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July 23, 2008
Essentially, all major computer retail stores will carry computers with Ubuntu pre-installed by the end of 2008 or early 2009, predicted a Canonical manager who met with The VAR Guy at OSCON. But this isn’t another Linux desktop PC story. In this case, the computers are Netbooks (also known as sub-notebooks). Here’s the scoop.
At least two “multinational corporations” (translation: Big PC or consumer electronics companies) have agreed to preinstall Ubuntu Netbook Remix edition on forthcoming sub-notebook devices, according to Gerry Carr, a Canonical marketing manager.
In a bold prediction, Carr said Netbooks running Ubuntu would be available in all major U.S. computer retail stores by late 2008 or early 2009. He called the Netbook’s arrival a “rare opportunity for Linux” to succeed as a pre-installed operating system on retail hardware.
Netbooks, similar in concept to the Asus Eee PC, are portable computers that are smaller than traditional laptops. “Asus has really created this market,” conceded Carr. “In developed markets [like the U.S. and Europe], the Netbook will be your secondary PC; it’s the one you bring to Starbucks or to a convention like this to use to surf the web or do some quick work. It will have a 60- to 90-minute use case.”
In emerging markets, however, the Netbook could emerge as a low-cost primary computer, said Carr. He expects the devices to cost about $300 to $500 each. Carr declined to mention any Netbook manufacturers by name, but speculation continues that Dell plans to sell an Ubuntu-based Netbook.
Ubuntu Netbooks could represent a turning point of sorts for Linux in retail stores. Wal-Mart carried Linux-based computers in its stores during the 2007 holiday season, but later discontinued the in-store sales experiment.
More recently, Best Buy has agreed to sell Ubuntu Linux — but that effort only involves the software rather than a hardware pre-install.
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