I think one reason that I am really excited about netbooks is because it started with Linux. Only when the machines became more popular and the bigger named companies took on the netbook did XP appear on the them. The idea is simple you design a machine to do a few specific tasks very well while keeping the cost down as much as possible. Considering the price of some of these machines, for just the hardware, adding a Windows license almost doubles the price. So they opted for Linux because you can both customize it to your exact specifications, thereby guaranteeing a good user experience, and licensing/price wasn’t an issue. So it is real exciting to see where netbooks may take Linux as they enter the mainstream. The only slight hiccup is that this has lead to each manufacturer to create their own version of Linux. It isn’t a major problem because, in my opinion, choice and customization are two of the strongest attributes of open source, but it can lead to ambiguity and confusion around an average consumer.
HP has taken an interesting tact in dealing with Linux on a netbook. The HP Mini Mi is shipping with the Linux CLI disabled. Thank you Ars for pointing that out.
First off if you are new to Linux this is cause for WWIII. “What no cli? How dare you.” Truly I believe that if one takes the time to learn the CLI the end result is that it is actually easier. I suppose it might depend on the person, but the CLI is so quick and easy. It doesn’t start off that way for sure, but once you get the hang of it you won’t go back. Most of the people who refuse to recognize this point argue that what can be simpler than clicking on an .exe and hitting next a few times (of course I could retort back that you can just copy and paste this in the cli ./configure; make; make install hit enter and the program is installed). What both sides forget is that everyone had to learn sometime. I remember when I first installed a Windows program. I didn’t know an .exe from a .bat and once I finally did get to the part where you just hit next I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing or if I would mess something up. I also remember trying to install my first program on Linux. I came into it from a Windows perspective, so I browsed into the directory from the gui and looked for the .exe file. I couldn’t tell where it was because of all those darn .jar files. Both are actually easy, but only after you learned how to do it. The Windows person insists that his way is easier because that is what he is used to, he can do it in his sleep now. And the Linux person insists that his way is better because he is a pretentious arrogant person (j/k sorry couldn’t resist). Once I actually took the time to learn the methodology neither one seems scary anymore. Whether it is to double click the .exe ore run a few commands it doesn’t matter they are both pretty easy. I do believe that the Linux CLI is harder up front because you can’t fumble your way through, but people need to get this silly notion out of their head that the CLI=user unfriendly.
Now that I got that off my chest I am happy to see that HP feels that it is confident enough not to include the CLI. I’d have to say that I would prefer to use the CLI, but if Linux has evolved to where they can accomplish everything without it all the better. I am all for making Linux as accessible as possible and if removing the CLI does that great. All that sounds good, but HP is being absurd about this. Think about it, Windows has a CLI and they ship thousands of Windows machines a day without disabling its CLI. Why is that? If you call Comcast and tell them you are having internet problems what is the first thing they are going to ask you to do? That is right open the CLI (or CMD for Windows I guess). And you type in a few commands and off they go to solve our problem. You almost get the picture that HP thinks what is holding Linux back from mainstream is that awful CLI, but it seems like a double standard not to disable the CLI on Windows. Truth be told, the king of gui, Apple, still allows access to the bash terminal. There isn’t much of anything that Apple hasn’t ported over to a pretty gui, honestly I can’t think of a single task that forces me to use the CLI yet even Apple realizes that some people might prefer it or that keeping it active might be an asset rather than a determent. So basically every computer user on the planet has access to a CLI, and, despite what cliphobes would like you to believe, people STILL get by using their computer.
People it is time we get this phobia of the CLI out of our minds. It is great to see that HP made a version of Linux that it believes needs no CLI, but at the same time I don’t think that people are going to avoid the Mini Mi because it has the option to use the CLI. If you don’t want to use it than you can ignore it like so many Apple and Windows users already do.