Xiaomi's Macbook Pro killer will run Linux

In today's open source roundup: Xiaomi ponders a Linux-based Macbook Pro killer. Plus: Is the new Moto 360 the prettiest smartwatch? And the newest Android Wear watch styles and sizes

Xiaomi's Macbook Pro killer will run Linux

Xiaomi is known for its popular clones of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Now the Chinese company is rumored to be working on a Linux-based alternative to Apple's Macbook Pro laptop.

Simon Rockman reports for The Register:

The new lappie is rumoured to be a high-end 15" notebook pitched at the MacBook...at half the price. Rumours of the project have leaked to Bloomberg from component suppliers, who say that the company has been talking to Samsung about supplying memory and possibly displays.

Xiaomi has the deep pockets to take on the highly competitive, shrinking and thin-margin computer business. It has raised $1.4bn from investors and has grown to be the number-two smartphone in China on a growth curve that will soon take it ahead of Apple for the top spot.

Taiwanese website Digitimes claims that the new laptop will eschew Windows for Linux. This is a move that might point to a port of the Xiaomi MIUI user interface used on the phones to the laptop and would be consistent with the company’s plans to be a source of content as well as hardware.

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The rumor about a Xiaomi Macbook Pro killer spawned a large thread in the Linux subreddit:

Iamyounow: ”They are basically forking the ChromeOS strategy by Google but using a better windowing manager and better app support. If the Crouton guy can do it on a budget, then why be pessimistic about Xiaomi can do for the market. ”

Britzer: ”Apple creates all their software themselves. AFAIR, Nokia had a couple times more people working on their software than Apple had. So Apple makes all their software (OSX, iOS, iWork, etc.) with a comparatively small workforce. Small teams can sometimes, with the right management, get a lot done in software developement.

So Xiaomi could just as well take the Linux kernel and their billion dollars and do everything they want with it. Since they are an Android company, they might include an Android emulator for running Android apps in Windows, perhaps? Why not, with a touchscreen?. They could create their own office suite or polish up LibreOffice. Though I think we would have heard of that by now, because LibreOffice has a very transparent developement process. A sudden influx of Chinese developers and code would have been noticed. Except if they went Apple style and simply took the product, work on it in secret for x months and then do a huge code dump.

But that is not Xiaomi style. As much as they want to emulate Apple's success, their own success stems from the community and the feedback. I don't think they would throw that away. Then there are alternatives. Gnome3 with Abiword? If they polish up the filters for MS Office exchange? Then there is KDE4 with Calibre. Or they could simply include a proprietary office suite like Kingsoft or Softmaker.

A lot of things are possible. Especially if they do it right. Nokia obviously failed, even though they partnered up with Intel. I am still mourning MeeGo over here. ”

Franklygeorge: ”I'm not saying that Apple doesn't toss a whole lot of stuff on top of the base system, but let's give credit where it's due. Xiaomi could probably do something very similar if they used the Elementary project as a base or wrote their own desktop environment.”

Britzer: ”Just like Apple took FreeBSD and put a lot of stuff on it (a whole office suite, for example) and good old khtml and equally worked a lot into it, Xiaomi certainly has the funds to do similar things on the GNU/Linux kernel. Except that I wish they wouldn't do it Apple style (code dumps and proprietary office).”

Kreig: ”This is difficult to believe, because contrary to what lot of people say, entry level Macbooks are not overpriced and they have not been for the last decade. Any comparable notebook costs the same or more. Of course people like to compare $300 Windows notebooks with Macbook Airs and somehow they think it makes sense. Xiaomi might produce a competitive notebook for a very good price but it won't be at the same level. Just look at their Smartphones, they have great innards but as a package they are not yet at the same level as iPhones or even Nexusii.”

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