zareason-ubuntu-netbook-terra_a20_1851It's official. ZaReason is launching an Ubuntu Linux netbook called the Terra A20, confirms CTO Earl Malmrose. The netbook has loads of options, including several solid state drive (SSD) configurations. Here are specifics about ZaReason's Ubuntu netbook, plus some observations from WorksWithU.

According to the email from Malmrose:
"Since ZaReason isn't beholden to operating system vendors that place artificial restrictions on system specs, we've loaded the Terra up with lots of great features."
In his email to me, Malmrose says ZaReason's Ubuntu netbook supports:
  1. Draft-N Wi-Fi as a standard feature. "This excellent card has open source drivers and provides excellent signal strength," he says.
  2. Internal mobile broadband option. "We've seen actual download rates at over 2 mbps. That's faster than many wired broadband speeds," he adds.
  3. Many storage options, including large capacity 5400 rpm drives, high speed 7200 rpm drives, and ultimate performance Intel SSDs.
  4. Several OS options, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and more.
  5. Every pixel matters in a small screen. Full 1024x600 display with a matte finish for reduced glare in a variety of viewing locations.
  6. Color options for the lid. "The mocha-colored netbook complements Ubuntu colors quite nicely," he says.
  7. Ubuntu branding. "We pioneered the Ubuntu-key, so of course it's got a nice big Ubuntu logo on the keyboard," says Malmrose.

Market Snapshot

ZaReason isn't alone in the Ubuntu netbook market. System76 recently upgraded its Ubuntu-based Starling Netbook to 2GB of RAM. And Dell continues to push ahead with its Ubuntu Mini netbook offering (www.dell.com/ubuntu). Hint: Watch for Dell to potentially make more mobile strategy announcements as Ubuntu 9.10 nears release.

Although Linux netbooks have been difficult to find on U.S. retail shelves, Ubuntu netbooks seem to be attracting an intense niche audience online. System76 had trouble keeping up with Ubuntu netbook demand in July, but company President Carl Richell tells me System76 has since addressed the supply-demand issue.

Similarly, ZaReason expects to see strong demand for its own Terra A20 netbook. Says CTO Malmrose: "Recent market indicators have taught us to expect significant demand, so we have planned ahead and have plenty of stock on hand and more in production."

Back in June, both System76 and ZaReason hinted to me that August would be a key month for the Ubuntu netbook market. I'm pleased to see both companies moving forward with those efforts. The ball is now in Dell's court. I suspect some Dell surprises are in store for later this year.

In the meantime, I'm inclined to buy either the System76 or ZaReason netbook since Ubuntu 9.04 comes preloaded -- a key base requirement for me to also test the Ubuntu One shared storage system. As of this writing, Dell continues to offer Ubuntu 8.x on its netbooks.

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