Linux 'teething problems' affect netbook returns

Linux 'teething problems' affect netbook returns

Summary: The return rate on Linux-powered netbooks may be higher than that for Windows netbooks, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing for Linux, according to Linux vendor Canonical.

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TOPICS: Open Source, Linux
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The return rate on Linux-powered netbooks may be higher than that for Windows netbooks, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing for Linux, according to Linux vendor Canonical.

Credit: Dell

Canonical, which sponsors the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, was responding to figures released last week by MSI, the maker of the Wind netbook.

In an interview with Laptop Magazine, MSI said its studies showed its Suse Linux-based ultraportables were returned at a rate four times higher than Windows-based Wind machines.

That bears out Canonical's experience with netbooks based on Ubuntu, said Canonical marketing manager Gerry Carr. "We're seeing similar types of return rates for our machines," Carr told ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet.co.uk.

However, such figures shouldn't distract from the fact that Linux was, in general, proving a great success on netbooks, Carr said.

"Return rates are higher, but they're not high," he said. "Return rates are low. That they're higher than with Windows XP, a technology that has been around for 20 years, is understandable."

Canonical first demonstrated a netbook version of Ubuntu in June, and is now working with several equipment manufacturers, including Toshiba, whose Ubuntu-powered, 8.9-inch NB100 is set to reach the UK this month. Carr emphasised that even if some users have been disappointed, the fact remains that low-cost ultraportables such as Asus's Eee PC have managed for the first time to bring Linux to a wide user base. "Some teething problems are to be expected with a new technology," he said.

In September, Amazon.com said Linux-based netbooks were among the top-selling laptops. During the month of August, 12 of the best-selling netbooks were based on Linux, six supported Windows XP and two supported Vista, Amazon told ZDNet.com.au's sister site, ZDNet.com. Linux buyers seemed to be motivated by lower prices compared with Windows-based netbooks, Amazon said.

Some users seem to buy Linux-based netbooks without fully realising what they're buying, Carr said. "Some people are misbuying, and then they send it back because it's not Windows," he said. "What would be more worrying would be if they simply didn't like it for itself; if they used it and it didn't work. But that doesn't seem to be the case."

In MSI's particular case, the Wind's Suse Linux implementation has been criticised for serious shortcomings, such as problems connecting to wireless networks, Carr noted.

Topics: Open Source, Linux

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4 comments
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  • Ubuntu still BEST for Netbooks & Education

    Just look at the figures quoted in the article of Linux success against Vista. Forget XP as those users are happy now, but will be told to 'pack up and leave' pretty soon.

    Linux is still far better for a netbook as it is fully auto-updating, including all of the apps you've selected for it, none of which cost anything.

    Linux is also best for kiosks, schools etc, as you can easily use a truly 'locked-down' GUEST log-in where people can browse the net etc but do no damage, even if visiting malware sites.

    I can only speak re Ubuntu variety, but if you visit www.ubuntu.com you see the progress, and if you are technically inclined you can visit Ubuntu QA community at http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/ where people have identified having auto-detect of ALL new hardware, not just at install time, but constantly as a desirable new function. Similarly, the wireless support is improving all the time.

    The 'bugs' in Ubuntu are far less serious than most Windoze setups, in that they cannot affect the system, and you can't get viruses or worms etc (ie no loss of data). However, the thing with Ubuntu is that it is constantly improving, and with no 'best-by' date (support 'sunset' clause).

    The commercial OS model (M$ etc) is to INTENTIONALLY allow an OS to get stale, so they can 'sell' you the new one, so in fact they have a perverse incentive to NOT provide significant updates to what you bought. Linux is the opposite, where people want you to stay on it forever, so improvements are gradual (but cumulatively significant), and you'll never be kicked off onto some 'upgrade' that requires complete re-learning (like Vista).

    I'd suggest Ubuntu is an easier transformation from WinXP than is the 'upgrade' from WinXP to Vista.... You'll invest a little time learning slightly changed interfaces, but then you won't ever get booted off. And you're data will not be locked up in other party's proprietary formats, but will be in ISO standard formats, using hard drives formats that are open-licenced and will be 'viewable' long after the hardware life expectancy.
    anonymous
  • linux on netbooks

    i bought an asus with linux. Had major problems as it wouldn't boot up 100% of the time. Tried to create a back up flashdrive (as per the instructions) problem was it totally fried my laptop and i lost everything. But totally the biggest drawback when it was running is that i have 5 printers and couldn't get a single printer driver to work (particularly epson and canon) - switched to toshiba and xp - haven't looked back.
    anonymous
  • Re: linux on netbooks

    I am sorry to hear, you must have been unlucky. I print to all PS/PCL/GDI printers without a problem on linux. Don't give up though linux eventually catches you. Its like a virus the only one you will get using it.
    anonymous
  • Ubuntu remix

    I purchased an Asus 701SDsecond hand,I believe it was sold due to not having windows XP. When I turned it on, it began auto updating. This slowed the system down intolerably, so I shut it down. This of course rendered the operating system unbootable, so I attempted a recovery using the supplied DVD and another computer. What a headache! Tried everything. I then downloaded the Ubuntu remix img file and the USB utility. After I set the netbook to boot from the USB key, I installed the new operating system. All devices were fund and installed and everything just worked brilliantly! I don't know why more netbooks don't ship with this great operating system, would never consider Windows anything again! I have since installed more packages, Skype was a breeze, installed codecs and Firefox addons without a hitch, much smoother and simpler than Microsoft compatible products. If it wasn't for games, I wouldn't have Windows on any of my other computers, but I'm not the only person in the house so I'm forced to keep it for now.
    I absolutely love browsing with my netbook now and haven't used the desktop for weeks. Well done Ubuntu!
    anonymous