NOTE: the following article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. Instead, it reflects one of my other interests: low-cost hardware that can be used for multiple purposes. I decided to publish the article here in case others might have similar interests.
Linux has always been known as a more secure operating system than Windows and even more secure than Macintosh. For most installations, Linux also requires less computing power than do either of its two major competing operating systems: Windows and Macintosh. Therefore, it is interesting (to me) that a company called Litebook has released a new Linux laptop that is priced to compete with Chromebooks and other low-cost laptops. The price? $249. If you want to add the one (and only) option available, it may cost you $269. Those prices include a one-year warranty.
Even at those prices, the LiteBook has some impressive specifications.
The LiteBook includes 4 gigabytes of RAM memory, unlike the normal 2 gigabytes found in most ultra-cheap laptops. It ships with the Elementary OS flavor of Linux installed, though you can install an alternate version of Linux that uses the Linux kernel 4.8. It uses an Intel Celeron processor (the N3150) and also includes a 14.1-inch display with 1,920×1,080 full HD resolution. The LiteBook also comes with WPS Office pre-installed, including WPS Writer, WPS Presentation, and WPS Spreadsheets, offering compatibility with Microsoft Office. It weighs a modest 2.9 pounds and comes in a choice of colors (black, red, or white).
The LiteBook will run Chrome, Spotify, Skype, and Steam as well as thousands of (mostly free) Linux programs and almost anything that runs in Web browser.
Of course, any Linux system never gets viruses. Litebooks will not attempt to invade your privacy and sell your data in the manner that some other operating systems and applications will, nor will they come with annoying and insecure bloatware. The source code for elementary OS is available to the public, and is reviewed by the eyes of thousands of developers around the world who rapidly identify flaws before they can be exploited.
The first question a genealogist might as is: “Will it run my favorite genealogy program?” In most cases, the answer will be:
Windows computers will run most any Windows genealogy program, such as RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, Family Historian, Family Tree Maker, and other Windows genealogy programs. It also will run almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.
Macintosh computers will run most any Macintosh genealogy program, such as Reunion, Mac Family Tree, Heredis, Personal Ancestry Writer II, or “PAWriter II,” Family Tree Maker (for Macintosh), and other Macintosh genealogy programs. It also will run almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.
Linux computers will run most any Linux genealogy program, such as GRAMPS. It also will run almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.
Chromebook computers will run most any Chromebook genealogy app as well as almost any genealogy program that runs in a Web browser, such as: MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG), WebRoots, and similar programs.
iPad and iPhone computers will run most any Apple iOS genealogy program, including all genealogy programs listed in the Apple App Store.
Android computers will run most any Android genealogy program, including all genealogy programs listed in the Google Play Store.
Generally speaking Linux computers do not run Windows programs or Macintosh programs. There is an interesting exception: VirtualBox, available at https://www.virtualbox.org. While I haven’t yet tried it on a low-powered LiteBook laptop, I suspect Windows and VirtualBox will run SLOWLY on any computer with a Celeron processor and only 4 gigabytes of RAM memory, such as the LiteBook. In short, I doubt if you will be happy with the performance.
If you really want to do so, you can install any version of Microsoft Windows on the LiteBook. Of course, that will require additional money to purchase a legal copy of Windows, and the system will then run slower than it does with Elementary OS Linux. It will also be susceptible to viruses.
If you are looking for a low-cost laptop that you can use on trips, you might want to look at the LiteBook at https://litebook.store/product/litebook-laptop. Also, you might want to read my earlier article, The Best Laptop for Traveling Is One You Can Afford to Lose, at: https://privacyblog.com/2017/02/02/the-best-laptop-for-traveling-is-one-you-can-afford-to-lose.
If it was me, I would spend the extra $20 to order the version with the 32 gigabyte solid state disk.