Linux does have a future on netbooks

I'm puzzled. Desktop Linux, for the first time ever, has at least 1% of the desktop market. Linux probably has considerably more than that. So, why is Lenovo's Worldwide Competitive Analyst Matt Kohut claiming that Linux has no future on netbooks?

Could it be because, as Kohut said, "there were a lot of returns because people didn't know what to do with it." Really? That's odd. Most of the time, you have to ask for Linux by name. Of the big name computer companies only Dell makes it easy to choose Linux and even at Dell, you really should head straight to Dell's Ubuntu Linux site or you can spend a lot of time looking for it.

That reminds me. Dell is now offering the newer Ubuntu 8.10 on its Inspiron 15n laptop. In the past, they were only offering the older Ubuntu 7.04. Check it out. You see, Dell is taking desktop Linux seriously.

All the other big vendors, including Lenovo, make it almost impossible to find their desktop Linux offerings. You'd almost think they want desktop Linux to fail, and they're only offering it because those darn, pesky customers keep asking for it.

As a matter of fact, Lenovo, even though their flagship ThinkPad laptop line works great with Linux, has been blowing hot and cold about desktop Linux for years. And, last fall, they finally made it impossible for individual users to buy a ThinkPad with Linux.

Kohut also claims that desktop Linux is also harder than Windows to use. Come on. Ever try to get Vista to talk to a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device? You know, the ones that are almost certainly running Linux and Samba under the hood? OK, how about getting Vista to transfer files at faster than a snail's pace? Or, my latest favorite, getting Windows 7 to create a new partition for itself in a fresh installation?

Guess what, in all those cases, and many, many more, you need to get just as down and dirty with Windows registry and the like as you might ever have to do with Linux. Oh, except for that last one. I had to resort to Linux to create a partition that Windows 7 could live with.

On the flip side, I can go weeks, months, without end on both Windows and Linux and never touch the Windows registry or a Linux configuration file. This is 2009. Any modern, pre-installed Linux is just as easy to use as Windows for day-in and day-out jobs.

You know what really ticks me off the most about Lenovo's attitude towards desktop Linux? I know there's a demand for ThinkPads with Linux. Go to any Linux tradeshow. You'll see more ThinkPads than any other kind of Linux-powered PC. Lenovo could have been the poster-child for desktop Linux. But, instead, the real reason why Lenovo is making its ridiculous claims against desktop Linux is that the company wants to be Microsoft's stooge.

Good luck standing out from the crowd with that approach. It's only what 99% of all PC vendors do. Desktop Linux will continue to grow with, or without, Lenovo.

Oh, one last thing, Lenovo? About Linux and netbooks? Keep an eye on those ARM-powered netbooks running Linux and Google making its netbook Android move later this year. I see unpleasant surprises ahead for any PC vendor that's actively campaigned against Linux.

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