How I Shopped for An Ubuntu Laptop

So, I’ve been shopping for a new laptop for a few months. I’ve got an old Thinkpad T23 that is showing it’s age — both in terms of performance and functionality. It has developed a number of minor quirks over the years, as most well-loved laptops do. Numlock is flaky, the PCMCIA port is flaky, everything is just broken enough to be annoying — but not broken enough to fix.

Well, that changed recently when the optical drive failed. It was time to go shopping for an Ubuntu laptop. Here’s a recap of my decision process. Continue reading


Wall Street Journal’s Mossberg Gives Ubuntu a Look

Yes, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg is an influential guy. He can make-or-break products with his columns and product reviews. And he has taken a look at Ubuntu. Before you slam Walt for pointing out Ubuntu’s potential weak points, I think the Ubuntu community has to take a deep breath and admit the Walt has some valid points.

Continue reading

Getting to Know ZaReason’s CEO

Sure, Dell is new to the Ubuntu PC market. But plenty of smaller PC suppliers have long supported Ubuntu. One prime example: ZaReason Inc., a PC maker made up of volunteers. I reached out to Cathy Malmrose, CEO of ZaReason, to get a feel for the company’s customer base and market position, and to get her views on Ubuntu’s longer-term prospects. Here’s a look at our conversation as it occurred over email. Continue reading

Will Dell Help or Hurt Rival Linux PC Suppliers?

Here’s some interesting commentary from Cathy Malmrose of, a small supplier of PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. I asked Cathy if Dell’s move into the Ubuntu market would help or hurt ZAreason’s business.

Sure, I gave her a loaded softball question. Naturally, she thinks Dell promoting Ubuntu is a win-win for the Linux industry and ZAreason. However, take a closer look at what she had to say and you’ll see some interesting perspective. Cathy notes that there might be multiple market niches for Ubuntu desktop systems over the long haul.

Continue reading

Who Preloads Ubuntu on PCs?

Much of the Linux community is waiting to for Dell to introduce PCs with Ubuntu pre-loaded in North America. But if you can’t wait for Dell to deliver the goods, there are alternatives.

Check out, and for a look at small PC suppliers that are loyal to the open source community. In some ways, these companies remind me of the mom-and-pop hardware stores that ultimately wind up competing with The Home Depots of the world (in this case, Dell).