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$200 Linux PCs On Sale At Wal-Mart

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the testing-the-holiday-waters dept.

Linux Business 537

Placid sends in a Wired blog entry on Wal-Mart's new sub-$200 Linux-based PC. Wired calls it "a custom distribution of Ubuntu Linux," and the AP identifies the distro as gOS, made by a small company in Los Angeles. Wal-Mart began selling Linux PCs in 2002 but they have been out of stock for a while. From the Wired blog: "It has a 1.5 Ghz VIA C7 CPU embedded in a Mini-ITX motherboard, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Normally, this would simply mark it as unacceptably low-end for use with modern software. By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager (instead of heavier-duty alternatives like Gnome or KDE), the makers say it's more responsive than Vista is, even on more powerful computers."

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537 comments

Only terrorists and hackers use Linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196481)

The year of Linux on the desktop is never.

Re:Only terrorists and hackers use Linux (1)

Nar Matteru (1099389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197155)

No thats the year of the gnaa (or whatever else you're part of, same thing in my book tho)

A 1.5 GHz Via?! (0, Troll)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196489)

Wow! Are we trying to convince people that Linux sucks?

On the Contrary ... (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196587)

Wow! Are we trying to convince people that Linux sucks?
On the contrary, the article points out the hilarity that would ensue if someone would install Vista:

If users want to install Windows on it, they can, though Everex cautions that Vista will not run well without a RAM upgrade. Recent games will not run well, if at all, on the gPC: the requirements of even humble titles like World of Warcraft exceed the system specifications.
I think that people are soon going to realize something that speaks to their pocket books about Linux: it runs on the slowest of hardware. Sure, webpages and plugins will require more resources but that's the great advantage Linux will always have over Windows--that minimum requirements is nearly unbeatable. So keep tweaking that kernel and you'll start to see a $150 machine go on sale that will do nearly everything. Then a $100 machine. Then an $80 machine. And so on and so forth until you'd have to be a raving lunatic (or fat rich American) to pay the beefy cost of a premium machine just so you have the resources that the latest Windows needs to consume.

How much precisely will you pay to have your UI look like glass and all your games run at the highest resolutions? I think we're approaching the point where only avid gamers & people with too much disposable income will support the ladened OS that is Windows.

Re:On the Contrary ... (4, Funny)

Snorpus (566772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196679)

If memory serves, it wasn't all that long ago (1970? 1971?) that 1.5GHz, 512MB, 80GB would have been the specs on a pretty high-end machine.

Re:On the Contrary ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196825)

i think you're off by about 3 decades.

Re:On the Contrary ... (4, Funny)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196949)

i think you're off by about 3 decades.
Actually I think this is the first, real life example of the Y2K bug actually affecting something. He's just rolled over to the epoch.

It may have taken almost eight years, but at last the $billions spent have finally been justified.

Re:On the Contrary ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196915)

"1970? 1971?" How quickly they forget. That far in the past those specs would have made this thing a supercomputer. In 1990 or 1991, however, this would have been a a high-end PC. In fact, a review of it written then would have described it as being suitable for "the most power-hungry applications".

Re:On the Contrary ... (1)

Ours (596171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197135)

1971 with 80GB??? It's not high-end, it's NSA-end at those times. In 1990 I had a 20GB HDD, and I partitioned it in two.

Re:On the Contrary ... (4, Informative)

hummassa (157160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197187)

If memory serves, it wasn't all that long ago (1970? 1971?) that 1.5GHz, 512MB, 80GB would have been the specs on a pretty high-end machine.
I think -- better said, I _HOPE_ -- you are joking. But, as I didn't see a smiley --

In 1970, 1.5GHz, 512MB, 80GB would be an billion-dollar-expensive, multiple-building-sized computer.

Hell, in 1991, when I graduated, such a machine would /still/ be a supercomputer. The 1993 Cray Y-MP C90 916/16256 (16 processors) performed at 15 MFlops (the VIA C7 should be like 75 MFlops), had 1GB of RAM, and up to 32GB of solid state disks (battery-backed RAM banks), and it was closet-sized. It's not a testimony to Linux quality the fact that it runs snappy on such a machine, it's a testimony to XP/Vista's lagginess that they don't.

Re:On the Contrary ... (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196693)

Exactly. This is the effect of free software: it raises the bar. Commercial software can exist above the bar, but not below it. When the bar is raised high enough, the free package becomes "good enough". The price of hardware is falling to the point where the Microsoft license costs more than the rest of the computer combined, and that's when the "good enough" option becomes compelling.

Re:On the Contrary ... (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196705)

This week I installed Slackware 12 on an older Dell Optiplex to check it out. It is an Optiplex GX1, with a PIII-450 processor and only 384M of RAM. It runs Slackware quite snappy and acceptable, even with a 'modern' desktop (KDE). I am favorably impressed, given that I have a whole stack of these Optiplex GX1 boxes out in the garage and can get them generally for several dollars apiece at regularly held auctions locally.

I usually run NetBSD with FVWM, Seamonkey, Sylpheed for email, XCDroast, etc. on similar hardware. I'm a 'classic unixy' sort of guy who has stayed away from the 'Desktop environments' fearing bloat. I had the impression that KDE would seriously slow down the machine. Now I will need to give a second look at it and maybe build the KDE desktop from pkgsrc and see how it fares on NetBSD.

Re:On the Contrary ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196763)

> On the contrary, the article points out the hilarity that would ensue if someone would install Vista:

um . . . Walmart sells the same machine with Vista already loaded

go to the walmart web site and search for: Everex Impact GC3500 Desktop PC w/ Via Processor & 17" Monitor

Re:On the Contrary ... (2, Funny)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196829)

I bet windows XP or 2000 would install on this thing and run just as fast as this Ubuntu variant they're using and then you'd have access to much more software (and more FAMILIAR software). That is, assuming you could get drivers for everything. I'm not sure exactly what the situation is on that but there doesn't seem to be any reason it all wouldn't be supported by XP (2000, might take some work). Vista though, forget about it. There's not a single component of that computer (maybe the keyboard. maybe) that would be powerful enough to handle Vista. Who cares though, most people don't need Vista.

And the default desktop looks very nice, a huge improvement over the Ubuntu design ;)

Re:On the Contrary ... (2, Informative)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196961)

I bet windows XP or 2000 would install on this thing and run just as fast as this Ubuntu variant they're using
So you can have a 7-8 year old OS that you can't upgrade to the next version, or a 6 month old (at most) OS that you can upgrade, for free.

Re:On the Contrary ... (-1, Flamebait)

crush (19364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197179)

I bet windows XP or 2000 would install on this thing and run just as fast as this Ubuntu variant they're using

I bet you're wrong. .... Any other vapid content-free speculation you'd like to make?

Re:On the Contrary ... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197013)

How much precisely will you pay to have your UI look like glass and all your games run at the highest resolutions?
Two words: Compiz Fusion. right now it's happily running on top of/beside/with xfce and works well using less than 500 megs of RAM by the looks of it.

I think we're approaching the point where only avid gamers & people with too much disposable income will support the ladened OS that is Windows.
Not even that, WINE works fairly well with most of the games I've tried as long as you know what you're doing and it gets better with every release.

Re:On the Contrary ... (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197017)

Despite being a big Linux advocate, the same can really be said of capable versions of Windows. My parents use an AMD K6-2 350mhz machine with an 8GB hard drive and 256mb of RAM. It's running Windows 2000 with the latest Firefox installed, and an upgrade is not anywhere on the horizon for them. My mom checks email and browses eBay. My dad checks email and keeps track of his Fantasy Football teams. That machine running that software performs those functions just fine, despite being horribly outdated. My brothers machine: a Celeron 566mhz with a 40GB hard drive and 512mb of RAM, running XP. He surfs the web, uses AIM, and does his Fantasy Football thing on it. He's also not looking at upgrading anytime soon.

The simple fact is most normal people don't know the difference between a fast computer and a slow one. The only time they normally buy a new one is when their computer gets enough spyware on it that it no longer works properly. They buy that new system because the old one was "broken", not really slow. For people with free tech support (see above), that generally doesn't happen.

Many thanks for the troll rating, guys (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196857)

I didn't say Linux sucks. I said Via sucks, and thereby is going to make this machine portray Linux as sucking. But, whatever. Enjoy being thoughtlessly reactionary.

Interesting (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196523)

I saw this yesterday and was considering if it would as the next pc for my parents. I don't think so - for one reason, powerpoint. But my folks might be a little unusual with that requirement. I also wonder if my dad could sync his palm to it.
 
Then we'd need to make sure that their printers are going to work all right. And I'd probably need to teach them how to use new software for printing photos. The more I think about it, as much as I hate to say it, the less I think it would work.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196571)

Then we'd need to make sure that their printers are going to work all right. And I'd probably need to teach them how to use new software for printing photos. The more I think about it, as much as I hate to say it, the less I think it would work.
As someone who got Vista with a new PC I can assure you these problems are not limited to *nix.

Re:Interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21197201)

Stop using "*nix" -- it does not glob to "Linux". Do you notice the difference between the "i" and "u"?

The only thing using "*nix" accomplishes is to make you look like a retarded fanboy of slashdot and digg.

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

Nibbler999 (1101055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196573)

There's a powerpoint equivalent (Presentation) in Open Office.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196623)

And why should I use OO if i can (and want to) pay for a MS 2007? Price is not everything. And ideologies suck.

Re:Interesting (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196955)

And "Ill use Microsoft regardless of it's price" is not an ideology of it's own?
This Anonymous Coward is Steve Balmer!!

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197077)

And ideologies suck.
Not nearly as much as monopolies.

If you can afford Office 2007 go ahead and buy it, but as already discussed, this machine isn't going to be very good at running windows, so you'll need a different PC too.

Be aware though, that as OpenOffice continues to develop and becomes more of a competitor, you as a MS user will benefit, through more money being spent on R&D to bring you new features, as MS try to maintain their lead, as well as lower costs as MS try remain competitive.

Without competition, you'll see MS continue to develop their software like they did between 1999 and 2006 where windows saw only an incremental improvement between Windows 2K and Windows XP and Office changed even less.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196577)

I saw this yesterday and was considering if it would as the next pc for my parents

An Ubuntu PC? Why do you hate your parents? What did they ever do to you?

Re:Interesting (4, Funny)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196743)

Yeah, I've been thinking about a new machine for my parents for a while now, though this isn't much of an upgrade from what they currently have (though I'm sure it runs faster.) Then I saw this:

Even at the low end, however, image is everything. The gPC is built using tiny components, but put inside a full-size case because research indicates that Wal-Mart shoppers are so unsophisticated they equate physical size with capability.

I think it's silly, because I'd rather have desk space, but I have to admit my first thought was, "That's what SHE said!"

Re:Interesting (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196765)

There are Palm-syncing programs in Ubuntu. One I "gnow" of is gnome-pilot. I'm not sure whether it works in an enlightenment environment, but wouldn't be surprised if it does.

As for printing, I had to adjust no settings in Ubuntu 7.10 to print. It just worked.

Re:Interesting (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196781)

OpenOffice.org Impress can open and save .ppt files, so they will still be able to do that. There are also utilities to sync with palm devices, I hear they work pretty well now. Printers may be an issue, depending on the maker and quality of the printer. Printing photos can be done from the default image viewer (not Gimp), I don't see how that would be very difficult to teach.

Honestly, get a Ubuntu LiveCD, pop it into their current computer, and test drive it. I'm sure there will be a learning curve, but it shouldn't be too steep, certainly less steep than moving them to Vista or MS Office 2007.

Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196533)

From the article, it's Everex. I need to fix/replace my mail/web server, and that's actually a cost-effective option by the looks of it? Of course I'd replace the OS, as I have my own preferences (and it's probably easier than uninstalling X, even if I didn't).

also, my thoughts on one comment:

"It has a 1.5 Ghz VIA C7 CPU embedded in a Mini-ITX motherboard, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Normally, this would simply mark it as unacceptably low-end for use with modern software. By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager (instead of heavier-duty alternatives like Gnome or KDE), the makers say it's more responsive than Vista is, even on more powerful computers."


I don't see why that would have an issue with either. Gnome should be fairly responsive with that setup, KDE would probably want more memory (at 1GB it'd probably be faster than Gnome on that hardware).

Re:Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196689)

I have Kubuntu (Ubunut KDE) running on a 600 Mhz pentium, and it's generally very responsive. It may have a little more memory than that (I seem to remember it having 700 MB when it was running Windows 98), and I don't use it much for audio/video, but it's quite enough for what it does.

Re:Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196963)

it is a bit of an odd remark. my pc is a 1ghz athlon with 512mb and that runs ubuntu feisty perfectly.

Re:Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196987)

My wife had a similar arrangement, and while Gnome was generally pretty responsive, memory hogging applications like Firefox and OpenOffice.org were a bit slow and tended to slow down the overall desktop if they were running due to constant swapping. The same box is being used for other purposes and now runs XFCE via Xubuntu and it's never been more responsive. I chalk that up to XFCE's considerably lower memory footprint.

Re:Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197121)

The last I heard of Everex was in the mid 1980s when it was a player in the niche market of souped-up 80386 PCs. I assume that it was one of the countless companies that eventually went out of business and whose brand name was bought up by some Far East electronics OEM.

Re:Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197151)

For about $100 more you can get one of these puppies with 1GB RAM. However, the catch is you get Windows Hasta La Vista Home Basic on it. Eew.

My first computer ever was an IBM PC 5-slot, aka the Model 5150. One of the first things I did was shove an Everex 1200bps modem in it. They've been around for at least 20 years.

I wonder what kind of RAM it takes? Then again, 512MB RAM is just fine for a NAS running Debian Etch, which is what I am seriously considering purposing this machine for.

Of course, I HATE freaking Sith*Mart. Supposedly this machine is in stock at one which is within easy walking distance of me, though. I think I might pay them a visit.

Re:Anyone ever heard of the manufacturer? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197213)

For about $100 more you can get one of these puppies with 1GB RAM. However, the catch is you get Windows Hasta La Vista Home Basic on it. Eew.


Doesn't bother me. First boot would be Knoppics - backing up the drive onto my USB HD.
Second boot would be the FreeBSD 6.2 installer

But, given I could upgrade the memory for less, I wouldn't buy that one anyway. I could get a 1GB stick of Crucial or Kingston for under $50.

This is actually a good step (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196553)

There are a lot of people in the market for a low end computer just to be able to get on the internet. This could spread Ubuntu to a new segment and get a new crowd accustomed to something new. Just as long as the reviewer is correct that it is responsive under most circumstances. Of course there will be things that can't be done on that laptop, but these computers aren't exactly for high-end users.

no offence to anyone who works on it, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196561)

I can't believe that I've lived long enough to see Enlightenment become the lightweight option.

"Modern" software? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196579)

What is this "modern" software they speak of? Just how much horsepower do you need to browse the Web, type something in a word processor? Is there some sort of super Solitaire with realtime physics simulation and ray traced graphics that I don't know about?

Re:"Modern" software? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196835)

I was wondering that, too. I have a 1.25GHz eMac and a 1.6GHz PowerBook, and the only software I've used that doesn't run acceptably fast is NeoOffice and maybe iMovie. Word, Excel, iWork, Photoshop Elements - they're all fine.

Re:"Modern" software? (2, Interesting)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197255)

I have you beat.

I'm on an iMac 500MHz G3, running Panther. Performance is slower than, say, my MacBook, but it's acceptable. 750MB RAM helps, of course. Strangely enough, Photoshop Elements 4 runs faster on the iMac than my MacBook...freaking Rosetta...

Re:"Modern" software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21197129)

What is this "modern" software they speak of? Just how much horsepower do you need to browse the Web, type something in a word processor?
Depends on whether your web browser is Internet Explorer 7 under Vista with ooooohultrashinytranslucency Aero!!!. Or Word 2007. Or, ah, not.

Storage? (2, Interesting)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196595)

This seems like a great machine to use for backups and file storage on a home network. Just replace the 80GB hard drive with a bigger one (if necessary), and you have an extremely cheap file server.

Oh great! (2, Funny)

eneville (745111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196611)

Great! Now more people want help on the linux forums.

Re:Oh great! (2, Interesting)

Marc Desrochers (606563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196895)

Funny maybe, but that would be a good thing no? We want more people using Linux no? Isn't that what we're all pushing for all the time? Or are we now going to be elitist about it?

Re:Oh great! (3, Funny)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196967)

We'll probably need more people then to keep up the level of mockery people have come to expect.

upgradeability? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196631)

Can you add a tuner card and something with TV-out? This seems like a great MythTV machine.

Linux drivers? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197041)

Fewer than PCs. Many vendors dont bother. Not impossible to write your own for Open Linux, but maybe not cost-effective. (Linus got started because he couldnt afford UNIX or Windows.)

So 1998 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196635)

By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager (instead of heavier-duty alternatives like Gnome or KDE)

Enlightenment, that's so 1998.

But on the positive site it would be fast and responsive.

Let's get some data (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196637)

I'd love to know how well these will sell -- perhaps we can arrange a follow-up in a few months?

More seriously, this falls under the "computers as appliances" paradigm. This "home computing appliance" cost less than many "home gaming" appliances, about as much as a cheap all-in-one sound system. It delivers basic internet functionality. The users shouldn't care what OS it runs anymore than they care what OS their printer runs. This is not to say that there can be a potential snag: users trying to install Microsoft-targeted software off the web. I hope there's a good version of wine installed.

Lack of hard details (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196645)

I wanted to know, how many slots (likely 1) and of what type. Which embedded GPU it has. What kind of RAM it used and how many free memory slots.

I'd buy something like this for the little one (or an OLPC or an EEE PC or the like) but I'd need to know how far it will grow first.

Summary missed the most part: Case (5, Interesting)

bagofcrap (260283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196671)

These computers are in cases that would fit a full-size ATX motherboard. Supposedly Wallmart did a survey, and found that most of their customers believe "Bigger is Better", even when it isn't. It is not a terrible deal given that it's a mini-ATX motherboard, but using that big a case for it is just wasting space.

Even better than that, the computers being sold as 'green PC' meaning thats the mfr's product name, and has nothing to do with being enviromentally conscious.

Sounds like a servicable Web/mail server to me... (3, Interesting)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196681)

Probably quite power-efficient with that chipset so long as they have a recent (tickless) kernel in it, such as with Gutsy, though I would like a little more memory for one of my apps:

http://www.earth.org.uk/low-power-laptop.html [earth.org.uk]

Might also do nicely as an off-the-shelf monitoring device for networks, HVAC, etc...

If they sell one at a similar price here I might buy one to play with.

Rgds

Damon

Quiet and low power (1)

crow (16139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196687)

The C7 processor doesn't use much power, so unless they put in an extra-noisy fan, this should be both a low-power and quiet system.

More .... (5, Funny)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196697)

  • More responsive than Vista!
  • More responsible than Congress!
  • A better parent than Britney!
  • More reliable than IE 1.0!
  • More secure than walking down an alley in the South Bronx at 2 AM!
  • More fun than a root-canal at the Albanian Dental School!

No, really? (1, Troll)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196729)

By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager (instead of heavier-duty alternatives like Gnome or KDE), the makers say it's more responsive than Vista is, even on more powerful computers."

You don't say.... Doesn't take a genius to work out that if you use a desktop manager about as feature filled as Windows 3.1 was, you're going to end up with a fast desktop. However, I suspect someone booting it for the first time is going to look at the desktop and wonder if they've bought a "My First Computer".

More "responsive" than Vista (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196751)

I have a Mac Classic maxed out to 4 MB of RAM that is "more responsive" than vista. It's also got a ~8" black and white built in monitor, so it has some restrictions, but talk about smooth response! Not everything can be solved with RAM and CPU. Some problems must be solved with good system design.

Re:More "responsive" than Vista (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196865)

Aren't you the guy who was trying to copy a 17 MB file from 1 folder to another, while running NT 4 ?

Walmart has had them for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196773)

I bought two Microtel computers from Walmart with Linux in roughly 2002 for $199 each. One with Lindows and the other with Lycoris (sp?). They were both AMD Duron 1.3Ghz, 128MB ram, LG cdrom, MSI Motherboard with onboard Via chipsets. My kids had them in their bedrooms for about 3 years and had various distros on them, mainly Mandrake. I put 512 ram in each one though. Both are still going to this day. One of them is now running Monowall as my home firewall and an in-law has the other one.

unacceptably low-end? (4, Insightful)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196795)

Unacceptably low-end for modern software? Huh? I do some development at home, but other than that nearly all of my time is spent either reading email or surfing the web. Neither is particularly heavy.

And I'm happy with my bottom-end MicroCenter PCs that cost under $300, even with the development work. I did double the memory to 1GB, but that was the only change for two years. (Last week I decided to add a low-end NVIDIA card.)

I'll grant you that it's not a great choice for playing movies, and would undoubtably suck as a game platform, but for a lot of people that system would easily satisfy their needs and is far more affordable than the crap I've seen pushed at the same market -- get a 'name brand' pc for only $19.99/week for a year!

So is it for everyone? No. Is it a good choice for a lot of people? Yes.

I bought one of these Wal-Mart Linux PCs (4, Interesting)

KWTm (808824) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197217)

I ordered a Wal-Mart Linux PC. I'm using it for a backup server at home right now.

This was back in 2002 or 2003. It was $200, only available by mail-order, and came with a CD-ROM drive and single hard disk (20GB?). I picked up a crummy CRT at the local second-hand computer store and started exploring Linux. I replaced the hard drive with a removable hard drive bracket.

It took me a while to figure out that the CD reader had subtle errors (after 3 different distributions of Linux failed to install) and replaced that too. The thing was, the smaller box (is that called mini-ITX?) would only fit the very smallest CD drives, and both my new CD RW and the removable hard drive bracket protruded out the front in a rather ugly way.

The thing came with Lindows (as it was called at the time). I tried it for 10 minutes and then replaced it with "Pink Tie" Linux, then Mandrake 8.1, then LibraNet Linux. (I tried Debian, too, but that "dselect" thing is way too cryptic.)

Looks like Wal-Mart is back with more PC's for the people. That's great. It will bring more visibility to Ubuntu, and Linux in general. And that's the point of the whole thing: to let Linux have more visibility so that manufacturers, and people in general, won't say, "Hey, we don't have to make our video player compatible with Linux because nobody uses Linux."

Shit! (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196801)

Touted as a "green" machine, it has a 1.5 Ghz VIA C7 CPU embedded in a Mini-ITX motherboard, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive.

I paid $250+tax for a NetVista refurb with very similar specs - (Intel Celeron, everything else same.)

Where's the Ubuntu troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196809)

And queue the denigrating remarks from our invading alien troll UbunutuDupe in 3... 2... 1...

Re:Where's the Ubuntu troll? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197157)

And queue the denigrating remarks from our invading alien troll UbunutuDupe in 3... 2... 1...
UbuntuDupe is on vacation this month. I think he left El "Linuzzz" Lobo in charge.

What's that bar at the bottom of the screenshot (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196833)

The bottom of the screenshot shows some type of application launcher or something. Does anyone know what that is exactly? I'm still looking for something stable to work as my "RKLauncher" for my Ubuntu setup.

Re:What's that bar at the bottom of the screenshot (2, Informative)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197243)

You're looking for avant-window-navigator. Be warned that it won't work without Compiz running.

anyone else think this is odd? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196871)

did anyone else find this part curious:

The variant of Linux on the gPC is called gOS and is derived from the popular Ubuntu variant. It's heavily oriented toward Google's Web sites and online applications, like YouTube, Gmail and the company's word processing program, all of which can be used only when the computer is connected to a broadband line. The PC comes with a dialup modem, but gOS doesn't support it. So most users likely will get online other ways.
true, more and more people are using broadband but there are a lot of people who can't get it.

Can I watch CSpan on these? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196879)

In my situation, I can only be interested in these systems if I can watch CSPAN online and out of the box. Question is: Can I watch CSPAN on these boxes without much configuration? Hope so.

Mini ITX (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196893)

The gPC is built using tiny components, but put inside a full-size case because research indicates that Wal-Mart shoppers are so unsophisticated they equate physical size with capability.
What would a tiny case cost, and does this thing need loud fans? Might be a good deal for a small-footprint device if you can get a smaller case for cheap.

Hardware makers doing things badly. (2, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196909)

Will the hardware makers do what they have to to make sure the project fails by installing the worst software Linux has to offer and a broken configuration like they usually do?

Quiz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21196917)

I like Linux but hate big evil megacorps like Wal*mart. Who do I do?

Garbage hardware requirements (1)

crush (19364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196927)

It has a 1.5 Ghz VIA C7 CPU embedded in a Mini-ITX motherboard, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Normally, this would simply mark it as unacceptably low-end for use with modern software.

Anyone that things that the above specs are unacceptably low-end had better specify exactly what software they're considering running: weather simulations? 3-d compositing of movies? factoring Mersenne primes?

There is no problem running Firefox on a 500MHz CPU with 256Mb of RAM. You can even run a full-featured office suite such as Abiword on it. This hardware inflation for mundane tasks is insane.

first, let's kill the all the developers. (3, Interesting)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196981)

the makers say it's more responsive than Vista is, even on more powerful computers

Not to go off on a rant but my #1 pet peeve with software, especially anything from Microsoft, is all the hardware gains of the past 20 years are lost of bad software. Whether due to bad design (feature bloat) or bad execution, Vista and MS Office on current consumer hardware aren't any more responsive than Win 3 and Word or AmiPRO or whatever was running back in the day.

There was a /. story recently linking to a web log article about security analysis. The author, an employee of Microsoft, made a ridiculously inane comment about developers responding to users' requests. Really made me want to kick the guy in the nads. Does he really think users want to upgrade to faster CPUs and larger hard drives to benefit developers rather than themselves?

When MS Office 2k7 was in beta and the PR push was on for the new menu system, I read an analysis by MS of MS Office apps and their menus over the years. The space taken up by menu bars was listed as number of pixels and as a percentage of the typical screen size. The message was, although menus had grown in absolute size, the percentage of the typical screen had stayed the same. Like that was a good thing.

For the obligatory automotive analogy, would people take advantage of the improvements in engine design, lighter materials, etc. by buying large trucks rather than getting improved fuel efficiency with cars of the same size?

Nevermind.

Re:first, let's kill the all the developers. (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197097)

Something I'd like to point out. This is true at least for the limited number of computers I work with at home, Office 2007 loads faster on XP than Office 2003 does. Word and excel open almost instantly, it amazes me every time. On vista it's about the same however. I think the new menus make it easier to find things, but that's just personal preference. I hear a lot about people wanting to get the old styled ones back. I'd say the change hasn't been well received.

Conflict of Ideals (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21196993)

A $200 Linux PC at Walmart, I can't tell whether to be happy that it actually being sold? or to be sad that it is being sold by the biggest corporation in the world. :(

gOS (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197015)

I wonder how well it would fare with Gutsy? How often is gOS updated?

I think this is good for say, Grandma, who will only want to get online and read her email and send a million forwards. Throw edubuntu on it and maybe it will be a good platform for children, as well.

Re:gOS (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197191)

How often is gOS updated?

Well, apparently their web site is not even up yet
http://www.thinkgos.com/index.html [thinkgos.com]

Right now, it states "Website coming 9am, November 1, 2007" but none of the links work.
I did find this though:

gOS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
I am not familiar with that license but it does have a really long name.

Want (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197037)

I want one.... I want to see if it is actually usable. Does my thumb drive work, my printer, my camera, my mouse and keyboard. Or do I have to drop another couple hundred dollars buying all new components. If everything I own works and the software is good, I don't mind Google docs and use it more than Word. I would guess the big hurdle is the Ipod. My folks would be fine with this PC but the Ipod obstacle stands in the way. I think it's a good idea I may consider but it may be in front of it's time. If the Gos is available for download I may just try that instead.

Modem Doesn't Work (1)

SevenHands (984677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197053)

So the computer contains an internal modem (probably the software driven winmodem variety), and the OS does not support it. This is quite unfortunate. A complete blunder in my opinion. I could see a small, but significant portion of customers on dialup viewing the specs and figuring it'd be a good purchase, only to find that it doesn't work out of the box.

NEWS FLASH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21197093)

On the advice of the Nigerian president, Wal-mart has unexpectedly decided to sell XP with the $200 systems instead of Linux.

Enlightenment *is* fast (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21197125)

Just want to tout the advantages of Enlightenment(DR16) as a window manager. It only uses 4M of ram, is very light on CPU, yet is very good at what it does. It also happens to be easily tweakable to fit your particular needs and preferences. No it's not a "Desktop Environment", but it's pretty close. Certainly a bit more featureful than your average window manager.

Did I mention it was fast? Good.

It comes to me as no surprise that a low-end machine running E can be more responsive than Vista and other heavy-weight software like Gnome or KDE.

computer limits choice (0)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197193)

Doesnt' seem like you can do much with a computer like that as far as OS and software goes. I mean everything has to be binary. Do you think it would provide acceptable performance for lets say FreeBSD, where compilation is the name of the game? Try "make buildworld" and see what happens.

Marketing Madness (5, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197207)

Normally, this would simply mark it as unacceptably low-end for use with modern software. By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager (instead of heavier-duty alternatives like Gnome or KDE), the makers say it's more responsive than Vista is, even on more powerful computers.

You're taking an underpowered machine, with a non-standard desktop, OS and software, and selling it to what is likely the least tech knowledgeable market that you can find.

a) Sell crappy Linux box to unsupecting mark.
b) Mark can't figure out why it isn't like every other computer
c) Mark can't make $9.99 computer game install
d) Mark can't make MS Word document open.
e) Profit?

Ever consider that there was a reason why Wal-Mart's last cheapo Linux PC has been "out of stock" for so long? It's because they can't sell them without having them returned.

duh (1)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197215)

Wow, that sounds dead cheap looking at the components. I would have use for a very silent computer at home, and those specs would be fine. Too bad I'm living in Finland, here the processor + motherboard combo cost over 200 at the cheapest place I can find!

$240 PC at Newegg.com (4, Informative)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21197283)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883114030 [newegg.com]
Here is one of your cheapest alternatives on the market

Brand eMachines
Model W3609
Recommended Usage Home / Home Office
Processor Intel Celeron D 356(3.33GHz)
Processor Main Features 64 bit Processor
Cache Per Processor 512KB L2 Cache
Memory 512MB DDR2 533
Hard Drive 120GB SATA 7200rpm
Optical Drive 1 DVD±RW 16x Multiformat Dual-Layer Optical Drive
Graphics Intel GMA 950 Up to 224MB Shared Video Memory
Audio 6-channel (5.1) high-definition audio
Ethernet Intel 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN
Speaker Amplified Stereo Speakers (USB-Powered)
Keyboard Standard multifunction keyboard
Mouse 2-button wheel mouse
Operating System Windows Vista Home Basic
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