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The year of the Linux … Mini Laptop! June 5, 2008

Posted by rm42 in Computers, Linux.

Linux is making great strides in the consumer market lately. Although there had been forays by different companies before, when Dell came out with their Linux line, it was clear that Linux for the general consumer had arrived. Since then, other companies have followed suit, like Lenovo, and even Wallmart. But there is one product that seems to have really accelerated this trend and has managed to open a whole new class of products. This is the little tiny Linux laptop named the Eee PC.

The Eee PC was so successful that it is credited to have forced Microsoft to extend XP’s life in order to have something with which to compete. This is because Vista’s hardware requirements do not allow it to run well on this new class of tiny systems. Since the introduction of the Eee PC there have been several products, also offering Linux, released by several companies, such as Everex, Elonex, and others. It seems safe to say that Microsoft and other big name companies where caught by surprise by this exploding market. Dell, for example, is now said to be about to release its own Ultra Mobil PC (or UMPC for short). There are still no official press releases, but there are some photos circulating already, and the rumor is that it will be running Linux as well.

No doubt Microsoft will be making deals with some companies so that they release products with Windows instead. As we all know, Microsoft has a lot of money and in the past they have been known to be willing to lose money on certain products in order to be able to contain the competition or to give itself time to come up with a more adequate product. So, it would not be shocking for them to actually pay money to some companies instead of charging them for running Windows. However, with the proliferation of companies entering this market segment, it would seem hard, even for Microsoft, to be able to pay off everyone of them.

The latest company to announce their entry into this very hot market is another very large company, and Microsoft partner, Acer. Acer has announced its One Notebook and it is, of course, running Linux as well. But, what is even more interesting is that, now that Acer has been able to play around with Linux and seen its potential, it seems to be making moves to expand its use of Linux into its entire product line.

So, it seems that 2008 is shaping up to be the year of the Linux Mini Laptop alright. I have a feeling that many kids going back to school next fall will be doing so with one of this little devices. What do you think?


1. k - June 6, 2008

I believe wallmarts previous “Linux desktop” offeringsd predate the more recent Dell offering. I think it was Linspire based (vs gOS).

2. rm42 - June 6, 2008


Yes, that was one of those previous ‘forays’ I made mention of.

3. Sam Stainsby - June 6, 2008

Last year was the year of the Linux desktop.

4. tim - June 6, 2008

“when Dell came out with their Linux line, it was clear that Linux for the general consumer had arrived”

That’s really the only part I disagree with. They aren’t really targeted at the general consumer. More for the consumer who is already using Linux and doesn’t want to buy Windows. Asus and one project you didn’t mention, OLPC, were the products that introduced Linux to the general consumer. The credit should go to them.

5. Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér (mjjzf) - June 6, 2008

The year of the desktop is a but old, but I think there can be no doubt that this is the year of the Linux UMPC.

6. josvazg - June 6, 2008

I agree with the article but don’t think it’s going to be such a big thing.

I mean, is good that more people now knows that Linux is an option, but many will buy the Linux eee, becuase of the lower price and bigger disk, to install XP later over it.

It’s also good that manufacturers are seeing the advantages of Linux, but most of the time it’s just the Asus current “threat” to Microsoft; “Don’t make XP too expensive or I go Xandros-only”, they keep Linux around because is flexible (they can do with it what they please) AND because is a weapon to negotiate against Microsoft. The later reason seems more important to them than the first one (and it should be the other wayaround)

So, yes Linux minilaptops will proliferate, but in the end they will just be a marginal market share, just for geeks like me.

Don’t take me wrong, I am quite happy about this, I just don’t think nonLinux users will start to “cross the river” this year.

7. Caitlyn Martin - June 6, 2008

I mostly agree with this article and it sums up the current situation pretty well. One point that’s a pet peeve of mine: Microsoft is willing to LOSE money on certain products, not “loose”. Loose is the opposite of find. Lose is the opposite of find, or in the case of money, make. Posts like this are far more convincing when written in proper Enlish.

8. Caitlyn Martin - June 6, 2008

Um… that’s English, not Enlish. I make mistakes too.

9. rm42 - June 6, 2008


Thanks for the correction. Since English is my second language I am always happy to take any help that comes my way to improve my writing.

10. Caitlyn Martin - June 6, 2008

My pleasure. Your English is very good, certainly better than my French or Hebrew or anything else. I wrote hastily and my original comment contained errors too. 😦 It should have said “loose is the opposite of tight”. Oh well… Anyway, I’m glad youu took my comment in the spirit it was intended.

11. AC - June 6, 2008

Asus has just recently released the specs for the Eee 901, 1000, and 1000H (901/1000 have Linux; the 1000H has WinXP). The 901/1000 have a battery life of 4-7 hours – which looks nice. They are also going to sell the ‘Eee Box’ – a mini desktop- later this year. So, more of what you wrote about.

12. Неактуальный Барак - May 20, 2009

Ну и ну, с чего это исключительно так? Размышляю, что можно сделать, чтобы прояснить этот обзор.

rm42 - May 20, 2009

Can you post this in English using Latin characters? Thanks.

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