Back in 2007 when the netbook craze was just starting there was a lot of talk about Linux finally going mainstream. The first Eee PC model shipped with the Xandros distribution and several subsequent models offered both Windows and Linux options. The open source operating system allowed manufacturers to shave off some software costs, and the thinking was that people would opt for a lower cost Linux machine as opposed to a stripped-down Windows XP.
But that was never the case. Once Microsoft realized that netbooks were becoming a big seller, it started offering discounted licenses accompanied by a set of certain limitations on hardware, and has dominated the market since.
That's not going to change anytime soon but apparently Asus is renewing its commitment to open source and has revealed it will start shipping some of its Eee PC netbooks with Ubuntu 10.10 preloaded. The initial lineup will include the 1001PXD, 1011PX and 1015PX, with more models added through the year. The announcement was actually made by Canonical, who says they're on track to ship over 10 million netbooks preinstalled with Ubuntu this year.
Several vendors offer computers with Ubuntu pre-installed, including Dell and a few other smaller players. Besides supporting Ubuntu on future systems, Asus is also expected to release a netbook based on Intel's MeeGo later this year.