Can Canonical And IBM Boost Non-Intel Netbooks?


Good news for the awaited ARM-based Netbook roll-out is that IBM has gone in with Canonical to make the latter’s Ubuntu Linux operating system and IBM applications software available for Netbooks.

OK, the package is only available in Africa, but it means that IBM reckons Ubuntu is ready to go, and that means the biggest obstacle to getting ARM-based Netbooks into the market could be sorted.


With Intel motoring like crazy on its Netbook programme, planning to manufacture 32nm Atoms in the next six months, planning to package  a GPU with the 32nm Atom die, and announcing an Atom Apps Store (don’t panic: the SDK doesn’t exist yet),  the ARM camp needs to show product before the idea of a non-Intel Netbook becomes outlandish.


You only have to look at the EC’s evidence published this week, showing how Intel’s influence persuaded HP, Acer and Lenovo to delay the launch of AMD-based products, to wonder what kind of arm-twisting and inducements are being applied to Netbook software developers, and to the Taiwanese OEMs, about any plans they may have for a Qualcomm-based Netbook, or Freescale, Nvidia, Marvell, TI or Samsung based Netbooks.


Key to the success of non-Intel Netbooks is usability. Windows does not seem to be an option, so Windows-oriented users need to be able to move to a Linux-based software platform seamlessly, easily and hassle-free.


If IBM’s software package has managed to achieve this, then the IBM distribution muscle could ensure that an ARM-Ubuntu-IBM model could penetrate other markets than Africa.


Meanwhile the amount of energy being generated by Intel in the Netbook market suggests it is out to smother the fledglings before they can get out of the egg.



  1. Yes nick, that’s my experience. The Atom Netbooks seem to have crept back up in price to the laptop price, and the ARM-based, $200 Netbooks, are largely yet to appear. It’s a bit frustrating. Qualcomm, Freescale, ARM say these Netbooks will be out in Q4 but the retail scene seems strangely quiet about it.

  2. My first Linux machine was the Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu (I discovered I hated the ugly desktop but luckily there was choice galore and I use one called KDE4.3 whch is gorgeous).
    Im an engineer, not a software guy, but over two decades working on XP and Mac means I have some basic knowledge and so far was pleasantly surprised.
    Throw in the fact that it doenst cost me a penny and that I can make my 10 yr old ThinkpadA21 with 8mb video card run nicely as well as my son’s 6 year old Celeron laptop run nicely AND have it updated every 6 months, its been a non-issue.
    My kids have no problem, the wife unit who does the usual light stuff loves it and my dad borrowed my laptop for a week while he was getting his fixed and asked me if I could install Leenux on his too.
    One year later and were thinking of getting another netbook since we fight over it more often than we do for our 1500$ HP. (Not planning to upgrade anything for a long, long time… something taht Im sure manufacturers dont like to hear) but prices are EXACTLY the same they were when the netbooks first hit the big time last summer, if not even more expensive.
    So Im definitely in the market for a 200$ netbook.
    Right now we are trapped with the MS imposed limitations (seriously, isnt it weird/scary/weird that the only options we have is 1GB ram and 160HD?) and a market which is risking becoming stagnant.
    Of course ARM based netbooks are nose to nose with Duke Nukem Forever as to who will come out first.

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