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Chromebooks May Have Made 2013 the Year of GNU/Linux on the Desktop

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 8:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Chrome OS is starting to occupy a significant segment of the market long sought by GNU/Linux proponents

GOOGLE’S distribution of GNU/Linux rose to power in 2013. It is not so freedom-respecting, but it is a distro without a doubt. Christmas was a sign of strength for Chrome OS [1], which is becoming a major threat to both Apple and Microsoft [2] (some people buy Chromebooks just to install their favourite GNU/Linux distribution on them [3]). As quite a few schools turn to Chrome OS [4,5] it seems like major OEMs follow the trend and make Chromebooks [6-13] (CES 2014 gave many examples). It hurts Apple, not just Microsoft [14], because “Chromebook is giving Macbook a run for its money” [15] (just as Android did to iPhone and iPad). Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols calls Chromebook “The Windows killer” [16], citing numbers from Christmas [17], and reviews of GNU/Linux in 2013 focus a great deal on Chromebooks [18-20]. Looking ahead at this year (2014), CNET says that “[a]s Chromebooks catch on, 2014 promises more models” [21] and Carla, formerly the editor of Linux Today, says “Linux Wins the Desktop in 2014″ [22].

Isn’t it funny that given all that we still have trashy tabloids like ZDNet calling GNU/Linux a failure on the desktop, trying to resurrect this myth [23]? (rebuttal in [24])

One source says that Chrome OS “accounted for 21% of all laptop sales last year.” [25] Another says “Chromebooks surge at business in 2013″ [26], so who is to say GNU/Linux failed on the desktop? People who say this are dishonest. They usually rely on the bogus claim that Chrome OS is not GNU/Linux when it fact it is. This distribution may not please everyone (especially the freedom-conscious), but that doesn’t make the truth of the matter any less true. Chrome OS/Chromebooks increasingly get recommended as an alternative to Windows XP [27], which is not surprising. Later this year many Windows XP users (who are left with no security patches) are likely to turn to GNU/Linux, not later versions of Windows (Vista or later, with all the nasty anti-features of Vista inherited). Using Microsoft-friendly data sources, some Microsoft-friendly news sources try to distract from this trend [28], perhaps realising the businesses, schools etc. are going to turn to GNU/Linux, eschewing proprietary software and selecting FOSS rather than the train wreck which is Vista 8.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Christmas Comes Early For Linux Operating Systems

    GNU/Linux as itself and as Chrome OS is growing and Android/Linux is taking off like a rocket. It looks as if many could not wait for Christmas to buy something shiny and new.

  2. Are Chromebooks hurting Apple as well as Microsoft?
  3. Putting Chromebook Sales in Proper Perspective

    Here on OStatic, some readers have written in saying that they are buying Chromebooks simply to put their favorite Linux distros on the low cost devices. In other cases, there are lots of young people being introduced to Chromebooks and getting a taste of cloud-centric computing, storage and applications. Chromebooks are here to stay, but they are not crushing the overall portable computer market.

  4. Schools Continue to Drive Chromebook Sales
  5. Google, Synnex Partnership: More Chromebooks In Schools

    Synnex is set to empower Google Chromebook resellers supporting North America K-12 schools and commercial customers. The strategic Google-Synnex relationship will help resellers to deploy and centrally manage fleets of Chromebooks within schools and vertical market settings. The move comes only a few weeks after the search giant further enhanced its Google Apps partner program for resellers.

  6. Android and Chrome OS go AiO!

    HP and Lenovo announced new Android all-in-one (AiO) PCs — the Slate21 Pro and N308 — while LG unveiled the Chromebase, the first AiO to run Chrome OS.

  7. Lenovo to launch multiple Chromebooks this summer

    Lenovo is reportedly planning to release a set of new Chromebooks this year. Jay Parker, president for Lenovo’s North American operations, told CNET at CES that “multiple Chromebook models” would see release by summer 2014, at various price points and configurations.

  8. CES 2014: Toshiba introduces first Chromebook, 13.3 inch display

    Most of the new Chromebooks have the same display resolution, capabilities, and price. The Toshiba Chromebook’s 13.3 inch display fits in between the 11 inch HP, Acer, and Samsung and 14 inch HP models. Unfortunately, the display resolution remains the same at 1366 x 768, which is the one thing that really bothers me about this generation device.

  9. Samsung to unveil new Exynos lineup at CES
  10. Powerful Samsung Chromebooks with Octa-core Exynos CPU, 2560×1600 screen?
  11. CES 2014 – What to expect from Android and Chrome OS

    The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) comes but once a year and can be regarded as Christmas for nerds the world over. This year, the show runs from January 7th to the 10th and we thought it best to give a preview of what to expect from the usual crowd pleasers. Throughout the years, CES has been a place where the most crazy of ideas and the wildest of dreams came to fruition. Before we move on to our predictions however, let us spend a moment reflecting on what transpired at 2013′s CES.

  12. Acer reveals white C720P Chromebook

    Buoyed by itsrecent success in the notebook sector, Acer has released another version of its best selling C720 series. The C720P-2600 bears similar specifications to the original C720P, but this time, she’s an all white beauty. The new colour scheme coupled with the sleek design of its older brothers will sure make it a hit in the months to come.

  13. Acer Delivers New Chromebook and an Android-based All-in-One

    Acer, which is rapidly gaining popularity among hardware manufacturers, is placing some heavy bets on open source operating systems. The company now has a whopping nine computers based on Google’s Chrome OS, including an update to its popular C7 Chromebook. Acer’s latest Chromebook, the C720P-2600 (shown), has an 11.6-inch touchscreen and features Intel’s dual-core Celeron 2955U chip based on the cutting-edge Haswell architecture. At $299.99, the system will be available in January, and will be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show.

  14. As Chromebook sales soar, the debate roars about who it hurt

    It seems Chromebooks were selling like hot cakes in 2013. The cheap, cloud-driven computers were flying off the shelves, but who those sales hurt is subject to debate.

  15. Chromebook is giving Macbook a run for its money
  16. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: The Windows killer: Chromebook

    I’ve been a believer in Chromebooks for a long time. Now, everyone else is getting the religion.

    NPD, a retail market analysis company, reports that sales of Chromebooks exploded from zilch in 2012 to more than 20% of the U.S. PC market in 2013. This helped push overall notebook PC growth up by 28.9%.

  17. NPD – Chromebooks accounted for over 20% of US laptop sales in 2013
  18. Year in review – The rise of chromebooks and the chromecast
  19. Year in review – top selling Chromebooks
  20. Linux 2013: Year in Review

    2013 was a most interesting year in Linux all around. Most folks will cite the advancements in the gaming arena and in embedded and mobile devices. But 2013 was a great year in Linux distributions. The desktops and associated wars calmed down, some tricky technology got wrestled into submission, and stability seemed to be everyone’s watchword. Lots of folks are reminiscing about the year, so let’s take a look.

  21. As Chromebooks catch on, 2014 promises more models
  22. Linux Wins the Desktop in 2014 and 3 More Bold Predictions
  23. Why didn’t Linux win on the desktop?

    Desktop hosted applications are no longer the only choice. Customers increasingly were happy with the applications and network access available from handheld devices and didn’t feel the need to also use a Windows-powered device. After all, Web-based tools, such as Web applications, email, collaborative software, and search, can be easily done from a lower cost device. An expensive laptop or desktop may not be needed at all.

    Is this how Linux and Unix will win over the mighty Windows? If the current trends are considered, the answer appears to be yes.

  24. Has Linux lost the desktop forever?

    I’ve run into these Negative Ned stories about Linux failing on the desktop before, and they always seem fixated on the market share of Windows. I reject that kind of thinking as it was never necessary for Linux to “beat Windows” on the desktop to be successful.

  25. Cloud Based LibreOffice, Facebook Reads PMs & More…

    On Friday, CNET’s Brooke Crothers reported that Chromebooks, those nifty laptops running Google’s Chrome OS that let the cloud do the heavy lifting, accounted for 21% of all laptop sales last year. As impressive as that may be, the numbers get even better when Android tablets are added to the mix. According to market research company NPD Group, January to November saw 1.76 million Chromebooks and Android tablets sold, up from only 400,000 during all of 2012.

  26. Chromebooks surge at business in 2013, researcher says

    If that isn’t proof enough of Chromebooks’ rise in popularity, Amazon said Thursday that among laptops, the Samsung Chromebook, Asus Transformer Book, and Acer Chromebook were “holiday best sellers.”

  27. Pat Pilcher: Windows XP support ending, should we be worried?

    Linux’s open source price tag may be attractive, and there are other benefits besides cost. For a start, Linux is less of a resource hog than other platforms, and it works well on older hardware, especially compared to Windows.

    Linux is also highly customizable, and users can choose from a multitude of desktop environments, such as KDE and GNOME. Going down the Linux route is however likely to involve a steep learning curve for non-techie users, who’ll also have to sort out apps and drivers for legacy peripherals (or replace them with Linux-compatible equivalents).

    Then there’s support. It may be a non-issue if you manage to find replacement apps and drivers for peripherals. This said, almost that everything you’re ever likely to need to know about whatever flavour of Linux you decide on can be found online, but once again isn’t a terribly user friendly experience for Linux novices.

    Another alternative is Chrome OS. Developed by Google, Chrome OS is web-centric operating system, which means that the browser becomes the operating system. Because of this there’s far fewer security issues than with Windows as Chrome OS doesn’t run locally installed software so there’s little to exploit.

  28. Windows 8′s market share finally reaches 10%, but is overshadowed by Linux’s big gain and XP’s decline
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  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 10, 2014 at 8:31 am


    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/eschew ?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks, corrected.

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