Netbook Linux gets revved up

Scoffers have been dismissing the Linux netbook, but I've been saying all along that the Linux netbook was alive and well and that Google would make its desktop Linux move with Android this year. But, I sure didn't see everyone this side of Microsoft jumping in the Linux netbook pool for the summer. Well, you know what? That's exactly what they're doing.

Let's start with Dell. We knew that HP and many smaller computer manufacturers were playing with Android on the desktop. But, just recently we discovered that Dell is tinkering with Android on Dell's new Mini 10 netbook. Dell has always been the most serious OEM (original equipment manufacturer) about desktop Linux. I can think we can safely expect to see Dell being one of the first vendors to ride the Android desktop wave when Google finally gives it the thumbs-up.

Oh, and on another note, Dell has also recently released a new set of laptops in Australia with Ubuntu Linux. Dell gets that desktop Linux is important.

Meanwhile, not that far away from the Android shore, Novell is adopting Moblin, another Linux originally meant for smartphones, for Intel Atom-based netbooks. It's not just Novell that's pushing this idea. Intel is also behind this plan.

I don't know why Intel is no longer that fond of the idea of 'Wintel,' but Intel hasn't just released a new version of Moblin. No, Intel has been shipping review copies of Moblin on Acer Aspire ONE netbooks, which have the 1.6 GHz Atom N270 in the engine room. Microsoft's Windows 7 crew must be thrilled with Intel right about now.

While I don't have a review system-hey, Intel, you know where to find me-I have friends who do. Their first thoughts about Moblin Linux as a desktop operating system can be summed up in one word: "Sweet!"

In the meantime, there will be a flood of desktop Linux announcements around the ARM processor in early June at the Computex trade show in Taiwan. By my count, there will be at least half-a-dozen significant ARM Linux netbooks announced at the event.

By summer's end, say just before Microsoft 'officially' announces that Windows 7 will be coming out this October, I expect Google, Dell, HP, Intel, and all the rest to start announcing the next-generation of Linux-based netbooks.

Today, you still need to do some hunting for a Linux desktop equipped PC. By the end of the year, Linux desktop netbooks, laptops, and PCs are going to be everywhere.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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