The Disposable Laptop: With Linux and OpenOffice It Gets Even Cheaper

Ridgely Evers, founder of online service NetBooks (creator of Intuit’s QuickBooks) (and panelist at the Third Annual Small Business Summit 2008) has lamented that small businesses should consider buying used notebooks. His rationale is that when the laptop needs to be replaced you can afford to buy 2 or 3 laptops as spares and easily swap out the hard disk of the old one and use it in the new (for you), used, notebook.
IT journalist David Strom recently defended the case for low cost notebooks, as well, by suggesting that laptop buyers consider a $300 Asus notebook rather than a more expensive one from HP, Dell, Lenovo or Gateway.
He writes It makes sense to buy something that you can expense, throw away (or give to your users to keep as their own) or replace within a year. Think of how much money you currently spend on the fancier laptops that break down, get lost or damaged. Dribble some soda in its keyboard? No problem! Tossed from the overhead luggage bin by mistake? You can pick up another one tomorrow for not much more than a nice dinner.

The Asus notebook does not come with any fancy bells or whistles. In fact it comes with Linux and does not come with Microsoft Office. You can download a free version of OpenOffice however, which works quite well for most basic office productivity tasks.
Buying a notebook with Linux and OpenOffice is tempting, especially if it saves you hundreds of dollars, and could be useful for some businesses. However, if you know NOTHING about technology and from time to time ask others to help you – especially on the road – going with Linux could be a gamble.
If something goes wrong, you’ll find more super-geeks or at least technically inclined people who could assist with a Microsoft Windows 2000, XP or Visa issue than Linux.
If you have local support for Linux, it’s definitely a viable option. if you don’t – stick with what you know best.