Linux Laptops Reach Critical Mass
A few years from now, open source pundits may consider February 2008 the tipping point for Linux laptops. Why is that? Glad you asked. The open source world is buzzing right now about Everex’s CloudBook, an “ultraportable” Linux laptop available from Wal-Mart and several leading Web sites. Officially, the tiny $399 laptop isn’t available until February 21. But it’s already generating big sales, according to several sources in the know. Simply put, CloudBook’s arrival is a defining moment — a critical milestone — for Linux on desktops and laptops.
Admittedly, we’re not talking about millions of new Linux customers here. Everex says it initially shipped roughly 20,000 notebooks to Wal-Mart, Newegg, TigerDirect and ZaReason. The computer has a 7-inch screen and runs a variant of Ubuntu Linux. ZaReason, one of the Web’s leading Everex resellers and Ubuntu promoters, says its initial CloudBook allotment is sold out.
No, The VAR Guy isn’t suggesting that Linux laptops will trample the Windows establishment anytime soon. But clearly, there’s a mainstream market niche — perhaps 1 percent to 3 percent of traditional PC users — who are ready to make the leap to mobile Linux PCs. That’s why companies like Dell continue to gradually expand their Ubuntu Linux offerings.
Moreover, this niche will grow as virtualization software moves into the mainstream. Consider these trends:
- Already, more than 650,000 customers use Parallels software to run Mac OS X and Windows on Apple hardware.
- Parallels is now working on Ubuntu support, and Sun recently acquired innotek, which makes virtualization software for Mac OS, Windows, Linux, Solaris and other platforms. Translation: Users will be able to mix-and-match Linux with Windows and Mac OS as easily as they move between Word and Excel.
- Other open source companies such as Novell are scouring the market for potential virtualization acquisitions, according to BusinessWeek.
- Microsoft is rethinking its Windows Vista marketing because … quite frankly … customers aren’t all that impressed with Vista.
Toss in Ubuntu’s growing popularity on desktops and laptops, and it appears as if Linux for PCs and laptops is finally ready to go mainstream. For more on Ubuntu and Linux going mainstream, check out The VAR Guy’s sister site, AllAboutUbuntu.com. Currently in beta, the site will gain considerable content over the next few weeks and daily updates will begin Monday, March 3, 2008.