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Xandros and Asus Eee -- to Be or Not to Buy?

We have already mentioned the ASUS Eee a while back. We talked about its uncomfortable technical assocation with Xandros. Ars Technica, among other high-profile publications, characterise Asustek's choice of Xandros Linux as a loss to Microsoft. It's not entirely the case however. Here's what one of the most recent articles says:

Intel wins, and Microsoft loses

Thanks to its combination of Intel hardware and a non-bloated Linux install, reviewers found that Asus's little laptop performs just as well as much larger and more expensive Windows notebooks. And the company spent enough time tweaking the unit's default Linux distro that Windows users will supposedly feel right at home.


If you look closely, you'll find that parts of the interface in this variant of Xandros were significantly changed. They almost perfectly mirror the looks of Windows XP. The artwork's similarity makes the resemblance uncanny (see this video and judge for yourself). This makes the software used sensitive not only to software patents -- however negligible they may be -- but to other types of 'violations'. What were they thinking?

Here is why Linux was chosen:

Asustek decided that the Windows operating system was out of the question. The licensing costs would have been the most expensive part of the computer. So it decided to use Linux and build its own user interface, and that became the most time-consuming part of the project.


It is clear, based on another product from Asus, that the company can handle other distributions of Linux or even roll its own. Just consider this recently-unveiled product for example. It doesn't use Xandros. I know this because I've inquired with sources that are close to the company.

”Asustek ought to re-consider its selection process and choice of this KDE-based distribution.“Sadly enough for the Eee, Asustek chose Xandros Linux to work with. Xandros is among those that send Microsoft royalties for the use of Linux (probably per units that is sold, which contradicts the ideology of Free software). Xandros was virtually 'bribed' by Microsoft to play along with the 'mythical patent plot'. Xandros betrayed the very same people that gave it 20+ years of work (GNU and Linux code).

Asustek ought to re-consider its selection process and choice of this KDE-based distribution. The next models of the Eee will be out early next year. There's time to accommodate underlying changes. There are many other (and better) options if the company insists on using Linux. These options are likely to be less expensive, too. Microsoft has already given discounts to 'fight' this Linux threat, but that's not surprising. Just look what happened in Nigeria last week.

Whether the Eee is worth buying or not, that's up to the average consumers, who probably don't know (and could not care less) about the behavior of Xandros. The least one can do is making all this information public and educating/advising buyers. There are several other low-cost laptops that come with Linux preinstalled. None of them (with the exception of SUSE in Dell China and SUSE in Lenovo) is plagued by the 'Microsoft Windows/patent tax'. Definitely not OLPC, which serves a charitable cause.

OOXML patent issue prompt

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