Cheap PC = GNU/Linux

GNU and Tux

An interesting opinion piece over on Desktop Linux today – Linux is about to take over the low end of PC’s.

Basicly the author, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, cites the recent development of low cost hardware platforms such as the Everex gPC, Asus eee PC and OLPC – One Laptop Per Child along with the excellent usability of the modern GNU/Linux desktop as an excellent alternative to the power hungry and wallet devouring Microsoft offerings.

Obviously a lot of businesses are tied in to Microsoft platforms and services, but when companies come up to upgrade time a lot will start looking at alternatives compared to the leap to Vista.

Open Source advocates have been claiming Vista as a great advertisement for FOSS but in reality the Vista install procedure isn’t that bad – so long as you are prepared to purchase a new computer along with the operating system. Open Source would do very well to target the price conscious segment of the market before going for the power users.

GNU/Linux and modern distros are really easy to use and very stable, but they are different to Windows so take a little getting used to. A lot of non-technical users want their computer “to just work” and aren’t interested in how free a system or learning a new method to check their email or edit a document.

Power users will probably be attached to certain software on their current operating system – games, CAD, illustration, multimedia – and therefore resistant to change, but as alternative operating systems gain more acceptance and use, the native software will improve and many commercial programs will be ported over to work on the O/S.

But basic users need office, email, web, messaging, media playback and VOIP – all of which have excellent offerings available on GNU/Linux or via “software as a service” on the web. By making their products easy to use and available at a low monetary cost and able to run on older or cheaper hardware GNU/Linux may have finally found it’s niche onto the desktops of home users and small businesses.