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Chinese Company Produces $150 Linux PC

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the inexpensive-penguins dept.

325

srinravi writes to mention an Ars Technica article about another ambitious 'inexpensive computer' project. A Chinese manufacturer, YellowSheepRiver, is aiming to make available a $150 Linux PC built with inexpensive hardware components. From the article: "Urging potential customers to 'Say no to Wintel,' YellowSheepRiver is devoted to using its own Linux distribution and hardware designed and manufactured by Chinese companies. YellowSheepRiver hopes to close the "digital divide" by making computer technology available to the Chinese public at an affordable price. The Municator, which comes with 256MB of RAM, uses a unique 64-bit CPU with an instruction set based on a subset of the MIPS architecture. Designed by a Chinese company called BLX, the the cheap chip is clocked at 400 or 600MHZ and supposedly provides performance comparable to that of an Intel P3."

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How much is how much? (4, Interesting)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212267)

Bear in mind that $150 dollars probably means a lot more in the Chinese economy than it does here in the U.S.

Basically, how much is $150 to the average chinese citizen?

Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curreny (5, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212332)

Seeing as you can get a Pentium III processor for about $10, 256MB RAM for $25 (both on Pricewatch)... throw in a motherboard ($25) with onboard video, sound, etc. and a hard drive ($30 for a 40gb EIDE) and you have a similar product for cheaper, and we didn't even have to resort to OEM/bulk pricing.

The unique feature is a 64 bit RISC chip and S-video out for a TV interface. No need for a computer monitor.

Now running Rinux (1, Funny)

EntropyXP (956792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212406)

See, the unique feature is that it's all chinese. Do their bits read from left to right?
The most expensive part, though, will be the keyboard!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Large_chinese_k eyboard.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:Now running Rinux (1)

Lord Agni (643860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212490)

...then a half an hour later you're running Windows again.

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (2, Informative)

johnfink (810028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212484)

No need for a computer monitor.
Have you ever tried using a TV as a monitor using S-Video? If you're not using software specifically designed for it (MythTV/Media Center) then it's all but useless. The signal from S-Video is in some respects like a low resolution VGA signal, but it's very sloppy in comparison, smearing the pixels across a comparitively wide area. It's fine for graphics and very large print on things like buttons, but it just isnt' accurate enough to make legible text unless that text is pretty big.

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (2, Insightful)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212523)

Plus, who can afford a TV with S-Video inputs but can't afford a low-end VGA monitor?

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (2, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212656)

Plus, who can afford a TV with S-Video inputs but can't afford a low-end VGA monitor?

People who already have a TV?

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (4, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212502)

Or you could just buy the LinspirePC from TigerDirect which includes a 2.4GHz Celeron, 256Meg, 40 Gig HD, CD-RW, network, integrated graphics and audio for $199.

(Please restrain yourselves from flaming about Linspire, TigerDirect, Celeron, etc.... this IS a CHEAP machine. It does, however, show what can be done at the low end of the market.)

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (1)

koweja (922288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212558)

People here don't like TigerDirect? I love it. The rebates are annoying and Newegg is usually cheaper, but occationally TD is has the better deal. Since they have a different method of calculating shipping costs, it's cheaper to buy in bulk from TD than from NE.

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212577)

You could also by the same thing at Fry's for the same price. Therefore, there's no need to restrain yourselves from flaming about TigerDirect, at least! ; )

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212601)

So... you can get the same machine for $50 more with one difference: A Celeron instead of the non-intel processor. If the almost-MIPS thing has the power benifits that I'd expect it to have, then for the rural chinese market it could easily be the better deal.

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212540)

No, *you* can get that stuff for those prices.

Can the Chinese people that this is actually intended for also do so?

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212582)

A chinese company can. That's the point. This computer isn't cheap.

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212706)

But can they buy them in sufficient quantities? You quote $10 for a Pentium 3, but they no longer manufacture them; how long before the supply dries up? How long before that before people realise that they're suddenly worth something to someone, and jack the price up?

Re:Not that cheap: don't even have to factor curre (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212660)

Yes but with this computer all the money is staying in China! China sees no reason to give billions of dollars of it's money to the US for Windows or for Intel/AMD cpus.
They see no need to be tied to the X86 ISA.
It makes a lot of sense in that it helps China become more independent of the West and possible make the west more dependant on China.
You want to sell systems to the Chinese government? Someday it may have to have a Chinese CPU in it.

Re:How much is how much? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212352)

Basically, how much is $150 to the average chinese citizen?

About 1200 yuan. [yahoo.com]

Re:How much is how much? (4, Informative)

MasterC (70492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212443)

Just randomly picking from a google search finds this PDF [sagarpa.gob.mx] which says the average household income for a rural household is 2262 Yuan which is about $327 USD [yahoo.com] . So a $150 computer would be about 6 months work for a rural family.

The graph on this page [iiasa.ac.at] confirms the ~2200 Yuan for rural households and shows urban households at just more than double that of rural.

So, from 3 to 6 months net income for an average household.

Re:How much is how much? (1)

Kanaka Kid (829457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212728)

$150 is between one month and five months salary for the average Chinese worker, where I define "average Chinese worker" to mean the average worker in a community. Viz., Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen's shop store clerks and factory workers would be making about $150 per month, whereas the same jobs would command $30 per month in more rural areas.

1 problem (-1, Flamebait)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212275)

One problem will be selling this to customers ...
Even some the non-techy customers will look at these specs
The Municator, which comes with 256MB of RAM ... clocked at 400 or 600MHZ

And say ... No wonder it's $150.00, it's a piece of crap

It'll be insanely tough to convince customers that a 600mhz, 256mb ram linux machine is equivalent or better than a 2.0ghz, 512mb winbox

Re:1 problem (4, Insightful)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212307)

To be fair, that's 600 MHz on MIPS, which is quite a bit more clock-efficient than a Pentium 4. Saying "zomg, the P4 has four times the gigahurtz!" is not exactly a fair comparison.

Re:1 problem (0)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212359)

I understand this ... u understand this ... slashdot understands this ... but all i was saying was that the customers that walk into the store would not ... they'd think you're feeding them a line of bull ...

Re:1 problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212431)

Maybe, but it doesn't help that the average consumer will go "ZOMG the P4 has a number 4 times as much, and only costs twice as much for a full PC". Good luck getting it to sell to anything but the techno-geek crowd in the western world.

Re:1 problem (1)

Xymor (943922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212325)

It maybe be crap, But it's WAY more realistic than the U$ 100 bucks laptop project.

Re:1 problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212758)

Agreed. If the cheapest pc the chinese can make is $150 there's no way anyone else can make a $100 laptop.

Re:1 problem (2, Interesting)

Burlap (615181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212326)

of course it's a clunker... its $150! but look at the target buyers, first time computer users on a VERY limited income. They arn't aiming at the hardcore gamers, even the casual web serfer is well above the bar that they are aiming for. let me put it another way.... if all you can aford is a mo-ped, will you really be complaining you didnt get a BMW?

Re:1 problem (4, Insightful)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212328)

It'll be insanely tough to convince customers that a 600mhz, 256mb ram linux machine is equivalent or better than a 2.0ghz, 512mb winbox

You don't have to. You just have to convince them it's a better bang for the buck. Not everyone drives a Mercedes - and it's not because they think their Kias are better cars.

Branding Issues (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212337)

In another lost in translation marketing descision an Chinese firm decides to put "Yellow and River" together in their name. I'd call that a piss poor decision?

Re:Branding Issues (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212435)

In another lost in translation marketing descision an Chinese firm decides to put "Yellow and River" together in their name. I'd call that a piss poor decision?

No, it is simply your total lack of education. Google on "Yellow River China" and you'll find it is one of the most important rivers in the world and along with the Tigris/Euphrates and Nile is where one of the earliest civilizations developed, sometime around 4000 B.C.

It is named after the color of the silt in the water, just like the Red River which is also in China.

Re:Branding Issues (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212497)

Yeah... because Yellow River has connotations for most people besides the Huang He. [wikipedia.org] Especially those in the target demographic: Chinese people. But most people in China won't think of the Huang He when someone says "Yellow Sheep River," they'll think of a small very poor village near the Gobi Desert [thestandard.com.hk] whose economy is primarilly textile related but people have been trying to make the next technological showcase. Sounds like a really good name to me, as long as you don't have the mind of an 8 year old.

Re:1 problem (1)

Knight Thrasher (766792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212338)

The crunching capabilities of a processor arn't always about it's clockspeed. And technically, besides gaming, 600mhz is fairly solid for running Linux on, for most web browsing and general office applications.

I'd think the most likely reason these won't sell well in the US is marketing and incompatibility. For one, good luck outmarketing Dell and Intel here in the US. For incompatibility, who the heck will be writing compatible drivers for this sort of system for us geeks to add video cards to, connect MP3 players to, etc?

All in all it's certainl possible that these will be functional web browser systems, but I wouldn't expect a single thing else from them. For $150, you get what you pay for.

Re:1 problem (0, Offtopic)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212388)

My boss is hooked up Intel. "Well look 3.2GHZ, AMD sucks their pieces of crap.". Every time my AMD Athlon XP 2500+ chip outperformed/outlasted the intel chip and it was alot cheaper. Its not about GHz.

Re:1 problem (1)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212384)

It'll be insanely tough to convince customers that a 600mhz, 256mb ram linux machine is equivalent or better than a 2.0ghz, 512mb winbox

Hey, I'm a techie and I'll buy one.

Wanna know why?
Small and obviously perfectly runs linux, I can create my self one hell of a media center with it (or irc console, or office machine, or browsing, mailing), but in the same time require as less space as possible.

I'm very satisfied with buying Opterons for my workstations (and I got 10 of them), but for my media center or low-needs purposes, this machine is more than ideal. Or at least it seems so. Why would anybody wanted to buy something small but overpriced or something big and clumsy if he doesn't need it.

Re:1 problem (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212428)

to clarify ... i was not denying the fact that techies would love / eat this up ... i was only saying that non-techy customers would not ...

Re:1 problem (2, Insightful)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212571)

My first x86 computer was a 386 with 2 megs of ram and a 40 MB hard drive.

I used it for word processing, spreadsheets, charts, databases, basic programming and even games!

Our need for something faster is somewhat artificial. People don't need to have the latest and the greatest unless they want floating transparent rotating windows or to play duke nukem forever.

Our perception of utility and function has been distorted by our voracious consumerism.

By our logic and reasoning, if we were ever visited by a more advanced civilization, all of our technology would become obsolete instantly. The fact that it worked right up to that moment is completely irrelevant.

-----------
I sometimes drive my 17 year old car for fun and it works great. It is looked down upon by society, but it does the same basic tasks that the newer cars on the street can.

Re:1 problem (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212644)


  It'll be insanely tough to convince customers that a 600mhz, 256mb ram linux machine is equivalent or better than a 2.0ghz, 512mb winbox

Why should they even try? It's a Linux box, that costs $150. In parts of the world where $150 is a considerable amount of money, I would think that would be a pretty strong selling point compared to a $2K dual-core SLI Windows machine.

Re:1 problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212677)

It'll be insanely tough to convince customers that a 600mhz, 256mb ram linux machine is equivalent or better than a 2.0ghz, 512mb winbox

I don't think they're trying to do that. A lot of people are more concerned with cost than performance.

So, when do we get one over here? (2, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212292)

With the death of commodity of PowerPC computers imminent with Apple's switch, this can fill the niche for commodity alternative architectures. I'd get one if it comes here. Hopefully it won't be a "Lisa Lionheart."

MIPS rip chip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212385)

http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=24882 [theinquirer.net]

It's a knockoff. The sad thing is that an American company that tried the same thing was sued out of existance. They were innocent but they couldn't afford the lawyers.

Our court system is giving a huge advantage to the Chinese.

Re:MIPS rip chip (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212653)

That raises an interesting question: why didn't they go with an open architecture such as SPARC or PowerPC?

Re:So, when do we get one over here? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212648)

What's most interesting about it for me is the question of whether it has integrated Treacherous Computing. With both Intel and AMD chips becoming infested with it in the near future, a computer with a foreign chip like this might be the only alternative (which reminds me, I need to check on the status of IBM, Via, Transmeta, and other chips).

But can it run Linux? (2, Interesting)

OctoberSky (888619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212295)

Urging potential customers to 'Say no to Wintel,' YellowSheepRiver is devoted to using its own Linux distribution and hardware designed and manufactured by Chinese companies

But can it run (my) Linux?

Re:But can it run Linux? (1)

lolocaust (871165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212327)

Sure, if you have the source code.

Too bad it does run Linux (2, Funny)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212421)

Because a key selling point for any product is to see how long it takes to get Linux on it.

If they really wanted to make a killing, they'd hamstring the machine to ensure that it could never run Linux, and then the company would make outlandish claims about how Linux will never run on their machine.

Then, there would be a rush of people trying put whatver toaster oven version of Linux on the thing. Within weeks, the free publicity machine would splatter screen shots of those first beautiful lines of [FAILED] [OK] [OK] [FAILED] [DEAR GOD, WHAT DID YOU DO?]

Danger for GNU/linux (5, Insightful)

Enquest (579041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212298)

There is a danger that GNU/Linux will get a bad name because it mostly installed on very cheap systems. Often these projects tend to fail and then the scape goat will be GNU/Linux. Better would be that large hardware firms put GNU/Linux on there system. Just imagine Ubuntu on all Dell, HP ... systems. That would be the break for GNU/Linux

Re:Danger for GNU/linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212416)

Or the death knell of Dell and HP. I love Linux, but any company that tried to push Linux on its customers like that would likely go bankrupt. Virtually no one switches operating systems just because their "favorite" vendor wants them to. (And no, new versions of Windows are *not* the same thing)

Re:Danger for GNU/linux (1)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212449)

There is a danger that GNU/Linux will get a bad name because it mostly installed on very cheap systems. Often these projects tend to fail and then the scape goat will be GNU/Linux. Better would be that large hardware firms put GNU/Linux on there system. Just imagine Ubuntu on all Dell, HP ... systems. That would be the break for GNU/Linux
one step at a time... baby steps preferred...

Re:Danger for GNU/linux (1)

sheehaje (240093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212538)

Actually, all Dell Servers come with a form of GNU/Linux. There server installation program uses Linux and X Window. I haven't used HP servers in a long time, but I think all their Proliant computers uses a form of Compaq's old server installation software, which was also a variant of Linux and X Window.

Re:Danger for GNU/linux (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212652)

Put two or three NIC's on this guy, and you can bet that it won't fail. Why should my firewall require a 250 watt PSU?

Its a bunch of crap (0, Troll)

abhinavkaiser (960721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212301)

With that kind of configuration, we will be going back to the 1990s. It is not worth 150 bucks. If you pay 200 dollars more, you could get a emachines desktop computer with the latest technology.

Re:Its a bunch of crap (0, Troll)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212339)

With or without DRM? That's the key question here, not the price.

I'd prefer to pay 300 bucks for a P3 that is mine over paying 150 bucks for a P6 that isn't under my control.

Re:Its a bunch of crap (1)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212452)

We are talking about China here they are full of D&M, but the Rights is no where to be seen.

Re:Its a bunch of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212481)

WTF are you talking about? You dont think the Chinese, who are known for jailing bloggers and journalists, wouldnt load that fucker up with spyware, and nanny chips to monitor eveyone who buys one? And now you will accuse us companies of putting drm in their procs? Once again WTF?

Re:Its a bunch of crap (1, Insightful)

monkeyGrease (806424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212739)

With that kind of configuration, we will be going back to the 1990s. It is not worth 150 bucks. If you pay 200 dollars more, you could get a emachines desktop computer with the latest technology.

Stupid reply. The whole point of the cheap entry computer is because of low incomes. I could just pay 20k more than 15k and get a BMW instead of a Hundai, but maybe I don't have that extra 20k.

I can't believe someone serious asserts something based on "you could just pay 133% more..."

Now with built in firewall!! (5, Funny)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212308)

I bet this thing filters questionable content right out of the box!

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Now with built in firewall!! (1)

Knight Thrasher (766792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212379)

Not just filters, but alerts the proper authorities if some criminal breaks into your house and searches Google on the topic of "free speech!"

Re:Now with built in firewall!! (1)

kevmo (243736) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212669)

How are buyers supposed to get their daily fix of Pintsize then????

Such a (sucky) deal! (1)

execute85 (673573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212309)

Wow, this is much better than a $299 dell (which includes monitor and windows). Not!

Who greenlit this idea? A custom chip, a custom linux distro, a crappy processor. This is a nightmare waiting to happen.

I'm sure $300 is a big difference vs. $150. But when you consider $300 is the before sale price of Dell and I didn't even shop around on pricewatch. It's a no brainer.

I expect this to sell as much as the new lenovo thinkpads.

Re:Such a (sucky) deal! (4, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212395)

You're forgetting the target audience. To compensate, let's do a thought experiment: Scale the prices up.

Let's say that right now the cheapest PC you could get were $3000 (akin to the Dell $300 box), and a really good one cost $30,000 (think your $3K gaming box). Making a crappy machine for $1500 means that there are a whole bunch of folks would couldn't possibly afford a new computer who now can.

Remember, these things aren't targeted at the US market, and aren't targeted at people who can afford current prices.

Re:Such a (sucky) deal! (1)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212494)

Exactly. I don't understand why there is so much "OMGZLOLSUXX0rs 400mhZhaaN00b" going on today. These machines aren't for the general techie who craves the ability to play games at 200fps, it is for someone who just wants a web browser (if that). I still have a P3 in my basement that I still use as a server for small tasks and web browsing when my other computers are doing something intensive.

I think it is a great thing to make computer available to people who otherwise couldn't afford them.

Re:Such a (sucky) deal! (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212757)

There's one thing I don't understand.

We throw away millions of computers every year. China sends us new stuff and the boats go home empty.

Why don't we send them our old computers for $10 each?

It is so slow that (2, Funny)

t0qer (230538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212311)

Designed by a Chinese company called BLX, the the cheap chip is clocked at 400 or 600MHZ and supposedly provides performance comparable to that of an Intel P3."

When you watch american kung fu flicks (chuck norris) they automagically get the "out of sync english voiceover" effect.

thin client? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212313)

I see it as a powerful thin client... hmmm. nice!

YellowSheepRiver?? (4, Funny)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212322)

I ain't drinkin from that river!

don't drink the yellow water.... (3, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212353)

...it tastes baaaaaaaaaad!

Re:YellowSheepRiver?? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212440)

It's just a name, don't let it pull the wool over your eyes.

Re:YellowSheepRiver?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212746)

No, no, no, don't worry. It's lemon.

Why put a drive in there? (3, Interesting)

kawika (87069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212342)

Clearly with specs like this it's not going to run any heavy-duty apps, so I would think a typical application would be to run a browser and web/intranet apps to keep the client footprint small. Instead of a 40GB drive, why not put 2GB of flash onto the board formatted as a file system, and make the spinning drive optional? That would reduce power consumption and increase reliability.

Re:Why put a drive in there? (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212387)

I would think a typical application would be to run a browser and web/intranet apps

Perhaps that's what it's called the [com]Municator? :-)

Re:Why put a drive in there? (1)

wirah (707347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212410)

Yes, and how long before the flash wears out?
I used to compile java on my usb pendrive, and it lasted a number of weeks before it wore out.
It just isn't feasible.

Re:Why put a drive in there? (5, Insightful)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212424)

What if you want to store lots of MP3s, run a small web server, do software development, play movies, etc.? I was happily running on a fairly similar laptop (okay, 1 ghz CPU) until a few weeks ago. It ran linux quite well... if you can afford the latest-and-greatest to run your high-powered apps, that's great, but if not an older system works pretty well even for a lot of resource-intensive tasks.

Re:Why put a drive in there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212665)

Your overlooking the obvious, price. A 2gb flash drive cost about 60 bucks. that's basically a very low end hd. Hd makes more sense in terms of longevity and size.

YellowWhatTheHeck? (1)

wirah (707347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212361)

Haha. YellowSheepRiver has to be the most awesome chinese name i've heard yet! Forget LongShine!

Oh but yeah, the pc sounds good too...

CeBIT 2006 Demo (4, Informative)

fred911 (83970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212369)

Re:CeBIT 2006 Demo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212569)

After watching the video it does look like an impressive little box. The only gripe I have is that even though it is running their own linux that interface is god awful ugly. Reminds me of a WebTV interface and that just scares me.

Re:CeBIT 2006 Demo (1)

CatsupBoy (825578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212654)

The only gripe I have is that even though it is running their own linux that interface is god awful ugly.
Yes, but your grandmother wont be calling you about how to drop to a command prompt to run mplayer.

BLX allegedly stole MIPS architecture (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212409)

It's easy to make stuff cheap when you are stealing IP from the USA. Thanks again China!

http://www.eetimes.com/news/design/business/showAr ticle.jhtml?articleID=166402034 [eetimes.com]

Re:BLX allegedly stole MIPS architecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212626)

MIPS designs have been public domain and fully documented for quite a long time. Why do you think they are popular in computer architechture classes?

Video (0, Redundant)

torrap (971264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212412)

Here is a link to a good video from CeBIT 2006 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-920346214 8706105599 [google.com] I am intrested in purchasing many of these but they will not return any contact

Re:Video (1)

torrap (971264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212461)

Since I got beat to the google video here is the source with available Hidef version. http://cebitvideo.com/?p=20#comments [cebitvideo.com]

brand Name? (2, Funny)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212441)

OK...
  Communicator
- Communist
----------------------
      Municator

Re:brand Name? (1)

flamingspinach (668085) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212547)

Sorry, but communicator - communist = cator-st :/

Warning off letter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212446)

These guys better watch out for one of these letters [brej.org] . Ah, wait a minute -- they're in China, so, on past form, aren't they immune to American IPR?

Old Proverb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212455)

Confucius say:

If one enough sheep in valley that river runs yellow, then wise man refrains from swimming in river.

Performance claim probably spot on. (5, Informative)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212478)

I have an SGI Octane with dual MIPS R12k 300 mhz and it outperforms a P4 2ghz on floating point ops all the time. Integer performance isn't as good, but that's the way the things are built. Some of the reason it's faster at floating point than a much newer P4 is because each chip has 2MB cache, and MIPS chips have way more registers than intel+friends, but still...it's a ten year old machine.

Even if the MIPS implementation these guys are using is dated and has a teensy cache, 400-600 mhz MIPS would be roughly in the ballpark of a P3... and 64-bit to boot. And have a lot more registers, which makes it easier to write fast code because you dont have to swap things out of your primary (what, four? =P) registers to do anything, like on Intel + friends.

Tired of being cheap (1)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212536)

I'm tired of the 'hook' of Linux is that it's free -- it should be seen as an equal alternative; albeit one that is free/open and community supported. I'm sure this scares folks off, but to have those fears doused simply because something is cheap seems the wrong tactic. I remeber seeing those crappy 200$ eMachines PCs running some hacked up KDE desktop (that looked about 2 years out of date) at Fry's, and the whole thing was cheap. Cheap keyboard, cheap mouse, all onboard crap, cheap, cheap, cheap. Why not produce a reasonable box for home use? Look at how inexpensive some Dell's are, and they're not using just cheap crap, some of their components are good, and their case design has come a long way. Having them as an equal alternative to a Windows box would be my wish. Before I get the na-sayers, yes, they are equal for 80% of the population; they can surf the web, check email, listen to musak, whatever most of the ppl do...they don't need 14 kinds of cd burning software to choose from for example...Linux has all the apps they need. At that point it would fall to brand recognition, which many would still go with Windows, but I bet more would go for an alternative if they saw it as an equal value, and not just some cheap hacked together box. .02

Red Office (1, Insightful)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212548)

With China's policies on internet, I think using their system would be akin to using an OS designed by the CIA.

The real news is... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212550)

that someone finally got tv-out working on linux.

Chip Design Issues? (1)

mckwant (65143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212568)

From another article (which, predictably, I can't find), it sounded as if there are some issues with the processor design that keeps this processor from being marketed in the US. It's not really my area, but does anyone have insight on this issue?

Other than that, I'm thinking we might be looking at the next Audrey or something. I'll never figure out why they don't put every piece of documentation on the web and open the box up to the hacker community. Seems straightforward to me, but I'm no marketer (thankfully).

products specs (4, Informative)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212585)

Is it so difficult for the article submitter, to provide a link to the actual product [yellowsheepriver.org] ?

Re:products specs (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212729)

hey! I think it's skype, or something very similar. From their website there is a link to some videos, pick this [google.com] one, scroll forward to 10:06.

The sheep of things to come (2, Insightful)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212595)

The box from YellowSheepRiver may sound like a bit of an April Fool - too bad it's not called the Munchicator and boots from a .baa file since we are talking sheep - but what we're seeing is another early step from the Chinese economy towards designing, manufacturing and assembling all its own IT stuff right down to the microchips. This may not sound much right now, but it sure will before long. The folks at Intel, AMD and other Wesern chip houses, Dell, etc., must feel a little queasier every time they see an announcement like this. I guess the same may eventually be true on the software side. The box is shipping Linux, but then didn't Microsoft recently ask the Chinese authorities to stop producing naked boxes with no OS on board? I guess the Chinese are now doing exactly what Microsoft asked.

Can you find it anywhere? (5, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212600)

Apparently this is somewhere between 2 months to half a year old. Someone on digg was trying to get ahold of these for mass purchase and failed to get any replies. I haven't seen any pictures floating around of this thing in the wild online. You can't buy them anywhere. Multiplied by the fact that BLX hasn't acquired a MIPS liscence (their CPU likely borrows certain patents originally designed for MIPS, given how similar it is), I doubt you'll see many of these floating around on eBay. Some theorize it's a grandstand by the Chinese government to demonstrate how much better they are than other local countries such as Korea, Taiwan or Japan. Plausible, but I suspect this is just the first visible vaporware company out of China.

In summary, it's not a 150 dollar device until you can acquire one somewhere at that price.

(Yawn) (0, Troll)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212604)

I'm tired of seeing these el-cheapo computers heralded as an achievement. X Box costs $150, PS2 is $130. Both of those systems could run linux probably as well as or better than this box.

very interesting (2, Interesting)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212605)

Looks like it would make a decent little headless server, for http/imap/ftp/etc. The Godson-3 (successor to this Godson-2) chip plans look even more interesting. basically take a 4-pipeline 64-bit superscalar MIPS chip (Godson-2) and put 4 cores on a chip.

http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/08/01/HNgodson 2_1.html [infoworld.com]

Assuming, though, that legal and patent issues don't prevent it being sourced in US-bound computers and components...

Is this really so bad? (2, Insightful)

frostoftheblack (955294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212659)

Am I the only one that doesn't exactly see this as a terrible thing? I don't think it would be a good idea for familes or individuals to have this as their main computer, but think of the other options. Think of public libraries: dozens and dozens of computers where people just want to do Internet research, nothing else. Card catalogues where the only software the computer runs is either a browser or a card database. Think of public kiosks that could be made with free internet access. I'm sure the thing is a piece of crap to run a lot of software, but if you just want a system that runs basic applications (especially a browser), I don't see anything wrong with this.

Performance of Municator vs. VIA Epia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212732)

VIA has been producing their Epia [via.com.tw] series of small form factor, all-in-one (processor included) boards within a similiar price range for some time now--some of them are even fanless and are available [mini-box.com] for under $100 US.

I'm curious to know how the PC mentioned in TFA will perform compared to those of VIA's current offerings.

YellowSheepRiver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15212751)

Apparently downstream from the semiconductor foundaries...
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