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Re: Miniature GNU/Linux Laptops to Capture 20% Market Share?

On Nov 21, 1:38 pm, Linonut <lino...@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> * Sarah Connor fired off this tart reply:
> >> ,----[ Quote ]
> >> | "I think the chance of surpassing 20% in 2010 is very high because there
> >> will
> >> | be further [Asus Eee] products in the future," said Jonney Shih, chief
> >> | executive of Asustek, in an interview with DigiTimes web-site.
> >> `----
> >>http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/display/20071120163919_Asustek_Aim...
> > Linux figures and projections are always very optimistic when looking
> > forward. However, when that date finally arrives and you look at what has
> > actually been accomplished reality almost always falls far short of
> > projections and estimates.

The biggest problem in counting Linux systems is that Linux has been
packaged so creatively.  In 1999, Corel Linux was being included with
the motherboards most commonly used by OEMs.  Red Hat had just gone
public and was still very interested in going after the desktop.
Mandrake had become a BBS stock, and SUSE was just beginning to
emerge.  Caldera was also on the verge of going public and was
capturing huge markets such as franchises like McDonalds, Pizza Hut,
Burger King, Taco Bell, and many others.

But one can never underestimate Microsoft's countermeasures.  In 2001,
Microsoft "force fed" XP upgrades to all of their corporate customers
who were subscribing to the support plans.  Microsoft also tried to
sabotage Linux using a number of tactics including new clauses in OEM
contracts as well as new clauses in the end-user license agreement.
Even before the DOJ Settlement had been accepted, Microsoft had
already "Locked in" the OEMs and end users through their outstanding
legal department.  Users who wanted to use Linux desktops to access XP
machines sitting under the desk still had to buy XP.  Users who wanted
to use Linux to call Microsoft libraries using WINE still had to buy
XP.  Users who wanted machines that could run XP as a virtual client
still had to buy XP.  About the only people who didn't need XP
licenses were the people who wanted to convert the entire corporation
to Linux.  Additional countermeasures such as cliff-tiered pricing
based on minimum commitments, control of modifications, and control of
advertising and promotional efforts of the OEMs.  In addition,
Microsoft maintains control of all benchmarks including market
surveys.  As long as Microsoft likes the numbers, the survey can be

But Linux is pretty creative as well.  In 2001, Linux began using Live-
CDs.  Not only did this make it possible to test-drive Linux without
having to repartition the entire hard drive, but it also made it
possible to evaluate a computer in a retail store and find out whether
it was Linux compatible or not.  Most corporations began testing all
new potential PC candidates for Linux compatibility.  Today, about 80%
of the computers sold are "Linux Ready", and almost 90% of those sold
to corporations are "Linux Ready".

The OEMs have been covertly promoting Linux as well.  Dell has been
announcing the "availability" of specific models with Linux since the
late 1990s.  While very few of these PCs are actually sold with Linux,
it does tell Linux users which machines to purchase.  HP introduced
the first 64 bit desktops when Microsoft didn't have ANY 64 bit
solutions.  These machines could be converted to SUSE Linux in less
than 30 minutes.  Today, almost 95% of all PCs are sold with 64 bit
capable chips, even though they are usually sold with 32 bit versions
of Windows XP or Vista.

Microsoft has introduced additional countermeasures with the release
of Vista.  These include restrictions that forbid the use of Vista
Home editions in any form of Virtualized client environment, even
though the technology is available to do it (VMWare Converter).  In
addition, Microsoft added new "kernel mode lock-out" designed to
prevent the use of desktop virtualization to run Linux clients.
Finally, Microsoft has added the capability to remotely and completely
disable Vista if they detect what they believe to be a license
violation.  The result has been a rush to purchase machines that still
run XP and an outright rejection of Vista.  Microsoft has
"accomodated" the market by allowing OEMs to purchase Vista Business
edition and then "downgrade" those licenses to Windows XP.  According
to several OEMs, "most" (>50%?) of the machines they sell are being
shipped with the XP "downgrade".  Microsoft's use of the Vista Upgrade/
XP Downgrade has allowed Microsoft to inflate make misleading claims
about the success of Vista.

The bigger element of "Linux on the desktop" is the huge influx of OSS
software on modern PCs.  Open Office has been deployed to almost 500
million PCs, FireFox has now been downloaded over 750 million times.
Other tools such as cygwin have made it possible to download and
install Linux capabilities that can be run from standard Windows
machines.  I don't know how many cygwin deployments there are, perhaps
Red Hat could provide those numbers?

Many of the most popular features of Linux as a "desktop server" have
also been repackaged as external "appliances".  Linux powers most WiFi
hubs, Routers and DSL/Routers, DVRs, Storage Area Networks, and
Network Accessed storage.

Linux has already become one of the most popular platforms for Cash
Registers, Kiosks, and is now even being used in ATMs.

I'm not sure, but I think Linux also powers some USB drive controllers
as well (can anybody confirm?).

Most PCs manufactured in the last 3 years can also boot from USB
storage, which means that Linux can be booted without repartitioning
the hard drive.  VMWare Player has made it possible to run Linux and
Windows on the same PC at the same time.  Most people start by using a
Linux client, but many are now making Linux the primary operating
system and using VMWare Converter to create a VMWare client for
Windows XP.  Vista Business can also be converted into a VMWare
client, but the Vista memory and storage requirements are prohibitive.

Not that IBM completely divested itself of most of it's PC lines, but
the one line it still sells, the Intellistation, can be purchased with
Linux or Windows, and requires no obstacle course navigation to
order.  Much of the popularity of OS/X is driven by the interest in
Linux.  Apple was able to take a standard BSD Unix system, add a very
artistic and functional interface, and get them onto retail shelves.
Today, Apple can't keep up with the demand.  Apple stores are often
packed with people waiting their turn to test-drive OS/X and often
they have to put themselves on a waiting list to get the hardware.
Apple probably knows how many of these visitors end up ordering their
machines via the Web as well.

In 1999, HP announced that all HP printers and scanners would be Linux
compatible.  It actually triggered a boost in HP Printer and Scanner
sales.  Even today, HP is almost always a safe bet for Linux users.
Nearly all of the "HP" lines (as opposed to Compaq lines) are now
"Linux Ready", which means that a standard Linux distrubition such as
SUSE Linux will install in about 30 minutes and completely configure

The problem with user installed Linux systems is that it's nearly
impossible to track the deployments.  How many machines are out
there?  How many are used what percentage of the time even the
distributors don't know.  Even the numbers they do know are being held
close to the chest.  So long as the courts are still attempting to
break Microsoft's stranglehold on the OEM distribution channel, they
aren't talking.  It's possible that if Judge Kollar-Kotelly decides
not to extend the consent decree, that the Linux distributors will be
more willing to publish their numbers, including number of uniquely
identified YUM subscribers, and similar automatic update subscribers,
which might be the best indicator.

Many vendors such as SUSE are now shipping "freebie" versions of Linux
in magazines, books, and free downloads over high-speed internet.  The
user can install this version and upgrade to a "supported" version for
as little as $50, which include a huge collection of applications,
many of which are good enough to compete favorably with popular
Windows applications.

Linux desktops may be packaged differently as well.  We have already
seen the ASUS Eee 4G which features a 7 inch screen, a 4 gig "solid
state drive", and a simplified interface to the most popular graphical
applications.  Other low cost "Linux Laptops" such as the XO have also
been targeted to pre-teens and children, with the ability to upgrade.

At the other end of the spectrum, Linux has created a demand for high-
end systems.  It seems that experienced adult Linux users like OpenGL
graphics cards, WSXGA or WUXGA displays, SATA drives, 64 bit
processors, and virtualization.  If HP and ACER decided to put Linux
PCs on their retail shelf-space, it could cause Microsoft to finally
concede to a "hybrid" in which Linux is the primary operating system
and Windows is the secondary VM Client.  Microsoft is more aware of
the popularity of Linux than anyone, which is why they have Linux and
Open Source Software as their "Number One Threat" in their SEC
filings.  It's also why Microsoft paid Novell, Red Hat, and several
other Linux distributors huge sums of money to accept a Microsoft
compatible virtualization technology rather than cancel funding and
leave the market to competitors like VMWare, which has made it so
simple for end-users to create virtualized hybrids.

Microsoft may even have a "Microsoft compatibility library" waiting in
the wings if the OEMs should decide to start aggressively retailing
and marketing "Linux Only" desktop and/or laptops.  Remember, Linux
offers WINE, and even though it allows users to run many windows
applications, Microsoft libraries expand this capability to nearly all
Windows applications.

> Sounds more like the arrival of Vista, to me.
> > "1999 - Year of linux on the desktop"
> Indeed, it is doing quite well now in 2007.

And well you should be.  At minimum, the amount of effort required for
end-users to convert most PCs from Windows XP to Linux has dropped
from several hours to less than 45 minutes.  Adding a few more minutes
will give you a hybrid that can run BOTH Linux and Windows.

Microsoft would like investors and OEMs to believe that 99% of the
machines sold by OEMs are sold with Windows and continue to run
Windows for their entire useful life.  Even Microsoft seems to realize
that this is not the reality, and is very concerned that Linux
"Hybrid" systems are growing huge.

> I am highly encouraged.
> FUD, OEM deals, copyright litigation, the threat of patent litigation,
> vendor intimidation, astroturfing, political rhetoric, intense lobbying,
> standards-body gallery packing, data-format and protocol lock-in,
> subverted standards...

What is most remarkable is that NONE of these tactics have stopped the
exponential growth of Linux and Open Source Software on the desktop
platform.  There are times when the growth rate has slowed, but
overall, the technology introduced by Linux has become unstoppable.
Microsoft knows this, and has done everything in it's power to try to
stop the growth, yet even Microsoft has had to look for new avenues
for revenue and profit as Linux and Open Source Software has created
more and more challenges to Microsoft's profits.

> All just water off the back of GNU/Linux and other OSS.

Microsoft's tactics have slowed the growth, but they have not been
able to stop Linux, or kill the demand for Open Source Software.
Today Microsoft faces the threats of FireFox, Open Office, Eclipse,
and Java, all of which have resulted in more new applications being
developed using "multiplatform" tools that allow an application vendor
to offer the same application on both Linux and Windows as well as OS/
X and Solaris.

> Here's to the Open Desktop!

And this really is the key.  Even when the PC is still running
Windows, more and more OSS code has found it's way onto hundreds of
millions of desktops and laptops.

On thing that might help is if Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds
insisted that the Linux logo (Tux) and GNU Bison be displayed on any
promotional materials related to OSS software that uses GNU or Linux

> --
> Tux rox!

OSS Rules.

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