Linux on the Laptop

There’s an excellent article by Glyn Moody in Thursday’s Guardian. It’s about the ASUS Eee PC (which I want still, by the way), its likely effect on Microsoft, and lots of good points between.

The size of a paperback, weighing less than a kilogram, with built-in Wi-Fi and using Flash memory instead of a hard drive for storage, the Eee PC has been winning positive comments… it’s so small, the build quality is high, it boots up quickly, it just works… One thing that is almost never mentioned as a problem is the fact that the Eee PC is running not Windows, but a variant of GNU/Linux…

One of the signal achievements of the Asus Eee PC is that it has come up with a front end that hides the richness of the underlying GNU/Linux.

GNU/Linux has always been less successful on the desktop than on the server side. Now we see that it can work on the laptop, and not just for geeks. It requires less memory and storage than Windows, and much less than Vista. This is particularly important for the Eee PC, which uses flash memory.

More generally, solid state drives are a better fit for battery-powered devices than are disk drives, with their fragile and power-hungry moving parts. And solid state prices are falling quickly…

In fact, the article bears the rather lame title “Why falling Flash prices threaten Microsoft.” In my unbiased opinion, any of the following would have been a better title.

  • Hasta la Vista, Windows: Linux Eats Your Laptop Lunch
  • Linux Leaps to Laptop, Deferring Desktop Dominance
  • Linux on the Laptop

ASUS GPL Violations

Cliff Biffle has a post on the ASUS Eee PC that’s as impressive as his name, and more impressive than ASUS’ regard for free/open source software.

ASUS is bound by the GPL to make the sources for the software they’re distributing available… ASUS has posted a 1.8GB ZIP file on their website that they claim is the sources, but it’s not.

I’m inclined to apply Hanlon’s razor and so to view ASUS as a fool rather than as an evil penguin-molester. Hence, still stands my plea: Eee PC for me!

Eee PC for Me?

GigaOM guest Samuel Dean ponders the effect the ASUS Eee PCs will have on pricing for portable computers. At under $300, the low-end Eee PCs will be much cheaper than other Windows-based miniature computers.

Actually, the reference to “other Windows-based PCs” is misleading. The first Eees to ship in the USA will do so with Xandros, although Windows Eees (WindEees?) are also expected.

The appropriately-name gadget blog Crave reported on the Eee USA announcement a couple of weeks ago. The 2-pound, 7-inch, Linux-based laptop will be available in three configurations priced from $299 to $399.

The lowest-priced of the three, the 4G Surf, looks fine to me. With wireless, Firefox, and OpenOffice in less than a kilogram, I’d be good to go, maybe even better than I would with a Nokia Internet Tablet.