About a month ago I got a Raven tablet (basically a Lenovo X41) from Emperor Linux. I got it with Emperor’s modified Ubuntu. The experience was, frankly, very mixed. Lots of things didn’t work out of the box like I expected, but they eventually did a pretty good job helping me fix most of them. In the end I mostly got what I wanted- a working tablet, and a price signal sent to Lenovo and others that I want Linux supported on their laptops. (I did end up wasting a lot of time, which is the thing I very much wanted to avoid, but that is water under the bridge.)
I already addressed the state of tablet software as a result. I hope we can get on the ball there- I really think this is important.
Bigger picture, I’m boggled that Fedora, OpenSuse, and Ubuntu, all of whom have open or semi-open build systems now, are not actively seeking out Emperor and companies like Emperor, and helping them ship distros that are as close to upstream- and hence most supportable- for everyone. Obviously it is in RH, Canonical, and Novell’s interests to actively pursue Big Enterprise Fish like HP and Dell. But I’m really surprised that the communities around these distros haven’t sought out the smaller, and potentially growing, companies that are offering computers with Linux pre-installed. It seems like this is a win-win for everyone- the small companies could get help building more supportable and correct packages, and could require less expertise on their side of the fence, while the communities would get patches and concrete feedback from the companies, and would be able to point community members at a place where they could buy machines from those who directly work with their favorite distro. I mean, if I’m a Fedora user, I want to buy a machine with Fedora on it- and ideally a machine with a ‘well deployed’ Fedora- i.e., everything is packaged in accordance with Fedora standards, supportable via yum, etc. Surely it would behoove Fedora to be able to point me at such a box, as well as the traditional ‘buy any old box, pay your MS tax, and then install this ISO.’
Nothing particularly deep here- just seems like something I’m surprised no one is doing yet. Certainly it would have improved my Emperor experience a bit if some of their stuff had been packaged and managed instead of put in /opt/, and if their patches go upstream, it is a win for everyone.
16 thoughts on “some ponderings on emperor linux (and more pre-packaged linux in general)”
Luis Villa: Communities Should Help Small Linux OEMs Linked by Thom Holwerda on 2006-09-23 22:43:30 UTC GNOME’s Luis Villa has wrote an interesting entry in his blog, explaining why it is in Linux’s best interest that distribution communities seek out small Linux OEM companies
Based on discussions with Emperor Linux, they are not that interested in working with the distros. They seem to be very happy doing their own thing, having their own kernel and other bits that are special to them. But that was just my impression from talking to them.
I think System76 ships Ubuntu 6.06LTS untouched on its systems (http://system76.com/)
And they’ll send you a free Ubuntu case sticker for the price of two stamps, two envelopes, and the time/ink it takes to address them both.
I also once bought a laptop from EmperorLinux to avoid a lot of manual configuring, and the result was very disappointing. For all the time I used to configure things like sleep when I closed the lid, I could have simply bought the laptop directly from Lenovo and installed Ubuntu on my own. It simply was not worth the wait. What was worse, here is a company that generates buiness largely through web advertising, and do they respond to email queries on non-sales, technical problems? No! Yes, I know I can call them, but not all issues are so pressing as to require real time assistance. Interestingly, theirs was also the first laptop that I bought with faulty RAM memory. And guess whom they directed me to complain to? Lenovo. Well, I didn’t buy the laptop from Lenovo, I bought it from them. Customer courtesy if not legal requirements would suggest they provide me a replacement. That was the first and last time I will buy a computer from them. I may buy Linux pre-installed if larger OEMs start pre-installing Linux, but linux installation CD/DVDs, regardless of the distro, are now so good that the assistance of an “expert”, even a corporate expert, is really not needed as long as the hardware is well supported. The GNU/Linux initiate would be better off reading and studying the installation guide and doing it on their own anyway so that they can more knowledgably troubleshoot problems when they inevitably arise.
[…] Luis Villa: I’m boggled that Fedora, OpenSuse, and Ubuntu, all of whom have open or semi-open build systems now, are not actively seeking out Emperor and companies like Emperor, and helping them ship distros that are as close to upstream- and hence most supportable- for everyone. Obviously it is in RH, Canonical, and Novell’s interests to actively pursue Big Enterprise Fish like HP and Dell. But I’m really surprised that the communities around these distros haven’t sought out the smaller, and potentially growing, companies that are offering computers with Linux pre-installed. […]
I had a good experience buying a machine with Ubuntu pre-installed from Groovix ( http://groovix.com/ ), and if was in the market for a laptop, I’d probably go back to them to get it, just to avoid having to configure everything myself. Well, except that I ended up replacing Ubuntu with Debian on the machine I have, so I don’t really know what buying another machine with Ubuntu pre-installed would save me if I’m going to end up replacing it again. I guess I could at least be assured that I’m getting a laptop with components that are Linux compatible. If you’re Red Hat or Canonical, and you’re trying to get companies to look at your software and services, do you really want to be pushing hardware also? Isn’t one of the selling points of Linux that it runs well on commodity hardware? The consumer/retail market is too small and too fragmented, and probably will remain so. Unless the “one distro to rule them all” comes along, I don’t see the situation changing. But at least you *can* buy a computer with Linux pre-installed, and from a lot of different sources, even if they are mostly smallish companies. That wasn’t the case a few years ago.
Luis, you are incorrect in someways. Take a look at how well System76 and Ubuntu get along. The core ubuntu team helped System76 fix some x breakage fairly recently
Jeff: that’s great to hear; had not been aware of that.
Has anyone gotten GNOME to right click with a pen? Either there’s some simple configuration I’m missing here, or it just doesn’t do it yet. I’ve found a bug reported to GIMP complaining that the pen brings up right click menu, so it seems feasible at least =/
JL: works here; note that you have to be pressing on the screen, not just floating above it, to have it work.
I’ve worked personally with the Emperor Linux staff and have nothing but great things to say about them. I’ve seen a laptop perform with a recent distro and THERE customized version, and there is no doubt that there version looked noticably sharper and ran very well. Frankly, they can do a better job with their expertise and specialization than a generic distro.
For both the novice and the expert linux user, I saw excellent value in using Emperor especially for hardware costing a couple thousand. I want everything to look and work right and frankly, even with two weeks of my time, I’d still have a couple nagging issues to deal with on a more sluggish kernel.
I have a couple of friends that purchase their laptops from Emperor Linux and these friends know what they are doing, one being a linux programmer the other a consultant and security expert. They both recommended that I buy my next laptop from Emperor Linux. The past three weeks I’ve called Emperor Linux and they have been excellent at answering my questions even when I wasn’t a paying customer. I’ve ordered four Rhinos (Dell) this past week and am excitedly awaiting there arrival. Their courtesy, intelligence and thoughtful answers give me confidence that in the future when I need technical assistance they will provide it well.
I will be using fedora core 6.0 as I am switching from SuSE 10.2 since Novell has become cozy with Windoze.
Call Emperor Linux and ask them some questions. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with their support. In the past I’ve purchased four Dells. The machines are great but their support is off in India and I’ve never found the help for which I asked. This won’t be the case with EL.
To follow up to Jeff’s comment, for the sake of those who find this blog via google: Since my initial mixed experience, Emperor have been pros with my irregular yet demanding support requests, and very helpful. Assuming they’ve fixed some of the problems I’ve had, I’d recommend them.
[…] has wrote an interesting entry in his blog, explaining why it is in Linux’s best interest that distribution communities seek out small Linux OEM companies and help them in providing the best Linux experience possible. “Obviously it is in RH, Canonical, […]
I use a Dell E1705, purchased about a year ago, for routine work. I needed a linux distro on there so I can compile a binary for software I was working on so i decided to run ubuntu on there as I use it on my home PC as a dual boot and at work on our servers. I had a CD of ubuntu edgy handy and I used it to install. The install was flawless and I was online with wireless DHCP as soon as install was done and using everything else normally like I did before with windows. I upgraded to fiesty fawn now and the upgrade went flawlessly, all components still work and everything runs great :) I personally wouldn’t bother buying a custom kernel distro just for the sake of buying it but only if it was a viable choice that provided functionality a regular distro didnt. if I have a problem with my current laptop install I know there are thousands of people out there using the same vanilla ubuntu who might be able to help in some way, with a customized kernel the track record of companies that sell it is hit / miss. sometimes they know just what to do other times they dont…. just my opinion :)
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