I was reading a decent article about buying PCs with GNU/Linux installed. It all comes down to retail shelf-space and even in a country like Brazil where millions of GNU/Linux PCs are manufactured each year, it is difficult to find them on retail shelves. According to one commentator, the supply chain has to pay retailers for shelf-space. That would explain a lot…
“Living in Brazil, I have been able to purchase PCs and notebooks with pre-installed Linux. Inevitably, certainly due to manufacturing constraints, such Linux versions are somewhat outdated — e.g. purchasing a two-year old version with your brand new notebook.
Thus, it’s specially important to pay attention to what Linux is installed, because some updating will be needed. Formerly, Mandriva was a good option, now Mageia is of the same quality — but upgrading must be done more frequently (usually once a year).
And one can always replace the OS with another distribution, for those a little more fearless, and it may take a little experimenting with the most popular alternatives (Ubuntu, Mint etc. — always remember to backup important data first). Live CD linux versions make compatibility testing quite easy.
Since store shelf space is paid (and expensive) it became impossible to find anything but Windows 8 products shown; online price searching services offer a better view of Linux alternatives, though. We have a bunch of options here in Brazil, but even stores which cannot showroom Linux machines do so at their online homepages. My preference, though, is finding a physical store on which I can better perceive the looks and apparent quality of the products. That means I must be permanently attentive about offers with Linux, even if I’m not immediately interested in purchasing.”
Obviously, most countries do not produce many PCs since China does so well, so it’s not surprising that it’s harder to find GNU/Linux on PCs in many regions. If M$ sifts money down to retailers for shelf-space there’s less incentive for retailers to order PCs with competing OS. In Canada this would be an illegal anti-competitive behaviour yet the government does not attack this illegal monopoly of retail shelf-space.
In Canada, section 78 of the Competition Act defines the following offences for monopolists:
- (e) pre-emption of scarce facilities or resources required by a competitor for the operation of a business, with the object of withholding the facilities or resources from a market;
- (g) adoption of product specifications that are incompatible with products produced by any other person and are designed to prevent his entry into, or to eliminate him from, a market;
Retail shelves are scarce resources… M$ has long exploited its monopoly by specifying weird file-formats and networking protocols…
So, why doesn’t the Competition Bureau get off its butt and prosecute M$ and “partners”?