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Acer's crippled GNU/Linux

by root Contributions Published on Dec 01, 2009 03:45 PM
A free software supporter alerted us to a crippled version of GNU/Linux shipping on some of Acer's netbooks.

A few weeks ago, a free software supporter encountered an Acer netbook that came pre-loaded with a distribution of GNU/Linux. GNU/Linux has made real headway in the netbook market, so nothing unusual here, and you would think any free software supporter would be delighted to encounter GNU/Linux pre-installed on a mass market product.

However, there was a problem. The distribution in question (provided by a company called Linpus that offers distributions for the Asian market -- the netbook in question was sold in the Philippines) lacked almost every basic feature you would expect from a modern GNU/Linux distribution.

There was no graphical interface. There was no web browser or word processor, or if there was, there was no clear way to start one. The distribution (as our correspondent observed) seemed destined as a simple placeholder, waiting to be overwritten by a proprietary operating system (e.g. Windows 7 or XP).

The individual who wrote to us indicated that drivers for the machine's own hardware were not provided, and were not even available online. So that even if you wanted to keep the machine's free operating system in place, you were unable to take advantage of some of the netbook's most basic functions (like wireless networking).

We wrote to Acer asking them to use a functional, modern distribution of GNU/Linux, and their representatives did not respond. If you have more information about this crippled distro, or contacts within Acer who we could speak with, please be in touch: campaigns@fsf.org.

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