Shopping in Romania

I found a link to a retail establishment in Romania. The score:

  • PCs with that other OS: 136
  • PCs with GNU/Linux: 42
  • PCs with FreeDOS: 140
  • PCs with MacOS: 6

You can argue that with such a high proportion of FreeDOS that many intend to buy those machines to install a copy of that other OS illegally but schools and businesses often install by copying legally and we know only a very small proportion of humanity has the inclination to install an OS so I am betting the distribution of the FreeDOS machines is something like the split between that other OS and GNU/Linux, about 3:1. According to, linux:windows was 2:3 in 2004 and 1:9 in 2011. I guess it pays to advertise.

It looks like GNU/Linux is doing well in Romania. Of the top 10 best-selling PCs, the top 4 are FreeDOS, and 9 are FreeDOS. The 13th best seller has GNU/Linux. It is also interesting to see that Dell, HP, Acer are all selling PCs with GNU/Linux and that most of the PCs with that other OS cost a lot more. The top-selling GNU/Linux notebook is 15.6 inches and costs 1500 with GNU/Linux and 1950 with that other OS. Competition on price/performance is alive and well in some places.

see eMag

It’s a bricks-and-mortar chain of stores with multiple locations all over Romania.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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12 Responses to Shopping in Romania

  1. Phenom says:

    Actually, Ohio, I gave her an instrument for her to do her job as a professional designer, who works in the advertising industry. With Linux, she would have never been able to do anything – lack of CMYK support, 32 and 48 bit color depth, etc…

  2. oiaohm says:

    Phenom because if you just installed windows you most likely have given her a time bomb. And got the hardware maker out of having to replace defective hardware.

  3. oiaohm says:

    Phenom there is something here.

    “Btw, the last time I had to do it for a close friend of mine was quite ironic. Her laptop simply refuses to boot its Suse. It had booted successfully at the store, then a second time in the evening at home, but the third time it simply failed with a GRUB error. I guess my anti-linux aura did its evil trick.”

    Did you run a memtest86 and a harddrive check on that.

    I would 95 percent bet the thing was hardware defective.

    I have never had a Suse do that once it runs it runs.

    So your complete hate of Linux is most likely based on hardware that if windows was installed on it the thing would have failed as well.

    Grub errors are very common to be ram or harddrive issues.

  4. Phenom says:

    Of course it enriches MS. It does so in the long run – people get used to that software, and the next iteration will surely include a Windows OEM license. Because, people get richer, and buy better stuff.

    Also, it teaches people Windows, it will teach them Office, Photoshop, 3D Max, whatever… Later, when people grow up, and become solvent, they will purchase these products + Windows to run them on.

  5. Well, at least it does not enrich M$ and a few of those GNU/Linux systems will stick.

  6. Phenom says:

    Pogson, you are not being careful. People buy laptops with FreeDos or some Linux, and then turn up immediately to their closest computer geek aqcuaintance to put some pirated Windows on that.

    Btw, the last time I had to do it for a close friend of mine was quite ironic. Her laptop simply refuses to boot its Suse. It had booted successfully at the store, then a second time in the evening at home, but the third time it simply failed with a GRUB error. I guess my anti-linux aura did its evil trick.

    Romania is no different than any ex-solviet satelites. OEMs there sometimes produce specially-tailored region-oriented models, which have no OS, because software vendors like Google, Mozilla and MS do not pay them to install by default the usual crap like Google Toolbar, Firefox, and whatever trials. Then they can save 5-10% of the price from the OS. But people still don’t care. These laptops end up with one or another Windows. 99% of them, statistics have it.

  7. WOW! A whole country full of computer geeks! Who would have thought that?

  8. That makes Romania special. What is the difference between Romania and other countries?

  9. I bought a “Linux” laptop from eMag exactly 5 years ago. The OS turned out to be a minimal install of some Chinese distro… and there was no disk, package manager or anything I could have used to make it useful. Turned to Fedora, which I’m still using today. Except for the Broadcom wi-fi adapter, for which there still aren’t open source drivers.

    Similarly, the original Eee PC 701 turned out to come with a crippled version of Xandros that barely had any software beyond what came preinstalled, and was soon left without updates. But at least its hardware (Intel video, Atheros wi-fi) is genuinely Linux-friendly, and I’m a happy SliTaz user today.

    But yeah… the important thing is that you can *easily* buy a computer in Romania that doesn’t come with Windows. What you do with it afterwards is your problem.

  10. Phenom says:

    Pog, the same statistics can be seen in Bulgaria, too. 99% of these non-other-OS laptops end up with a pirate version of Windows and Office on the very same day of purchase.

  11. A lot of uses of PCs do not require anything outside of many GNU/Linux distros and the same advantages that are obvious in servers also obtain on the desktop. I don’t feel I lack anything with Debian GNU/Linux and I have a much more complex setup than just a home PC.

  12. bilbophile says:

    On a general note I would say that while piracy has been largely eliminated from the business and public sector of Romania – at least at the basic level of MS Windows and MS Office – a significant number of privately owned home PCs still use unlicensed versions of MS Windows and Office. In some cases, even owners of valid OEM licences, after the first reinstall will use cracked Windows and MS Office because they can be kept safely on a DVD or a memory stick and are often a lot easier to install.

    I personally shop from PC Garage mainly because they have a more user-friendly website. Some time ago, probably when you looked at the PC for sale in Brazil I did a similar search on and arrived at similar results. Most of the most sold notebooks/netbooks (“Top sales in decreasing order” view) came without a Windows licence.

    However, when I clicked on individual offers, in a lot of cases the site claimed some of those who had bought that item previously had also bought an OEM Windows licence.

    At the end of 2007, when I was in a hurry, I bought from them a laptop with Linux. And this is what I got: a laptop and a relabelled outdated Knoppix DVD which lacked the video and sound drivers required by that laptop. A short few months later Mandriva began to include them, but this is besides the point.

    So, if you wish to give a positive spin to your finding you could say that in Romania, MS cannot afford to use the hardware retailers to enforce their dominant position and have to rely on easy customer access to OEM licences, (mainly in the past) to legalisation campaigns for the public sector and heavily discounted licences for the educational and a few other public organisations.

    While this very likely ensures that Widows is THE desktop operating system, there is some exposure to Linux, ant-piracy measures against organizations mean that Linux is financially attractive for many server roles and other FOSS even for non-server roles (Firefox, Thunderbird, vlc, 7zip and quite a few other more specialised applications). I have repeatedly seen the use of Open/LibreOffice on Windows to repair corrupt MS Word documents.

    In fact, except for the larger corporate customers, the situation and the response of MS in Romania are not unlike what they were when the netbooks emerged. Except that 15 years after the first major IP legislation upgrade and almost 5 years after Romania’s accession into the EU, MS still has to use white, grey and black discounts to keep the competition out of the market.

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