Amazon's top selling laptop doesn't run Windows or Mac OS, it runs Linux

Amazon's top selling laptop doesn't run Windows or Mac OS, it runs Linux

Summary: According to Amazon, the number one selling laptop isn't a Windows PC or a Mac, it's the Samsung Chromebook, which runs Google's Linux-based Chrome OS.

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Chromebook
The best selling laptop of the day? The Linux-based Chromebook.

We all know now that Windows 8 sales have been.... disappointing. You can blame the hardware. You can blame Windows 8's mixed-up interfaces. You can blame the rise of tablets and smartphones. Whatever. The bottom line is Windows 8 PC and laptop sales have been slow. So, what, according to Amazon, in this winter of Windows 8 discontent has been the best selling laptop? It's Samsung's ARM-powered, Linux-based Chromebook.

Shocked? Amazed? Why? The Chromebook has several things going for it.

The Chromebook Gallery

First, it's cheap. The list price for $249. On Amazon, it's currently going for more than that: $317. Why is it selling for more? It appears that retailers are taking advantage of the demand for this lightweight laptop. Even at that price it's cheaper thanany of the other laptops in Amazon's top 20 laptop list.

Second, anyone who can use a Web browser can use a Chromebook. After all its interface is primarily the Chrome Web browser. Who can't use a browser?

True, there is Linux under the hood but you have to go out of your way to find it. Windows 8 PCs, on the other hand, require you to re-learn how you use your desktop. Advantage: Chrome.

Don't think that just because Chromebook works best with the Web that it's helpless without an Internet connection. It's not. For example, you can edit documents even without an Internet connection to Google Docs/Google Drive.

As others are also discovering, the Chromebook works really well for daily work.. To quote ZDNet's own James Kendrick, my "recent purchase of a Chromebook surprised me by proving how well it works for me. After a week of using the Chromebook, that surprise has morphed into total satisfaction."

He's not the only one. Think about your own work. Do you spend 90% of your time working on the Web? Using software-as-a-service or Web apps most of the time? If you do, you might just find, as Amazon buyers have, that a Linux-powered Chromebook is all the laptop you need.

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Topics: Linux, Amazon, Windows, Samsung, Networking, Microsoft, Laptops, Hardware, Google, Windows 8

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243 comments
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  • Samsung Chromebook

    Freedom of choice always works well.
    RickLively
    • What freedom you get with chromebook?

      All your bases now belong to Google instead of Apple or Microsoft.
      Ram U
      • Choice

        “What freedom you get with chromebook”

        Chromebook may not work for everyone that's okay too.
        May work as a second computer for the family.
        RickLively
        • Well "Choice" is always there

          People have Windows, Linux (of course I understand you have search for preinstalled ones), and Macs prior to Chromebook. I don't say Chromebook sucks, but I think freedom is something beyond "Choice" and then Chromebook definitely won't fit into that category.
          Ram U
          • When thinking about Microsoft...

            ...i've never correlation between freedom and Microsoft. Just a jail - and a bad one.
            movetolinux
          • your name says it all

            n/t
            Ram U
          • Funny how people perceive things

            For instance, just about every open-source application is ported to Windows but very few Windows applications are ported to Linux, or UNIX, for that matter!

            Further, I can run any of those open source applications on any version of Windows since 2000. Many of them will even run under Mac OS X.

            And, feature-for-feature, a Windows computer costs me no more than a Linux computer with the same level of vendor support.

            I can even load and run Windows seamlessly on my Macintosh computer using parallels. I can dual boot my Windows computer as well but it requires me to know A LOT MORE about Linux and Windows than the average consumer.

            The Microsoft "jail" gives me a lot more flexibility than either Apple or any of the Linux DISTROs do - unless I know A LOT about the inner workings of Linux.
            M Wagner
          • It’s a companion device

            “All the Chromebook really does is browse the web.”

            “So, my recommendation is to just use the Chromebook casually. Keep using your existing Windows computer as you have before”
            Bill Richardson – Google

            https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/chromebook-central/sglBOvndkw4/Vq42eYzpJaIJ
            RickLively
          • Few Windows apps are ported to Linux because...

            ...the vast majority are directly based on Windows APIs (Win32 and .Net) and are developed commercially by companies that have little or no interest in porting them (because it's seen as more trouble than it's worth).

            Most Linux GUI apps are developed using toolkits like Qt or GTK that were long ago ported to Windows, making porting of apps based upon them easy. And console apps can usually be easily compiled on the Windows side using something like Cygwin or MinGW.

            There's also the fact that UNIX developers have been forced to care a lot more about portability than DOS/Windows ones have.
            John L. Ries
          • Portability?

            How are Linux apps more portable? When all the various distros, versions, flavors, and guis are added up, there's 1000's of variations that they must run on.

            With Windows, regardless of hardware, software will run on Windows. Since there are only really three versions of Windows widely used today, its easy. Of course I am talking about XP, 7, and 8. I left Vista out intentionally, Frankly if it runs on XP and 7, it will run on Vista and 8.

            Whereas with Linux and Unix, you have to have the correct GUI, then you have to have the dependent packages, then you have to account for security, then if a package upgrade breaks something you or SOL.

            When developers work within the .NET framework they are more confident that their app will be compatible with MS patches. That is not always the case but is certainly more so than the circus that is *nix.
            Raid60
          • Some Windows apps aren't even ported to Windows...

            If it's sooooo easy, why can't Microsoft's own IE9 and IE10 run on Windows XP? And, why can't IE10 run on Window 7? Google Chrome runs on everything!
            Pyrrho of Elis
          • Good point

            "Chrome Runs on everything" Therefore no reason to get a chromebook, basic Win 8 Notebook, costs not much more than a Chromebook and does a hell of a lot more including running Chrome and Chromebook apps.
            Cake and eat it, springs to mind.

            8-)
            martin_js
          • Or for that matter

            Install Ubuntu on it and Chrome, same result
            Cake and eat.
            martin_js
          • I see

            You never wrote, or supported, a windows application.
            alf@...
          • Nope

            "How are Linux apps more portable? When all the various distros, versions, flavors, and guis are added up, there's 1000's of variations that they must run on."

            You really don't know?

            Distributions are just a collection of software configured in a way what the distributor wants to offer for the vision what they do have. Configurations like network is disabled by default or auto-mounting is on by default.

            And on unix systems, portability is easy as every layer from operating system to system libraries and system programs to application programs are using same APIs. All what you need to do is to compile your software with new options in compiler to get it from different architecture (x86 to ARM) or for different operating system (from ELF binary to a.out binary format) as long your dependable software (libraries like glibc or other C-library, system programs like ls, cp, mv etc, or shells like sh compatible bash zhs and so on) are ported. Then it is just re-compilation and you are done.

            Different distributions doesn't mean software is incompatible with each other. They are actually like one software system but just from different distributor. The main problems comes when distributor has packaged a software what is older version than what you depend on. To get your software then to run, user needs to get required version in use and that can be harmful if distributor doesn't package software for you to be easily installed but you need to compile it yourself. And problem comes if you can not update the specific software as it would broke other software depencies.

            On Unix system, there is no circus as on Windows about different versions of software because you can easily have multiple versions of specific library installed same time.

            On Unix systems, it is far more easier than on Windows to compile and get software if just willing to throw away negative opinions.
            Fri13
          • You make it look like a lot of work/risk to use Linux

            Generally, any of the established distributions ("distros") such as Ubuntu, Suse, Fedora, Debian, etc, have done all that hard work, and provide an easy-to-use package manager to manage those dependencies you are so concerned about, much like Googles's Play Store, and Apple's iOS app store. Generally, a Linux user can "settle" on one of the established distros, and find about any of the popular packages are fitted into the update structure quite smoothly (along with thousands of other useful and fun apps), and work reliably.

            Package upgrades breaking something significant are probably far rarer (and usually not more than a few days at most) than the damage frequently done by Windows' monthly updates. Windows patches are all too often not compatible with ... Windows!. Just check the standing policy of Windows Secrets' Susan Bradley: turn off automatic Windows updates, and wait for her go-ahead before applying those patches ;-}

            Also, when security updates are needed for Linux, they are usually provided within a few days, and do not have to wait for a monthly update cycle (when MS gets around to admitting something needs to be fixed...). Linux is much more secure on the Internet in general than Windows. Admittedly, it is not targeted as much, but still, it is more robustly secured by the mainline distros "out of the box", and it has many more eyes looking and hands fixing without corporate bureaucracy impeding quick resolutions.

            Lighten up on that FUD stuff, dude.

            YMMV
            aroc
          • How are Linux apps more portable?

            Portability means that it can be COMPILED to run on different platforms, not that it just runs on anything.
            Man, if you'd quit freaking out over all the freedom of creating and customizing your own OS, you might be able to afford a little taste of the good life.
            Freedom is not a bad thing.

            Sorry, just messing with your whole concept of 1000s of distros thing.
            It's so scaaaaary!
            It probably sounded scary when you had to go out and get a job, too, but living with your parents just isn't cool.
            Dude! You still livin' with your parents?

            BTW, wonder if you wrote this on an MS machine, cause the spell checker didn't kick in at your SOL sentence fragment.
            Or, it could be you got hacked. It is MS, after all.
            I almost got hacked on my Linux machine, once.
            Actually had to shut down and restart my browser after a clickjacking attempt.
            Firefox just looked at that bug and said, "where does he think he's going?"
            When I had the same thing happen to my work laptop, it had to be re-imaged.
            Talk about you or your SOL.
            danindenver
          • Nope

            You can not just port your application to Windows even if you use Qt and GTK+. Those are just toolkits, not software platforms. If you write apps whats depends only from those, then it is possible. But most do need system libraries and system programs what are POSIX compatible. Meaning that it isn't so easy to port after all.

            Even that Unix programs, libraries and applications do not need to know so much about operating system (like Linux, FreeBSD, HURD, MINIX etc) they are more tied to system libraries (like glibc) and programs (like bash) and so on.
            Fri13
          • re: "just about every open-source application is ported to Windows"

            Sorry not even close... and, the Linux ports work better than the windows ports and, Running under windows... well, you're running under windows. 'Nough said.

            These days I run mostly Linux native apps on Linux (of course) and run very few windows apps through wine and just a couple under a windows VM. I actually don't need to know much about the Linux inner workings to do either of those things and the result is that I seldom have to worry about or fix my OS environment.

            I fix people's computer's for a living... I don't want to have to fix my own I just want to use it. With Linux I can do that. There are several clients who don't know anything other than how to click an icon to run an application who get by just fine with no more PC knowledge than that on Windows and Linux. But my clients that I've switched to Linux don't need me to come fix their PC several times a year anymore. :(
            techadmin.cc@...
          • Back to reality

            "The Microsoft "jail" gives me a lot more flexibility than either Apple or any of the Linux DISTROs do - unless I know A LOT about the inner workings of Linux."

            Enough said.
            kitekrazy