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Lindows Media Computer: Power to Strike Microsoft?

timothy posted about 11 years ago | from the maybe-next-go-round dept.

Linux Business 227

Augustus writes "LinuxHardware.org has just published the first review of the Lindows Media Computer from iDOTpc.com. The review covers the hardware behind the machine but also goes through all of the machine's claimed functionality: "After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast "Instant on" DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin." You can find the full review over at LinuxHardware.org."

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227 comments

DVD? (1, Interesting)

chrisseaton (573490) | about 11 years ago | (#5632925)

How did it do DVD? Did it have a propeitary software or hardware decoder?

Re:DVD? (1)

halfnerd (553515) | about 11 years ago | (#5632990)

At least the article stated is doesn't include a hardware DVD-decoder, so I would guess they use software.

Re:DVD? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 11 years ago | (#5633099)

RTFA

iDOTpc.com was well aware of the problem and told me it was because the system lacked a hardware DVD decoder. The new "M series" would be coming out soon that did include the decoder and took care of the poor playback.

And as usual, someone modded up the question, thus rewarding someone who was too fucking lazy to actually read the article.

Re:DVD? (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | about 11 years ago | (#5633126)

It was /.ed

Re:DVD? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 11 years ago | (#5633194)

It was /.ed

then wait the 5 minutes and you can read the article. The fact that the site is /.ed does not excuse not reading the article first, if the article was JUST PUBLISHED here. Jeez, wait a minute or two, then read the article.

Re:DVD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633258)

OK, I waited 30 minutes. Still /.ed. Methinks your post should have said wait 5 DAYS... ;)

Re:DVD? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#5633134)

It's proprietary and embedded in an onboard bootprom.

If you scour through mini-itx.com you'll find mentions of it, it was announced there months ago.

Power to strike Microsoft? (-1, Troll)

Gizzmonic (412910) | about 11 years ago | (#5632929)

No.

I post best, you uncivilized plebians! Go back to your tick-infested horse blanket of a computer and get out of my face!

Re:Power to strike Microsoft? (1)

wheany (460585) | about 11 years ago | (#5633277)

Okay, so no-one likes to be called an uncivilized pleb[e]ian, but other than that, he is right.

There is no way in hell this is going to affect Microsoft.

I'm more interested in finding out (1, Funny)

RLiegh (247921) | about 11 years ago | (#5632940)

What spiffy DRM features it brought over to Linux.
Take THAT you old microsoft monopoly!!!

instant on? (5, Funny)

Lxy (80823) | about 11 years ago | (#5632941)

It did boast "Instant on" DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features

I have one of those, it's called a DVD player. RCA made them awhile ago.

Re:instant on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5632985)

Yes, does it run Linux? Or did you have to buy another box to get that functionality?

Re:instant on? (1)

Slack0ff (590042) | about 11 years ago | (#5633001)

I have many instant on products. Not a one of them runs Lindows... Since the site was slashdotted in a new record time I was wondering what the possiblilites of changing the OS was? Could I run Redhat with a DVD Software and X11 amp? Or is this a proprietary thing. I have been eying the $200 Modle with a 1.1Ghz Duron at Walmart.com now for a while and I think it would make a cheap Webserver and Im pretty sure I could get redhat/slackware running. My only doubt is the onboard video but im sure I can fund a driver that works. Anyone tried this?

Re:instant on? (1)

Master Bait (115103) | about 11 years ago | (#5633058)

Why do you need onboard video to run a webserver? At any rate, you can get at least 2d Xwindows any of the all-in-one chipsets that run AMD products.

Re:instant on? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 11 years ago | (#5633128)

I was wondering what the possiblilites of changing the OS was?

Considering it was just a glorified cheap computer with a different bios (VIA 933, 128ram, 20gbhd, trident svga), i would imagine you could. You would be better off buying the Walmart PC, however, which is more expandable, and has similar specs (sans special boot bios) for about half the price, $200. It even comes with a crappy mouse and keyboard, which this system did not.

Re:instant on? (1)

Slack0ff (590042) | about 11 years ago | (#5633238)

So the walmart one is defenantly what's I got with. My question is what kind of issues would I run into upgrading a 1.1ghz duron. Because I obviously would not like Lindows from what I have read the interface is decent but im a gnome guy myself (with props to KDE and Enlightenment)

slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5632942)

In a word, no, it doesn't. Too bad.

already slashdotted! (0)

gabec (538140) | about 11 years ago | (#5632947)

i clicked the link to linuxhardware.org when there were still zero comments on the story and it was already dead! Crazy!

Re:already slashdotted! (1)

(startx) (37027) | about 11 years ago | (#5633117)

yes, and with a subscription, you too can get in on this pre-slashdot slashdotting!

Re:already slashdotted! (1)

TobiasSodergren (470677) | about 11 years ago | (#5633285)

I think I sense a business strategy here.. If enough dupes are published, the slashdot effect is prolonged, thus the guys not paying the subscription fees will never be able to read the article. Damn, I'm good! Or paranoid..

Re:already slashdotted! (1)

gentgeen (653418) | about 11 years ago | (#5633229)

Slashdotted before it could be slashdotted??? "verrrry innterressting" -said with german lisp

that damned "l" sound! (0, Offtopic)

incrustwetrust (582191) | about 11 years ago | (#5632952)

i would like to inform the OSS community that all of these "l" names must stop!

my nephew, who has aspergers... has great trouble pronouncing l's, but no trouble pronouncing any other letter. why "lindows" when it could be.. mindows! or dindows! maybe even findows? this is a great injustice towards all people who have trouble pronouncing that inherently evil letter! down with the l sound in the OSS community!

i used "l" 18 times. hmm.

Re:that damned "l" sound! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5632970)

Me chinee

and me car it rindows

birr gates be solly

Re:that damned "l" sound! (1)

incrustwetrust (582191) | about 11 years ago | (#5633004)

that's about how my nephew really sounds, except without the fake chinese accent i imagined in my head, and he wouldn't do the "solly"

i should try to get him to say "lindows" though! as normally he replaces the l sound with w ;)

Re:that damned "l" sound! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5632988)

Well, the other alternative was "Winux".

Re:that damned "l" sound! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633015)

Who cares if your son is an ass burger or not?

Its my favorite vegitable too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633289)

"who has aspergers"

They're not bad, but I prefer sweet peas. Yams can be quite good if they're cooked correctly.

But for a kid, he has good taste in vegitables.

slashdotted already? (1)

killthiskid (197397) | about 11 years ago | (#5632956)

Damn, record slash dot, 5 posts on the page, and it is gone!

Mirrors? Copy of the article? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Re:slashdotted already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633002)

Cameron, dear friend, you thought we wouldn't have any fun. Shame on you.

Re:slashdotted already? (2, Informative)

slyxter (609602) | about 11 years ago | (#5633108)

I can sum it up for you in two words: NOT GOOD. It doesn't play DVDs properly, and they need to add new hardware to it to fix that problem. So much for a media PC.

And don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633225)

It's FREAKIN' HUGE!

Dimension: 10.24"(D) x 5.31"(W) x 11.75"(H)

Re:slashdotted already? (5, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 11 years ago | (#5633167)

Here is the Reader's Digest Condensed Version(R)

Tried the box for days. Sucked bad at DVDs because this version uses software decoder. Couldn't read tags on MP3s or list the directories correctly. Lindows couldn't make up their mind if they supported software that was on their own site. Only available at one place. Guys at that place were nice and knowlegable. System was marginal at best. Wouldn't recommend it to a friend. Not a viable contender to Windows Media Center because it simply lacks power. Costs under $400 sans monitor, kb, mouse. Nice try, but don't buy. The End.

hrm (1, Interesting)

jesperht (650842) | about 11 years ago | (#5632963)

Sounds interesting...hopefully it will stand a better chance than that old lindows laptop they tried selling...

DVD Playback ... ? (2, Insightful)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | about 11 years ago | (#5632967)

Please isn't that illegal ?
I dont care if DMCA or DCMA or whatever is unethical or not, it it a law , which makes watching DVDs on linux illegal (the encrypted ones only).
And 99$ for one year of subscription, man at that price m$ looks like a cheap option. Don't tell me with 99$ you get a lot more than a bare bone OS.Coz a typical lindows user wont need MySQl, PGSQL, Apache, etc etc.
Is it just me, who feels that this whole concept of dumbed-down linux, rediculous ? The average joe doesn't care about GNU, GPL, free sheech/beer (well he does care about the beer :-). ) . So why would he bother to switch ?>
And geeks have better things to do , like build their distro from scratch than be bothered by such dumb distors

Re:DVD Playback ... ? (1)

niko9 (315647) | about 11 years ago | (#5633244)

Not if the DVD player is in the BIOS ROM. The FIC itx motherbords have this. This was mentioned a while back, including an article about Phoenix technologies embeding web browers in their BIOS's. ABIT has has a simple CD player in their BIOS for quite some time. No need to boot into the OS for playing CD's and MP3 CDR's.

Nothing new to see here.....move along

Bold link (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5632971)

It'd be nice if everyone started the practice of bolding the link in the submission that's the subject of the post.

I'm seeing a theme here... (5, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | about 11 years ago | (#5632994)

Bored with my musical endeavors, I thought it was time to watch some movies. I put in an older DVD movie, Spaceballs. It was all down hill from there. Anyone familiar with the movie will remember the opening sequence where the large spacecraft moves across the screen. The video playback was quite stuttered, though the audio did not seem to suffer. As the movie went on, the stutter wasn't as obvious but was still there. ...

First they release an AOL Computer that can't access AOL, and now they're making a Media Computer that can't play media.

Just because they're pissing off Microsoft doesn't make them a good company.

Ugh, Lindows (2, Interesting)

ransom2003 (652619) | about 11 years ago | (#5632997)

Lindows would be great if it WASN'T AS BAD AS WINDOWS! If only they would open up the source on that killer version of WINE they have to other distro's.

Re:Ugh, Lindows (1)

ihnm (556899) | about 11 years ago | (#5633283)

"Lindows.com gives back 100% of our WINE programming back to the public WINE tree." This is a direct quote from lindows.com [lindows.com]. I am not a WINE developer, nor do I maintain the public WINE tree, so I can't verify the statement. However, I have no reason to believe Lindows would lie.

Text (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633005)

Not too far back, battle waged. A battle between the big man and the little man. Massive Microsoft against little Lindows. After a lengthy court battle, the little man finally prevailed. Microsoft was not able to stop them from using the Windows-like name. That was in Spring of last year. This year, Lindows decided to give Microsoft another swift kick in the pants.

Perhaps still a little haughty over their win, Lindows decided to take on another of Microsoft's products. In late 2002, Microsoft put into market the Media Center Edition of its popular Windows XP operating system, complete with system requirements dictated to OEM system builders. On January 28, 2003, Lindows released its own Lindows Media Computer as a direct competitor.

After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast ?Instant on? DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin.

This is it, right out of the box. One word came to my mind after seeing it next to my PogoLinux machine - tiny. I hoped there was some serious power packed in that little box or someone was going to be unhappy. With that in mind, on to the system specifications.

? VIA C3 E-Series 933MHz Processor
? VIA PLE133 + VT8235 Chipset Motherboard
? 128MB RAM PC133 and up to 1GB of PC100/PC133 SDRAM capacity
? 20GB ATA 100 5400RPM hard drive attached to one of 2 Dual-channel enhanced IDE Ports supporting UDMA 66/100/133
? 16X DVD Drive in the single full height 5.25" drive bay
? 4 USB 1.1 Ports (two in front, two in back), 1 Serial Port, 1 Parallel Port , and 1 PCI Slot
? Integrated Trident 2X AGP with 2D/3D Graphics Acceleration
? Integrated VIA AC97 Audio, 3 Audio Jacks: Line-in, Line-out, and Mic-in
? Onboard VIA 10/100 Base-T Fast Ethernet Controller
? Mini-ITX Tower Case with 150W Power Supply
? Dimension: 10.24"(D) x 5.31"(W) x 11.75"(H)
? LindowsOS 3.0 MP3.com Edition with dedicated tech support
? One Year Parts and Labor Warranty

Some of you who are avid readers may recognize this box. It is none other than the FIC Falcon CR51 small form factor PC that was announced last October. However, it has been updated with the ?etDVD? software from Elegent Technologies. The etDVD software is a boot time embedded software set that does all the magic of audio and video playback at boot time.

Brains! I need Brains!

Of course, I couldn't resist cracking the case. While there were some instructions included, I thought it would be more interesting to see how intuitive it would be to go without. Three thumb screws on the back side released the side panel which slid away. Inside, there isn't a whole lot to see. Yes. On the left you can just get a glimpse of the hard drive which is mounted to the floor of the chassis. Dead center is the DVD drive, and to the upper right is the teeny tiny power supply. Again, not too interesting. But, I discovered that one of the thumb screws actually held onto the DVD drive sled. After popping off the front face plate, I found the mate to the thumb screw. Removing this, I was able to get the DVD drive out of the way and have a better look at the rest of the insides.

As expected, I wasn't a good photographer. But let me assure you, everything was clean and small. You can make out the twin SDRAM sockets there at the top, the CPU and fan assembly just below that. Under the green heatsink resides the chipset, and over there on the right you can see the single PCI slot. Not a whole lot of room in there for anything else.

Fire It up!

Once I had it back together, I connected it to my spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (At $329, you don't get these items!) I also plugged in the CAT5 from my cable modem. A quick stab of the power button brought the machine to life. A couple of seconds ticked by and I was greeted with the etDVD boot menu. There is where it all happened. I could watch a DVD, listen to a CD, fiddle with my MP3 collection, take in a VCD, or boot the Lindows OS. I decided I would check out the desktop first, as I had heard so much about it.

The menu screen then faded out and the screen went black. The second ticked by. The screen stayed black. I restarted the machine a couple minutes later but ended up in the same situation. After some playing around I discovered the problem. My little 13? LCD could not push the fixed resolution of the Lindows desktop - 1024x768. After switching to my main monitor, a 15? LCD, everything was okay again.

Once I got to the desktop, everything did indeed look as good as I had heard. My cable modem was ready to go so I signed into my Lindows account and went surfing for software. While the Lindows OS is complete, there isn't a whole lot of software preinstalled. Users must go to the Click-N-Run Warehouse and hunt down just what they are looking for. At the time of this writing, the Warehouse lists close to 3000 items ready for installation.

Don't be fooled though. Not all of these are full versions, especially in the games section. Many are the shareware equivalent of commercial games such as Doom and Quake II. Some are also demo versions, like Unreal Tournament 2003. In order to get full versions, you're going to have to provide your own copies and manually transfer the required data over. There are certainly some full versions though. Tux Racer Deluxe is one of them that comes to mind.

Play it Again, Sam

Having checked out the desktop, it was time to see all those neat features that made this the 'Media Computer.' I rebooted the system and paused at the boot menu. What to do, what to do? Audio CD playback would be simplest, so I put a CD into the drive and clicked the playback option. A basic CD player control panel appeared and music was emitted from the speakers I had hooked up. Just as basic in appearance as the control panel, a spectrum analyzer appeared and throbbed with the music. The sound's quality wasn't bad, but as this system only has one output jack, audiophiles will certainly not be impressed. Also, there is no CDDB lookup available, so the player is as basic as you can get.

Time for MP3s! I put in a mixed CD full of MP3s. Some were in folders, some were not, some had ID3 tags, and others didn't. The control panel that appeared was very similar to that of the CD control panel. As the music started to play, I fiddled with the navigation and discovered a few things. First off, while the player will look through all folders on your CD, it does not offer detailed navigation through them. Nor does it support ID3 tagging. What you get is a list of tracks by number. No location, no names, no nothing. You'll have to get to know your CDs well in order to navigate effectively.

Bored with my musical endeavors, I thought it was time to watch some movies. I put in an older DVD movie, Spaceballs. It was all down hill from there. Anyone familiar with the movie will remember the opening sequence where the large spacecraft moves across the screen. The video playback was quite stuttered, though the audio did not seem to suffer. As the movie went on, the stutter wasn't as obvious but was still there. Next I tried my copy of the Lord Of the Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. This was even worse, to the point of not being worth watching. Finally, I pulled out of a copy of Beavis & Butthead's Greatest Hits. (Yeah I love those guys, so what?) This was the only DVD that appeared to play smoothly. I'm honestly not sure if it was indeed smooth, or that the jagged animation hid the choppiness of the playback.

Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. This is supposed to one of the big features. Could it be the monitor? The RAM? It certainly couldn't be the DVDs themselves as they were all in perfect condition or pretty close. I decided to try the monitor and RAM route, hooking it up to big 21? CRT and adding an extra 128MB of PC133 RAM. Again I went through each movie and while the playback was slightly better, the problem was still very noticeable.

Hunting around the Lindows Click-N-Run Warehouse, I discovered Xine was offered as well as a developmental plug-in for DVD playback. Also included was a link to instructions on the Lindows site for getting it all to work. Several other users had stated this was working well for them. This I had to try. Perhaps the etDVD software just couldn't cut it. I downloaded, installed, followed the instructions step by step, and, was still disappointed. This time for a different reason. I certainly got smooth video playback, but the audio was all screwed up. A screeching wail leapt from the speakers half scaring me out of my chair. This was about enough for me, time to call in the professionals.

Taking The Helping Hand

Because of the DVD playback problem that I could not solve, I turned to the Lindows Support Team. Using the proffered Question/Answer system they have, I explained my problem, and what steps I had taken to solve it. As indicated on their site, I was contacted within 48 hours and the conversation went back and forth for several weeks. At first, everything was going okay but as time went on, responses from my tech support person Yvan took longer and longer, getting even less helpful each time. He seemed confused over the whole thing, coming up with answers to problems I didn't have. Once I even had to send another message along to get attention to the previous one. Ultimately, here is what I learned:

The Lindows Support Team (Yvan) was unable to duplicate my problem, and said I should contact Elegent about the problem.

Lindows does not support DVD playback under Xine, even though their website states that they do and they offer instructions for setting it up.

iDOTpc.com was well aware of the problem and told me it was because the system lacked a hardware DVD decoder. The new ?M series? would be coming out soon that did include the decoder and took care of the poor playback.

Say now, that was some crappy support and double talk. On the Lindows side I mean. The folks at iDOTpc.com were on the ball though, and answered all my questions in just a single 5 minute call to their location. I found it funny that they knew all along that the system had performance issues and yet the parent company denied it. It was also funny that even within the Lindows company there was conflicting info on what was supported and what wasn't.

Ready To Compete?

I used the little machine daily for the whole period of which it was on loan to me. While I couldn't watch DVDs on it, I was able to get some usefulness out of it. But over time I found it lacking in several areas that were crucial if it was to really compete against the Windows Media Center configurations.

One thing it lacked was power. The poor VIA C3 933MHz CPU isn't even in the same league as those found in the Windows machine. Less than half the speed, and far less than half the power. Perhaps this is where the DVD playback problem comes from. Without a powerhouse to push everything along, software performance becomes mediocre at best. The machine I used moved along well enough, generally speaking, but I did experience frequent slow downs in its performance, especially at boot time.

As stated previously, the sound quality was ok but certainly wasn't something to brag about. Indeed, not being able to connect a Dolby 5.1 or even 4.1 speaker set seriously degrades this machine's reputation as a media computer. Lacking the ability to kick out premium sound hampers the experience of watching movies, playing games, or even listening to one's favorite CDs and MP3s. Again, the Lindows Media Computer falls far short of the Microsoft product.

Having covered the audible medium, we move to the visual. DVD playback is spotty, VCD is as well. The 3D side of the machine falls woefully short with the Trident offering. There is no way to export video to a TV, nor is there a method of importing. And so, one is left with a basic low end computer system with a DVD player in it. Indeed, without the video playback from the etDVD software, there would be nothing special here. And since that only somewhat works, there is nothing in the visual medium that gives this system a good reason to call itself a media computer.

Conclusions

After tallying up my whole experience with the Lindows Media Computer, I come to the conclusion that it was not a good one. While the price may be right for some folks, the system itself doesn't dignify the name of 'Media Computer.' I found it to be little more that a tiny low-end computer with special boot software that didn't deliver on its promise. It lacks both the power and features to truly compete, even in its own price range. Indeed, I went through and priced up a machine with more power and features that a true 'Media Computer' should have and came up $50 less that the cost of the Lindows box. True, I didn't have ?Instant On? media access, but since it didn't fully work anyhow, I wasn't too bothered.

Would I buy this machine? Certainly not. Would I recommend it? Not under its claim of being a competitor in the media field. Actually, given the lack of upgrade options, I would be hard pressed to recommend this system to anyone. It does look good, fits into small spaces, and doesn't take up a whole lot of space. But I don't know anyone who has these items on the absolute top of their priority list.

The conclusion says it all: (-1, Redundant)

Mr Slushy (220285) | about 11 years ago | (#5633008)

After tallying up my whole experience with the Lindows Media Computer, I come to the conclusion that it was not a good one. While the price may be right for some folks, the system itself doesn't dignify the name of 'Media Computer.' I found it to be little more that a tiny low-end computer with special boot software that didn't deliver on its promise. It lacks both the power and features to truly compete, even in its own price range. Indeed, I went through and priced up a machine with more power and features that a true 'Media Computer' should have and came up $50 less that the cost of the Lindows box. True, I didn't have "Instant On" media access, but since it didn't fully work anyhow, I wasn't too bothered.

Would I buy this machine? Certainly not. Would I recommend it? Not under its claim of being a competitor in the media field. Actually, given the lack of upgrade options, I would be hard pressed to recommend this system to anyone. It does look good, fits into small spaces, and doesn't take up a whole lot of space. But I don't know anyone who has these items on the absolute top of their priority list.

Curious about the time shifting (2, Interesting)

t0qer (230538) | about 11 years ago | (#5633020)

And going off just what I saw in the slash post, there's no mention of it. Since I can't read the article (slashdotted) I can only go on what is availiable to me.

So since time shifting wasn't mentioned about windows media center or linux, I can only assume since the author is trying to compare lindows to media center that it must have time shifting capabilities.

So how is the time shifting on linux? Could someone from linuxhardware.com please either provide another mirror to the article, or just answer my reply? I'm just really curious to know if it's working well in lindows.

Yours Truly
Toq

Re:Curious about the time shifting (1)

scooby-doo (23932) | about 11 years ago | (#5633083)

There is no time shifting. It doesn't allow either input or output to a TV. Its just a stripped down PC that plays(poorly) DVDs, VCD, CDs and MP3s. The auther of the review was very impressed with the system.

Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (1, Insightful)

krog (25663) | about 11 years ago | (#5633021)

Come on. Has anyone here ever *used* Lindows?

God. Pitiful... just fucking awful. It's like the worst features of Windows meet the worst features of Linux, and a retard put it all together so other retards could half-use it but no one could fully use it. How anyone could consider it even a serious contender on the desktop, let alone a "MS striker", is beyond the comprehension of an intelligent human.

Lindows will die and Bill Gates won't even giggle. That's how little of a threat they are.

Re:Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | about 11 years ago | (#5633137)

I want Roberts (Robertson?) to stand up and explain what happened to the Wine intergration he promised. It just seems to have disappeared without trace. I don't think Wine is even installed by default now.

Re:Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (1)

mrscott (548097) | about 11 years ago | (#5633240)

If you look at the Lindows web site, you'll notice that their focus has changed from running Windows apps to integrating well with current environments by easily open Windows files, etc. Basically, rather than embracing Windows, they're working to get people to migrate and use native tools instead. I think that they realized just how hard the effort would be. That's not a reason to close the doors and call it quits. They're just working under a new strategy now.

Can LindowsOS run software written for Microsoft® Windows? [lindows.com] and How can I best "migrate" from using Microsoft® Windows to using LindowsOS? [lindows.com]

Re:Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (2, Interesting)

mrscott (548097) | about 11 years ago | (#5633168)

I probably shouldn't admit this in a forum of people who obviously despise Lindows, but I have tried it and I did like it. I think I have a pretty good handle on OSs having used NetWare, Windows, UNIX, Linux, VMS, etc and I found Lindows very easy to install, very easy to navigate and -- more importantly -- very easy to get working on my Windows network.

Lindows isn't necessarily here for the hard core Linux user. It's for the masses. For similar reasons that hard core Linux/Unix folks hate Windows, they will hate Lindows.

I commend them for trying. Before version 3, I didn't think it would go anywhere, but after actually using it for a while, my opinion has changed.

Re:Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (1)

KillerHamster (645942) | about 11 years ago | (#5633192)

I used Lindows just this past Saturday. I installed it on my computer where it lived for roughly 30 minutes while I rushed in a panic to download and burn Slackware 9.0. Lindows is now gone forever, and I'm in Slack Heaven.

Re:Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (1)

Alan Hicks (660661) | about 11 years ago | (#5633339)

I used Lindows just this past Saturday. I installed it on my computer where it lived for roughly 30 minutes while I rushed in a panic to download and burn Slackware 9.0. Lindows is now gone forever, and I'm in Slack Heaven.

Welcome back tot he fold, brother.

Re:Microsoft-killer? AHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah maybe (2, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 11 years ago | (#5633202)

It's like the worst features of Windows meet the worst features of Linux, and a retard put it all together so other retards could half-use it but no one could fully use it.

Maybe its just the "dows" suffix that makes products blow monkey chunks. Its pronounced just like "Doh!", only its pluralized to indicate a whole mess of 'em.

It may not be likely, but it sure would explain a couple few things...

iDOT Comp- first PC Company built for the Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633026)

Their website claims:
first PC Company built for the Web

Still waiting for the first PC Company built to withstand a good /.'ing

Karma Whore I am, I am... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633051)

Article: Not too far back, battle waged. A battle between the big man and the little man. Massive Microsoft against little Lindows. After a lengthy court battle, the little man finally prevailed. Microsoft was not able to stop them from using the Windows-like name. That was in Spring of last year. This year, Lindows decided to give Microsoft another swift kick in the pants.Perhaps still a little haughty over their win, Lindows decided to take on another of Microsoft's products. In late 2002, Microsoft put into market the Media Center Edition of its popular Windows XP operating system, complete with system requirements dictated to OEM system builders. On January 28, 2003, Lindows released its own Lindows Media Computer as a direct competitor. After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast "Instant on" DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin. This is it, right out of the box. One word came to my mind after seeing it next to my PogoLinux machine - tiny. I hoped there was some serious power packed in that little box or someone was going to be unhappy. With that in mind, on to the system specifications. VIA C3 E-Series 933MHz Processor VIA PLE133 + VT8235 Chipset Motherboard 128MB RAM PC133 and up to 1GB of PC100/PC133 SDRAM capacity 20GB ATA 100 5400RPM hard drive attached to one of 2 Dual-channel enhanced IDE Ports supporting UDMA 66/100/133 16X DVD Drive in the single full height 5.25" drive bay 4 USB 1.1 Ports (two in front, two in back), 1 Serial Port, 1 Parallel Port , and 1 PCI Slot Integrated Trident 2X AGP with 2D/3D Graphics Acceleration Integrated VIA AC97 Audio, 3 Audio Jacks: Line-in, Line-out, and Mic-in Onboard VIA 10/100 Base-T Fast Ethernet Controller Mini-ITX Tower Case with 150W Power Supply Dimension: 10.24"(D) x 5.31"(W) x 11.75"(H) LindowsOS 3.0 MP3.com Edition with dedicated tech support One Year Parts and Labor Warranty FRONT BACK Some of you who are avid readers may recognize this box. It is none other than the FIC Falcon CR51 small form factor PC that was announced last October. However, it has been updated with the "etDVD" software from Elegent Technologies. The etDVD software is a boot time embedded software set that does all the magic of audio and video playback at boot time. Brains! I need Brains! Of course, I couldn't resist cracking the case. While there were some instructions included, I thought it would be more interesting to see how intuitive it would be to go without. Three thumb screws on the back side released the side panel which slid away. Inside, there isn't a whole lot to see. Yes. On the left you can just get a glimpse of the hard drive which is mounted to the floor of the chassis. Dead center is the DVD drive, and to the upper right is the teeny tiny power supply. Again, not too interesting. But, I discovered that one of the thumb screws actually held onto the DVD drive sled. After popping off the front face plate, I found the mate to the thumb screw. Removing this, I was able to get the DVD drive out of the way and have a better look at the rest of the insides. As expected, I wasn't a good photographer. But let me assure you, everything was clean and small. You can make out the twin SDRAM sockets there at the top, the CPU and fan assembly just below that. Under the green heatsink resides the chipset, and over there on the right you can see the single PCI slot. Not a whole lot of room in there for anything else. Fire It up! Once I had it back together, I connected it to my spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (At $329, you don't get these items!) I also plugged in the CAT5 from my cable modem. A quick stab of the power button brought the machine to life. A couple of seconds ticked by and I was greeted with the etDVD boot menu. There is where it all happened. I could watch a DVD, listen to a CD, fiddle with my MP3 collection, take in a VCD, or boot the Lindows OS. I decided I would check out the desktop first, as I had heard so much about it. The menu screen then faded out and the screen went black. The second ticked by. The screen stayed black. I restarted the machine a couple minutes later but ended up in the same situation. After some playing around I discovered the problem. My little 13" LCD could not push the fixed resolution of the Lindows desktop - 1024x768. After switching to my main monitor, a 15" LCD, everything was okay again. Once I got to the desktop, everything did indeed look as good as I had heard. My cable modem was ready to go so I signed into my Lindows account and went surfing for software. While the Lindows OS is complete, there isn't a whole lot of software preinstalled. Users must go to the Click-N-Run Warehouse and hunt down just what they are looking for. At the time of this writing, the Warehouse lists close to 3000 items ready for installation. Don't be fooled though. Not all of these are full versions, especially in the games section. Many are the shareware equivalent of commercial games such as Doom and Quake II. Some are also demo versions, like Unreal Tournament 2003. In order to get full versions, you're going to have to provide your own copies and manually transfer the required data over. There are certainly some full versions though. Tux Racer Deluxe is one of them that comes to mind. Play it Again, Sam Having checked out the desktop, it was time to see all those neat features that made this the 'Media Computer.' I rebooted the system and paused at the boot menu. What to do, what to do? Audio CD playback would be simplest, so I put a CD into the drive and clicked the playback option. A basic CD player control panel appeared and music was emitted from the speakers I had hooked up. Just as basic in appearance as the control panel, a spectrum analyzer appeared and throbbed with the music. The sound's quality wasn't bad, but as this system only has one output jack, audiophiles will certainly not be impressed. Also, there is no CDDB lookup available, so the player is as basic as you can get. Time for MP3s! I put in a mixed CD full of MP3s. Some were in folders, some were not, some had ID3 tags, and others didn't. The control panel that appeared was very similar to that of the CD control panel. As the music started to play, I fiddled with the navigation and discovered a few things. First off, while the player will look through all folders on your CD, it does not offer detailed navigation through them. Nor does it support ID3 tagging. What you get is a list of tracks by number. No location, no names, no nothing. You'll have to get to know your CDs well in order to navigate effectively. Bored with my musical endeavors, I thought it was time to watch some movies. I put in an older DVD movie, Spaceballs. It was all down hill from there. Anyone familiar with the movie will remember the opening sequence where the large spacecraft moves across the screen. The video playback was quite stuttered, though the audio did not seem to suffer. As the movie went on, the stutter wasn't as obvious but was still there. Next I tried my copy of the Lord Of the Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. This was even worse, to the point of not being worth watching. Finally, I pulled out of a copy of Beavis & Butthead's Greatest Hits. (Yeah I love those guys, so what?) This was the only DVD that appeared to play smoothly. I'm honestly not sure if it was indeed smooth, or that the jagged animation hid the choppiness of the playback. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. This is supposed to one of the big features. Could it be the monitor? The RAM? It certainly couldn't be the DVDs themselves as they were all in perfect condition or pretty close. I decided to try the monitor and RAM route, hooking it up to big 21" CRT and adding an extra 128MB of PC133 RAM. Again I went through each movie and while the playback was slightly better, the problem was still very noticeable. Hunting around the Lindows Click-N-Run Warehouse, I discovered Xine was offered as well as a developmental plug-in for DVD playback. Also included was a link to instructions on the Lindows site for getting it all to work. Several other users had stated this was working well for them. This I had to try. Perhaps the etDVD software just couldn't cut it. I downloaded, installed, followed the instructions step by step, and, was still disappointed. This time for a different reason. I certainly got smooth video playback, but the audio was all screwed up. A screeching wail leapt from the speakers half scaring me out of my chair. This was about enough for me, time to call in the professionals. Taking The Helping Hand Because of the DVD playback problem that I could not solve, I turned to the Lindows Support Team. Using the proffered Question/Answer system they have, I explained my problem, and what steps I had taken to solve it. As indicated on their site, I was contacted within 48 hours and the conversation went back and forth for several weeks. At first, everything was going okay but as time went on, responses from my tech support person Yvan took longer and longer, getting even less helpful each time. He seemed confused over the whole thing, coming up with answers to problems I didn't have. Once I even had to send another message along to get attention to the previous one. Ultimately, here is what I learned. 1. The Lindows Support Team (Yvan) was unable to duplicate my problem, and said I should contact Elegent about the problem. 2. Lindows does not support DVD playback under Xine, even though their website states that they do and they offer instructions for setting it up. 3. iDOTpc.com was well aware of the problem and told me it was because the system lacked a hardware DVD decoder. The new "M series" would be coming out soon that did include the decoder and took care of the poor playback. Say now, that was some crappy support and double talk. On the Lindows side I mean. The folks at iDOTpc.com were on the ball though, and answered all my questions in just a single 5 minute call to their location. I found it funny that they knew all along that the system had performance issues and yet the parent company denied it. It was also funny that even within the Lindows company there was conflicting info on what was supported and what wasn't. Ready To Compete? I used the little machine daily for the whole period of which it was on loan to me. While I couldn't watch DVDs on it, I was able to get some usefulness out of it. But over time I found it lacking in several areas that were crucial if it was to really compete against the Windows Media Center configurations. One thing it lacked was power. The poor VIA C3 933MHz CPU isn't even in the same league as those found in the Windows machine. Less than half the speed, and far less than half the power. Perhaps this is where the DVD playback problem comes from. Without a powerhouse to push everything along, software performance becomes mediocre at best. The machine I used moved along well enough, generally speaking, but I did experience frequent slow downs in its performance, especially at boot time. As stated previously, the sound quality was ok but certainly wasn't something to brag about. Indeed, not being able to connect a Dolby 5.1 or even 4.1 speaker set seriously degrades this machine's reputation as a media computer. Lacking the ability to kick out premium sound hampers the experience of watching movies, playing games, or even listening to one's favorite CDs and MP3s. Again, the Lindows Media Computer falls far short of the Microsoft product. Having covered the audible medium, we move to the visual. DVD playback is spotty, VCD is as well. The 3D side of the machine falls woefully short with the Trident offering. There is no way to export video to a TV, nor is there a method of importing. And so, one is left with a basic low end computer system with a DVD player in it. Indeed, without the video playback from the etDVD software, there would be nothing special here. And since that only somewhat works, there is nothing in the visual medium that gives this system a good reason to call itself a media computer. Conclusions After tallying up my whole experience with the Lindows Media Computer, I come to the conclusion that it was not a good one. While the price may be right for some folks, the system itself doesn't dignify the name of 'Media Computer.' I found it to be little more that a tiny low-end computer with special boot software that didn't deliver on its promise. It lacks both the power and features to truly compete, even in its own price range. Indeed, I went through and priced up a machine with more power and features that a true 'Media Computer' should have and came up $50 less that the cost of the Lindows box. True, I didn't have "Instant On" media access, but since it didn't fully work anyhow, I wasn't too bothered. Would I buy this machine? Certainly not. Would I recommend it? Not under its claim of being a competitor in the media field. Actually, given the lack of upgrade options, I would be hard pressed to recommend this system to anyone. It does look good, fits into small spaces, and doesn't take up a whole lot of space. But I don't know anyone who has these items on the absolute top of their priority list.

So's y'all can RTFA (blatant karma) (0, Redundant)

Keighvin (166133) | about 11 years ago | (#5633065)

I cleaned up the HTML but not the formatting - don't blame me for that one. On with the article:
---------

Not too far back, battle waged. A battle between the big man and the little man. Massive Microsoft against little Lindows. After a lengthy court battle, the little man finally prevailed. Microsoft was not able to stop them from using the Windows-like name. That was in Spring of last year. This year, Lindows decided to give Microsoft another swift kick in the pants.

Perhaps still a little haughty over their win, Lindows decided to take on another of Microsoft's products. In late 2002, Microsoft put into market the Media Center Edition of its popular Windows XP operating system, complete with system requirements dictated to OEM system builders. On January 28, 2003, Lindows released its own Lindows Media Computer as a direct competitor.

After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast Instant on DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com]. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com] were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin.

This is it, right out of the box. One word came to my mind after seeing it next to my PogoLinux machine - tiny. I hoped there was some serious power packed in that little box or someone was going to be unhappy. With that in mind, on to the system specifications.

VIA C3 E-Series 933MHz Processor

VIA PLE133 + VT8235 Chipset Motherboard

128MB RAM PC133 and up to 1GB of PC100/PC133 SDRAM capacity

20GB ATA 100 5400RPM hard drive attached to one of 2 Dual-channel enhanced IDE Ports supporting UDMA 66/100/133

16X DVD Drive in the single full height 5.25" drive bay

4 USB 1.1 Ports (two in front, two in back), 1 Serial Port, 1 Parallel Port , and 1 PCI Slot

Integrated Trident 2X AGP with 2D/3D Graphics Acceleration

Integrated VIA AC97 Audio, 3 Audio Jacks: Line-in, Line-out, and Mic-in

Onboard VIA 10/100 Base-T Fast Ethernet Controller

Mini-ITX Tower Case with 150W Power Supply

Dimension: 10.24"(D) x 5.31"(W) x 11.75"(H)

LindowsOS [lindows.com] 3.0 MP3.com Edition with dedicated tech support

One Year Parts and Labor Warranty

FRONT

BACK

Some of you who are avid readers may recognize this box. It is none other than the FIC Falcon CR51 [fic.com.tw] small form factor PC that was announced last October. However, it has been updated with the etDVD software from Elegent Technologies [elegent.com]. The etDVD software is a boot time embedded software set that does all the magic of audio and video playback at boot time.

Brains! I need Brains!

Of course, I couldn't resist cracking the case. While there were some instructions included, I thought it would be more interesting to see how intuitive it would be to go without. Three thumb screws on the back side released the side panel which slid away. Inside, there isn't a whole lot to see. Yes. On the left you can just get a glimpse of the hard drive which is mounted to the floor of the chassis. Dead center is the DVD drive, and to the upper right is the teeny tiny power supply. Again, not too interesting. But, I discovered that one of the thumb screws actually held onto the DVD drive sled. After popping off the front face plate, I found the mate to the thumb screw. Removing this, I was able to get the DVD drive out of the way and have a better look at the rest of the insides.

As expected, I wasn't a good photographer. But let me assure you, everything was clean and small. You can make out the twin SDRAM sockets there at the top, the CPU and fan assembly just below that. Under the green heatsink resides the chipset, and over there on the right you can see the single PCI slot. Not a whole lot of room in there for anything else.

Fire It up!

Once I had it back together, I connected it to my spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (At $329, you don't get these items!) I also plugged in the CAT5 from my cable modem. A quick stab of the power button brought the machine to life. A couple of seconds ticked by and I was greeted with the etDVD boot menu. There is where it all happened. I could watch a DVD, listen to a CD, fiddle with my MP3 collection, take in a VCD, or boot the Lindows OS. I decided I would check out the desktop first, as I had heard so much about it.

The menu screen then faded out and the screen went black. The second ticked by. The screen stayed black. I restarted the machine a couple minutes later but ended up in the same situation. After some playing around I discovered the problem. My little 13 LCD could not push the fixed resolution of the Lindows desktop - 1024x768. After switching to my main monitor, a 15 LCD, everything was okay again.

Once I got to the desktop, everything did indeed look as good as I had heard. My cable modem was ready to go so I signed into my Lindows account and went surfing for software. While the Lindows OS is complete, there isn't a whole lot of software preinstalled. Users must go to the Click-N-Run Warehouse and hunt down just what they are looking for. At the time of this writing, the Warehouse lists close to 3000 items ready for installation.

Don't be fooled though. Not all of these are full versions, especially in the games section. Many are the shareware equivalent of commercial games such as Doom and Quake II. Some are also demo versions, like Unreal Tournament 2003. In order to get full versions, you're going to have to provide your own copies and manually transfer the required data over. There are certainly some full versions though. Tux Racer Deluxe is one of them that comes to mind.

Play it Again, Sam

Having checked out the desktop, it was time to see all those neat features that made this the 'Media Computer.' I rebooted the system and paused at the boot menu. What to do, what to do? Audio CD playback would be simplest, so I put a CD into the drive and clicked the playback option. A basic CD player control panel appeared and music was emitted from the speakers I had hooked up. Just as basic in appearance as the control panel, a spectrum analyzer appeared and throbbed with the music. The sound's quality wasn't bad, but as this system only has one output jack, audiophiles will certainly not be impressed. Also, there is no CDDB lookup available, so the player is as basic as you can get.

Time for MP3s! I put in a mixed CD full of MP3s. Some were in folders, some were not, some had ID3 tags, and others didn't. The control panel that appeared was very similar to that of the CD control panel. As the music started to play, I fiddled with the navigation and discovered a few things. First off, while the player will look through all folders on your CD, it does not offer detailed navigation through them. Nor does it support ID3 tagging. What you get is a list of tracks by number. No location, no names, no nothing. You'll have to get to know your CDs well in order to navigate effectively.

Bored with my musical endeavors, I thought it was time to watch some movies. I put in an older DVD movie, Spaceballs. It was all down hill from there. Anyone familiar with the movie will remember the opening sequence where the large spacecraft moves across the screen. The video playback was quite stuttered, though the audio did not seem to suffer. As the movie went on, the stutter wasn't as obvious but was still there. Next I tried my copy of the Lord Of the Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. This was even worse, to the point of not being worth watching. Finally, I pulled out of a copy of Beavis & Butthead's Greatest Hits. (Yeah I love those guys, so what?) This was the only DVD that appeared to play smoothly. I'm honestly not sure if it was indeed smooth, or that the jagged animation hid the choppiness of the playback.

Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. This is supposed to one of the big features. Could it be the monitor? The RAM? It certainly couldn't be the DVDs themselves as they were all in perfect condition or pretty close. I decided to try the monitor and RAM route, hooking it up to big 21 CRT and adding an extra 128MB of PC133 RAM. Again I went through each movie and while the playback was slightly better, the problem was still very noticeable.

Hunting around the Lindows Click-N-Run Warehouse, I discovered Xine was offered as well as a developmental plug-in for DVD playback. Also included was a link to instructions on the Lindows site for getting it all to work. Several other users had stated this was working well for them. This I had to try. Perhaps the etDVD software just couldn't cut it. I downloaded, installed, followed the instructions step by step, and, was still disappointed. This time for a different reason. I certainly got smooth video playback, but the audio was all screwed up. A screeching wail leapt from the speakers half scaring me out of my chair. This was about enough for me, time to call in the professionals.

Taking The Helping Hand

Because of the DVD playback problem that I could not solve, I turned to the Lindows Support Team. Using the proffered Question/Answer system they have, I explained my problem, and what steps I had taken to solve it. As indicated on their site, I was contacted within 48 hours and the conversation went back and forth for several weeks. At first, everything was going okay but as time went on, responses from my tech support person Yvan took longer and longer, getting even less helpful each time. He seemed confused over the whole thing, coming up with answers to problems I didn't have. Once I even had to send another message along to get attention to the previous one. Ultimately, here is what I learned.

  1. The Lindows [lindows.com] Support Team (Yvan) was unable to duplicate my problem, and said I should contact Elegent [elegent.com] about the problem.
  2. Lindows [lindows.com] does not support DVD playback under Xine, even though their website states that they do and they offer instructions for setting it up.
  3. iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com] was well aware of the problem and told me it was because the system lacked a hardware DVD decoder. The new M series would be coming out soon that did include the decoder and took care of the poor playback.

Say now, that was some crappy support and double talk. On the Lindows side I mean. The folks at iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com] were on the ball though, and answered all my questions in just a single 5 minute call to their location. I found it funny that they knew all along that the system had performance issues and yet the parent company denied it. It was also funny that even within the Lindows [lindows.com] company there was conflicting info on what was supported and what wasn't.

Ready To Compete?

I used the little machine daily for the whole period of which it was on loan to me. While I couldn't watch DVDs on it, I was able to get some usefulness out of it. But over time I found it lacking in several areas that were crucial if it was to really compete against the Windows Media Center configurations.

One thing it lacked was power. The poor VIA C3 933MHz CPU isn't even in the same league as those found in the Windows machine. Less than half the speed, and far less than half the power. Perhaps this is where the DVD playback problem comes from. Without a powerhouse to push everything along, software performance becomes mediocre at best. The machine I used moved along well enough, generally speaking, but I did experience frequent slow downs in its performance, especially at boot time.

As stated previously, the sound quality was ok but certainly wasn't something to brag about. Indeed, not being able to connect a Dolby 5.1 or even 4.1 speaker set seriously degrades this machine's reputation as a media computer. Lacking the ability to kick out premium sound hampers the experience of watching movies, playing games, or even listening to one's favorite CDs and MP3s. Again, the Lindows Media Computer falls far short of the Microsoft product.

Having covered the audible medium, we move to the visual. DVD playback is spotty, VCD is as well. The 3D side of the machine falls woefully short with the Trident offering. There is no way to export video to a TV, nor is there a method of importing. And so, one is left with a basic low end computer system with a DVD player in it. Indeed, without the video playback from the etDVD software, there would be nothing special here. And since that only somewhat works, there is nothing in the visual medium that gives this system a good reason to call itself a media computer.

Conclusions

After tallying up my whole experience with the Lindows Media Computer, I come to the conclusion that it was not a good one. While the price may be right for some folks, the system itself doesn't dignify the name of 'Media Computer.' I found it to be little more that a tiny low-end computer with special boot software that didn't deliver on its promise. It lacks both the power and features to truly compete, even in its own price range. Indeed, I went through and priced up a machine with more power and features that a true 'Media Computer' should have and came up $50 less that the cost of the Lindows box. True, I didn't have Instant On media access, but since it didn't fully work anyhow, I wasn't too bothered.

Would I buy this machine? Certainly not. Would I recommend it? Not under its claim of being a competitor in the media field. Actually, given the lack of upgrade options, I would be hard pressed to recommend this system to anyone. It does look good, fits into small spaces, and doesn't take up a whole lot of space. But I don't know anyone who has these items on the absolute top of their priority list.

media computers are a niche (3, Informative)

asv108 (141455) | about 11 years ago | (#5633067)

While media computers are interesting, I don't see them becoming a mainstream phenomenon anytime soon. Joe Sixpack does not want to deal with the hassle of sticking a computer next to his TV. Media Computing seems to the newest thing to hype this year, last year it was tablets, this year its media computers. The PC manufactures and hardware companies are dying to find new segments since nobody needs to upgrade to a 3GHZ PC.

Lindows so far has been all hype and no delivery. I wouldn't touch anything backed by Robertson, and I love how Lindows is on its 3rd version in less than a year.

Comparison with MCE? (1)

OnyxRaven (9906) | about 11 years ago | (#5633079)

Hey, it sounds like they've at least kept up with Media Center Edition though. That is a piece of crap for a program. The interface is slow, the mp3 player is aparently not compatible with WMP9 (which conveniently comes in a patch of course) so new media cant be loaded into the MCE library, and the remote handler doesnt detect anything but the very commercial remotes (I've got an Ira and it has no idea what to do with it). Bleh. I went back to just programming functions into Girder and using winamp.

What about an XBOX? (1)

gpinzone (531794) | about 11 years ago | (#5633082)

This thing sounds like crap. All they keep doing is harping on the port blockers for the kiddies. The Xbox media player does all this and more.

Oh, and someone HAS figured out how to run Linux on an UNMODDED XBOX! [xboxhacker.net] I submitted the story yesterday, but...

Re:What about an XBOX? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 11 years ago | (#5633304)

Oh, and someone HAS figured out how to run Linux on an UNMODDED XBOX! [xboxhacker.net] I submitted the story yesterday, but...


Just be patient. I am sure that if you will just wait 2 weeks, it will get posted 3 days in a row by different editors that will claim they have a scoop on it.

Whats the purpose of having Karma if you can't burn it once in a while ;)

I don't trust Lindows (5, Insightful)

DeadSea (69598) | about 11 years ago | (#5633093)

They picked a name that is obviously supposed to resemble Windows. While they may legally be able to do this, it seems pretty slimeball to me. Especially since announcements like this make it clear that they are trying to compete head to head with Windows.

When I was working for a .com that was trying to choose a name, the marketing folks made some very strong points for why you don't have to choose something that people are familiar with. Given that we were promoting widgets, they recommended we not name ourselves widgets.com, ourwidgets.com, or ewidgets.com. Their argument was that if you have a good product you can create your own name. Does Yahoo! need the word "directory" in their name? Does Ebay need the word "Auctions" in its name? Using something wacky wasn't going to hurt you, and it would allow you to later branch out into other markets.

Software developers really need to look at this lesson. Repeat after me, "The name of your program doesn't have to start with 'Win', 'g', 'k', 'Java', or 'X'".

Somebody replied to a similar rant of mine here on slashdot. They said that if you wrote a program that browsed Ebay auctions, you should be allowed to put ebay in the name. Maybe you should be allowed to, but that might prevent you from also supporting Yahoo or some other auction site in the future. Its not a good idea.

In the case of Lindows, the fact that they are using the name of their competitor cheapens them. I have to wonder why they don't think they can't create their own hype. Is their product not good enough?

Re:I don't trust Lindows (1)

oogoody (302342) | about 11 years ago | (#5633109)

It was far slimier for microsoft to trademark windows in the first place.

No Slimier than Apple Autoglass trademarking Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633181)

in the field of AutoGlass installation and repairs.

Or any of tens of thousands of other companies that trademark common words. It's perfectly legal, ethical, and not slimey.

I don't trust Microsoft (1)

DeadSea (69598) | about 11 years ago | (#5633197)

In the case of Microsoft, the product names are probably the least slimy aspect. While Microsoft could have done better than to choose common descriptive terms for its products, their competitors shouldn't be afraid to do something bold and different.

Re:I don't trust Lindows (1)

Captain Beefheart (628365) | about 11 years ago | (#5633347)

"Their argument was that if you have a good product you can create your own name."

In an ideal world, IMHO. Good product does not equal success. Good product with Shotgun Method advertising usually leads to success--assuming you aren't ripping off someone else's IP. Yahoo does well despite its name because no search engine-based Web property has an intuitive name, that I know of. Google? Hotbot? Inktomi? Alta Vista? They aren't competing for vocabulary mindshare.

PC Magazine circulates about 6 million issues a year. PC World, arguably an equally good magazine, barely hovers over 1 million. Why? I think it goes back to vocabulary mindshare. One name speaks more directly to a need than the other.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but don't forget to take advertising into account. What the hell does "Microsoft" or "Apple" mean? Nothing, by themselves, but one advertises voraciously (and secures its territory with FUD) while the other goes for pop culture value and an indefinable sheen of style and quality.

Lindows is just riding on MS's coattails, and frankly, I have no sympathy for the latter, and I don't think I'm alone.

Perhaps it should say something that this company has to ape Windows so much in order to gain any foothold. If they had wormed their way into Walmart thanks to their similar name, I think they'd already be dead and buried. Heard anything about Lycoris lately? Perhaps someone in the /. crowd has an update, but Joe Sixpack only knows about Lindows when it comes to cheap, mainstream alternatives to Windows.

Wake me when it does HDTV (4, Interesting)

YetAnotherName (168064) | about 11 years ago | (#5633105)

Call me spoiled. I watch Alias, The Practice, and even Fraser in HDTV every week. HDNet's sports are outstanding. And the recent Olympic games awe-inspiring. Guests to my home are blown away when I fire up PBS's continually-playing demo loop.

Despite the many many nay-sayers, HDTV is here, now.

Yet I keep seeing product announcements (Lindows Media, Mystro, Dish's 721 etc.) boasting competition to the Tivo, yet not a one is capable of handling HTDV. Tivo can't yet either.

I'm having to build my own digital recorder on an PC running (shudder) Windows XP with a MyHD [digitalconnection.com] card. The data rate of HDTV is high, but not unmanageable. MyHD records and displays a live program using less than 10% of the processor (1.8GHz P4, I'll grant).

I'm frankly tired of viewing programs with non-square pixels, incomplete color gamuts, and a mere 480 lines of (interlaced) resolution. Wake me when one of these companies does HDTV.

Re:Wake me when it does HDTV (1)

jparker (105202) | about 11 years ago | (#5633316)

Umm, wake up (soon)
http://customersupport.tivo.com/tivoknowba se/root/ public/tv451619.htm

Re:Wake me when it does HDTV (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | about 11 years ago | (#5633336)

The MSRP on the HD TiVo is expected to be $1700. That's crazy. They can keep it...and that's from a TiVo and HD nut. Though, I don't use DSS so they don't have a product for me yet.

I remember this announced on mini-itx.com (4, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#5633110)

A few months back when I was looking into building media-centric PC's for the kids. The DVD software, afaik, is proprietary (licenced CSS codes), and embedded within the bootprom.

All in all, it looked like a completely gutless solution, incapable of doing nearly everything I wanted it to do.

It's hardly something to compete with the tivo-like feature set and processing power that the P4/windows based media PC's from big vendors provides.

It's more like a really really expensive, but really really crappy, DVD player. That runs linux.

Cool, but... (1)

kingkade (584184) | about 11 years ago | (#5633111)

...can i get native version of AOE2 or Civilization 3 or Unreal or ...? No? Rats...looks like lilo will be in sittin for a while still on my mbr...

Sweet! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633113)

Linux has found a +3/+3 Media Center of Monopoly Smiting!


Now, we only need to find a +2 Shield of Flame Resitence vs. Trolls and we'll save the princess!


(Jet lag is a horrible thing)

Re:Sweet! (1)

WebMasterJoe (253077) | about 11 years ago | (#5633363)

Now, we only need to find a +2 Shield of Flame Resitence vs. Trolls and we'll save the princess!
Congratulations.... but the princess is in another castle!

Why did I read it as.... (4, Funny)

Howard Beale (92386) | about 11 years ago | (#5633120)

idiotpc.com??? Not a good name, but I know a few people that qualify buying a PC from them.

Power to Strike Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633127)

Slashdot: "Power to Strike Microsoft?"

LinuxHardware.org: "Ask again later."

iDOTpc? (2, Funny)

CNERD (121095) | about 11 years ago | (#5633147)

Sounds like some deformed offspring of the marketing departments of Apple and Microsoft.

Are they going to have a server version called iDOTnet?

Media Computer? (1)

jetkust (596906) | about 11 years ago | (#5633186)

Is it just me, or wouldn't you expect a media computer to be a computer that you can hook up your television and view its content (video files, sound files, pictures) on your television using a remote control? Why all this talk about DVD playing? What is so special about a computer playing a DVD?

Quite possible (3, Interesting)

ramzak2k (596734) | about 11 years ago | (#5633205)

If Lindows Media computer is able to create an interface where the user finds absolutely
nothing lacking in comparison to Windows media Computer & is cheaper - why not ?

The only reason linux is losing out on the desktop is because of the inability to execute applications (without struggling with wine).
With all-in-a-box system like a media computer that wouldnt require specific applications to perform tasks there is a good chance that windows will lose out.

Re:Quite possible (3, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | about 11 years ago | (#5633302)

With all-in-a-box system like a media computer that wouldnt require specific applications to perform tasks there is a good chance that windows will lose out.

True, but it has to work first.

The article was quite clear on the inability of this particular product to perform as advertised. The author was also more than a little disappointed at the customer service from Lindow's.

Open source in another 'me too' product shock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633218)

Really, you guys are getting way too excited about completely the wrong things.

if the best open source can do is commoditise someone else's innovation, then that's fine, but please don't pretend open source is some kind of great creative movement.

In my trade, we rightly look down on derivative products. And if open source is to match its ambitions, it needs to as well.

Usage... (3, Interesting)

rf0 (159958) | about 11 years ago | (#5633227)

As far as I understand from the review. It doesn't do what its meant to do (DVD etc) very well and it can't display on a TV. No pardon me if I wrong but I would want something like this to show stuff on my TV. So basically I can spend £250 on this or £99 on a DVD player than can do the same thing? I know where I'm putting my money

Rus

Are Independent Journalists Being 'Executed' By th (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633253)

http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display_an y/3521

Article for the Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633263)

Perhaps still a little haughty over their win, Lindows decided to take on another of Microsoft's products. In late 2002, Microsoft put into market the Media Center Edition of its popular Windows XP operating system, complete with system requirements dictated to OEM system builders. On January 28, 2003, Lindows released its own Lindows Media Computer as a direct competitor.

After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast Instant on DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com]. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com] were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin.

This is it, right out of the box. One word came to my mind after seeing it next to my PogoLinux machine - tiny. I hoped there was some serious power packed in that little box or someone was going to be unhappy. With that in mind, on to the system specifications.

VIA C3 E-Series 933MHz Processor

VIA PLE133 + VT8235 Chipset Motherboard

128MB RAM PC133 and up to 1GB of PC100/PC133 SDRAM capacity

20GB ATA 100 5400RPM hard drive attached to one of 2 Dual-channel enhanced IDE Ports supporting UDMA 66/100/133

16X DVD Drive in the single full height 5.25" drive bay

4 USB 1.1 Ports (two in front, two in back), 1 Serial Port, 1 Parallel Port , and 1 PCI Slot

Integrated Trident 2X AGP with 2D/3D Graphics Acceleration

Integrated VIA AC97 Audio, 3 Audio Jacks: Line-in, Line-out, and Mic-in

Onboard VIA 10/100 Base-T Fast Ethernet Controller

Mini-ITX Tower Case with 150W Power Supply

Dimension: 10.24"(D) x 5.31"(W) x 11.75"(H)

LindowsOS [lindows.com] 3.0 MP3.com Edition with dedicated tech support

One Year Parts and Labor Warranty

FRONT

BACK

Some of you who are avid readers may recognize this box. It is none other than the FIC Falcon CR51 [fic.com.tw] small form factor PC that was announced last October. However, it has been updated with the etDVD software from Elegent Technologies [elegent.com]. The etDVD software is a boot time embedded software set that does all the magic of audio and video playback at boot time.

Brains! I need Brains!

Of course, I couldn't resist cracking the case. While there were some instructions included, I thought it would be more interesting to see how intuitive it would be to go without. Three thumb screws on the back side released the side panel which slid away. Inside, there isn't a whole lot to see. Yes. On the left you can just get a glimpse of the hard drive which is mounted to the floor of the chassis. Dead center is the DVD drive, and to the upper right is the teeny tiny power supply. Again, not too interesting. But, I discovered that one of the thumb screws actually held onto the DVD drive sled. After popping off the front face plate, I found the mate to the thumb screw. Removing this, I was able to get the DVD drive out of the way and have a better look at the rest of the insides.

As expected, I wasn't a good photographer. But let me assure you, everything was clean and small. You can make out the twin SDRAM sockets there at the top, the CPU and fan assembly just below that. Under the green heatsink resides the chipset, and over there on the right you can see the single PCI slot. Not a whole lot of room in there for anything else.

Fire It up!

Once I had it back together, I connected it to my spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (At $329, you don't get these items!) I also plugged in the CAT5 from my cable modem. A quick stab of the power button brought the machine to life. A couple of seconds ticked by and I was greeted with the etDVD boot menu. There is where it all happened. I could watch a DVD, listen to a CD, fiddle with my MP3 collection, take in a VCD, or boot the Lindows OS. I decided I would check out the desktop first, as I had heard so much about it.

The menu screen then faded out and the screen went black. The second ticked by. The screen stayed black. I restarted the machine a couple minutes later but ended up in the same situation. After some playing around I discovered the problem. My little 13 LCD could not push the fixed resolution of the Lindows desktop - 1024x768. After switching to my main monitor, a 15 LCD, everything was okay again.

Once I got to the desktop, everything did indeed look as good as I had heard. My cable modem was ready to go so I signed into my Lindows account and went surfing for software. While the Lindows OS is complete, there isn't a whole lot of software preinstalled. Users must go to the Click-N-Run Warehouse and hunt down just what they are looking for. At the time of this writing, the Warehouse lists close to 3000 items ready for installation.

Don't be fooled though. Not all of these are full versions, especially in the games section. Many are the shareware equivalent of commercial games such as Doom and Quake II. Some are also demo versions, like Unreal Tournament 2003. In order to get full versions, you're going to have to provide your own copies and manually transfer the required data over. There are certainly some full versions though. Tux Racer Deluxe is one of them that comes to mind.

Play it Again, Sam

Having checked out the desktop, it was time to see all those neat features that made this the 'Media Computer.' I rebooted the system and paused at the boot menu. What to do, what to do? Audio CD playback would be simplest, so I put a CD into the drive and clicked the playback option. A basic CD player control panel appeared and music was emitted from the speakers I had hooked up. Just as basic in appearance as the control panel, a spectrum analyzer appeared and throbbed with the music. The sound's quality wasn't bad, but as this system only has one output jack, audiophiles will certainly not be impressed. Also, there is no CDDB lookup available, so the player is as basic as you can get.

Time for MP3s! I put in a mixed CD full of MP3s. Some were in folders, some were not, some had ID3 tags, and others didn't. The control panel that appeared was very similar to that of the CD control panel. As the music started to play, I fiddled with the navigation and discovered a few things. First off, while the player will look through all folders on your CD, it does not offer detailed navigation through them. Nor does it support ID3 tagging. What you get is a list of tracks by number. No location, no names, no nothing. You'll have to get to know your CDs well in order to navigate effectively.

Bored with my musical endeavors, I thought it was time to watch some movies. I put in an older DVD movie, Spaceballs. It was all down hill from there. Anyone familiar with the movie will remember the opening sequence where the large spacecraft moves across the screen. The video playback was quite stuttered, though the audio did not seem to suffer. As the movie went on, the stutter wasn't as obvious but was still there. Next I tried my copy of the Lord Of the Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. This was even worse, to the point of not being worth watching. Finally, I pulled out of a copy of Beavis & Butthead's Greatest Hits. (Yeah I love those guys, so what?) This was the only DVD that appeared to play smoothly. I'm honestly not sure if it was indeed smooth, or that the jagged animation hid the choppiness of the playback.

Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. This is supposed to one of the big features. Could it be the monitor? The RAM? It certainly couldn't be the DVDs themselves as they were all in perfect condition or pretty close. I decided to try the monitor and RAM route, hooking it up to big 21 CRT and adding an extra 128MB of PC133 RAM. Again I went through each movie and while the playback was slightly better, the problem was still very noticeable.

Hunting around the Lindows Click-N-Run Warehouse, I discovered Xine was offered as well as a developmental plug-in for DVD playback. Also included was a link to instructions on the Lindows site for getting it all to work. Several other users had stated this was working well for them. This I had to try. Perhaps the etDVD software just couldn't cut it. I downloaded, installed, followed the instructions step by step, and, was still disappointed. This time for a different reason. I certainly got smooth video playback, but the audio was all screwed up. A screeching wail leapt from the speakers half scaring me out of my chair. This was about enough for me, time to call in the professionals.

Taking The Helping Hand

Because of the DVD playback problem that I could not solve, I turned to the Lindows Support Team. Using the proffered Question/Answer system they have, I explained my problem, and what steps I had taken to solve it. As indicated on their site, I was contacted within 48 hours and the conversation went back and forth for several weeks. At first, everything was going okay but as time went on, responses from my tech support person Yvan took longer and longer, getting even less helpful each time. He seemed confused over the whole thing, coming up with answers to problems I didn't have. Once I even had to send another message along to get attention to the previous one. Ultimately, here is what I learned.

  1. The Lindows [lindows.com] Support Team (Yvan) was unable to duplicate my problem, and said I should contact Elegent [elegent.com] about the problem.
  2. Lindows [lindows.com] does not support DVD playback under Xine, even though their website states that they do and they offer instructions for setting it up.
  3. iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com] was well aware of the problem and told me it was because the system lacked a hardware DVD decoder. The new M series would be coming out soon that did include the decoder and took care of the poor playback.

Say now, that was some crappy support and double talk. On the Lindows side I mean. The folks at iDOTpc.com [idotpc.com] were on the ball though, and answered all my questions in just a single 5 minute call to their location. I found it funny that they knew all along that the system had performance issues and yet the parent company denied it. It was also funny that even within the Lindows [lindows.com] company there was conflicting info on what was supported and what wasn't.

Ready To Compete?

I used the little machine daily for the whole period of which it was on loan to me. While I couldn't watch DVDs on it, I was able to get some usefulness out of it. But over time I found it lacking in several areas that were crucial if it was to really compete against the Windows Media Center configurations.

One thing it lacked was power. The poor VIA C3 933MHz CPU isn't even in the same league as those found in the Windows machine. Less than half the speed, and far less than half the power. Perhaps this is where the DVD playback problem comes from. Without a powerhouse to push everything along, software performance becomes mediocre at best. The machine I used moved along well enough, generally speaking, but I did experience frequent slow downs in its performance, especially at boot time.

As stated previously, the sound quality was ok but certainly wasn't something to brag about. Indeed, not being able to connect a Dolby 5.1 or even 4.1 speaker set seriously degrades this machine's reputation as a media computer. Lacking the ability to kick out premium sound hampers the experience of watching movies, playing games, or even listening to one's favorite CDs and MP3s. Again, the Lindows Media Computer falls far short of the Microsoft product.

Having covered the audible medium, we move to the visual. DVD playback is spotty, VCD is as well. The 3D side of the machine falls woefully short with the Trident offering. There is no way to export video to a TV, nor is there a method of importing. And so, one is left with a basic low end computer system with a DVD player in it. Indeed, without the video playback from the etDVD software, there would be nothing special here. And since that only somewhat works, there is nothing in the visual medium that gives this system a good reason to call itself a media computer.

Conclusions

After tallying up my whole experience with the Lindows Media Computer, I come to the conclusion that it was not a good one. While the price may be right for some folks, the system itself doesn't dignify the name of 'Media Computer.' I found it to be little more that a tiny low-end computer with special boot software that didn't deliver on its promise. It lacks both the power and features to truly compete, even in its own price range. Indeed, I went through and priced up a machine with more power and features that a true 'Media Computer' should have and came up $50 less that the cost of the Lindows box. True, I didn't have Instant On media access, but since it didn't fully work anyhow, I wasn't too bothered.

Would I buy this machine? Certainly not. Would I recommend it? Not under its claim of being a competitor in the media field. Actually, given the lack of upgrade options, I would be hard pressed to recommend this system to anyone. It does look good, fits into small spaces, and doesn't take up a whole lot of space. But I don't know anyone who has these items on the absolute top of their priority list.

Flawed approach (4, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | about 11 years ago | (#5633329)

Lindows seems to think that somehow the fact that the OS that they use is free automatically gives them the higher ground when going head to head with Microsoft on any given field. Saving yourself $40 (or whatever the bulk OEM cost for an XP license is) is hardly the proverbial silver bullet.

And who buys these "media PCs" anyway? Does anyone have any info on the size of this market?

why the fuck can't you post anonymously? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633332)

fuck this! It's a major change, and doesn't even get a mention?

Update on Iraqi war: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5633357)

Today the coalition killed more Iraqis than each other.

Just kidding, april fools!
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