Linux

Linux is losing the race to the tablet

The tablet PC race is on and Linux still doesn't have a contestant. Jack Wallen believes Linux can win this race, but in order to do so, someone has to step up quickly.

Now that the Android tablets have started trickling into the market, the race is on. But this race is one in which early entries are going to have a huge advantage over late starters. Why? Traction. The iPad has already won over tons of adopters. The Android pads shouldn't have any problems with users who are already taking advantage of that platform on their phones. So this leaves Windows and Linux. It's a given that Windows tablet PCs will soon flood the market. And when the Window tablets hit, they will probably hit at a good price point and will find themselves duking it out with Android to take that coveted second place behind the iPad.

And then there's Linux. A platform that is ideal for tablet PCs, doing nothing. Oh, sure Mark Shuttleworth has made big claims that when Ubuntu 11.04 comes out it will primed and ready for tablets (especially those made by Dell). But where are those tablets? Where are the announcements that Canonical and Dell have collaborated to create a mean tablet machine? There has been rumor that a Ubuntu 10.10-based Tenq tablet, featuring multi-touch is to arrive at "some point." But these are all unsubstantiated rumors. Nothing is solid. Linux is gaining no ground in what will most likely be the "it" technology for some time. And that is going to hurt Linux in the end.

Yes, if you really want a Linux tablet you can find plenty of how-tos to slap a distro on a specific piece of hardware. But that's not going to cut it. If Linux is to gain any ground now, there must be a tablet maker shipping a model, an impressive model, with Linux pre-installed.

A while back I posed that the Elive Linux distribution was the ideal distribution for a tablet PC. It was lightweight, offered the 3D eye candy of Compiz, was very flexible, and user-friendly. I've had plenty of readers contact me to say they agreed. I still stand by that claim. In fact, I believe that distribution would be a far better choice than that of Ubuntu. But, again, nothing will come of that.

My fear is this: Linux has come such a long way and has proven itself an outstanding choice for the desktop. It's taken the distributions a very long time to get there and to show the general public its desktop prowess. But now, the fickle public has moved on to smaller and better things - the tablet. And with the attention span of the general population growing shorter and shorter, the window of opportunity for Linux to prove itself on the tablet is very small. If a distribution and hardware manufacturer do not strike a deal soon, and get those Linux-based tablets in production, the race will be over before Linux can even lace up it's shoes.

We saw something similar to this with the netbook craze, and it looked like Linux was actually going to win that race. But something strange happened and Windows pulled some crazy come-from-behind-win. I believe that happened because Linux got sloppy and assumed there would be no other players in the game. Of course the netbook craze mostly died off. The tablet phenomenon doesn't feel the same. This seems more like an evolutionary step than a "see what we can do" craze. Tablet PCs are, I believe, here to stay. They have value. But in order for Linux to actually be taken seriously in this market, a Linux tablet must appear sooner, rather than later, and it must not been seen (in any way) as a toy. For a Linux tablet to really work it will have to do these things:

  • Ship pre-installed on a solid tablet.
  • Beat out, feature for feature, the iPad.
  • Have a better, cleaner, interface than the competition.
  • Not suffer the same "lock down" that iPad users will experience.
  • Connect to Amazon.com MP3 out of the box.
  • Play all multimedia out of the box.
  • Have powerful hardware.
  • Not feel "cheap."

Without the above, any chance for success by a Linux tablet is lost.

What needs to happen is a distribution, such as Elive, needs to approach a hardware manufacturer and show off what their distribution can do with a tablet. I know the developers of Elive have been working on a touch-screen version of their distribution. I would suggest they put it in high-gear, take it very seriously, and find a hardware manufacturer willing to take that chance.

The tablet race has already begun and Linux is already behind. But in order to win (or even qualify for) this race, Linux has to have a contestant...and Android really can't be counted as a "Linux-based" tablet.

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.

72 comments
victoria2403
victoria2403

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jfreedle2
jfreedle2

Linux is a dead operating platform, it has been dead since its inception.

bootdoc
bootdoc

You are also forgetting about the WeTab out of germany. It is unfortunate that it is not available here in the US>

pharrington
pharrington

PC World has been reporting on a Chinese Ubuntu 10.10 tablet since before last Christmas. There are even specs and pricing. You need to get out more.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

It's called Windows CEMENT. They combined the features of Windows CE, Windows ME, and Windows NT, to make a new OS, just for your tablet! (just kidding. It's really an old joke. Google it)

hugoh1961
hugoh1961

I would love to see linux on a tablet. I already bought one with android on it. Let my wish become true, that is, let us all agree on the fact, that "mickiesoft" will be better off like an attraction in Disney Land...that is all what it can stand for. Linux has already proven on many subjects, that it is and can be more realiable then all mickie's playware together...it is just a matter of (and fault) of all these media guru's. ...from Belgium, with "tux"-love

jdschmutz
jdschmutz

I agree with the comments about Android not being enough. To be useful as a PC, we need the content generation and other capabilities of Linux that Android doesn't have. Again, to replace a netbook, a complete distribution is necessary.

jdschmutz
jdschmutz

To be viable for me, a tablet needs to replace my netbook. For me that means it has to have WiFi, USB storage and Keyboard port, MicroSD port, and be phone enabled, but not locked.Multi-touch is nice but not required, but it should have a virtual keyboard on screen if I don't have a keyboard plugged in. Needs at least 1024 x 600 pixels, but more would be better.

ActiveAvatar
ActiveAvatar

Lots of good points, but Linux and Android not at risk from iPad. The reason is simple, and involves behaviour not technology. The vast majority of iPhone and iPad buyers - they are queuing up for iPad2s - are ordinary people who just want it to work intuitively, elegantly, predictably and consistently. They don't give a rat's ass about what is under the bonnet. Jobs knows that - and he knows his market segment needs tight SDK rules that still encourage creativity - and boy hasn't that worked.... what I can do with an iPad still amazes me and has almost rendered by laptop to occasional use. If I want to explore and play in wider boundaries I use or recommend Linux/Android. Creativity but know what you are doing. The serious end of the market, and also creative. So what does that leave Microsoft? The playing catch-up to Apple era is over Steve B... Vista, Zune, WinPhone etc are all going to be expensive and slow deaths - footnotes in history. You have the muscle, marketing skills, and heaps of very clever people - come up with something new and wonderful yourself for a change... (I can hear the howls at that) Come on there were pads and netbooks before iPad, there were all in one computers before iMac, there were reasonably smart phones before iPhone - it was the creative genius of a lot of folks in that Apple culture that somehow made the changes and built whole new sectors for a maturing IT marketplace. It is about time someone else did the smart new stuff not leave it to Cupertino!

stevet
stevet

In addition to the things a linux tablet must do, it must have access to a vast array of apps to be able to compete with Apple and Android

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Linux died a slow miserable death for netbooks. What would be different with tablets. Even worse. There is a lot more competition.Aside from the iPad sphere, the Android OS is killing the rest of the competition. Then you have the other factor - the consumer dislikes Linux. Only some techies do.

sandstone
sandstone

As a Linux user since 2006, I find it irrelevant whether Linux as a name will make it to the top of the list or not. Linux is for people who value the excellence of an OS and are willing to give the effort to make an informed decision. The many distros are there to suit all possible combination of needs for the user.

norm7446
norm7446

I love Linux. I even love UBUNTU. But I think it will never become Main Stream untill it has it's own killer app. The one where Apple, Microsoft or even Google, did not get there first.

Hazydave
Hazydave

There are few major companies promoting desktop Linux. Linux is not "winning" on the desktop, it's not attracting much commercial app development, etc.... outside of things like Android, that are Linux + some other middleware. The question is, what's the goal here. If you want Linux on your tablet, that's going to be a relative no-brainer. Given that every Android tablet is based on Linux, most of what you need to run that tablet with "stock Linux" (eg, some non-Android distro) is going to be out there. The real thing needed is a touch-compatible interface for Linux... most GUI tools are going to fail on a touch-only machine, and there's no special reason to want to require much text shell use, either, given the awkwardness with virtual keyboards. But Linux on the tablet is essentially unchanged from Linux on the desktop. If, rather, this is meant as Linux up to beat iOS or Android in the market, that's an entirely different thing. Only a very tiny percentage of users will even care about Linux being there, versus something else. I'm an expert, I'm certainly a fan of Linux in some cases, and FOSS as well... but Android pretty much did enough. The key for me is that the OS is out there as open source, I don't really care that much about running desktop apps as-is on a smartphone or tablet (which are very much the same thing... people who thing they're vastly different are the ones who will not "win" for long).. that's why my laptop is for. Bottom line is, to compete with Apple, you need a company as powerful and marketing savvy as Apple. Or you need a whole ecosystem, going the PC route to enable any manufacturer to jump on the bandwagon. Google enabled Android to be that OS, it's the choice of every significant smartphonie and/or tablet maker who'e not HP, Apple, ROM, or Nokia... and RIM seems a little on the fence these days. So, for a single company, there's HP pushing WebOS... like Android, another OS based on Linux and in-house middleware. HP's as powerful as Apple, way more powerful in the corporate world. But far less exciting... can they do anything to make the rubes buy Palms in the same numbers as they buy iPhones? Unlikely. And they're probably too late to go open source and get a dozen or more companies jumping on WebOS. Microsoft and Nokia are doing a similar experiment, figuring the two of them, coupled with MS's "smartphone for non-smartphone users" approach... I'm skeptical. Meanwhile, MS can't really follow the smartphone up to the tablet if their answer is "Windows is the tablet OS"... but right now, x86 tablets are either crap or expensive... often both. And you're dropping that into an ecosystem in which it's guaranteed to be the lowest performing device in-class... and every app is written for mouse and stylus. Linux had a small shot at Nokia, as long as you're happy with Maemo, er, MeeGo. That has Intel's backing, too, but that sounds much better than it is... Intel likes to seed any development that supports more people liking x86, but they never evangelize. They're not going to try to sell anyone on MeeGo anytime soon. To "win", you really need a big company champion, if winning means outselling any other tablet platform. On the other hand, if it's just "I can run Linux on my tablet"... we'll have that.

zhuatclfk
zhuatclfk

...but why is this author still being published? Every piece I've ever read of his starts out with a false premise, is supported by vague innuendo, and has no point in the end. Is TechRepublic becoming a content farm??

Giph
Giph

If Elive jumps on board & makes a tablet I will definitely buy one. I love elive & to have a tablet version would be ideal for my job & for fun. My nerd glands salivate to think of this possibility.

PJW9779
PJW9779

Since when is Linux a tablet?

aiellenon
aiellenon

iOS was MADE for a tablet sized device, Apple had plans to re-release their Newton tablets with a new OS, but Steve Jobs put a halt to that as he saw netbooks were dying/being killed by his macbook air, and smart phones were starting to take off. HE then MADE the design team squeeze it into a phone and put the tablet idea on hold for the time being. I am surprised how often people refer to iOS as a phone OS forced on a tablet. Anyone that has read any of my posts knows I am NOT an Apple fan, but I do believe that Steve Jobs is the greatest business man ever. Anyone who can disprove that is a liar. I think the iPad will sell like mad just because he made an appearance at the announcement, he just made 60% of his sales by showing up when no one expected him.

aaronangelle
aaronangelle

yes I agree all of you about this. Do you agree?

joshua_keefer
joshua_keefer

Am i wrong? If not, then Linux is already in the tablet market =)

drednot57
drednot57

a Gnu/Linux powered tablet PC is needed. Android is Linux, but not Gnu/Linux since, IIRC, this OS uses its own proprietary utilities supplanting those from the Gnu project. I believe Jack feels that a Gnu/Linux powered tablet would out-perform, feature for feature, any current tablet PC on the market now as that massive repository of software available dwarfs even that available to the iPad. Just my interpretation of the article.

eCubeH
eCubeH

We have over 60 of them in use since they came out in 2008, and we continue to buy more. All running Fedora, so performance is super. And we use these in remote areas with no power available, so battery life of 4-6 hours works out great for us. I think your reference to the netbook 'craze' is a little ... off? Depends on what your preconceptions of their use are! And Android is Linux is it not? No doubt the platform will under work in the near future to get over the Java hurdles. No doubt GNU tools will be added in the near future. And isn't it all open source, despite being Google controlled? The game is early yet. Google Android and other Linux distros will win for the simple reason that they are the way of the future. Apple has demonstrated tremendous innovation in the past 6-8 years, but there is no way it can sustain the lead when faced with so much competition on open platforms. Give it another couple of years before it returns to being a niche player. And the number of dimwits still tied to M$ reduces by millions each month. Time is running out for M$ too, just like it has been for Nokia and RIM though they remained in a state of denial for so long.

jfreedle2
jfreedle2

The basic functionality found in any system like Linux, Android & iOS is just too limited to provide a platform for me to use. I want a portable computing device that would run the applications that I use on my computer. If the device does not provide 100% functionality that I currently have, then it does not meet my needs and therefore is insufficent for my needs.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"If Linux is to gain any ground now, there must be a tablet maker shipping a model, an impressive model, with Linux pre-installed." Remove the word 'tablet' and it's the same story as Linux failing to get a foothold in the desktop and laptop markets.

rarsa
rarsa

Android is Linux. MeeGo is Linux, there are other linux based platforms. Linux is a kernel and if you consider GNU/Linux, a set of libraries on top and around that kernel. It's like saying that "linux" is not a player in the server room, but RedHat and SuSE are.

xxyl
xxyl

Until the Linux-tablet designers (are there Linux designers, or just programmers?) realize that there are inherent balance issues with the list above, they'll run into problems with the consumer market. One of the reasons that iOS devices have "cleaner, better interfaces" is because they are 'locked' down. Flexibility and features almost always lead to complexity, which is the enemy of 'simple and clean'. You can argue (quite reasonably) that Apple strays too far in other direction, because let's face it, 'lock-down' has business advantages as well. However, as long as the open-source camp pretends that there isn't even an issue, and that 'lock-down' and lack of customization is a result solely of some sort of emotional complex on the part of Apple, we'll continue to get tablets that appear to have been 'designed' to check off as many features as possible from a list, instead of being designed to be a functional device.

tkejlboom
tkejlboom

Linux doesn't face any need to obtain market share. Most people don't buy a "Linux" PC. They buy a PC, that can run OS X or Windows, and then they put Linux on it. Linux isn't about winning. Linux is about options. Linux is about the fundamental notion that your hardware vendor should not be making your software decisions. This is why Cyanogen is doing JUST FINE. It runs on devices manufactured by other people. The time of the hardware manufacturers trying to control the software environment must end. @YngJoe_z You've hitched your wagon to one single closed software. That's totally your prerogative. It does not by any means reflect upon the tablet community. FYI Wacom has a Cintiq tabletesque device that they seem to feel works just fine, and Asus has a Windows 7 tablet with plenty of horsepower for Adobe's bloatware.

TemporalBeing
TemporalBeing

Microsoft hasn't been able to deliver a version of Windows that is any where near applicable for a tablet, so any pondering that Windows tablets will flood the market soon is way off base - not to mention, whatever they do deliver will likely fall to the same fate as Zune/Kine/WinPhone7 - e.g. a big flop no matter how much marketing money Microsoft throws at it. And as others have mentioned, Android is Linux-based too. So to properly count it, you have to count Android with all the other Linux Distros. Granted, it's not quite the same - but it is still Linux at the core. So, you can very well expect that the tablet market will take on the same characteristics as the phone market is right now. Apple will take second in the long run, with Android taking first place by quite a large margin. Apple and Android will spur each other to do better. Meanwhile, Microsoft will make a few failed attempts throwing billions of dollars at it each time without getting any where near the top two. You can probably expect Tablets with other Linux Distros (e.g. Ubuntu) taking up most of the rest of the top 10, which may or may not contain a Microsoft variant (more likely not).

asst724
asst724

Well said cbader@. Ubuntu has already run on a Kindle - and it will run on the smaller tablets soon enough for me.

asst724
asst724

Well said cbader@. Ubuntu has already run on a Kindle - and it will run on the smaller tablets soon enough for me.

doctordawg
doctordawg

This winner/loser aggressive mentality doesn't apply to Open Source. Linux is a sharing, collaborative, kinder, gentler OS. The only way for it to "die" is for all benevolent, intelligent, supportive people to die first. While all the big gun corporatist OS's are gunning their engines around the Indy 500 track at 200 miles per hour hoping to "win" the race, Linux is driving down Main Street to the local grocery store for some milk - elegantly, efficiently, reliably and affordably.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The consumer doesn't hate Linux.. they run it daily without even realizing it. What the consumer hates is a crap implementation of a product regardless of what software it happens to include. Chances are, if the consumer knows enough to recognize a Linux distro in there device and hate it because of that brand name; they aren probably not the average consumer. Granted, Microsoft's market momentum has been a heck of a thing to compete against in product categories where Linux based devices are not in the top two. They could easily leverage that momentum to stomp on the netbook market. We'll see though as the phone OS doesn't have a dominant market to support it where in the netbook market, they could just cut the cost of WinXP/Vista/7 and let it coast on past success to push back competition.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I believe hardware drivers are a part of what is being included into Google's kernel fork. These drivers can't be distributed legally outside of Android. You also have the various OEM vendors adding extra drivers as needed; this is part of why you don't get latest Android firmware versions right away, they have to come from your OEM vendor.. if ever at all. My guess; when you strip off Android and reacy for your prefered distro, you'll be missing drivers for key hardware components like the touchscreen, networking, cell radio...

dcolbert
dcolbert

Let me say this... You try to do this, an article or two, maybe more, every week, all year long, year after year, and see if you don't occasionally come up with something repetitive, or rambling, that loses direction or is based on a false premise. Finally, I don't think your accusation is warranted. Jack contributes great posts about Linux on a regular basis. If you have issues with this article, then let's discuss them. Instead of addressing the author, let's talk about what you feel his false premise is, what the vague innuendo is. The point in the end was clear to me, Linux better get into the tablet game if Linux is to remain relevant. At this point, they're trailing behind Microsoft in this regard. That isn't a great place to be. I disagree with Jack on Netbooks. I just purchased a 9 Cell battery for my S10 and played around with Moblin Ubuntu this weekend looking for a quick-booting OS that would support the Intel AppUp marketplace. My goal is to see if an instant-on Netbook with long battery life can be as useful as a tablet to me, day in and day out. I think it can. I think long battery life and quick-on are the killer points for tablets, and any product that can deliver those will be competitive in this new segment. That is what led me to read this article, the concept of a similar article I'm working on right now. My conclusions are different. I think that a Netbook with long battery life and quick startup can be significantly BETTER than an iPad, Xoom, Samsung Galaxy or Coby Kyros in some important ways. Unfortunately, there is a obvious lack of quality aftermarket OS platforms designed for this niche. Various Linux remix distros were what I was interested in, and none of them are on par with Android, iOS, WebOS and other platforms designed for mobile personal electronic devices.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

They don't pop up on TR as regularily as other sites but Jack does very well with the howto documents. The opinion pieces seem to be extending futher into left field over time but the howto pieces remains solid. (besides, look at the discussion it's caused)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You are correct that iOS was made for a tablet--at least as far as any available documentation can confirm. On the other hand, SJ putting a halt to re-issuing the Newton because of what the MacBook Air was doing seems completely off-base. First off, netbooks hadn't even been introduced at that time and logic suggests that he wanted to introduce the OS on something that bore no relation to Microsoft's failed tablet efforts. By introducing the iPhone and the iPod Touch, he showed that a touch interface could be simple and effective. It wasn't until after the iPhone was released that netbooks started making themselves seen and felt as an alternative to full-sized notebooks. What this means is that, in a way those pundits who claim iOS is a phone OS forced on a tablet could be correct since the iPhone was the first visible release of OS X mobile, now called iOS. What those pundits don't or won't accept is that the OS is far more refined and powerful than merely a phone OS. As for the MBA killing off netbooks, this, too, is false. Netbook sales continued to grow at a rapid rate between late '07 to late '09, unaffected by other mobility devices--even the iPhone and the burgeoning Android. It wasn't until rumors of Apple's iPad tablet became consistent and prominent that netbook sales started to slow and not until the iPad was actually released did netbook sales slow markedly. Regretfully for the Linux people, by this time the majority of netbooks and netbook-sized computers carried Windows and linux, again, fell back into the realm of hobbyist and tech users.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Corporate replaced my laptop last month with a netbook. I lost two essential ports (replaced with dongles) and got a smaller keyboard and glossy display. I also now have a second bag to carry everything I need that no longer fits in the computer case. Yes, it's lighter and battery life is better, but other than cost, I don't see the benefits.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd be happy with just a bit more consumer market share; just enough to convinse more hardware manufactures to provide kernel/X/linuxdrivers.org with the specs to write support or ideally, provide driver source and share the development work with the OSS folks. You also can't underestimate the power of pre-installs. If it doesn't come on the device initially, the majority of consumers are not going to care; they care only about what does come from the store on the device. if it's pre-installed, hardware issues have been dealt with by the vendor already. It's a scary thought for some but mortals should have the option to choose Linux based distros too.. not just those of us who've put in the time. "Linux" isn't a country club that only some of us should be allowed to earn our way into.

xxyl
xxyl

This is the thinking that will prevent Linux from getting traction in consumer markets. The idea that software should be divorced from hardware isn't fundamental, it's fundamentalist. Every device is not a smaller web server, but this is how (most) Linux cheerleaders see things. On a web server, the interface doesn't matter a whit. On a desktop computer, it does more so. On a laptop, even more. On a tablet, with touch and a limited ability to input data, even more so. Is it any wonder that Linux has been less successful on each of these levels? When Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy's) took over a bunch of KFC restaurants early in his career, he took a bunch of options OFF the menu. He took away people's choices! Yet the restaurants became MORE successful. Why? And it's not because people are stupid. Sometimes you just want some chicken, darn it. Can you imagine if cars didn't come with dashboards or steering columns, but there was a 'universal', customizable, inexpensive 'control device' that fit in any of them? It would be paradise for hot rodders and custom car hobbyists, perhaps. But should a Ford F-150 really drive the same way as a Mini Cooper? Should people take 10 hours upon buying a car to get it set up to drive they way they want? Apple (and certain other companies) are able to push forward the window of what people do with technology BECAUSE they realize that people don't see hardware and software as separate, they see a device that does (or doesn't) do what they want. Linux is, in fact, about options. Options can be good. But so long as "Options" is ALL that you're about, making a coherent, usable device becomes more and more difficult. Linux and open source software can be very powerful. But so far its greatest success is either where choice is everything and interface matters not at all (the server) or where the interface is in fact locked down completely (embedded). Hopefully by the time a balance is found, it won't be too late.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

As other's also pointed out; Android is a Java user environment that happens to have a Linux kernel behind it. it'd still be the same Java sandboxed environment if it was stacked on top of a BSD or any other kernel. I'm also not sure how much of Google's work on the forked Linux kernel gets passed back upstream to Linux propper. The "Linux" in android is only in terms of the kernel; your still missing the full userland, standard commands and general interactivity outside of Java (jailbreaking blending the lines to some degree but not turning Android into a standard Linux based distro). It's like calling a highly VW bug with a modified hemmi in it a "truck" because the engine happens to be a "Hemmi" just like the two tone rig parked beside it.

Non-techie Talk
Non-techie Talk

Absolutely right on the mark. This "winner take all" mentality is absurd. Society is wide open for variety, and success doesn't demand the biggest market share, it simply demands that a product meet the needs of the people who appreciate it. How could we possibly be asking the question whether someone would buy a Linux tablet? Who would not want stability, openness, affordability, stability, choice, reliability, elegance, stability, stability, stability...? http://nontechietalk.blogspot.com/search/label/Ubuntu

nwallette
nwallette

I agree here. Linux has its purpose. I'm not sure having Linux on every desktop and tablet in consumers' hands is really all that important. The only thing we (Linux users) would win is better support from hardware manufacturers and content providers. But, there's almost always a HW manufacturer with a fondness for the OSS crowd. And as far as content goes, where there's a will there's a way.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... using a manual transmission without synchromesh technology.

eCubeH
eCubeH

If you have large hands, if you are travel mostly by car, if you have access to good power supply, you may be better off with a light laptop. Part of the issue may be 'Corporate' and the thinking that has gone into getting you the netbook and how its been configured. Our teams travel on bikes and trains, so weight does make a big difference. They carry a regular backpack and the netbook fits in snugly. Price and performance are both significant considerations for us, and netbooks with Fedora do the job. The netbooks come at about $275, and we run FOSS local browser based transaction (DB) apps on the systems (XForms/PHP/MySQL DB apps, mail / chat), or the LibreOffice suite. Fast boot up / shutdown, total cost of all hw+sw under $300, reliable, convenient. Works great for us, phenomenal potential across the developing world! So it always makes me wonder when people write off netbooks. We have yet to port our apps to tablets, so we will know over the next few months on that front. But I don't see tablets replacing netbooks, since they are essentially consumption devices, so we would use for things like video conferencing & tele-medicine but not for transaction entry.

nwallette
nwallette

I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. But, I believe Linux has painted itself into the niche corner a little. Linux is fundamentally about freedom -- specifically, freedom of choice. With that choice comes the burden of understanding the implications of your choices. Some of us have a hard time understanding why people don't WANT to choose, but for many, it's better and easier to have someone else figure out the details. There's no inherent reason someone can't glue the puzzle pieces together (see: Ubuntu, to a very limited extent) and hide the other options that just clutter up the view. But, the more the environment comes "pre-chosen", the less Linux-y it becomes. Also, Linux software right now is very much dependent on the abilities of the user. Because there's no overarching uniformity, there's no equivalent to InstallShield or Wizards that can ask you a couple questions, then (while spending what feels like an eternity in the background,) make it happen. Grab a driver package from some hardware vendor and you'll see this. It's often a tarball, or a 10MB shell script that packs its own payload into Base64 text. Not exactly point-and-click.

shaunehunter
shaunehunter

Andriod is just a distro. Like ubuntu used GNOME/GTK+ and Kubuntu uses KDE/QT, Andriod uses JAVA. Simple.

nwallette
nwallette

My iPhone doesn't crash. I live in a dry environment, so it seems I can't take five steps without my pants building up enough static to cling to my legs. This has been the death of a couple phones in the past. Despite the fact I now carry a friggin computer in my pocket, I never have issues with it. While I don't own an iPad, I imagine the tablet form factor doesn't affect that aspect. I haven't used any of the Android devices yet, but I carry a BlackBerry for work. The ill-fated Torch notwithstanding, the BB OS seems reasonably solid too. So I ask, without a trace of sarcasm, what does Linux have to offer the market in terms of "fixing the stability issues"? I can't find any to complain about. :-) (This is *not* to imply that Linux has nothing to offer -- I for one would swoon over a Linux tablet, especially if I could have a full dev environement with gcc, X, etc.)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Not all distros are buld with Automatic Transmissions.. that doesn't mean that all distros are built with Manual Transmissions either. It's still much less user hostile than osX (pretty but only so long as you want to stay within it's approved uses).

eCubeH
eCubeH

I have yet to try bluetooth keyboard + mouse, and I guess if you have to use a tablet they would be nice accessories. But ... if the usage is primarily office-based, traditional Linux distros (Fedora / GNOME) might be much easier to work with. and if its primarily mobile-based, as is our case where we would conduct transactions on a remote dusty field, lugging the accessories and finding somewhere to set them would be a hassle.

nwallette
nwallette

Absolutely true, until you consider the potential in Bluetooth keyboards. Of course, at that point, you've pretty much turned it into a netbook. ;-) But you get to choose between the two form factors as you go.

nwallette
nwallette

I've heard you complain about OSX being an oppressive environment before, but I don't really understand why? It could be my limited exposure, but I see a pretty, stable GUI with loads of 3rd party support, and a full geek-worthy POSIX environment all in one. It's what people like Mr. Wallen want Linux to be. I'm asking out of honesty, because I probably just don't "get it".. Where are the bars?