If you didn’t notice yet, I enjoy doing a lot of “thinking about the past.” Last weekend I walked into a Target and while browsing through their electronics section, I noticed that they were selling a version of the ASUS Eee PC 900. Priced at approximately $250 and coming with a version of Xandros Linux. For well over a year I have been reading of these new sub-notebooks coming pre-installed with GNU/Linux but I had never seen one in person. This notebook is probably the smallest I had seen (8.9 inch). I immediately wanted one but did not get it…yet.
The event made me travel back in time to a remote and distant period when I used to work in retail; specifically at Best Buy, during the 90′s as a service technician. On the shelf, Best Buy used to carry and distribute other Operating Systems outside of Microsoft Windows. This was at a time when people saw that they had choices. You could have chosen from Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux, Mandrake (now Mandriva) to even BeOS. Then, all of a sudden they all just disappeared. Retailers began selling nothing but Microsoft products and every now and then you may find Apple products. At least this was the case until recently (8 months ago or so) when I walked into a Best Buy I noticed that being sold, on the very bottom shelf and hidden to the side was Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux. I got excited but that excitement was very short lived when I realized that the average PC user will not know what it is, even if they do take notice of it. They have grown too accustomed to believing that there only exists Microsoft.
Now I do not know what tactics Canonical has to start gaining additional recognition beyond the GNU/Linux community but now is a better time than any for the company to start promoting itself more into the public’s eye. Modern day computing has literally gone through a face lift and almost everything has moved toward the cloud we refer to as the World Wide Web. Individuals are looking for something that is light weight and performs well; which is ideal for the up and coming sub-notebook industry.With some of these laptops offered preloaded with GNU/Linux, some people are starting to realize that there exists more beyond Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS X. But is that enough?
In the past I had posted on other blogs some tactics to which companies such as Canonical can use for additional recognition. You can find some of those posts here and here; but I will repeat them again in this post. For the time being I will continue to pick on Canonical seeing how they offer a great and easy-to-use desktop solution for the beginner to advanced PC users. And while the company has been providing a nice stable solution, it is my personal opinion that they have been spreading themselves too thin. What I mean is that they cover a little bit of everything in an attempt to provide an all-in-one solution. What I would like to see is more focus on specific aspects or industries, i.e. an Education, Business, etc. versions of Ubuntu. With regards to education, I am not talking about Edubuntu. I am talking about something that a middle to high school student could be using at school for productivity and such and also something that a college student could be using. I am talking about an affordable solution that the schools could deploy on all of their systems. Here is an extract from my original post:
As a good example, the foundation of the Microsoft Windows platform rests on three unstable pillars. If one were to fall, the rest will follow. These pillars are: (1) Education, (2) Productivity and (3) Multimedia related. The easiest and more influential to go after initially would be education. Not only would it be cheaper for a school to deploy and run the Linux Operating System but the students come out with familiarity in the platform. By the time they go into their respective careers, the seed would have been planted. It also would not stop a student from purchasing a Linux-based PC for their home computing seeing how they would be familiar with it at school.
In my second comment I wrote:
I understand that Canonical has a Ubuntu variant known as Edubuntu, but it is really not emphasized enough for the younger generation while the older middle-high school and college student will need more applications outside of the traditional productivity suites (i.e. Open Office, etc.).
For example, when I went to college I was studying in an Electronic Engineering course. Outside of Matlab, there was no known support of other electronic/engineering related applications for the Linux platform. There could be more applications to fill in this void.
Also, Microsoft pushed these “bundle software packages.” At that time it was Microsoft’s Windows 2000 with Office 2000, Visual Studio 6, Visio, etc. A student obtained this to be able to accomplish school tasks from home. The catch was that it was all added to your tuition! Why did I have to pay for this?!?!? Why can’t a company like Canonical devise a method of deployment? First market and influence the school(s) to start converting to a Linux Operating System and then provide their own bundle packages.
Not too long ago, I wrote to our Secretary of Education in the U.S. and offered some friendly advice and suggestions to better our education system; saving costs that can be placed into something else more needed. The suggestions focused on open source alternatives. In their reply, it has been claimed that the concept of open source had started to be adopted (more in the private institutions) but it was not the national governments role to facilitate such a change. In the end it was up to the State and more on the school district that was made in charge of these decisions. Should commercialized Linux Operating System distributors start there?
Going along those same lines, would it be to Canonical’s advantage to start packaging specific versions of Ubuntu Linux? Such as Ubuntu Server (which already exists), Ubuntu Business, Ubuntu Education, Ubuntu Professional. Take a chapter from the competitor’s hand book; i.e. Microsoft. It seemed to have worked for them, the only difference is that Canonical will charge the same price for all: free.
To make a long story short, I just bought an ASUS Eee PC 901 from Amazon which I look forward to getting.