*/Linux PCs for Consumers

I am tired of people claiming that M$ won the war and GNU/Linux need not apply here or there in IT. It’s crap, unadulterated crap. GNU/Linux is more popular than ever and finding its way to lots of retail spaces where ordinary (non-geek) consumers are buying them. That other OS, on the other hand is declining in popularity steadily and M$’s client division had a 6% per annum drop in revenue. That’s not winning a war but resting on laurels. Ordinary folks who are never going to install an OS but want some IT that works on their desks are buying GNU/Linux systems retail all over the world.

Some examples:

Large enterprises which value efficiency are using GNU/Linux desktops and servers. The Kerala State Electricity board with 10 million customers saved 80 million rupees using FLOSS. They had a few specialized applications and paid 15 people to write for GNU/Linux. Individual consumers who don’t have anywhere near that complexity of IT, can and do use GNU/Linux desktops and notebooks with satisfaction from a host of applications. see also Debian’s repository

It’s a tired tale, that GNU/Linux is not/cannot make it on the desktop. GNU/Linux on the desktop happened long ago and continues with fresh growth today. There still are some retailers who don’t stock GNU/Linux but those are decreasing in number steadily. All the advantages that people see on servers are available on desktops/notebooks/thin clients/netbooks/smart thingies. There’s just no reason not to use GNU/Linux and plenty of reasons to use it (low cost, simplicity, easy maintenance, less malware, fewer re-re-reboots, speed, it’s Free Software, the licence costs $0 and you can make as many copies as you like, …). I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it has great tools for system management, can be used on servers or clients and has a huge repository of software packages and APT (Advanced Packaging Tool).

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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27 Responses to */Linux PCs for Consumers

  1. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon You can choose to switch back the old wall paper. They are allowed to switch back to the old ones.

    Just bug reporting switch forward to current.

    ch also take a close look at the theming changes windows does between versions. Almost everyone is doing the same thing for bug tracking.

    Dr Loser don’t joke I have had a bug rejected first time I sent it in over windows vista because someone had loaded up a theme to make vista look like XP by Microsoft.

    You joke is not funny. Everyone kinda does the same thing.

  2. Dr Loser says:

    Bug #3141598797:

    “Pressing &*Therpy87&T*w on my keyboard causes my hard drive to spontaneously combust and my Mint wallpaper to change from lime green to cinnamon.”


    “The default Mint wallpaper, as of the latest release, is now cinnamon. This is therefore not a problem.”

    Closed as:

    Won’t Fix.

  3. ch says:

    “Yes changing that wall paper is kinda important to keep bugs in versions sorted.”

    Thanks for brightening my day !

  4. Clarence Moon says:

    “I must have seen a few mint users running the old wall paper.”

    Yeah! That’s the ticket!

  5. oiaohm says:

    oe this is exactly how you expect desktop conversion to go.

    Different segments at different speeds. All requirements based.

    Dr Loser Ubuntu desktop what ever color you choose at least its not like MS starter were MS chooses it for you. That right you cannot make a selection to save yourself.

  6. oiaohm says:

    Ok I must have seen a few mint users running the old wall paper. Hanson

    Yes a lot of ubuntu users have jumped ship to Mint. Because Mints ideas are kinda more sane.

    Besides Mint is still one of the things that has a optional Ubuntu base. So Ubuntu is not really one color.

    “Haven’t you realized that it’s a favorite pastime of Linux distributions to change theme and wallpaper with every release?” Mostly for release tracking and to make sure when someone submits a bug report its with the right version. Call it typo detection.

    There is logic to the madness. Really it not to with innovation. Its support teams. Ie person enters wrong version number in bugzilla provides picture of problem. Hang on wrong desktop wall paper.

    Yes changing that wall paper is kinda important to keep bugs in versions sorted.

  7. Hanson says:

    “Dr Loser most population at the moment is mint so the most common desktop is green.”

    Wait, I have slept through the Martian invasion? And where do you take it from that Mint has the largest user base? I thought Distrowatch was useless for real statistics?

    And: http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=1889

    Does it look green? Haven’t you realized that it’s a favorite pastime of Linux distributions to change theme and wallpaper with every release? Because that’s damn important stuff. We wouldn’t like someone to think that there’s no innovation. (Although I have to say that Mint’s Cinnamon project is one of the better ideas, at least compared to Shuttleworth’s and Gnome’s usability debacles.)

  8. oiaohm says:

    Dr Loser most population at the moment is mint so the most common desktop is green.

  9. oe says:

    Gonzalo –

    My stepson can report ditto at his fairly large state university. In his two years of classes he’s noting more GNU/Linux penetration in use. It varies by department, among the engineering he guesses that over half of the students laptops (not to mention department labs) have GNU/Linux, in natural sciences getting towards about 1 to 2 in ten, and among liberal arts perhaps 5%, while business is very few…He does report that many classmates take interest in the Ubuntu 11.04 he’s running. Meanwhile the campus IT has added official support for GNU/Linux clients (wired and wireless) next to the standard Two commercial OS’s. The is the future workers in 5 years and they are increasingly not wed to a mere two choices in OS….Hopefully they also learn not to be wed to a mere two choices in political parties either.

  10. Dr Loser says:

    What colour is the Ubuntu desktop again?

  11. Clarence Moon says:

    There was the reference to unadulterated crap that needed the link apparently. When you think about it, though, it might be better in the long run to actually have adulterated crap, such as processed sewage, rather than the real McCoy.

  12. Dr Loser says:


    What on earth is the link to feces on Wikipedia doing there?

    Do you have some sort of strange obsession about poo, or is it just that you have a lovable yet childish astonishment that other people have excretory tracts just like yours?

    Either way, that old folks’ home in Manitoba is going to be a riot of fun when you eventually turn up.

  13. Dr Loser says:


    Oh, I wouldn’t worry about Bill’s Amex card if I were you.

    Not only do I presently work for Microsoft, but I used to work for Visa, back when they invested a lot of time developing a secure payments system in partnership with Bill’s poodle.

    It’s not a large stretch to suggest that The Proprietary One made sure that he owned the code, and can levy his own M$ Tax on every single Visa transaction.

    In fact, now that I think about it, Koz and Mr Hill and all the rest have a solid point here. It isn’t paranoia at all.

    Nothing ever happens in the world of Commerce without Bill Gates sticking his mucky monopolistic paws into it.

    I mean, Bill was once worth approximately 1% of the US GDP on his own. Doesn’t that just shriek “conspiracy” at you?

    And now the USA is $15 trillion in debt. Doesn’t that just shriek “conspiracy” at you?

    It’s not hard to imagine where all that money went.

  14. Clarence Moon says:

    Well, 15 cents each is a start, and the more so if it comes out of Bill Gates’ pocket, eh? I can just imagine his chagrin when his Amex is eventually refused.

  15. Dr Loser says:


    I know you’re fairly insular and your maths tend to the wonky side, but do you actually know how much 80 million rupees is in That Other American Currency?

    It’s $1.5 million. Kerala is quite a large state, as you point out (10 million customers).

    This is slightly above a rounding error, but tbh it’s probably outweighed by the levels of bribery involved in the various contracts.

  16. Hanson says:

    Oh, it’s lpbbear. Good advice for you: citing OSnews for anything will make you look stupid. Unless that’s your intention. Who am I to judge?

  17. Hanson says:

    “The rest of his comment is too tedious to reply.”

    I understand, Pogson. I really do. I feel your pain.

    It’s always heartbreaking if you spend time on carefully selecting examples which are to prove your point, only to find out that they don’t prove anything at all.

    Let me remind you what you wrote:

    “Ordinary folks who are never going to install an OS but want some IT that works on their desks are buying GNU/Linux systems retail all over the world.”

    Yes, ordinary folks who are never going to install an OS (and therefore probably don’t know what an OS is!) are going to Walmart and will demand their ONLY computer with Linux. That is some fantasy.

  18. Clarence Moon says:

    Goodness, Mr. Bear! You post nonsense here, well off the topic at hand, and insult Mr. Pogson as well, demeaning his blog as “insignificant”!

    If all this is so insignificant, why do you yourself protest so much? You seem to believe that, if “trolls” perform these assigned duties, then the tide of Linux will somehow be stopped, offering that as the reason for bosses to assign such duties.

    You have a poor grip on life, I think.

  19. Clarence Moon says:

    I fail to see where the Super Bowl is at all analogous to my statement, Mr. Pogson. It does not even seem to bear on the term “fair” as I used it in my context as meaning “reasonable”. You are being far too defensive about everything and that is leading you to wrong conclusions.

    Just look at your “evidence” that the market can and will turn on a dime as soon as some guiding hand places Linux computers on store shelves. The Asus Eee was an initial hit, but it merely served as a wake up call to Microsoft and other OEMs who countered by offering the world the same thing at about the same price in a Windows XP (later Windows 7) flavor.

    This corrective action had the desired effect and netbooks became little Windows computers overnight. The lesson here is that the market leaders will do what it takes to keep their lead. And they will make even more money doing it.

  20. lpbbear says:

    I think the article linked below would be of tremendous help here:


    Some of the troll lowlifes who infest your site may claim otherwise but you know that just by their presence here that Linux usage is increasing.

    If Linux usage wasn’t growing steadily why else would their bosses have them wasting so much time and effort on an insignificant blog such as this and a supposedly unpopular and hardly used operating system as they claim Linux is.

    Their constant presence here proves otherwise.

  21. Gonzalo wrote, “Why did this take so long??”

    From about 1993 until about 2000, M$ bullied OEMs mercilessly, dictating that they had to pay more or could not sell that other OS at all if they sold GNU/Linux. Faced with a huge risk (the devil they did not know) they chose paying through the nose for that other OS (the devil they did know). You can read all about it at US DOJ v M$.

    With no alternative supplies, retailers followed suit. The result is the distortion of free markets seen in “established markets”. In emerging markets, younger people did not experience monopoly and sell and buy GNU/Linux quite happily.

  22. Clarence Moon wrote, “It is fair to suggest that Linux has no place in the North American market, evidenced by the lack of products in general in the distribution chains associated with that market.”

    That is no more fair than to have only a single team allowed to compete for the Super Bowl.

    Retailers can and do sell GNU/Linux PCs. M$ arranged that many do not. They did that by throttling OEMs for more than a decade and the habit and lock-in has persisted.

    GNU/Linux sold like hotcakes in the North American market when ASUS did the right thing.

    Nov 26, 2007: “the American Amazon shopping website and CNET based on 14th of November unanimously places the ASUS Eee PC at the top spot on the wish list”

  23. Clarence Moon says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that the story is true, Mr. Pogson, namely that Dell is selling some Ubuntu based PCs in its Chinese stores. But the challenge was to find a press release “by Dell” along those lines and what you provided is a story by China News about a press release from Ubuntu. That is not “by Dell”, which would be much more of an endorsement of a Linux policy.

    In any case what you are missing in your analyses, I think, is the notion that markets differ by region. It is fair to suggest that Linux has no place in the North American market, evidenced by the lack of products in general in the distribution chains associated with that market. At the same time, Linux may be a recognized product in the mainland China market, but the two situations coexist and do not really affect one another.

    It is more useful for the market where you live to have the characteristics that you want it to have and, so far, Linux is not very visible in North America.

  24. Ivan says:

    Why do these posts of yours always sound like you are trying to convince yourself that your choice of software is the best?

    Seriously, Bob, if you are happy with the half-baked experience that is the modern Linux desktop, then go down to the store and buy yourself a box of Oreos, a gallon of milk, rent “The Tree of Life,” and enjoy an evening dunking Oreo cookies in Milk with your wife over a good movie.

    Just leave the software evangelism to people that don’t resort to arguments that insult your readers intelligence like:

    “GNU/Linux on the desktop happened long ago and continues with fresh growth today”

    GNOME, KDE and Canonical have all told their longtime users that if they don’t like their current experience they can go elsewhere. How do you expect to grow your user base when you can’t keep longtime users happy?

  25. Hanson:

    “Ubuntu Linux Now In Dell’s Chinese Sales Arsenal China Tech News – Nov. 1, 2011
    Canonical, developer of the open source operating system Ubuntu, has announced that Dell will sell PCs with the pre-installed Ubuntu operating system in its over 100 new retail stores in China.”

    source: http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/direct2dell/b/direct2dell/archive/2011/11/04/weekly-recap-dell-in-the-news-november-4-edition.aspx

    by Chris Byrd, Corp Comm Social Media Team

    and they link to http://www.chinatechnews.com/2011/11/01/15755-ubuntu-linux-now-in-dells-chinese-sales-arsenal

    The rest of his comment is too tedious to reply.

  26. Gonzalo says:

    I agree. I have seen the GNU/Linux users numbers rise around me at the university in the last couple of years. People is more confident to use “something different”. And since GNU/Linux is reliable and nice looking and totally free, they took the step and are happily using it. I have helped myself more than a handful of migrations, for instance.
    Also, I have seen other (fancy) people moving to (FreeBSD descendant Darwin) MacOS! M$ is the one finally paying for its sins of instability, vulnerability, and awful cost-benefits ratio. Why did this take so long??

  27. Hanson says:

    Let’s see what you’ve got:

    “Qooq – A PC for cooks, not geeks.”

    Oh yeah, a real commodity product.

    “Dell is selling GNU/Linux PCs in over 100 stores in China.”

    Have a link handy that’s actually BY Dell? And: will it last this time? The partnering of Dell and Canonical in the USA and Europe was a real success.

    It’s also sad to see that you’ve sunken so low as to endorse Ubuntu, even though you’ve professed your dislike for the Unity interface. Will Chinese make the big switcheroo to another desktop environment or just return the computer?

    “Acer sells them (Walmart, and Amazon)”

    And you’ve looked this up? Search for Linux on the Acer US and German site (including the respective stores) returns: nothing. Acer also recommends Windows 7.

    Walmart has only exactly the one model on offer you’ve linked to. The other Linux “computer” you can find via searching is a Linksys router.

    If you search at Amazon most hits for “Linux” in the computer department stem from the comments, not from the product descriptions.

    “HP sells them and they have retailers for them.”

    Your link doesn’t work. And HP (Small & Medium Business) has exactly four workstations with Linux on offer. HP recommends Windows 7.

    “Lenovo is selling millions of them for schools and students (Classmate PCs).”

    Don’t you hate (W)Intel? Isn’t it “ARM, ARM, ARM” these days? Well, they seem good enough if Linux is involved.

    The Classmate PC is a generic PC that can run any OS. It’s also Intel’s attempt at still making some money from the otherwise declining netbook market. And look what I’ve found here:


    No, it’s not China, but 158,000 Classmate+ PCs in Argentina should suffice to make a point. Which is:

    “The Lenovo Classmate+ PC offers a full computing experience, equipped with an Intel® Atomâ„¢ processor, Ethernet and WiFi Internet connectivity, Windows 7 operating system and high-capacity storage up to 250 GB or solid state drive options. It also comes with a 10.1 inch LED backlit screen, a 1.3 megapixel camera, multiple USB ports and a 4-in-1 card reader to support viewing multimedia.”

    Windows 7? Really!? They must be out of their minds!

    Once again you’ve failed to do your research and presented fiction as fact, with the narrowest possible examples you could find.

    It is indeed a tired tale to read again and again that Microsoft is near death. They look very much alive to me.

    Did you know that iSuppli’s prognosis for Windows/Nokia smartphones is pointing upwards?


    Sure, not in Android territory. But Microsoft has shown with the Xbox 360 that it can go all the way.

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