SJVN wrote, “I think itâ€™s time for Dell, HP, Lenovo, and all the other big-time PC vendors to finally start taking the Linux desktop seriously. Itâ€™s clear that Microsoftâ€™s agenda no longer is running in parallel with their plans.
Shifting to Linux wonâ€™t be easy. Iâ€™m sorry to say that in 2012 there are only two significant Linux desktop/tablet operating systems for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to consider for partnering: Canonical of Ubuntu fame, and Google with Android and Chrome OS.”
I have to agree with SJVN on the first point. The doors have been opening in steps for years now:
- crappy code in the DOS and Lose ‘9x era,
- waves of malware,
- shocks like forcing XP SP2 on innocent users whose apps quit,
- Vista, which forced millions to buy new equipment which did not run the OS and the OS was bug-ridden to boot, and
- now “8” and “secure boot” and “Surface” are wreaking havoc with the world of IT and they are not even released yet.
The world is tired of M$. The OEMs are tired of M$. It’s long past time to use GNU/Linux in bulk shipping PCs from OEMs to retailers and wholesalers.
I disagree with the point about only a couple of distros being right for OEMs. ASUS had success even with a crappy distro on netbooks. All an OEM has to do with any distro is get involved with the packaging and source-code to be sure of a good fit. Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, OpenSuse and several other GNU/Linux distros with history, a large number of contributors and wide distribution will all work with OEMs. They already do in several cases. Ubuntu GNU/Linux may seem to have the inside track with a long relationship with OEMs and real salesmen but OEMs need reliability more than they need to be sold stuff. They want distros with a simple user-interface, good security and bug-patching, and actual policies about how to deal with various problems. Distros like Debian have been around for ages because they have those characteristics.
No. Choice of distro is scarcely a problem for OEMs. They can put a small team on the job of choosing a distro, developing releases for their machines and doing it. Many distros have all the tools needed to develop code let alone distribute binaries and images properly.
OEMs do have some real issues that matter to them and their customers that they would have to address in releasing GNU/Linux desktops: long term support for businesses who will spend a bundle on an IT-cycle, and consumers who want systems that are easy to use and to maintain. Ubuntu has 5-year long term support but it is based on Debian testing flavour rather than Debian Stable. That means more bugs early in the LTS period, not something business would enjoy. Using Debian Stable with ~2 year support and dist-upgrading to the next stable may well meet business needs.
Consumers tend to want “the latest thing” and Debian testing or normal Ubuntu which is based on testing may be a better fit but there will be more problems/bugs that could be referred to retailers/OEMs for fixing. OEMs do have a valid option of scripting or remotely administering the package updates on GNU/Linux. The packaging managers make that feasible. For the greater certainty, OEMs could contribute to any distro with support for packaging and testing. Reliable bug reports from a contributing OEM might be desirable for any distro. The costs would certainly be less than OEMs pay M$ now.
Another benefit of GNU/Linux for OEMs is that they can more or less rapidly move to ARM to increase margins and increase specific performance ( MIPS/watt, noise, weight, cost, size etc.). Consumers love innovation and GNU/Linux or Android/Linux on ARM give a lot of flexibility to distinguish an OEM from competitors. OEMs do relish competition because they have good people and can compete fairly. They don’t need Wintel dictating to them and they don’t need to be limited by what Wintel wants.