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      In the era of the netbook, Microsoft came up with some crazy requirements for netbooks, like too low RAM-size ceiling and a not too capable CPU. OEM manufacturers had to comply, to be allowed to put a less expensive netbook-version of Windows on it.

      Revisionist history much? Netbooks were limited because of the price, chipset, and the fact the early ones ran Linux and could get away with it.

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        The first Netbooks[1] such as the EeePC ran Linux. This didn’t have very much to do with the lower power CPU (Firefox and OpenOffice were painfully slow on Linux on these machines, just as they were on Windows), it was because even an OEM Windows license was around 25% of RRP for these machines and so manufacturers couldn’t hit their desired price point with Windows. Microsoft responded to this with a special Netbook OEM license that imposed some tight constraints on the hardware, so that manufacturers couldn’t use the programme to get cheap licenses for more powerful machines. This ended up with things branded as Netbooks being crippled relative to ‘real’ laptops. They were also introduced at about the same time as the iPad and Android tablets and so ended up being compared unfavourably to these machines, which (initially, at least) hit a fairly similar price point and were more capable.

        [1] Well, the first Netbook was the Psion netBook, back in 1999, which ran EPOC32/Symbian, but the first machines after Intel appropriated the trademark some years later shipped with Linux.

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      My ZG5 (1Gb RAM, 160Gb HD) runs 32-bit MX Linux quite happily without any particular configuration needs. I’ve also run Q4OS Trinity and Refracta on it without issues. I haven’t tried any BSDs on it yet, but I’ve installed FreeBSD on an Asus 701 4G eeePC (1Gb RAM, 4Gb SSD) without issues in the past. It’s now running Haiku OS, even though it doesn’t meet the resolution requirements, and even the wifi works.

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      I actually miss my old netbooks even today. They were quite popular when I was doing my last few years at university (~2010), and while they were terrible in performance, they ran Emacs which was nearly everything I needed back then. I had just started using org-mode and realized that it could handle my paper drafts, my calendar and nearly everything else.

      I’ve only bought small and silly laptops ever since, typing this on my Xiaomi Mi Air 12.5” which is terrific aside from only having 4 GB of RAM (soldered on…).

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      These machines were almost worthless when they were brand new! I had a few and they basically couldn’t run anything other than a verrrrry slow web browser, and they frequently had weird hardware issues which were impossible to fix. They cost around $200-300, before smartphones and tablets were available, so they scooped up the bottom of the market. On the positive side they did lead to Chromebooks which millions of students use and seem to be happy with.