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Linux laptop retailers fearlessly face name-brand competition

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Linux Certified sells Linux laptops and offers IT training to individuals and organizations. Its product line ranges from small, affordable units to performance laptops that cost well over $2,000. The company's customer list boasts the likes of Boeing, NASA, the US Army and MIT. But if recent trends are any indication, Linux Certified and similar companies that specialize in selling computers that run Linux are about to see some of the world's largest computer companies warm up to the open source operating system. Major manufacturers have begun to take notice of Linux's potential on the laptop.

Asus announced earlier this month that sales of its primarily Linux-running Eee PC line of small, simple laptops have surpassed one million units since the product line was launched in October. Not to be left behind, an executive with Acer, the world's third-largest computer manufacturer, announced earlier this month that it sees the open source OS as a major player in the development of small, low-cost laptops. The company will soon launch its Aspire One.

The market they enter isn't empty. Linux and laptops have always seemed a natural fit, thanks to the operating system's relatively low demand on hardware resources. A number of companies already specialize in the sale of computers running Linux, and they aren't ready to cede the niche they've carved for themselves.

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