[Debian-eeepc-devel] the article: "Has ASUS abandoned netbook Linux?"

Ben Armstrong synrg at sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
Tue Jun 1 18:18:27 UTC 2010


On 06/01/2010 02:20 PM, Cristian Ionescu-Idbohrn wrote:
> I involuntaryly stumbled upon this article:
> 	http://blogs.computerworld.com/16161/has_asus_abandoned_netbook_linux
> a few days ago.  Does it warry me?  You bet it does.  Reading:
> 	Asus seems to have closed down its Linux lines at least in the
> 	United States.
> makes me fear I'm sitting with a $480 piece of hardware (1101HA, bought in
> Singapore), flogged out by a company (ASUS) with no balls, prostituting
> itself for a (maybe) bigger (Redmond located) company, on the way to the
> junk yard, wondering about the feasible future.

Regarding 1101HA, which uses Intel "Poulsbo" for which there is no free 
driver (you must use vesa instead, which we caution about on our wiki at 
http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC/Models) that is really too bad.  Had 
you checked with us first we would have certainly warned you about that.

As for other models with no preinstalled Linux option, I am happy to say 
that ASUS still sells plenty of models on which Debian works very well, 
and many of them with all free drivers that are included in the kernel 
now!  Check our Models chart for details.  Models 1005HA, 1001P and 
1005P/PE are good examples.

So it's business as usual: vendors offer Linux pre-installed as long as 
there is perceived value enhancing their bottom line.  And they can and 
do change their minds when they believe that continuing to offer Linux 
pre-installed threatens their bottom line.  Now, you might argue due 
this is due to a lack of understanding, vision or both, but as for me, 
I'm no businessman and don't pretend to understand the inner workings of 
large corporations.  Am I worried by this "trend"?  Not really, because 
I never had much invested in this decision by ASUS to offer 
pre-installed Linux in the first place.  I'll keep working to support 
Debian on the systems that interest me for as long as vendors keep 
producing interesting systems and the driver support is there for them.

In any case, what I've found is that even when they do offer Linux 
pre-installed, they don't pay much attention to ensuring that free 
drivers are available and have been submitted to the kernel to be 
included.  For example, the very first model, the 4G (aka 701) 
originally required madwifi (at the time, no free driver existed, though 
now, the free ath5k driver replaces it.  The model 901 required an 
Ralink driver with non-free firmware that was not in the kernel, and 
some other current models use that wifi chipset too.

To sum up, I don't think things are getting any worse than they were at 
first.  Sure, I would love it if vendors offered more systems with Linux 
installed by default, or at least a "no OS" option, but I'm not losing 
any sleep over the decision by ASUS to stop.  My job isn't any harder to 
support these systems today, upon hearing this news, than it was on the 
day that the first one hit the market.


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