One thing that I’m asked about all the time is why I run Windows on my netbooks. Given how much I work in the browser (and Firefox is available for all platforms) it would seem that Linux would be a no-brainer on a netbook. Unfortunately, it’s not, and here’s why: there are too many options.
While choice is obviously a good thing, specifically for the consumer, there is factual data that proves that too much choice leads to indecision. When looking at Linux for my netbook (an Asus 1000HE), I first went to the ultimate EeePC forum, to see what they had to say. Unfortunately, in their ‘Linux’ section, there are 10 different subforums, each for a different netbook Linux variant. I also know of another one, Jolicloud, that’s not even listed in these subforums. That makes 11 different ‘flavors’ of Linux that I could possibly use on my netbook. Contrast that with 3 ‘flavors’ of Windows (XP, Vista, and 7), and you can see why I’m running Windows.
It’s not that desktop Linux is no good. On the contrary, the dabbling that I have done with it proves that desktop Linux has come a long way in terms of the user interface, support, and applications. It’s really brilliant, and I can instantly see the benefits that it has over Windows. The problem is, I don’t know which one to choose.
Given the headache involved with installing a new operating system to a computer, even a netbook, it’s easy to see why more consumers – even folks like myself with a bit of extra knowledge, simply default to Windows. It’s not because Windows is better, nor is it because Windows is cheaper or easier. It is simply because the Windows options are easier to navigate. As mentioned previously, there are only 3 Windows options, as opposed to 10+ Linux options.
So, how to solve this? It would be nice to have a single table that compared each ‘flavor’ of Linux against the others. However, that’s not really a good solution, either, since often these various flavors are simply different user interfaces, with the same guts underneath. Yesterday I installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my Asus 1000HE, and ‘out of the box’, it actually works a bit better than Windows 7 did, in terms of hardware support and the like. While that works fine, I can’t help but wonder what the other various distros offer that UNR doesn’t.