Would you crowdfund a $500 Ubuntu "open to the core" laptop?

UPDATE 2 (11/28) - We're 77% of the way to 1000.  I guesstimate we would have raised at least $300,000 if this we're a live campaign.

UPDATE - I've removed the silly US restriction.  I know there are more options in Europe, China, India, etc, but why shouldn't you get access to the "open to the core" laptop! This would definitely come with at least 3 USB ports (and at least one USB 3.0 port).

Since Jolla had success with crowdfunding a tablet, it's a good time to see if we can get some mid-range Ubuntu laptops for sale to consumers in as many places as possible.  I'd like to get some ideas about whether there is enough demand for a very open $500 Ubuntu laptop.

Would you crowdfund this? (Core Goals)

  • 15" 1080p Matte Screen
  • 720p Webcam with microphone
  • Spill-resistant and nice to type on keyboard
  • Intel i3+ or AMD A6+
  • Built-in Intel or AMD graphics with no proprietary firmware
  • 4 GB Ram
  • 128 GB SSD (this would be the one component that might have to be proprietary as I'm not aware of another option)
  • Ethernet 10/100/1000
  • Wireless up to N
  • HDMI
  • SD card reader
  • CoreBoot (No proprietary BIOS)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 preloaded of course
  • Agreement with manufacturer to continue selling this laptop (or similar one) with Ubuntu preloaded to consumers for at least 3 years.

Stretch Goals? Or should they be core goals?

Will only be added if they don't push the cost up significantly (or if everyone really wants them) and can be done with 100% open source software/firmware.
  • Touchscreen
  • Convertible to Tablet
  • GPS
  • FM Tuner (and built-in antenna)
  • Digital TV Tuner (and built-in antenna)
  • Ruggedized
  • Direct sunlight readable screen
  • "Frontlight" tech.  (think Amazon PaperWhite)
  • Bluetooth
  • Backlit keyboard
  • USB Power Adapter
Take my quick survey if you want to see this happen.  If at least 1000 people say "Yes," I'll approach manufacturers.   The first version might just end up being a Chromebook modified with better specs, but I think that would be fine.

Survey Closed.

32 bit usage - survey results

Running 32 bit Ubuntu when the hardware technically can do 64 bit 32 bit running on 64 bit capable hardware

  • hardware issues varied from EUFI 32 bit only, to printer and driver issues
  • application included wine (try building wine on 64 bit...)  and virtualization
    • some 64 bit users use 32 bit images for virtualization to use less RAM
    • Not in survey but I know of others who use 32 bit specifically to work with Android.

Arch vs Desktop Environment vs Release

Desktop environments vs arch vs release

Please do not use this to really compare desktop environments!  If multiple answers I took the least resource intensive one! (Next time I do this.. I should just require users to pick a primary one)

 Impacts over Releases

Impact
  • Switch from Ubuntu - also includes plans to stay on old unsupported version until hardware dies
  • Moderate is somewhat a catch all
  • If I do this again, I should just have a 1-5 sliding scale, in addition to a text field.
  • Users are concerned about having to throw out old machines, not having an upgrade path to go from 32-> 64 bits, and the cost to upgrade.
  • Select Comments (many more in the raw data of course!)
    • As an aspiring software developer, phasing out 32 bit support would be great for me as it means one less build to maintain.
    • I plan on reinstalling Ubuntu on this laptop as a 64bit install at some point anyway.
    • Unless the schedule changes, no impact. We're planning to do the switch late 2015 / early 2016.
    • I will have to stay on 16.04 forever on that machine. The needed drivers are not going to be available in an open-source form.
    • My parents + my children have no PC
    • we have old PC's in the hospital and i don't think this hardware would be upgraded.
    • If the majority of freely given computers we receive are still 32-bit by then, we'd have to respin another distro. But, like PowerPC; all good things must come to an end.
    • Just need to figure out how to make the switch. If it means re-installing, bah.
    • It is terrible, because my eeePC only has 1GB in it.
    • One more reason to decommission the hardware.
I think the original plan can still work, but like any good survey we know have more questions to ask!
  • Lubuntu/Xubuntu support for 14.04 LTS is 3 years not 5.   It's going to be a LOT higher impact if they don't have support in 2019/2020 (which would be the case if 16.04 is 3 years too).   This could obviously be mitigated by moving 32 bit to ports and having it be opt in.  Lubuntu/Xubuntu 18.04 with 3 years would get us to 2021.
  • What can we do to make virt use less RAM?  (Lots of Virtualbox)
  • What can we do to make bare metal use less RAM?
  • Building Wine on 64 bit? (The two easiest methods are defunct if we remove 32 bit images I think... http://wiki.winehq.org/WineOn64bit)
  • Can we do an actual upgrade path?  Or at least start officially testing 32->64 "upgrade" re-installs?
Just to complete the application compatibility story (not from survey), Games are starting to be 64-bit only: Raw Data can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1iA062pCR1ayAMEKveUToEhq--9awyDXTEaL4fhsj8TU/edit?pli=1#gid=0

Still running 32 bit Ubuntu?

I'm considering a proposal to have 16.04 LTS be the last release of Ubuntu with 32 bit images to run on 32 bit only machines (on x86 aka Intel/AMD only - this has no bearing on ARM). You would still be able to run 32 bit applications on 64 bit Ubuntu.

Please answer my survey on how this would affect you or your organization.

Please only answer if you are running 32-bit (x86) Ubuntu! Thanks!

Form Closed.

Comments

  • dragonbite says:

    Something like this is inevitable, but 32 bit is still helpful to have available.

    Myself, I have a number of old, single-core desktops running Ubuntu Server that cannot handle 64 bits, but are able to work as servers just fine.

    I also have a 64bit capable netbook I run 32bit Lubuntu on because of resources.

    Maybe make it so that a minimal disk or server disk is available 32 bit for a little bit longer, after it is dropped for desktop-orientated systems. Those that need a desktop and 32bit can install minimum and then add whatever is needed for the circumstance.

    1. Rob van der Linde says:

      Do I have to fill in the form for each machine I run, it looks like it as there is no field for how many machines?

      I run 6 PC’s at home, all on 64 bit Kubuntu. My work machine is also 64 bit Kubuntu, and my 2 VM’s are also 64 bit. In fact, every VM I use at work is 64 bit as well.

      That’s 9 machines on 64 bit and none on 32, I haven’t run 32 bit for years now.

      Then I also have a couple of Beagleboards also running Trusty, but that’s ARM.

      1. bob says:

        Did you miss this: “Please only answer if you are running 32-bit (x86) Ubuntu!” ???

        1. Bryan says:

          To be fair, I added it because I was getting a lot of 64 bit users responding. Still it’s in the title…

  • vasilisc says:

    My organization use Ubuntu Server LTS 32bits in virtual enviroment.

    1. Bryan says:

      Why? and what version of Ubuntu?

      1. vasilisc says:

        1) Virtual Machine with guest OS Ubuntu Server LTS 32bit less consumption RAM, right? 2) Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS

        1. Bryan says:

          It is less RAM consumption, but usually in the 64 MB to 128 MB range. Obviously can be worse depending on the app you are running.

          Generally the performance trade off makes it not worth it.

  • Ali Linx says:

    Hi, it is good idea to run such surveys and it is good point to bring on the table. Old machines should not go to trash unless these are 100% dead. I realized that even Lubuntu or other distributions won’t be helpful in the coming years and for that, I have created this project: http://torios.org/ which is still Alpha at the moment but we are moving forward with solid steps and Beta is just around the corner. Now, ToriOS is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS which is well-known to be better on old hardware than 14.04 LTS and for that reason, I insisted to base ToriOS on 12.04 and the team has agreed. Now, what could happen when 16.04 is out and just in case Canonical decided to end the 32bit support by that cycle? or perhaps even before that? 14.04 LTS could be the last one? who knows? not to worry, ToriOS will make sure that old machines will stay in service as long as possible. Only time can tell and prove that 🙂

    Thanks!

  • Walter Lapchynski says:

    My workplace uses 32 bit machines almost exclusively, using Ubuntu Server and FreeBSD for servers and Kubuntu for desktop. We have a mission that includes a commitment to being good environmental stewards. Our machines come from the local electronics recycling store. I admit we are a strange case, but why should we abandon our commitment to older machines when we officially support something committed to them (Lubuntu)?

    That being said, reading Mark Shuttleworth’s wiki page recently helped me understand that Ubuntu is not the distro for every case. Limited scope is necessary to achieve intended goals.

    Still, I love Ubuntu and it’s community but don’t want to contribute to landfills by buying new stuff just to keep using it.

    On the other hand one of our staff has been looking for the excuse to go FreeBSD as a desktop (note we are a manufacturer of a mechanical product i.e. our staff is largely not computer savvy). Please don’t make those of us at the company that provide user support suffer that curse!

    I guess the possibility exists to do community supported releases like we do for ppc, no?

    Finally, do I really need to fill this out for every machine? There are 30-40 of them.

    1. Bryan says:

      >I guess the possibility exists to do community supported releases like we do for ppc, no?

      Members of the Lubuntu community have already expressed interest in making it community supported for Lubuntu. So the possibility definitely exists. Please do fill out the form as though that’s not going to happen though…

      >Finally, do I really need to fill this out for every machine? There are 30-40 of them. Generally no, just one entry and say their are 35 of them. If there are substantial differences between them breaking them up could be useful..

      One thing I have noticed is that there is a high rate of people thinking they have a 32-bit machine when they have on capable of 64 bit. The only way I can confirm that myself is be seeing the processor. Then having RAM is useful to, because 64 bit on 1 GB is not fun.

      Of the last, let’s say 5, machines you got from the recycling how many were 64 bit capable?

      1. Walter Lapchynski says:

        > One thing I have noticed is that there is a high rate of people thinking they have a 32-bit machine when they have on capable of 64 bit. The only way I can confirm that myself is be seeing the processor. Then having RAM is useful to, because 64 bit on 1 GB is not fun. Of the last, let’s say 5, machines you got from the recycling how many were 64 bit capable?

        I understand your plight. I just wish there was a way to include info for multiple machines at a time. We actually have several machines that are of the same model and everything.

        Most of the machines we have are HP dc7800 SFF (SKU#GC760AV), using an Intel Core 2 Duo T5470 (type 0, family 6, model 15, stepping 13). So it is actually 64 bit capable, since /proc/cpuinfo does include the “lm” flag.

        We made the decision to go with 32 bit since we didn’t know what we’d end up with. I think that this may not be so relevant any more. That being said, how would we solve this? We would have to re-install every machine? You can’t “upgrade” to 64 bit can you?

        1. Bryan says:
          We made the decision to go with 32 bit since we didn’t know what we’d end up with. I think that this may not be so relevant any more. That being said, how would we solve this? We would have to re-install every machine? You can’t “upgrade” to 64 bit can you?
          You can reinstall in place (but backup first!) and choose the “Upgrade Ubuntu” option in the installer. I’ve moved machines from 32 to 64 bit using it, but it’s not heavily tested. One of the big things I’ve gotten from this survey to make an 32->64 supported upgrade path (even if it can’t be a dist-upgrade path).

  • javier says:

    I am using Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS 32 bit installed with Wubi! Main OS: Vista Business 32bit

    1. Bryan says:

      As a server? 10.04 for the destkop isn’t supported for 1.5+ years now.

  • Walter Lapchynski says:

    One other thought: are you dropping 32-bit support across all chips or is this only affecting Intel chips? Since Lubuntu is supporting PPC (primarily 32-bit), it would be a huge bummer if this affected PPC, too.

    1. Bryan says:

      This survey/proposal isn’t touching on PPC.

  • BGBgus says:

    But, what would happen to the rest of tastes of Ubuntu? Distros like Xubuntu depends on “small” computers and give us a way to keep using our old but still working PC’s.

    I admit, I would never use Unity on my Pentium, but i still like to keep my repositories updated. Will Xubuntu just disapear? I could look for another GNU’s distribution, but it’s still a lost.

  • oldcomputerfan says:

    Hallo, Ich würde es schade finden wenn die 32 BIT Versionen weg fallen. Dann wird es viele auf Ubuntu- basierende Distributionen für ältere Computer nicht mehr geben. Gruß

  • Aaron says:

    Hi…

    I run Lubuntu 14.04 32 bit on both my laptop and desktop systems. For myself personally, although my laptop is a 64 bit system, I’ve purposely chosen the 32 bit version of Lubuntu because I’ve found that a couple Linux games (that are available in the repositories) don’t crash with segmentation fault errors as they did when I was running Ubuntu 10.04 64 bit. I’m inclined to think there are still bugs to iron out with respect to running 32 bit programs on 64 bit Linux operating systems.

    As part of my work as a computer repair technician, I’ve also installed a 32 bit versions of Linux for a couple clients with older systems where (installing) Windows was not an option, including for financial reasons. This is where Linux fills an important role. The fact that there are 32 bit distributions available, free of charge, for older systems helps keep perfectly usable computers in the hands of those who cannot afford (or easily afford) to purchase a new(er) computer. And there are many people out there who are poor and in tight positions financially.

    For this reason especially, I request (for all distributions within the Ubuntu family) that this decision be delayed until enough 32 bit computers have been recycled/disposed of to where those that are left are in the extreme minority.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. 🙂

    1. Bryan says:

      That is the goal… determining how judge when minority is the right time is the hard part.

      Please do test those games on 16.04 64-bit when you get a chance – feel free to report bugs here.

        1. Bryan says:

          Yea, we generally don’t have enough resources to review every bug people report, sorry. If you can reproduce on Ubuntu 16.04, please report a new bug.

          Feel free to ping me here or on LP, if you find it still occurs.

          1. Aaron says:

            Thanks! 🙂

          2. Aaron says:

            Hi Bryan…

            If I have an occasion to try 16.04, I might do that. 🙂

  • witchyseattle says:

    I myself am on a 32 bit and it would be devastating if I no longer could download Ubuntu. Isn’t the whole point is inclusion ? I only have 2 gig of RAM and cannot use a 64 on this laptop. So much for Ubuntu, they should change their name to sell out, because they are leaving a whole bunch of people behind, just because they are not running 64 bit and that is not fair !

    1. Bryan says:

      First of all, no decision has been made – in fact 32 bit is fully supported for 16.04 LTS. Secondly, Ubuntu is available for free and it costs money for each architecture supported.

      Provide cat /proc/cpuinfo and we can double check if you definitely can’t run 64 bit.

  • Timothy D Lynch says:

    I still use 32 bit on about 5 units and would most likely switch to another distro with 32 bit support to have the uniform. This is the same reason I waited so long to change from 10.04 Ubuntu and will most likely go from 12.04 and do 2 upgrades to 16.04 to use Mate. Old Hardware. I guess I’m cheap and if the hardware is still working I keep using it. The getting it on the cheap is why I quite using Window even though at one time I owned a business supporting it.

  • Weasel says:

    Well I’m late to the party I suppose. I find it absurd to drop an architecture like x86 (32) when you support PPC, but that doesn’t matter.

    For most VMs, 32-bit is much better as it uses less resources. Not just RAM, but disk as well. Especially if you want to run 32-bit apps within the VM, which would require multilib, making the disk space difference that much more than on a pure 32-bit VM. Anyway, running multiple “slim” VMs in parallel tends to make it that much more obvious.

    Look, if you don’t want to support 32-bit as in “test it on every ‘ancient’ machine” then that’s still not so bad as dropping it. The problem isn’t only lack of technical support here, but as you see, LACK OF DOWNLOAD. You can drop “technical support” without dropping the download ISO file for those interested, like to run it in a VM — why should we care of real hardware anyway? Still, we need an iso. To me it just sounds like an excuse to be honest.

    But you take it away from everyone by dropping the download image. That’s why it needs to be preserved as an OPTION, even if not on main download page. Some things need to be “preserved”. Either way bandwidth wouldn’t be a problem since if it’s rarely downloaded then it doesn’t matter.

    “Popularity” isn’t the issue. It’s just having it available for anyone wishing to use it (e.g. for a VM).

    As a sidenote, people on the internet keep throwing around the word “use VM for old stuff” but how to use VM when we’re not provided the OS anymore? wtf.

 

Ubuntu 14.04 LiveCD Memory Usage Compared

memoryusagegraph

I did a comparison when 14.04 was first released on the memory usage of different Ubuntu flavors.   Some takeaways:

  • Lubuntu has zRam (automatically compress memory to save space) enabled by default making it hands down the most usable version with low-memory.  It's the only flavor to have it enabled on the LiveCD.
  • The real cost of 64 vs 32 bit is usually only 128 MB.
  • Lubuntu (32-bit) still boots with just 160 MB of RAM!
  • The Ubuntu kernel can't boot with only 128 MB of RAM.
All testing was done in virtual machines (Virtualbox) and obviously with different hardware you're results will vary.   You can infer some of my methodology from the notes below.   This was done months ago and I don't remember all of the details.  The results may have changed with software updates, especially to Firefox.

Spreadsheet

Raw testing notes

Help people move to L/Ubuntu from Windows XP!

In preparation for the Cherry Hill Library's XP to Linux Installfest I made a website, presentation and worksheet.

InstallFestPresentation Introduces Ubuntu and Lubuntu for non-technical users and also how today's installfest will work.

InstallFestWorksheet A place for the user to write down what they use their computer for.   And a place for the installfest helpers to write down what works/doesn't in the LiveCD test.

Items mentioned in the worksheet: The liability release is specific to this Installfest.   As for the survey mentioned, I'm very curious just how many non-pae machines or 32 x86 machines there are still in the wild.

Let me know what you think and feel free to modify/use/whatever.  (If you need a license consider the docs under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License).

Survey Results

Results from my survey on 64 bit vs 32 bit usage on Unity.    The raw survey results are also available.  Feel free to do your own analysis.

Format:  # of machines - information about them..

Out of the 32 bit only machines:

4 - that are likely 32 bit only, but didn't provide enough information to confirm 1 - doesn't work so well, old savage card, 700 MB of RAM, Ubuntu 12.04 (so 2d only)

*Remaining 14 32 bit only machines: 5 - with 1 GB of ram 9 - with 1.5 GB of ram or more

Ubuntu Version: 6 - 13.04 1 - 12.10 7 - 12.04

Processor: 7 - Intel Atom

From comments, 3 of these 32 bit only users find Unity slow, but usable. (All three are Atom N270/N280)

64 bit capable but:

2 - that should be 64 capable (and the users know this), but it doesn't work..  If this is you, please file a bug! 2 - have 64 bit capable machines (and 2GB of ram) and don't actually know it. 5 - have 64 bit capable machines, but run 32 bit Ubuntu (1 with 1 GB of RAM who mentions that the dash is slow)

Other scenarios:

1 - machine stuck at 12.04 because 12.10 requires PAE (is this true?) 1 - Parallels VM that has better performance on 32 bit from user 2 - that actually use other desktop environments cause they find Unity unusable ("Unity is unuseable because i only have 1 GIG Ram")

Not particularly relevant:

1 - let's not discuss this again... 1  - armv7 :) 9 - users who have 64 bit machines that work fine and responded anyway.. 1 - running Unity on servers...

Conclusion?

For some reason whenever I do a survey I expect that the results will clearly paint the way to go forward.   They almost never do, but they can be used to start discussions.  I'm particularly concerned about the 2 users with 64 bit capable machines which they can't get to run 64 bit.

Some people have 64 bit machines with low RAM and would also be better served with a lighter option.  Others have quite beefy 32 bit machines with 4GB of RAM and a nice video card that can rock Unity.   Also some motherboard manufacturers disabled 64 bit support even though the processor supported it...  awesome.

To default to 32 or 64 bit when downloading Ubuntu?

Given the data, I think we can make a better exception case for 32 bit now..  Right now,  it says: "If you have a PC with the Windows 8 logo or UEFI firmware, choose the 64-bit download. Read more I think it's easier for most people to see and understand: "If you have a 5+ year old PC,  a 3+ year old netbook, or 1 GB of ram choose the 32 bit version." *

Thoughts?

  • Theoretically we could even provide instructions for our users to figure this out.  Add a "Not sure?" in that case.

Running Ubuntu/Unity on a machine that is not 64 bit capable?

I have a theory and I would like your help to disprove it (like all good science, aim to disprove it first).

The basic theory is that there are very few computers in one of these groups that is also not in the other:

  • 64 Bit Capable hardware
  • Machines that can run Ubuntu/Unity
Or in other words:  If you can run Ubuntu with Unity you almost definitely have 64 bit capable hardware. And, if you have 64 bit hardware you can run Ubuntu with Unity.

Help prove me wrong!  Answer the following questions (only submit if you answer yes to either):

If you can't see the form below, click here.