The Daily Telegraph Gets the Message

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One of the most heartening aspects of the rise of GNU/Linux ultraportables is that people really understand what this is all about. For example, here's the Daily Telegraph getting it spot on:

In essence, perhaps, these new machines have called the IT industry's bluff. Consumers were previously buying machines that were capable of far more than they ever needed. The Eee PC, especially, still does everything most people need - and a bit more, too.

Which is absolutely right. The same article also provides a valuable comparison of the Windows XP version of the Asus Eee PC, just released, with the one running GNU/Linux:

One of the reasons Asus was able to keep the cost of the Eee PC so low was because it ran a basic operating system, rather than Microsoft's power glutton. How would it fare with XP?

The answer is, somewhat creakily. Programs aren't as quick to load, there's a delay between clicking a command and getting a result, and the system inexplicably froze a couple of times. XP also offers fewer applications - users must make do with Microsoft Works instead of Office. On the Linux machine, OpenOffice, the free alternative to Office, is pre-installed.

The last point is particularly important: not only does the Windows XP version of the Eee PC run more slowly and have less available storage, it comes with the mickey-mouse Microsoft Works, where GNU/Linux has the full OpenOffice – and lots more.

This, of course, is another huge advantage of open source: you can just bung as much of the stuff on a system as you like, without needing to worry about the cost, because there is none. Even if Windows XP is now available on the Asus Eee PC, it's clear that it's a poor deal compared with the GNU/Linux version.