Why I Don’t Use Linux On My Netbooks

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.

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

14 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use Linux On My Netbooks

  1. Go up a level, to the *real* point of contention – the philosophy behind the Linux vs. Windows debate…

    Do you want to think for yourself ( Linux ) or be told what to do ( Windows ).

    I always equate this to that famous scene in the Matrix when Neo awakens from his cocoon to realize he is a human battery, a slave of the machines being feed a false reality.

    That’s the moment one chooses Linux over Windows, but not being a human battery is hard work, it’s easier to just think the Matrix is real. Like this:

    “…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.”

  2. Go up a level, to the *real* point of contention – the philosophy behind the Linux vs. Windows debate…

    Do you want to think for yourself ( Linux ) or be told what to do ( Windows ).

    I always equate this to that famous scene in the Matrix when Neo awakens from his cocoon to realize he is a human battery, a slave of the machines being feed a false reality.

    That’s the moment one chooses Linux over Windows, but not being a human battery is hard work, it’s easier to just think the Matrix is real. Like this:

    “…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.”

  3. @Todd, that’s just fanboy imagination. I’ll leave it at that. What Linux lacks is some good quality commercial applications. An average linux user spends more time figuring out a way, to get something done on linux that he already knows how to do on Windows, than doing real work. Simply because the application that’s good at doing that specific is simply not available on Linux.

    Having said that I also think this is going to change very soon atleast at the mobile phone level with the arrival of the N900. Its one hot device that everybody’s looking forward to, I’m sure the developers would be racing to develop stuff for it, the minute its out. This would also end up helping Linux on the desktop as once an app is written for linux, it will get ported to the other flavours of linux sooner or later.

  4. @Todd, that’s just fanboy imagination. I’ll leave it at that. What Linux lacks is some good quality commercial applications. An average linux user spends more time figuring out a way, to get something done on linux that he already knows how to do on Windows, than doing real work. Simply because the application that’s good at doing that specific is simply not available on Linux.

    Having said that I also think this is going to change very soon atleast at the mobile phone level with the arrival of the N900. Its one hot device that everybody’s looking forward to, I’m sure the developers would be racing to develop stuff for it, the minute its out. This would also end up helping Linux on the desktop as once an app is written for linux, it will get ported to the other flavours of linux sooner or later.

  5. So let me get this straight. Even though Ubuntu NBR is better than Windows, you will stick with Windows because there might be an even better distro out there than NBR. Hmm, makes perfect sense.

    Here’s a novel idea. Just stick with NBR and don’t worry about any of the other distros.

  6. So let me get this straight. Even though Ubuntu NBR is better than Windows, you will stick with Windows because there might be an even better distro out there than NBR. Hmm, makes perfect sense.

    Here’s a novel idea. Just stick with NBR and don’t worry about any of the other distros.

  7. I think you’re missing out on possibly the best part of being a Linux user… Distro surfing!

    You can easily load a live CD onto a USB stick and try out any number of distros before you find one you like. Here’s my current choice:

    http://post.ly/5JrP

  8. I think you’re missing out on possibly the best part of being a Linux user… Distro surfing!

    You can easily load a live CD onto a USB stick and try out any number of distros before you find one you like. Here’s my current choice:

    http://post.ly/5JrP

  9. I’ve tried quite a number of Linux variants on my Acer Aspire One, I’ve also hacked a version of OS X unto the thing, then I tried Windows 7.

    Everyone that knows me must realise by now that I find 85% of Microsoft’s output to be pretty awful, but Windows 7 isn’t, in fact it’s the best netbook OS I’ve found thus far.

  10. I’ve tried quite a number of Linux variants on my Acer Aspire One, I’ve also hacked a version of OS X unto the thing, then I tried Windows 7.

    Everyone that knows me must realise by now that I find 85% of Microsoft’s output to be pretty awful, but Windows 7 isn’t, in fact it’s the best netbook OS I’ve found thus far.

  11. I’ve tried quite a number of Linux variants on my Acer Aspire One, I’ve also hacked a version of OS X unto the thing, then I tried Windows 7.

    Everyone that knows me must realise by now that I find 85% of Microsoft’s output to be pretty awful, but Windows 7 isn’t, in fact it’s the best netbook OS I’ve found thus far.

  12. Todd – I like to think for myself, but I also want my computer to get the hell out of my way and let me accomplish things. If I’m constantly tinkering with it and jacking around, then it is *not* technology enriching and enabling my real life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

    Getabetterpic – I am actually currently dual-booting Win7 and UNR at the moment on my 1000HE. There’s very little that I can’t do in UNR that I can in Win7 (I’m *really* missing Windows Live Writer at the moment), so it’s not a capabilities issue.

  13. Todd – I like to think for myself, but I also want my computer to get the hell out of my way and let me accomplish things. If I’m constantly tinkering with it and jacking around, then it is *not* technology enriching and enabling my real life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

    Getabetterpic – I am actually currently dual-booting Win7 and UNR at the moment on my 1000HE. There’s very little that I can’t do in UNR that I can in Win7 (I’m *really* missing Windows Live Writer at the moment), so it’s not a capabilities issue.

  14. Todd – I like to think for myself, but I also want my computer to get the hell out of my way and let me accomplish things. If I’m constantly tinkering with it and jacking around, then it is *not* technology enriching and enabling my real life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

    Getabetterpic – I am actually currently dual-booting Win7 and UNR at the moment on my 1000HE. There’s very little that I can’t do in UNR that I can in Win7 (I’m *really* missing Windows Live Writer at the moment), so it’s not a capabilities issue.

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