Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Monthly Archives / October 2008

  • Oct 29 / 2008
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75-80% – UPDATED!!!

That is M$’s market share lately according to their recent 10-Q.

“Client revenue increased reflecting growth in licensing of Windows Vista. Revenue from commercial and retail licensing of Windows operating systems increased $125 million or 22%. OEM revenue decreased $46 million or 1% while OEM license units increased 8%. The decline in OEM revenue reflected the four percentage point decrease in the OEM premium mix to 71% as well as changes in the geographic and product mixes. Based on our estimates, total worldwide PC shipments from all sources grew 10% to 12%, driven by demand in both emerging and mature markets.”

Notice that their OEM units only increased 8% while they estimate PCs produced increased 10-12%. What a huge shift in one year. Thank the netbook. Thank FLOSS. Thank GNU/Linux. There is competition in the market for desktops.

The netbook continues to be hot. GNU/Linux continues to be hot in emerging markets. This is not a blip or one-time event. It is the process towards freedom. Freedom to use our PCs as we wish. Freedom to buy hardware unencumbered by the M$ tax. Freedom from DRM, bloat, and bugs.

On hardware, AMD is struggling. They are re-organizing by shedding fabs. I hope this permits them to move more rapidly to 45 nm which will make them competitive with Intel at the high end. They really need a good low-power chip at 45 nm to compete with Atom. Can you imagine the price of netbooks with two comparable chips in the market? The Chinese have a RISC chip that they can produce too. It is all good.

I do not know whether 2007, 2008 or 2009 will be known as the year of the GNU/Linux desktop, but I bet it will be one of them. 2007 marked breakthrough in retail and the netbook. 2008 was the explosion of the netbook, serious adoption in emerging markets, particularly BRIC, and 2009 will be a very good year still without Vista II/7/any other catchy name M$ can spew. Everyone seems to know they have a choice now.

UPDATE!!! On 2008-11-3, IDC reports this:

“Worldwide PC processor unit shipments grew 14.0% quarter over quarter (QoQ) and 15.8% year over year (YoY); market revenue grew 7.6% QoQ and 4.1% YoY to $8.3 billion. Intel’s new Atom processor for ultra low-cost mobile PCs (which Intel calls “Netbooks”) made a notable difference in the overall market performance; without Atom, unit shipments grew 8.3% QoQ and 8.7% YoY.”

This means M$’s estimate was a little low…. If shipments grew 14% and M$’s sales of client licences grew 8%, It means M$ is about to experience serious shrinkage of market share… It is about time. In a few years they will have 60% market share, more than they deserve.

  • Oct 13 / 2008
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Breakthrough at Dell?

The VarGuy reports:

“First, some details about the advertisement. Many many U.S. newspapers on Sunday, October 12, included a multi-page Dell flier. Among the many products advertised was the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, a low-cost sub-notebook designed for email and Web browsing.

You may recall that the Mini 9 is available with either Ubuntu Linux 8.04 or Microsoft Windows Vista. But this particular advertisement made no mention of the Windows option. Instead, Ubuntu was prominently mentioned and had the spotlight to itself.”

That is a first, Dell pushing GNU/Linux. It’s on a netbook, but it is GNU/Linux. I have been pushing Dell to do that for years but they did not. Who knows why? Perhaps they did not want to offend M$. Perhaps they are motivated to do anything to boost flagging sales. Perhaps they do not want to miss the wave of adoption. HP, now Dell, … Who’s next to start flogging GNU/Linux as a smart system for the desktop?

There’s more news. The website of Dell, which was waist-deep mud if you were in a hurry to find GNU/Linux, now has a link to the Mini-9 on their start page that comes straight to Ubuntu and almost-head-to-head price competition (the featured XP-versions include 4gB more SSD  but you can customize the Ubuntu GNU/Linux version). It’s the same for dell.com as dell.ca. Isn’t that cool? The reviews of the product on dell.com are mostly about XP and its problems. People feel the need to add gigabytes. The Ubuntu review that I found discusses the features, not the performance. There is no “Dell recommends that other OS”, no separate page in a back room off the alley. It’s right there where you can find it. They do not have bright yellow… So what? I can have something very small and highly portable without the tax. Freedom.

I am preparing to give a presentation at a conference in 2009. This would be a neat device to show off. I should be able to use it as an X-terminal as well. $349 is a little higher than some others but at least the tax is gone.

  • Oct 06 / 2008
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Finally, Some Competition in Price

I have been seriously annoyed at how difficult some OEMs make it to choose GNU/Linux. One prevalent characteristics of advertising is that one cannot find identical models with a choice of OS and a published price. Today, I found an exception: HP.

HP, in Canada, sell model KX868AT with that other OS/Home Basic for $599 and model KX869AT with SUSE GNU/Linux for $549. It is SUSE with some M$ investment/co-conspiracy but it is a choice for GNU/Linux. Gotta love it.

I searched for mini-note and did not like my choices but by clicking on the breadcrumb “Ultra-light Notebook PCs” came to a page with real choices. One was a Mini-note with choice of OS. Great! It is buried, but with a little digging we find it. They are charging $50 for the privilege of running the Mini-Note at half speed without saving power. Save your money and buy the Mini-Note with a better OS, GNU/Linux. This thing has a VIA C7 processor. I have seen AMD64 X2 5000 dragging with Vista. I wonder if the battery will last for the boot. Some OEMs will do anything to please M$ but at least they show what it costs to buy the worst M$ has to offer.

  • Oct 06 / 2008
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ASUS Ships a lot of eee PCs

According to Digitimes, ASUS shipped 700k eee PCs in September. Good for them. They are only one of a dozen suppliers of netbooks so that could be many millions of new GNU/Linux users each month. Good for GNU/Linux.

There still is a problem with that other OS hiding its price in different features for different OS but in the low end, it is hard to hide the price. Some are of the opinion that M$ is giving XP away or paying OEMs to install it, which would be dumping or other unfair trading practice. I hope some regulators are watching this market. Still GNU/Linux is growing. They can only slow us down, not stop us. It seems the growth of Vista in the webstats has slowed to retail sales… The truly locked-in will wait for Vista II. Others will migrate to GNU/Linux.

I have been in contact with Chinese suppliers of thin clients and mini-PCs. They are all ramping up production and can redouble production at the drop of a hat. GNU/Linux will grow rapidly in this segment.

  • Oct 04 / 2008
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Interview With MSI About Their Netbook

Laptop has a good interview with MSI about their netbook the Wind.

It seems as though brick-and-mortar retailers have been hesitant to stock netbooks or have even ignored them, at least until now. Why do you think that is?
Retailers have been hesitant to bring netbooks into stores because at that moment they were afraid that the netbook category would eat at their notebook sales. They were also only selling the only available product from ASUS, and sales were only okay, and they struggled with return rates, especially of Linux systems. But now it has become more of a trend and these retailers just have to be in this business.

You mention the return rates being high. Has that been the case with the Wind as well?
We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven’t really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don’t know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it’s not what they are used to. They don’t want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.

Four times higher return rate is a concern for retailers. Perhaps they need to put out more demos in the stores. They do not give the rate. If it is tiny, who cares if it is four times higher? MSI still calls it a hit and they do not disparage GNU/Linux in the process. They do say they are looking for a smoother interface for their machines. Cool.

MSI says they sell about 200000 units a month. If half of them are GNU/Linux, we should have a party to celebrate. MSI is one of more than a dozen sellers of netbooks. They are all maxed out by the supply chain. That is millions of GNU/Linux desktops added each month. Is M$ going to support XP forever or is that other OS going to fork? The low-end machines will never run Vista II or III or IV but there will always be a low-end for the next billion PC users at least. Web stats we have seen for September show GNU/Linux stalled but these little netbooks are selling, just not in the USA.

It appears that the netbook craze will push notebook sales of some hot players. This is good for GNU/Linux which thrives on the netbooks.
More here.

“netbooks are dominating the notebook category on Amazon.com. And he’s right about that: the current list of Amazon’s top-selling notebooks is topped by two versions each of the Acer Aspire and Asus Eee; of the top 10, four are from Asus, three from Acer, one from MSI and two from Apple (AAPL).”

According to Acer:

“Acer expects netbook sales to break 1 million worldwide this month and two million for the third quarter.”

A million a month. Two million a quarter? Perhaps that is the back-to-school stuff but it is fun. GNU/LInux usage is probably doubling every year because of this growth. We are likely at 10% already. Could 20% happen next year while M$ twiddles its thumbs?

  • Oct 04 / 2008
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Linux in Education

I Attended a Meeting the Other Day

It was about how to get the job done in education. Speaker after speaker got up and moaned about class sizes, work load, paper-work, resources, etc. I got up and spoke my mind. Witnesses told me later I did not wander too far off-topic ;-).

All over the world, people are struggling with the same issues, trying to do more with less. We have an archaic IT system that was obsolete the day it was installed. Students wait minutes to log in/boot up/find stuff/get to the lab. We spend a ton of money providing electrical power for our system. If we modernized IT and used thin clients we could save enough money to have far better performance and more seats. Students would not need to come to the lab to do routine, daily tasks, except computer courses. Putting PCs from one lab and more PCs in classrooms we could revolutionized the way we work. We could scan/photograph every artifact and keep them in an organized database so our work would be accumulated and the resources grow year by year. Students and teachers need never hunt again for a document that was full-text indexed. A cluster of PCs would serve as a teacher’s aid in every classroom.

The possibilities are endless. Most issues could be improved if we only spend 1% of our annual budget on IT every few years. The thin clients can last 10. The server 5. Mics, speakers, cameras and scanners last as long as you take care of them. Projectors work for 2 or 3 years and need a new bulb. There is plenty of money available if the folks who decide things just put their mind to it. Instead they are trying to spend more on oil to run the generators for IT than on IT itself. Penny wise and pound foolish. We could burn half as much oil and have ten times the IT. Students spend ten minutes every day going to and from the computer lab where they so outnumber the teacher and can hide that they do time-wasting things instead of processing useful information. In the classroom, a teacher can see every monitor at once and teach students to manage time. Now, we teach students to waste time. I estimate we spend less than 0.1% of our budget on IT, just consumables and things that break. Oil is paid by someone else which puts us off the mark in budgeting. We cannot even form an IT committee for fear that a demand for expenditure might arise.

  • Oct 01 / 2008
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Great Sites for GNU/Linux

If you are into GNU/Linux, you probably know these but, for the newbies…

  • LinuxQuestions.org has ” Threads: 668,590, Posts: 3,291,312, Members: 371,740″
  • DistroWatch.com has information about packages and releases for hundreds of distros.
  • www.Debian.org has loads of information about the best distro, Debian. :-)
  • www.Ubuntu.com has loads of information about a popular imitation of Debian.
  • LinuxLinks.com has 42149 links to sites about GNU/Linux.
  • Google.com can search the web for particular information with site:somesite search terms or phrases in “”
  • SourceForge.net has more than 100000 FLOSS projects hosted and you can search in categories in case something you need is not in Debian.

By the time you have read those sites, you will no longer be a newbie.