Tommy visited chain stores in Atlanta and Columbus, as well as a small Atlanta retailer, and drew all the blank looks I expected.

One Geek Squad member suggested he go online, and said Dell is selling kit. An H-P representative he happened upon admitted they got nothing.

This is why Linux remains, in the desktop and laptop space, a hobbyist market. It only exists through the online channels hobbyists use.

This is true even though Linux is lighter in its use of system resources than Windows, and many popular applications come in Linux versions.

Of course, when Wal-Mart offered bargain Linux boxes last year they flew off the shelves. It’s not a question of demand.

It’s a question of supply. Retailers insist on higher-priced goods for the sake of their margins. Microsoft’s policies push manufacturers into putting Windows on everything they push down the channel.

Yet I’ve seen how Value-Added Resellers can up-sell hardware and capture niches for Linux, in areas like retailing and education.

For most consumers, however, there’s still a big gap between them and a Linux laptop. Stores.

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