6 Reasons Why Linux Phones and Laptops Aren’t Cheap

MakeUseOf | 9/2/2019 | Bertel King
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Linux is free as in freedom and free as in cost, but that doesn’t mean it comes cheap. Sure, you can download a GNU-based operating system and load it up on your computer without paying a cent. But if you want to buy a PC that already has a free and open source desktop pre-installed, that’s going to cost you, and it’s probably going to cost you a lot.

Why is this? Let’s look at six reasons that preinstalled Linux hardware doesn’t come cheap.

Linux - Operating - System - Servers - Internet

Linux is the dominant operating system on servers. It’s spreading rapidly among Internet of Things devices and hardware intended for tinkerers.

Linux is not all that popular on the desktop. That means if you want to buy a computer with Linux pre-installed, you’re one of the few people who do.

Number - People - Desire - Phone - GNU

An even smaller number of people have a strong desire to run a Linux-powered phone running GNU software (in contrast to Android phones, which run on top of the Linux kernel but have virtually nothing in common with the Linux desktop). Which is why efforts to ship such phones have yet to find success.

The manufacturers that produce processors, storage drives, graphics cards, and other PC components prefer to ship large volumes of units. If someone assembling a laptop places an order for millions of components, they will get a discount. If they order a small number, they will have to pay a premium, if the manufacturer will do business with them at all.

PC - Distributors - Companies - Handful - Employees

Linux PC distributors tend to be small companies with a handful of employees. They generate relatively small sales compared to large multinational conglomerates like Samsung and Dell. As a result, they can’t approach Intel or NVIDIA with the same kind of leverage. And unlike Samsung, they don’t produce their own components, such as hard drives and LCD displays.

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