Government // Enterprise Architecture
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4/11/2008
03:05 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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HP's Got Linux On The Low End

Seems like everyone's getting into the low-end notebook market these days.  Hewlett-Packard is the newest of the bunch to step up to the plate with its VIA-driven HP 2133 Mini-Note, a nifty-looking machine that clocks in at $499 for a Linux edition.  A little pricier than the ASUS Eee, but it looks like low-cost computing is one niche for Linux to derive wider market penetrati

Seems like everyone's getting into the low-end notebook market these days.  Hewlett-Packard is the newest of the bunch to step up to the plate with its VIA-driven HP 2133 Mini-Note, a nifty-looking machine that clocks in at $499 for a Linux edition.  A little pricier than the ASUS Eee, but it looks like low-cost computing is one niche for Linux to derive wider market penetration.

It's been shaping up like that for a while, but this -- and promises of similar devices from the likes of Dell -- further clinches the case.  Linux has gone from being "just a kernel" to a whole ecosphere for hardware, a way not just to make an inexpensive OS but a whole galaxy of things for less, and we're now finally seeing a lot more than just proof-of-concept work in that realm.

This isn't to say that low-end computing is the niche for Linux.  There are people from all walks of the computing life that use Linux successfully.  It's just that the low-end / educational niche may be one of the best places for Linux to develop a case for adoption by the broad mass of computer users.  If you spend $299 on a computer that gets as much done for you as someone else who spent $899, that's a strong argument -- especially if the other guy can sit down with the argument and play with it on his own.

Some of this, I think, revolves around the fact that for most people, changes in OS are "forklift upgrades".  They get the new OS with new hardware, and generally do as little thinking as possible about their computers because, well, they're trying to get work done with them and not obsess about them as things unto themselves.  Give them a new PC with Linux already on it, one where they can pick up more or less where they left off -- especially a machine that's markedly cheaper than a Windows box -- and they may find it that much easier to gravitate that way.

Do you think the low-end machine market will bring Linux to the masses in a way that live CDs and preloads on existing higher-end machines haven't?

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