Where the Linux laptops live

Almost one-third of the 25 top-selling laptops at Amazon.com are sold with Linux.

ASUS EEEpc 900 from Amazon.com

Almost one-third of the 25 top-selling laptops at Amazon.com are sold with Linux. (Shown is their top-selling Linux laptop, an Asus EEEpc 900 unit.)

When I last reported on my search for such a laptop, we learned that this is not something you just go into a store and ask for, unless you like blank stares from clerks.

But a correspondent linked me to an Amazon page showing a number of Linux-based laptop configurations, mostly from MSI and Asus. So I asked their nice PR lady about it.

Her response was to send me a list, compiled based on sales data, of the 25 most popular laptop configurations currently on sale at the site. Eight of them ship with Linux.

Most are versions of the Asus EEEpc, a "netbook" which has suddenly gained enormous traction in the market. But at least one is an Acer unit, weighing just three pounds. Sweet.  

Both companies offer Windows XP or Vista on their gear as well, and there were plenty of these on the list.

It may well be the growth of the netbook category that has sunk shares in Dell, which is only now in the process of rolling one out.

None of the models on the Top 25 list sent by Amazon was a Dell, although three come from HP, and four of the top 12 are Macs. Amazon does stock some Dell Latitude notebooks.

My own theory is that, thanks to the ubiquity of broadband Internet, configurations have stabilized, giving mass-production Asian houses an enormous advantage over the mass-customization Dell has long practiced.

What do you think? Or could it be that Linux makes this category highly viable? Or that everyone's now pirating Windows?