall plug. Ubuntu does everything I need for this device to do. No, it is not a workstation, it is a Netbook and must be viewed in that respect. Enough computing power to run the applications I need on a daily basis, pretty much all installed by default with Ubuntu at no out of pocket cost to a struggling student. Thanks to Ubuntu's lower system resource use I have all day power to do my work anywhere I find to sit down, even under a tree in the court yard when the weather is nice. Note : Since I've started to use my Netbook on campus, I've seen many a laptop user converting over to Netbooks. I've personally installed Ubuntu on several of these devices for the uninitiated user. So far, no one has returned to Windows.

alexandrepernambucano
alexandrepernambucano

Linux works fine at nowadays, but it could be better, I've seen much people talking about that, well it is clean Linux has a big trouble to solve: There are dozens of distros, there are dozens of packages, components, applications that are doing the same tasks. I was wondering if all communities worldwide get engagement with two or three distros, what will going on? The answer is certainly would be toward better Linux operation systems, more reliable for use at enterprise, artistic jobs, games, education, and so on. We should follow the old jargon: "in some situation less is more!": Much people really believe that less distros & less ways to doing same tasks would take more quality on Linux world.

alexandrepernambucano
alexandrepernambucano

Linux works fine at nowadays, but it could be better, I've seen much people talking about that, well it is clean Linux has a big trouble to solve: There are dozens of distros, there are dozens of packages, components, applications that are doing the same tasks. I was wondering if all communities worldwide get engagement with two or three distros, what will going on? The answer is certainly would be toward better Linux operation systems, more reliable for use at enterprise, artistic jobs, games, education, and so on. We should follow the old jargon: "in some situation less is more!": Much people really believe that less distros & less ways to doing same tasks would take more quality on Linux world.

gillcar
gillcar

Since I moved to a Mac, I use an Acer Aspire One with Windows XP just for things that need Windows to work. And it is what I use instead of buying a Tablet, which I'm not sold on yet... Oh, and at home, I use it on a bigger monitor sometimes. But I agree that Ubuntu, which was my first choice "before" for my alternate boots on my PCs is not anymore because of the direction they are taking with it. Elive could be my next choice (I am not decided yet) because Debian is my first choice for the Linux distribution I want to use.

parnote
parnote

Why limit it to just one? How about having Linux pre-installed on netbooks, laptops, desktops, enterprise servers, tablets ... EVERYTHING! That would be news!

jfoury
jfoury

Do you know that it's impossible to buy a computer in France without Windows shipped on it ? I tried to buy a netbook with Linux (or nothing, for what it's worth) : despite the law was with me, I never managed to get my unused Windows paid back ! In France noone sells Windowsless computers... then a computer with Linux IS big news.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's not a "Wooo-hoooo!" Sure. But it is certainly a "Hm, interesting." If it means Asus is testing the waters, seeing if the Unity hype will help fly some sales, then it could mean they go for a tablet next. After all, a netbook with linux is significantly less underpowered than a netbook with Win7... right?

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

I'm using my netbook now...Acer Aspire One, WinXP SP3...find it quite handy to grab and use for quick searches and checking email, and yes...posting at TR!

RechTepublic
RechTepublic

Andorid and Kindle platforms are based on the Linux kernel just like Ubuntu. Therefore, most tablets and e-readers are running Linux. Dell, HP and IBM have offered Linux distros for years with their servers, workstations and netbooks. I am afraid that your point that Linux is not in tablets is completely moot. However, you are absolutely right that finding the Linux kernel in anything, including your TV, is nothing new.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Our Field Techs don't get notebooks at all, but are issue a Palm based device that does email, and gives them remote access to the technical databses. Constant complaints eminate. When we send them emails, they hate to respond.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've been reading what I can on them when they pop up from time to time. The latest is a rugged set of modules attached to combat gear including a flip out screen on the chest which collapses closed should the user need to be promptly prone. Ultimately, these handtop devices could simply be the processing module; touchy tablet when alone or wearable computer core when assembled. Technically with smartphones, earbuds and such attached by wireless PAN; we're already using the early consumer wearable systems.

juergen.fiedler
juergen.fiedler

They are actually shipping now? Cool! Time to start saving up for one.

pgit
pgit

wow. that is way cool. Thanks for the tip! =D

pgit
pgit

For you (and me) maybe. But look at the hands up here in this thread. And I know well over a dozen folks using netbooks almost exclusively. One is a horror story writer that does literally everything from story board to publishing, on this tiny netbook I could never use. Like everything, there's more to personal taste than anything else.

pgit
pgit

I understand the 'strength' side of the diversity issue, but I've long advocated a more monolithic approach to Linux in general, a more "microsoft approach." Nobody would be comfortable killing a given project, say in order to consolidate efforts on whatever the task at hand. But a lot of projects die of their own accord, or sit undeveloped, unpatched as is for years. I don't think it would be too hard to come to some consensus as to which tools should be the what to go versus which should be dropped. the world doesn't need 38 simple text editors, for example. This would be the work of some consortium, perhaps of current Linux heavyweights like red hat and novell. People would be free to continue developing their own project, even if it is dropped from the "One Big Linux" effort. They just wouldn't be contributing to the mainstream. People would be encouraged to voluntarily drop development of their project if it has been slated for exclusion, and contribute to the collective agenda. But total freedom could be maintained in parallel with a more monolithic push for that elusive 'killer system.' It wouldn't be a zero sum game, unless those 'tossed out' of the stream make it so voluntarily.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Each Linux based distribution is a seporate product in the same way each brand of automobile is a seporate product. Cars all interoperate with each other on the road system, Linux based distros all interoperate with each other on the network system. Different cars use common commodity parts as do different Linux based distributions. No single car can fit every driver's needs but different cars are indeed focused on the needs and desires of different drivers. It's the same with Linux based distributions which focus on different user's needs and desires. Competition between distributions is essential to the evolution of the technology also. If you think KDE fits your "user friendly" development goal better than Gnome desktop then you've now diverged from "The One True And Holy Linux Distro" but you've also provided a desktop which may better serve your product development goals. Canonical has been able to fork Debian and provide it's distribution because competition is encouraged. Mint has been able to fork Canonical's distribution and provide an even higher degree of "new user" and hardware support polish because competition is encouraged. Backtrack is a fantastic security professional's distribution but it's not apropriate for regular users; it exists because multiple Linux based distributions exist. There are older security distributions which have fallen behind because of Backtrack beating them out based on healthy market competition like product functionality and quality. There are new security distros being created which may continue to push Backtrack or eventually replace it because of healthy market competition. Edubuntu may be apropriated for educational environments but it would not best support security professional's needs or a professional work environment. SUSE may fit well in a business environment but it's not the bet fit for all other uses. At this application level, I actually use two seporate email client's for specific needs. If competition and choice where not encouraged, I might not have that benefit. Debian provides some 30,000 packages available for users to choose from as they find new needs or explore new functionalities. Compare that to the first netbooks running a hardware vendor specific version of Xandros; the manufacturer took an already uncompetitive distribution and managed to make it even less competitive than alternatives available at the time. Other distributions where able to adapt through healthy market competition as they tried to provide replacements for the first Eee PCs. Because there are more than one distribution with one single list of programs, that hardware became much more beneficial to end users. Altimately, the monoculture is unhealthy for both a technology and the end user in pretty much every product category. Windows has shipped functionality on a marketing schedual because it dominated the market for so long. It's tool used in the manufacture of Microsoft's actual product; shareholder profits. The price tag attached to it has only been kept in check recently because of competition like other OS distributions. Remember the outcry over Vista pricing until Microsoft started loosing market share to Linux distributions in other markets? The malware epidemic is directly related to the popularity of an OS monoculture which evolved out of a primary need to profit and a secondary need to provide product quality as long as it didn't significantly affect product development costs. The same configuration of the same vulnerabilities across the majority of platforms does not result in benefits for the end user or premote improvement fo the technology. Consider Internet Explorer which was left to stagnate once it drove off intital web browser comeptitors; it got so bad by IE6 that there are websites dedicated to tracking it's death. You would not have the choice of Friefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera or any other web browser if we had a one OS with one app per function software market. At this year's Canwest; IE and Safari where the first two browsers exploited so you'd be screwed on Windows and osX for lack of healthy market competition driving other browser developers to focus on different design goals. If you don't want to choose between a large selection of distributions, stick to the top four or five major distributions or stick to the distros specific to your intended use. If you don't want to choose between different software packages available within a distribution, stick to the defaults the distrubiton provides. You make the exact same choices when you buy your groceries; one shelf, lots of cereal boxes. Somehow the breakfast foods industry doesn't collaps or recieve outcry over the choice consumers must endure with such fortitude.

guy
guy

I use a Gigabyte netbook that came with Win 7 preinstalled. My wife uses an Aspire One running Ubuntu 10.04. Both of us still have desktops, but the netbooks are very handy for travelling and other off-site work. Small, lightweight and powerful enough for our needs. By the way, here in South Africa it is possible to but laptops & desktops with Linux and Open Office pre-installed.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

...they wanted to see a full-on Linux tablet or other device, not a stripped down version able to operate as a single function device or Java sandbox environment. To be honest, I would like to see that as well. I had to retire an old touchscreen laptop that was running Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook edition I used in my service truck. If this was any indication, I think Unity and Ubuntu have a good future in tablets as soon as someone figures it out. As an OS for a netbook? probably not so much.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The focus on a given kernel is really irrelevant these days since the product that the user interacts with is a specific distribution not the OS kernel. One doesn't interact directly with NT kernel, they interact with the Windows distribution which happens to include the NT kernel. They don't interact with the Linux kernel, they interact with Ubuntu which happens to include the Linux kernel. No one cares that the car GPS happens to have a Linux kernel behind it; they interact with the Garmin user interface. The kernel is really minimally relevant in most discussions. The one thing Jack did specify was "full blown" which Android is not. At best, Android is a specialty distribution. In reality, it's a minmum software stack to provide a java runtime environment with access to the hardware. Without getting all hacky, users interact with the Android apps; java applets contained inside Dalvik. The comparison of Android to a full general purpose distribution is like saying an Iphone is equal to a macbook pro because they both happen to use the osX kernel. They are very different. Iphone gives you a very superficial runtime environment and basic UI where osX on a macbook gives you a full general purpose OS (with root access and environment behind the pretty GUI endorsed by the vendor). Servers are not relevant to the discussion. They are not a consumer device outside of those few nerds who have the budget to run a rack at home (and electricity includsive in the rental). Even with a significantly higher market share on servers. Consumers are not becoming more aware of OS choices for consumer systems. Game developers are not suddenly producing Linux OS native WOW, Dragon's Age or Madden versions. Adobe isn't releasing "CS5 for Linux" (I was on the site today; it wasn't listed). consumer and component hardware manufacturers are not suddenly releasing drivers for Linux based systems outside of server specific hardware. It's like saying that the increased horsepower in farm tractors is going to revolutionize consumer cars.

aaronjsmith21
aaronjsmith21

I mean really? Ever since I got my Droid I have barley touched my desktop or laptop with ubuntu since as it has fulfilled all my day to day functions! I mean wow, I had a blackberry before and its web browsing was bad and app functions were hard to use even though I thought it was cool but now the world on the Droids has filled those gaps that were missing! I am even on it now writing this when my laptop is 10 ft away! What can't I do? There is very little that I think is missing like the ability to easily access root functions easy or install apps on the SD to conserve space without a hack! That's about all I have so far! I think the Android system was freaking big step forward for the open source community and now that just about every phone manufacture can run it on just about any hardware they throw at it has moved this a long way for us! Am I wrong? I will give you that a netbook is not big news but it is something! But some people do use them daily for everything! The open source community has filled tons of gaps in these past few years than anyone has ever thought possible, I mean just two years ago I could not run all my monitors on my quad video card without a work around now I finally have a pure plug and play system that works! And these gaps are being filled rapidly! We as developers have had to move fast and to be honest I started developing for windows but now I almost refuse to as almost anything can be developed as a web based app and be run from any system and Droid alike! We have finally moved past techy and hobbiest in to the realm of serious business in the open source community! Where do we go now! I agree that a full blown distribution running on a tablet would be one of the biggest steps into getting into the hands of the everyday users apart from the Droid! Just a matter of time after that when desktops and servers employ this after that! But how much longer will desktops be a daily for anyone if they still are at all, I mean I don't see many companies hand those out much as we are an on the go world! Unless we can hold it we don't want it! I guess there is my two cents! Lol!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The kernel is not relevant. Android is a Java sanbox that happens to have a Linux kernel behind it. The kernel could easily be replaced with anything and it'd still be Android running Android native apps inside it's java runtime sandbox. Basically, you have some OS kernel on top of the hardware and the minimum software dependencies on top of that to support the Dalvik (the java runtime). At best, Android is a minimal highly specialized distribution. It's a Palmtree; a stark naked trunk that's not of much use other than to support the green leaves and coconuts in the minority canopy. General purpose Linux distributions are Evergreens; lots of green leafy ends that can stick out all up and down the trunk (software stack). For a tablet running a full blown Linux based distribution, you'd be looking at something like Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS; general purpose distributions that would come with the intention of allowing a user to access the full software stack and naturally run applications throughout. A full cli command set and shell not just Bugbear emulating a shell plus separate tools like Grep. Cli native programs such as vim, emacs, aircrack, kismet. interchangeable GUI environments like Gnome, KDE, Unity. GUI native apps like wireshark, Libreoffice.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I'd try to figure out a way to get that information onto a laptop, or, at the very least, kill some trees with it. I've had a Palm, issued when I was teaching. It was convenient for taking notes during faculty and other meetings, but that was about it. If I wanted to do anything with those notes, I synced to my desktop or laptop.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Most critics demand that separate products which happen to be based on the Linux kernel all be merged into one single "Linux". This is usually so "the market" fits a personal perception rather than expanding the expanding personal recognition that there are many separate products for different purposes which happen to be assembled from commodity parts. "To much choice" is also often leveled as a criticism by those who's only real purpose is to find reason to criticize a thing they've chosen to oppose. Yet others claim there is to much choice between separate products that happen to use the same OS kernel but then they turn around and talk bout Android ignoring the real fragmentation of something that claims to be a single product though delivered as one-off vendor customizations. Hurray, Microsoft is selling multiple distributions of Windows and this benefits the end user but stupid stinky 'Linux' available under multiple distributions is the end of the world. Don't dare provide relevant information that might clarify one's understanding of the situation. They want it to be all or nothing but only with the software platform that isn't there latest pet toy. In the case of your comment; more standardization between commodity parts in major distributions (provided they do not conflict with reasons for the distribution's creation) without mandating that smaller distributions can't try new things. That makes for a more reasonable approach or compromise. More standard components between major distributions resulting in even faster development; fantastic. One single non-negotiable software stack that none may diverge from; heck no. Backtrack really is a great example. It borrowed from and subsequently replaced three other specialty security distributions. Now again we see multiple distributions competing in the same space; Samurai and Backtrack providing web application testing, Backtrack and Live Hacker DVD providing even similar products. And none of this would have happened if distributions based on Linux had to exist out of a single one-size-fits-some OS culture. Competition will push Backtrack development forward or replace it and the end user will benefit. I'm not sure a single software stack is even possible. The license these components are made available under permits diversity. Those who assemble and make distributions available find benefit in approaching problems in different ways from others who approach those same problems. My grief remains with those who decry the variety of distributions that happen to use the Linux kernel then turn around and conveniently ignore or outright relish the diversity in product categories they have more preference for.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The heck they do. They -avoid- each other; they don't interoperate. No two cars work together to achieve a common goal; no one acts to provide resources to another. They're designed to use existing 'commodity parts' (fuel and lubricant); electricity is the computer equivalent, not applications. Calling a weakness a strength is like calling a problem an opportunity, or like calling a bug a feature.

sabreeblackmon
sabreeblackmon

To say there aren't manufacturers releasing Linux drivers for consumer devices is a common misconception. Nvidia and ATI have been releasing Linux drivers for quite some time, and the performance of either frequently matches or exceeds the Windows drivers. Intel open sourced a lot of their drivers years ago. HP has supported the hplip drivers for their printers for quite a while as well and they provide full support to most all HP printers. ALSA drivers work with a massive number of sound devices today and is often the supported Linux driver option. Some pro audio equipment makers like ECHO have great Linux support. A lot of Broadcom's Linux drivers are released under the GPL for Linux. D-Link has Linux support. The "driver hell" that users have reported in the past, is simply that, something of the past. Even then, a lot of it was isolated to laptops that had wireless cards made by manufacturers who were completely uncooperative with the community. If you are unable to verify any of this, I'm sure I can pull some links out with some time searching.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

He said 'full blown Linux tablet'; neither of the words 'distribution' or 'kernel' were used. Had he said either one, we wouldn't need this conversation. Your assumption that he meant 'distro' is no more or less legit than mine of 'kernel'. "The comparison of Android to a full general purpose distribution is like saying an Iphone is equal to a macbook pro because they both happen to use the osX kernel." Yeah but a netbook is closer to an iPad than a laptop, and the iPad seems to run the same OS as the iPhone without any user complaints. Why would a netbook or tablet need a full distro? As many have opined, both are used mostly for content consumption.

pgit
pgit

Great visual analogy there. I like it. It works for everything... you got yer shrub (knoppix, slax) elm tree (Mandriva) stately oaks (suse, fedora) even a prickly locust. (gentoo) :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

other portable personal digital device is clearly *not* the answer. Windows 8 is going to be "tablet oriented" - but it is going to have the BULK of the rest of Windows supportability behind it, pulling down the performance of whatever machine you put it on. iOS and Android and other minimal platforms are always going to perform *better* in these cases. "Full" Linux on a tablet will attract hardcore Linux geeks and no one else. It would be less appealing than Win 8 tablets - which will probably be about as marketable as anesthetic-free root canals.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I also devised a series of abbreviations that I could use in the note files. Then, when I transferred the files to the desktop, I ran a macro that expanded all the abbreviations.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With each new Palm, my first accessories where a hard case (Innopocket did a great metal form fitting case) and a folding travel keyboard I could easly pop out when needed. Graffiti remains the best hand input method I've used (fastest, most accurate) but nothing can yet replace a full sized phyisical keyboard for anyone beyond the hunt-n-peck skill level.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With cars, they all support a given interoperability standard which allows them all to drive on the same roads at the same time. We don't have a GM branded gas which will magically not function within the engine of a Ford. The head and running lights on a Ford are visible to the driver of a GM. No cars do not chain together into a single long hinged road train but they do very much inter-operate. And, how is competition between distributions based on Linux calling a problem an "opportunity" or bug a "feature"? You honestly can't see the value in Mind being allowed to take Ubuntu's distribution and offer a more polished second choice to end users? Some people like Gnome desktop while other's like KDE desktop while yet others prefer some other desktop environment; being allowed to choose a DE that fits one's preferences is a problem? WTF? Do you want one version of Windows, one single firewall appliance, one single Sharepoint and no option to consider competitive products that perform the same functions? This is what I don't get. In every other product category, we manage to choose between available options. white bread or brown or rye. mint or cinnamon toothpaste. green paint or blue. Suddenly when we talk about computer operating systems it's all "oh gawds! The sky is falling! there is more than one product based on the Linux kernel to choose between! It's the end of civilization!". WTF? If there was "The One True Linux" we wouldn't have Mint providing a more polished option along side Ubuntu or JoliOS providing something very close to a thinclient appliance OS. No Red Hat or SUSE or Debian on servers because we can't allow more than one choice now can we?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

At least I try to see where my fellow transitionals are going, and do what I can to let them get there, if it's not too much trouble to me. Traffic is a team sport, but not a competition :p

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

AMD is releasing documentation and working with open source projects. In past, the open source ATI drivers have outperformed the binary blob provided at the time. Nvidia keeps documentation to itself and releases a binary blob while some of it's developers also work after hours with the Nouveau open source driver project. The Nvidia binary blob currently outperforms the open source drivers though it still doesn't provide the full feature set Nvidia provides in the Windows driver build. The situation is indeed improving and more drivers are becoming available. The point was not that there are no drivers being provided by manufacturers. I would suggest that the distance between manufacturer support for Windows versus alternative OS is massive. " The "driver hell" that users have reported in the past, is simply that, something of the past. " Every tried to attach a touchscreen to your desktop? The Asus et1602 is one specific bit of hardware I've banged my head against. Drivers for Windows; hunky dorry. Drivers for Linux based systems; nothing from Asus. You can track down drivers from the touchscreen component manufacturer. To there credit, they do provide three or for distribution specific packages. The Ubuntu 10.04 driver package on Ubuntu 10.04; good freaking luck. A second bit of hardware, the Generaltouch screen installs on top of a standard monitor and provides a nice hardened shell meant to be easily cleaned. They provide a tarball driver bundle for Xorg but it's of no help. The Xorg evtouch driver recognizes the input device and the Y axis is bang on point but the X axis is inverted. The Panasonic CF-27 along with the rest of the Toughbook line have lovely touchscreens that simply apear as mouse inputs under Windows but you'll be jumping through manufacturer imposed hoops to get them behaving with general purpose Linux distributions. It's this second class citizen late delivery crap from manufacturers that is so infuriating. The OS family and kernel are perfectly capable. The driver limitations are an artificial limitation imposed by the hardware manufacturers. It's like some management team actaully sits down and goes "why on earth would we open our product up to a larger market by providing drivers or simply developing devices that represent themselves to the OS under a sane existing standard?" or "why on earth would we want to reduce our own production costs while gaining a larger market by providing documentation and allowing OS developers to implement support?". There is no rational reason for it. Any excuse given so far has a solution. There is consumer demand. There are ways to manage support issues. "trade secrets" is just a stupid excuse for a simple input device. "we can't release our firmware source"; fine, so provide the OS agnostic firmware blob to be included into the OS specific drivers or, better yet, put the firmware on a chip in the hardware since it's not like a firmware update utility is a complex method for updating it later. "there are too many different Linux distributions"; so work with the kernel developers and/or Xorg to gain support for your hardware across all of them "too many distributions" at once. Work with the Linux Driver Project. With touchscreen specifically, there really is no reason why they can't simply represent themselves as a mouse input thus leveraging existing generic mouse support available across nearly every OS out there. Multi-touch? Now you show two USB mice on the BUS. I mean input mice all function as generic mice even though some offer additional features through device specific drivers. Keyboards are the same. We don't need harddrive specific drivers; they plug into the SATA bus and go yet somehow hard drive manufacturers still manage to have a competitive market. Yet somehow, the new wizbang technologies get special treatment and selective support; for what reason is this justified? As someone who lived through the truly sparse driver days thoroughly researching each hardware for support before purchase; yeah, it has improved significantly. Driver hell has been relegated to smaller pockets. I could grab the beta ALSA build to support my X-FI soundcard a year before Debian 6 arrived including it and that's night and day better than even a few years previous. Get a distribution installed by the factory and your golden since they've done the drivers for you during product development. It just seems like hardware manufacturers are still playing silly bugger with the latest hardware trend. "the world is going tablet and touchscreen.. oh.. but screw you consumers over there, your money is no good"

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The important part was "full blown" as Jack is using the more generick "Linux" meaning the collection of similar OS platforms where I feel it is important to specify "Linux based system" since there is more than one product which happens to have a common kernel branding under it. "Why would a netbook or tablet need a full distro?" As a function limited appliance, perhaps not but the tablet form factor has been a dream of computing since the first schetches of the ditigal notebook. It's not going to be just resource limited hardware and already has the power to push full distribution functionality. a gig or more cpu and a gig of ram is more than enough. Add in the 3D gpu that's becoming common and you've got a beast of a hardware platform to work with. Consider the history of the laptop; a small suitecase sized box with a three by six inch monocrome screen? Why would we ever want full operating systems on that? But the laptop form factor has long since become a viable replacement for the desktop chassis. Sure, produce tablet appliances with dedicated use software and limited resources. There is a place for that but the full power tablet also has a place. Consider the modular computer that seems to resurface every few years. I have a dock at home and work which mounts a full monitor array, keyboard and mouse. Inbetween, I have the tablet screen interface. Perhaps I'm doing tech work around the office; I can take my standard tool set away from my desk with me not an intentionally limited subset of tools. Maybe one is doing drafting and engineering work; at the desk you have the large screen and tablet for drafting work. You grab the tablet and walk over to a co-worker's desk or meeting with your full blown CAD program still running. You may drop it into that person's dock or simply work through the device's screen interface. I'm at home in the office working on the machine; pick up the tablet, walk to the couch in the other room retaining my full tools set and active login session. I've been a tablet user since the Apple Message Pad days and have experienced both purpose built sandboxes on up to nearly full blown OS platforms. There is indeed staggering possabilities provided we don't stunt our thinking into believing a paradymn that tablet deviced need to be low resource hardware or have embedded appliance OS only. We should be enabling devices not giving them arbitrary limitations.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

it seemed apropriate given the lush botted plants on top of tall spires (Android, IOS)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I have to look into Joli further. The last time the issue was seeming to require an account bound to online services. maybe I can pluck the touchscreen driver support out of it or duplicate that on a more flexable system. I'm trying to setup a touchscreen and browser with minimum OS behind it. From the oposite angle, a ChromeOS with a few management things below the GUI layer and no requirnment to bind the device to Google. " The problem with legacy app compatibility and support on tablets and other mobile devices is that vendors will take shortcuts, if they address issues at all, regarding the usability of a desktop GUI designed app on a touch-screen device. " I don't think that everything needs to be a touchscreen centric interface; that seems to sell the hardware platform short. Consider the N900. I use the touchscreen GUI apps primarily. A few particular GUI and mouse apps I have on there for use also due to lack of a touchy equivalent. I also have terminal apps which have no GUI equivalent and provide the same tool across all my OS platforms. Quality apps designed for the device specific UI are fantastic but when they do not provide the desired functions, it's nice to have the choice of leaving the vendor provided sandbox. "The NT and Linux kernels implemented *traditionally*, are always going to carry the legacy garbage with them. " You loose me here a little. We're talking about UI and userland; what does the kernel have to do with it? If we must include kernels, how is the kernel running under Joli not traditional in comparison to the kernel running under a different distribution? The only difference I can think of is what driver modules are included. I don't think there is much difference between the Apple IOS and OSX kernel. I figured Win8 would use the same NT kernel across userland versions just as Win7 does. " Those kind of tablets have been trying to get market share for years and failing. No one wants to do that kind of work on a tablet. They want to do that kind of work on a clamshell device or a desktop. " Yes, it's been the year of the Windows tablet convertable for well over a decade now and a great part of the issue has been imposing a mouse/keyboard UI on a screen input device. I just think there is a much more balanced middle ground inbetween. It doesn't have to be one or the other; full OS or minimal appliance sandbox and non shall meet between the two. That's bullocks. There I want the best of both worlds; GUI touch interfaces where apropriate and the rest of my tools available across my platforms. But what is wrong with a dock or bluetooth keyboard/mouse at home and work in addition to the touchscreen input when mobile? Artificially limiting the capabilities of the hardware through the OS does not provide the user more benefit. In terms of App cross over, consider Zim; a rather nice "wiki" stile text editor. The interface is fine across different form factors. It doesn't suddenly become unusable because it's on a ten inch high res touchscreen. The only real difference is the data input method and since it's a touchscreen, you're going to need an appropriate text input solution regardless of the application. The benefits; I can easily sync the user data across all my systems and open it with Zim installed on each. OpenSSH and Rsync mean I can push or pull from all my my machines (well, Filezilla on the Windows boxes but whatareyagonnado). The more complete OS stack provides value. On my N900 I really like WifiEye's display of networks in range but it doesn't provide the same amount of information that I get from Airodump within a single display. On a sandboxed appliance OS, I'd be stuck with only one. I believe Android has a WifiEye build or something with the same bubble display of power and channel bleed but to get the more complete details of airodump or kismet; I have to first install a more complete OS with a conveluted unlocking process and addition of the missing userland components and that's only if they are available. If my device ran Debian with a device applicable UI then I simply choose to add the extra value; whammo, same valuable tools used across my other systems plus the value provided by the devices UI centric apps. It simply comes down to enabling the end user versus artificially limiting the capabilities of the hardware on the user's behalf. A ten inch tablet (larger are in development) with a full general purpose OS and applicable UI versus a ten inch tablet intentionally limited in what it can do. Why should we strive to consumer functionaly limited OS running on top of full blown general purpose computers?

pgit
pgit

I was under the impression that 'backward compatibility' and such 'windows supportability' overhead will be loaded/unloaded dynamically as needed. From what I've read they've cleaned up memory usage enormously. Of course that's all rumor at this stage of the game.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Already supports touch screen devices to a certain extent, has a basic tablet interface, but has a full kernel that can support regular, traditional .deb apps. I just don't see how this is fundamentally different to the Redmond approach to Win 8, which is a step back. The problem with legacy app compatibility and support on tablets and other mobile devices is that vendors will take shortcuts, if they address issues at all, regarding the usability of a desktop GUI designed app on a touch-screen device. We'll see skins, patches and other band-aids rather than dedicated native code written specifically to leverage a touch-screen environment. Once you dump that legacy garbage - you get quality apps that are designed for the user I/O interface of the device in question. The NT and Linux kernels implemented *traditionally*, are always going to carry the legacy garbage with them. Those kind of tablets have been trying to get market share for years and failing. No one wants to do that kind of work on a tablet. They want to do that kind of work on a clamshell device or a desktop. Apple has shown what people want to do on tablets - and Android and iOS and other limited platforms are best suited to delivering that.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

we're not talking full kernel but full distribution. Sure, provide a linux-kernel-tablet.deb package that has the non-relevant stuff left out of it. I'm sure this is exactly how it would be done. And you'd still get the benefits of a complete distribution stack on top of it versus a small fenced in yard to play in. Maemo provided bugbear as a terminal environment versus the traditional shell+apps aproach (eg. bash + grep + sed). It was much closer to a full blown install and did actually provide a full blown install's features. With it's Maemo/moblin heritage, we'll see how well Meego performs once shipping on production hardware. With something like Debian, it would not be hard at all to provide a tablet install tuned for performance while allowing folks to add in other components from the repositories. Canonical's intention to provide Unity standardization including a netbook/tablet install also shows potential. The rich enthusiast community rooting Android devices to add in missing userland and applications demonstrates a clear consumer desire outside of just the hardcore "Linux geeks" also. And, given that tablet hardware resources are only going to increase. I mean, a few gigs of ram, gig processors; the hardware resources are there. Even now with Debian 6, it's not hard to do a snappy fully featured install on top of a single core aging processor and 512 meg of ram. One doesn't need to run Gnome3 or KDE4 just to get the functionality of a full distro install and once you remove those user interfaces; you really don't have much imposing resource demands on the system. I wish I could find the link. There is actually a company doing a tablet with Debian and/or Ubuntu on it but the article has gotten burried under more recent news over at linuxdevices.

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