Give Linux with no surprises
In other words, if you’re offering or giving a Linux-based computer this holiday season — whether you’re a big box retailer, online distributor, or Linux fanatic who wants to spread FOSS to family or friends — make sure you tell them it’s Linux. I know, I know. Why offer advice about Linux computers when no one is using them, right? Well, given that Linux represents roughly 30% of the millions of netbooks being sold, Linux is actually being used by consumers like never before. As we see in recent ads in newspapers, online and elsewhere, the word ‘Linux’ is actually appearing a lot more in public. This is a good thing, but there is a danger.
I hope that vendors selling consumer PCs and netbooks running Linux will prominently display and detail that: ‘This is a Linux-based computer, and this is an alternative operating system to Windows XP or Vista.’ When I page through the newspaper, once I slap myself in the face after seeing the ‘Linux Laptop’ EeePC on sale at Toys’R'Us, I am glad to see the word ‘Linux’ (also the same 8G storage as the Windows Laptop side-by-side for $30 less). However, I’m somewhat disappointed that a separate Dell newspaper insert does not mention Linux. The cool, little Inspiron Mini 9 is advertised with its features, but lists the operating system as: ‘Mini OS Powered by Ubuntu 8.04.’ No mention of Linux. Now of course most Linux folks know that Ubuntu is Linux, but most folks reading the Sunday paper don’t know what Ubuntu or Mini OS is. I, in fact, am not sure what Mini OS is? The point is, Dell should follow the lead from Toys’R'Us and go ahead and label the computer with Linux.