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MSI Considers Dumping Novell’s Ballnux in Favour of a Real GNU/Linux Distribution

Posted in GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SLES/SLED at 7:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New model, better distribution?

There is far too much coverage of uninteresting news details from MSI. Just like H-P, which foolishly chose the Microsoft-taxed SLED for its low-end notebooks, it experiences some issues.

Henry Kingman is not so easily deceived by articles that wrongly attribute the issue to some thing called “Linux”. Well, Ballnux is not GNU/Linux and there are varieties of Free software distributions, many of which are specially-tailored for sub-notebooks. Here is what he writes.

[T]he quote may say more about MSI’s SUSE Linux implementation than the suitability of Linux as a netbook OS.

here is the specific quote which indicates they explore distributions other than Novell’s SUSE.

We plan to bring the Linux version to the U.S by the end of the year. But we are working on some of the issues with the SUSE Linux and even continue to explore other flavors of Linux. We have discussed Ubuntu with a Mac OS type of look and feel. We are talking to different suppliers to figure out the best user experience.

Choosing SUSE was not the right strategy. We wrote about this a year ago. Novell sure has a marketing department and staff that presents GNU/Linux as an attractive product, but this is not required for a derivative distribution that can be maintained in-house and developed independently from Microsoft-imposed costs and patent/practical poison like Mono.

MSI’s future with GNU/Linux will be much brighter once it departs from the ‘Microsoft-approved’ distribution of “Linux”. Other OEMs are existing proof of this.

Microsoft Linux

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  1. pcole said,

    October 6, 2008 at 11:36 pm


    LOL – Humorous image; serious write.

  2. pcole said,

    October 6, 2008 at 11:47 pm


    On another note: HP rep came to our company and we’ve sampled the HP2133 netbook. I asked the HP rep if they had one without ‘Ballnux’ or xp; He said, “not at this time”. We politely told him, “Thanks for playing, when HP can offer a real GNU/Linux distro with comparative hardware which xp uses, we’ll consider it”.

    Economical times are getting tough. Need the most bang for the buck.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 2:19 am


    Ah, well…. H-P doesn’t really play ball with Linux. Microsoft is happier if they choose the “approved” (and taxed) distro.

    Published very recently by Bruce Perens, a former HP employee:

    “[J]ust about every PR firm offers to help “manage the perception of your company in online communities” these days. What do you think that means? Astroturfing Slashdot, Youtube, etc. In my various manangement positions it’s been offered to me. Indeed, some of the companies offer to create negative publicity for your competition that way – HP had a publicity firm for its Linux activities that told us it would do that when we wanted. I never asked them to do so and hope nobody else did either.

    “This stuff is just standard these days. You’ve got to expect it”.


  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 5:18 am


    I should probably have expanded the quote about the poor choice made by H-P:

    Linux is not Linux is not Linux

    “Clearly, Tung’s statement may reflect his subjective impression, rather than actual return figures. Still, it is worth noting that early netbook vendors do often rush to market with hasty Linux implementations. And unfortunately, the smaller screens and lower CPU power of netbooks means that “normal” Linux distributions like SUSE may not work very well on them.

    “Compounding the problem, netbook vendors often see Linux as a “low-end” option, and thus offer a reduced hardware spec on Linux models. For example, the Linux version of the MSI Wind U100 comes with only a 3-cell battery, with 512MB of RAM instead of 1GB, and no bluetooth.

    “Some netbook vendors, though — notably Asus and Acer — have worked closely with Linux software partners to produce well-integrated, highly usable products. The pioneering Asus Eee PC uses the Windows-like Xandros distribution, while the popular Acer Aspire One uses Linpus Linux Lite, a distribution specifically designed for netbooks. Dell’s Dell Inspiron Mini 9, meanwhile, uses a version of Ubuntu specifically designed for netbooks.”

  5. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 5:54 am



  6. RyanT said,

    October 12, 2008 at 1:05 pm


    ““We don’t know what the XP return rates are. But I will say that the return rate is above normal for netbooks that offer open-source operating systems,” Carr echoed. Carr highlighted a few reasons why Ubuntu-running netbooks are returned more often. “Unclear selling is happening, typically online. The customer will get their netbook sent to their home and they imagine to find something like a Microsoft desktop, but they see a brown Ubuntu version. They are unwilling to learn it and they were expecting to have Windows.”

    Carr stressed that, in these cases, it doesn’t even matter how good or bad the Linux OS is. These customers just don’t want to try something new. “We said a long time ago, we didn’t want to make a Windows clone. It has a different interface especially with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. We think it’s a better way but it’s not the same way people are used to. That unfamiliarity can take a while to learn and there is an education that has to be stressed.””

    It’s little to do with any deficiencies in the distros (although it seems widely accepted that MSI made a bad choice), more to do with bad marketing.

    There’s plenty of positive reviews across the net of non-windows netbooks. It’s very much down to lack of knowledge before hand, varying degrees of success in which distros chosen and the interfaces used, and fringe idiots who can’t handle anything different.

    The Asus that started all this came with a custom Linux distro (with custom interface too) remember.

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