No retail channel for laptop Linux

Summary:One Geek Squad member suggested he go online, and said Dell is selling kit. An H-P representative he happened upon admitted they got nothing.

Tommy Bass at Mt. Hood
As promised, I sent a reporter into local stores this weekend, looking for laptop Linux.

To protect my identity, I disguised myself as a 63-year old Vietnam veteran named T. Bass. (OK, I bought him lunch and he called me when he finished.)

Tommy visited chain stores in Atlanta and Columbus, as well as a small Atlanta retailer, and drew all the blank looks I expected.

One Geek Squad member suggested he go online, and said Dell is selling kit. An H-P representative he happened upon admitted they got nothing.

This is why Linux remains, in the desktop and laptop space, a hobbyist market. It only exists through the online channels hobbyists use.

This is true even though Linux is lighter in its use of system resources than Windows, and many popular applications come in Linux versions.

Of course, when Wal-Mart offered bargain Linux boxes last year they flew off the shelves. It's not a question of demand.

It's a question of supply. Retailers insist on higher-priced goods for the sake of their margins. Microsoft's policies push manufacturers into putting Windows on everything they push down the channel.

Yet I've seen how Value-Added Resellers can up-sell hardware and capture niches for Linux, in areas like retailing and education.

For most consumers, however, there's still a big gap between them and a Linux laptop. Stores.

Topics: Operating Systems, Laptops, Linux, Open Source, Software

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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