The right weight for a laptop is 1kg

I finally got some time to read through this interview of Linus Torvalds today. He's known to have an aggressive sense of humor, sometimes funny, sometimes stupid and gratuitous, he's aware of that and that's how I justify my respect for the guy. That and seriously, the Linux kernel is pretty pretty pretty good. I have a remark to make on something he said, I'll try to address this in a hopefully compatible tone.

My laptop (that I'm writing this with, since I'm traveling in Japan and Korea right now) is an 11" Apple Macbook Air from last year (but running Linux, of course - no OS X anywhere), because I really hate big laptops. I can't understand people who lug around 15" (or 17"!) monsters. The right weight for a laptop is 1kg, no more.

Linus Torvalds, let me try to explain this to you. It's been really bothering me too, but I'll explain why until a few months ago I was lugging around a 15"4 laptop for over half a decade and why I now shlep around a 14" laptop, still way over 1kg.

When setting out to buy a computer, most people must pick the most adequate machine for their needs and budget, many cannot afford to have 2 computers, or even 2 "recent" computers. So it becomes a sane option for many to get only one computer, if possible a portable one, with a big enough screen to not go insane after a couple of hours of work. We can't all afford a computer just for traveling.

Those that lug around big heavy computers don't specifically do it in order to inflict pain upon themselves nor just to cause you confusion. It's a bit like those who don't travel first class, those who drive crappy cars, and while I'm circlejerking here, it's just like those who die of hunger (why do these people not think of buying food ?). To help you understand, here's some news: not everyone earns millions of dollars every year, and some people only travel once in their lifetime (buying a computer just for that occasion isn't very eco-friendly).

There's this other reason that to me is very important, sadly there are very very few people who follow this through. This is the more serious part of this post.

Some people do not want to buy computers that include a license fee for a product they will not use. For example, I think Apple does indeed make very nice hardware, but it's too difficult to buy one without paying for a MacOS license, and worse, this is the case even in countries where tying is illegal. (I almost got thrown out of la FNAC and Darty just for asking "how much without Windows and Norton ?")

Some people care about this stuff, I am one of them. I'm proud to have never paid for an OS license that I don't use. I will go out of my way to find such a computer, and more importantly if I can't find a computer without an OS license, I won't buy one. Hence I lugged around my old 15" 4kg 7 year old computer as long as I could.

I don't believe that "celebrities" should feel obliged to set examples, it's a stupid idea and I'm sure you agree. That said, it would be nice if you could point your famous middle finger to Apple and other computer manufacturers for doing everything they can to make sure the Free Software and Open source communities pay a mob tax on almost every computer that runs GNU/Linux.

One Kilo Per Laptop

Linus Torvalds, you could even go further, you could start a new foundation to help out those poor bastards. And you should call it the "1 kg per laptop" project. Instead of trying to understand these people with heavy computers, you could just help them buy lighter ones. Problem solved and you're welcome.