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A Review of the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the green-around-the-edges dept.

Enlightenment 235

bcrowell writes "Wal-Mart's new $200 Linux PC has generated a lot of buzz in geek circles. Although they're sold out of stores, I bought one for my daughter via mail order, and have written up a review of the system. The hardware seems fine for anyone but a hardcore gamer, but the pre-installed gOS flavor of Ubuntu has a lot of rough edges."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

But the real question is... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470481)

...does it run wind... Never mind

The whole article is a LIE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470783)

You cannot find a computer without Windows in the stores. The monopoly blah blah, you know.

Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471843)

It looks like this box doesn't come with a wireless network receiver.

As I recall, there aren't any wireless receivers that reliably support Linux. Has that changed? If I could get a wireless receiver for this thing, I would buy one for my mom.

it will lie to you about cake (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470485)

the pre-installed gOS flavor of Ubuntu has a lot of rough edges.

If you think gOS is bad, you should see gladOS.

Re:it will lie to you about cake (2, Funny)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470495)

Still sounds like a POS to me.

Re:it will lie to you about cake (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470661)

The Aperture Science Enrichment Centre is unhappy to hear you say that. please assume the party escort submission position, a party associate will be along shortly to bring you to your... party

Re:it will lie to you about cake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471025)

i wonder what that thing is? it must not be very important.

maybe it's a raw sewage container. you should rub your face all over it.

"there's no sense crying over every mistake, just keep on trying till you run out of cake."

Hardcore gamer? (5, Insightful)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470493)

It would appear that there are two kinds of PC users, hardcore gamers and normal people. Not so, there are also people who enjoy an occasional game of HL2 or people who work with huge amounts of data or who run extensive calculations on their PCs (or hell, even Photoshop). Lumping PCs into two categories, "Bleeding edge, $2000 PC" and "Everything else" isn't that informative. Maybe he should have said "very good for the average user (web browsing, flash games, office suites)", which I don't doubt it is (average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have).

Re:Hardcore gamer? (2, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470539)

average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have

If I had a dime for everytime someone complained about their lowend PC being "too slow!" and then finding out it only has 512MB of RAM, I'd.. well, I would've earned a couple of bucks anyway..

Selling a PC with less than a gig (or 2, if it comes with Vista preinstalled) is downright criminal.

Sure, average moes won't stress the CPU or play high end video games, but visiting a few Jpop-video rich myspace pages, while skype'ing and IM'ing at the same time does kinda require RAM.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470561)

"Selling a PC with Vista preinstalled is downright criminal."

Fixed that for you.

The Everex PC is designed from scratch as a low-end machine and the OS is lightweight to match its specs. You don't put tractor tyres on a Hyundai Excel, and you don't put Vista on this machine.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471757)

"The Everex PC is designed from scratch as a low-end machine and the OS is lightweight to match its specs. You don't put tractor tyres on a Hyundai Excel, and you don't put Vista on this machine."

Isn't that the car that doesn't know how to multiply?

512M of ram? (5, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470625)

It is cheap to add another 1GB of ram. Most users want to be able to run a word processor, look at pictures, and surf the internet.

Most of the stores just keep pushing faster and faster machines on people, more than what they need. Vista helps with that being such a pig.

In the long term, Vista will help humanity (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470657)

Here's my case: As you can see now, many OEMs have upgraded even their low-end computer specifications to meet Vista's demands. This means minimum 512mb ram, 1.x Ghz processor, etc. With their upgrade to Vista, their distributed-medicine computing calculations have also gotten a boost. Hence, the help to humanity! (And, if they decide to switch back to XP because of Vista being a behemouth, which many are doing, this gives just that much more resources to humanity!)

Re:512M of ram? (2, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470805)

Actually, just realized a month ago that my workhorse machine at home has 512MB ram. I use it for photo editing and light video editing under Ubuntu Linux. I occassionally run WinXP as a virtual machine, as well. I also run my home website on the machine (basically just a photo album of a few hundred images), and stream music to a home internet appliance (a squeezebox, by slimdevices).

I consider myself an advanced home user, and I don't need 1GB ram. In fact, the only things that would probably get more responsive for me with the extra memory is likely the video editing and my WinXP virtual machine (which I rarely use anyway). I'd rather use the extra money to buy my daughter a child-friendly mouse or trackball.

Re:512M of ram? (1)

tommertron (640180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470959)

Sorry, this probably doesn't belong on a public discussion, but I'm really curious about a couple things you mentioned:

1) What video editing software are you using for Ubuntu? I've been looking high and low and can't find any.

2) What method did you use to get WinXP as a virtual machine? I've seen various different instructions for this out there, but just wanted to get an idea of what software someone used to do it successfully.

Re:512M of ram? (1)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471003)

response to (2)

VMWare, works perfectly for me

Re:512M of ram? (1)

J0nne (924579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471129)

2) What method did you use to get WinXP as a virtual machine? I've seen various different instructions for this out there, but just wanted to get an idea of what software someone used to do it successfully.
I can't speak for the OP, but either Virtualbox or VMWare server/player work fine (they're both in the repositories). I'd recommend Virtualbox, because it's open source.

Re:512M of ram? (3, Informative)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471193)

1) I use kino. It's in the Ubuntu repositories, and also available at http://www.getdeb.net/ [getdeb.net] . For simple video editing, it's really a breeze to use.

Video authoring software (to create the final DVD with menus) that is quite good is DVD Styler.

2) I use vmware server. It's a free download from vmware.com, and free for non-commercial use. When you register, you get a serial number emailed to you.

Re:512M of ram? (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471357)

It's commercial - but I bought and use MainActor (made/sold by Main Concept - there is a demo version too, leaves a watermark on the output).

Re:512M of ram? (3, Funny)

sgbett (739519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470989)

Actually, I just realised that I have legs. I use them for many things such as walking about.

I consider myself an advanced walker, and I don't need to take the bus.

In fact, the only things that it would probably get quicker for me by spending the extra money is likely the 13 mile trip to work each day, and the visit to foreign relatives 64 miles away (who I rarely go and see). I'd rather use the extra money to buy my daughter a picture of me so she doesn't forget who I am because I spend 8 hours a day comp^Hmuting.

Buy some ram dude! sure you don't *need* it, but think of the children!

Re:512M of ram? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471057)

With 320MB I end up in swap-hell every so ofren, I'd get more ram but the machine is so old it wouldn't be useable after the next upgrade.

Re:512M of ram? (1)

White Shade (57215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471817)

Yeah it seemed like for a very long time, making the RAM upgrade to 512mb would provide significant performance gains, even for a home user, but above that it started to tail off in terms of noticable improvement.

Nowadays, considering using firefox for a couple days without closing it, and with dozens of tabs open, makes firefox alone chew up 400mb or more, having a gig or so probably helps too.

With regards to photo/video editing, I would presume that unless individual frames and individual photos are bigger than your free physical memory, the actual speed limiting factor would be bus bandwidth, memory bandwidth, the specifics of the CPU cache, and most importantly, HDD speed. It doesn't matter if you can fit dozens of frames in RAM if you have to crawl at a snails pace to get them there! (oh, and raw CPU speed, of course, can't forget about that.)

Re:512M of ram? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471091)

Most of the stores just keep pushing faster and faster machines on people, more than what they need. Vista helps with that being such a pig.

The Geek never quite "gets" the home market.

The technical hobbyist and the hard core action gamer are only narrow slices of that market, but that doesn't mean the applications others use at home are undemanding.

The home PC is Internet Radio and TV. Home Video. Digital Photography. The pocket 720p HD camcorder from Walmart starts at under $200.

The USB HD tuner card about the same.

You'll want to edit that video before posting it to YouTube.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (3, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470629)

If I had a dime for everytime someone complained about their lowend PC being "too slow!" and then finding out it only has 512MB of RAM, I'd.. well, I would've earned a couple of bucks anyway.

My PC only has 512MB of RAM; built it in about February 2003. Runs Gutsy for most things, has a Windows disk in there for games too. The only RAM issue I've ever really had is that when a Civ 4 game on a big world gets into the modern era, everything slows down horribly - so very many cities and units around the place. I haven't tried to run Portal on this thing yet, though :-)

I might build a new one this year, but... really, this PC's just a net terminal most of the time, or a movie player. Neither task strains it at all. Yes, I'd like to play newer games, but I already have stacks of games I haven't finished that I've accumulated over the years, and if I do decide that I absolutely have to play Bioshock, a 360 is a hell of a lot cheaper than building the gaming box o' doom.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (0, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470715)

But most pc users will need more than 512k to run all their spyware, trojans and worms.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

DeusExCalamus (1146781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471953)

But not more than 640KB. That's all anyone should need!

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470669)

Selling PCs with 512MB of RAM is perfectly acceptable in my book, as long as it isin't running Vista. Just about every PC I use on a daily basis has 512MB (except one, my gaming rig, naturally), and they never really feel slow.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470845)

Interesting. PCs that I used to spend most of my time on were:

#1: celeron 2.4g, 256m ram, geforce 4, debian sid. usually running kde.
#2: athlon k7, 1g, 128m ram, geforce 2, debian lenny. e16 does its job well here.
#3: celeron 300m, 192m ram, some random s3 video, debian etch. usually a remote x session, but from time to time fluxbox is used.

Hardly a high-end hardware.

I do all sorts of things: drawing stuff in gimp, programming (python, lisp, some perl), digital effects for my guitar, surfing the web and chatting with people (I really do!), occasionally some weird experiments with remote X and sharing processing power. I even play games: #1 and #2 can handle all the good quake3 like games, and #1 had no problems with jedi outcast, call of duty, and a few others. Hell, I remember playing gta2 on #3 back in the win95 days. Not the newest titles around here, but hey. They all rocked. And they still do.

When I need to do processor-intensive tasks on machine #3 I just ssh to something bigger and I'm fine.

Not upgrading anything anytime soon (maybe just moving some memory from #3 to #2).

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

TehZorroness (1104427) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470747)

512MB a crime? I would have to disagree. I've been gaming on a computer with 512MB of ram and an 8 year old athlon-xp. I've played HL2, CS:S, as many Q3A mods as I can count, and a few others. With Windows, the computer starts to crawl after about a month. I don't blame the hardware though. I blame the operating system. I have had ArchLinux running flawlessly on the same box for about 6 months now and I was using Gentoo for about a year before that.

Windows became a pain, having to be reinstalled on a monthly basis (I even had to call Microsoft once and have them reactivate my product key). I'm glad I dumped it (along with as much proprietary software as I could - with the exception of those wretched video drivers).

Re:Hardcore gamer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470841)

The athlon xp came out near the end of 2001. How can yours be 8 years old?

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471505)

average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have

If I had a dime for everytime someone complained about their lowend PC being "too slow!" and then finding out it only has 512MB of RAM, I'd.. well, I would've earned a couple of bucks anyway..
And how many of those were Linux users? I ran Fedora Core 5 and 6 on a cobbled together PC with 512 meg memory, a cheap 128 meg Nvidia card and an Athlon 2600 processor while I was making the move to Linux, and it was quite nippy enough. It was more pleasent to use thatn my then 300Mhz Athlon64 running XP Pro.

Selling a PC with less than a gig (or 2, if it comes with Vista preinstalled) is downright criminal.
Agreed for Windows, not for Linux.

Sure, average moes won't stress the CPU or play high end video games, but visiting a few Jpop-video rich myspace pages, while skype'ing and IM'ing at the same time does kinda require RAM.
True enough, although I have found that not so many low end users are really into having several programs running at once.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (4, Insightful)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470597)

He's referring to the home consumer market, you are talking about the business/professional market. For the home market, there are really only 2 categories: normal and gamer. Those running "extensive calculations" on their PC, are almost always using the computer professionally (although the use of home computers for digital video watching & conversion is maybe changing this a little).

Photoshop is a bad example, home users might dabble with a photo or two in Photoshop SE or Paint Shop Pro which will happily perform such tasks on an average cheap home PC. This is completely different to the sort of professional graphic design activities for which a high-spec business PC is required.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470639)

I agree that this was a bad example. HD movie playback, perhaps? Processors under 2 GHz can't handle it, from what I've seen, and it's something anyone would do. A 7.2 MPel picture (such as one from a digital camera), even in PSP, would take up 115ish MB of RAM (assuming 16 bits per pixel). All I'm saying is that there aren't only two categories of hardware, "average user" and "hardcore gamer".

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470655)

As I feared, that calculation was (obviously) incorrect. Calculators will be the death of us all, I tell you.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471237)

I am neither type of user. I need a fast machine at home for FreeBSD and OpenBSD for doing "make world" and other compilations.

Re:Hardcore gamer? (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470953)

Maybe he should have said "very good for the average user (web browsing, flash games, office suites)"

No, because he if you read the article, he got the computer because It was time to buy my daughter a cheap Linux system to be used for schoolwork and playing flash games . However, he never actually complained about the hardware being underpowered (which seems to be an assumption of your comment).

Hardware wise, he complained about a low efficiency power supply (which, considering the machine is branded as green, in an environmentally friendly sense) leading to wasted power, and mentioned the fact that there was what he assumed to be a non-functioning winmodem. Insofar as software, he felt that the OS had a strong Google branding (enough to be compared to, but not called, crapware) and that the OS was rough around the edges and as such shouldn't have been included with a system like this (aimed at Grandma).

He never said anything that supports your assumption that he is Lumping PCs into two categories, "Bleeding edge, $2000 PC" and "Everything else". Can you please explain to me where that assumption is coming from?

Re:Hardcore gamer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471389)

This is an excellent system for many needs. I bought one to use as a Linux Desktop for a client. Replaced gOS with an alternate dist/config, of course. Even many business users do not need the hardware requirements imposed by Vista for doing their jobs, if they simply had an O/S and apps that aren't so bloated. Remember, this was a machine that pretty much a year ago was considered NORMAL for a Windows O/S.

With all the speed and memory boosts we've added to the hardware, Microsoft has NOT maded us coorespondingly more productive. So why pay so much more to get a machine that you can't edit a document, display a spreadsheet, or surf the internet any faster than you could before. Many of the "improvements" like high-end graphics eye candy, DX10 (a gamer item), DRM, and other bloat do not make me more productive as a home or a corporate user.

This machine can serve a wide variety of needs in a corporate environment, at great cost savings over the requirements of a faster, memory-loaded, larger disked, higher-end graphic card, and Vista-licensed counterpart. I welcome our Everex overlords, especially since Fry's no longer sells the GQ31xx systems I've previously deployed.

Not hardware, software (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471691)

average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have

You're much more right than you probably realize. As one of Slashdot's older readers, I remember quite clearly when it was possible to be productive - browse the web, email, office applications - with a machine with a 50 MB hardrive, 8 MB of RAM and a 150Mhz CPU. Shouldn't it be painfully obvious that even the cheapest machine today, being orders of magnitude more powerful than the machines of yesteryear, should be more than capable of handling the same basic functions? And yet your statement does seem fresh and somewhat profound. Why should that be?

Pardon my tinfoil hat, but it seems that the point we've really reached isn't one where any PC is powerful enough to run the basic productivity applications - they all are, and have been for 10 years - but rather one where all PCs, even the cheapest ones, are too powerful to be deliberately stymied by Windows and other OSs. It seems to me to be a software issue, not a hardware issue.

Wait a sec (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470507)

I thought it was gentoo-based, not Ubuntu based.

Re:Wait a sec (1)

raydulany (892228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470531)

Nope, and in fact both of the articles linked in the first slashdot entry about this pc state that it is an Ubuntu variant. The wired blog is in fact titled "$200 Ubuntu Linux PC Now Available at Wal-mart."

Inotehr words, (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470527)

The Machine is OK, gOS sucks, install your own.

Running ubuntu on VIA mini-ITX (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470529)

I've been running the default Ubuntu from a laptop harddisk. With this system, it will not be any problem running the default Ubuntu, provided that you get the display drivers to run. Currently I'm stuck on VESA mode again, after trying almost anything to get the video to display anything other. The upgrade to 7.10 was the reason for this, upgrade to X means reinstalling video drivers again. Since I've also tried various compile/install methods, I may never get my system back on, which is the main reason for abandoning linux on the desktop so far...

Re:Running ubuntu on VIA mini-ITX (2, Informative)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470649)

No problem on mine, but then I've not bothered upgrading from Dapper Drake.
I use the via driver, running 800x600x24 on the TV out (PAL) and only the cpu intensive H.264 codec is too much for the 1GHz cpu.

I do plan on either upgrading Ubuntu or installing FreeBSD 7.0 though, depending on how good the driver for the Terratec audio card is.

Re:Running ubuntu on VIA mini-ITX (2, Informative)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470943)

I haven't had an issue on my via SP13000, you might want to read the community doc on openchrome, and just set the monitor config to plug and play.

Unprofessional Review (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470537)

Reading that, you begin to understand why professionals get paid to review products.

It's full of inconsistencies;

  • The guy claims to be experienced with Ubuntu, but didn't know to type his user password at the sudo prompt.
  • He manually installs the Flash plugin and calls it unintuitive, when all you need to do is go to a website with Flash content, and it'll automatically install for you.
  • He can't find the "log out" menu item...
  • He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem.
And so it goes on. There's almost no real review of what's installed, how easy it is to use, or even how to solve the problems he encounters.

About the only thing you learn from him is that a little knowledge is dangerous.

Re:Unprofessional Review (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470559)

If the reviewer didn't know and couldn't work it out, how is anybody buying it expected to know?

Re:Unprofessional Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470583)

The same way people "know" Windows. Lots of trial and error.

Re:Unprofessional Review (2, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470647)

how is anybody buying it expected to know?

Because it's not very hard? Because it's explained in the pamphlet that comes with the PC?

If you're planning on reviewing a product, you need to put in enough effort to be sure you've got the basics right. This guy didn't.

Use the Start button or right click anywhere on the desktop and select "My GoS", then "Shutdown" from the popup menu [reviewlinux.com] .

There's a much better review of the OS here [linux.com] anyway.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470751)

You'll have to excuse me if I don't waste my time thinking that a review on linux.com is going to be fairer than a review from an independant observer.

I just find it funny that you say "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and then expect people with that amount of knowledge to jump onto a Linux system and fix their network issues. Oh sorry, fixing network issues was in the pamphlet, right?

Judging from that and your earlier pathetic "installing Vista is criminal" jab, it's pretty plain that you're just another one of the zealots. It's kind of sad to see people who advocate software with such terminal intensity that they can't handle some constructive criticism.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470775)

Oh sorry, fixing network issues was in the pamphlet, right?

If you read TFA, you'd realise the guy created his own network problem, so yes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Re:Unprofessional Review (2, Insightful)

mcarp (409487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470863)

Except that he SAID HE WAS AN UBUNTU EXPERIENCED PERSON. I was aghast when the reviewer said he couldnt figure out how to shutdown the machine from the ui especially since he's experienced with ubuntu! While I admit that not a lot of computer illiterates would make it very far, the reviewer cant both claim experience of ubuntu and unable to find that shutting down the system from the ui includes a trip to the logout thingy.

OTOH, I find the jab 'intalling Vista is criminal' to be pretty funny and a good comment on the state of the industry. Shame on you m$. Now of course you'll be looking for zealots, linux ones I suppose. Sorry my 2 main machines are win xp pro sp2 as are my wife's and 2 kids machines. I just happen to have an ubuntu box and 2 freebsd ones. fbsd ftw! for the last decade server wise but frankly, I still prefer the windows desktop in user land. PC hosted unix-a-like has become much better but guys, please drag in the game makers and user friendly designers or it'll be m$ forever

Re:Unprofessional Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471081)

I was aghast when the reviewer said he couldnt figure out how to shutdown the machine from the ui especially since he's experienced with ubuntu!
Um, the point of that is that the gOS UI is not remotely similar to the Ubuntu UI, and he was criticising the gOS UI for making it hard to find the shutdown option. Can you even read?

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

ben(zen) (1162093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471871)

please drag in the game makers
I'm hoping for the same thing. Does anyone know anything about the Valve job posting, and what its repercussions are? Also, I can't wait for UT3~~~!

Oh wow, was this intentional? (0, Redundant)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471399)

Those other reviews are much nicer than this one. An article that does not work well with Konqueror is always a bad sign (Use Bluefish).

Another bad sign I noticed right away was that the dock's icons have been rearranged so that YouTube's icon and it's neighbor's spell out "F You" [lightandmatter.com] , compared to normal [reviewlinux.com] . It's hard to say if this was intentional or not, because this one has that too [thedebianuser.org] . What an odd choice of screenshots to have as the one and only.

Re:Unprofessional Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470603)

You also learn why Linux isn't ready for normal users.

Re:Unprofessional Review (5, Interesting)

philicorda (544449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470681)

It looks like a clash between old and new Linux.
I used to use Slackware or Gentoo as they worked.

I put Suse on my computer to see what it was like, and the sound was not working.
My first reaction was to open a console and lsmod, then cat /proc/asound/cards etc.
The card was there, but the modules were loading in the wrong order, so the motherboard soundcard was loading first and being used by default. So, I started to edit /etc/modprobe.conf

My friend, who does not use Linux, was watching me do this and I explained what I was doing.
He said 'Why not look in the menu?'

In the menu there was a way to set up the sound card in Yast and select the default.
For some reason, my technical long term Linux user brain never even considered this as a first and obvious thing to do. I think I probably acted like this guy did, instead seeing how the distro was designed to be used, or reading any documentation, I just assumed I knew best and was going to fix it by brute force.

I think it's perhaps a throwback to when the autoconfig stuff was a bit dodgy on Linux and I really did not trust it much, so even if it was there I'd ignore it, and it got to be a habit. Nowadays I use Ubuntu and am happier to let the distro take care of configuration and the little details.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470833)

Nowadays I use Ubuntu and am happier to let the distro take care of configuration and the little details. - until the distro won't help you? :-) - although i gotta agree here... i would have gone the same route and initially tried brute force... but i have found that Ubuntu (and kernel module maturity) hasn't been the greatest w/my laptop's wifi, video 3D acceleration and support of a USB-hosted PVR...

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

philicorda (544449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470945)

yeah. It's not really a good thing that I expected have to do it by hand.
I think in a way it's because the basics are the same on any Linux distro, but the gui tools are often different, so I stuck to what I knew.
I agree there is still quite a gulf between hardware that has drivers for Linux, and hardware that will either just work out of the box or has a simple gui to set it up that is included in the popular distros.
Most of my hardware is getting so old that it falls into the 'works out of the box' category. :)

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471739)

Part of the reason I am sticking with NetBSD is that as all the Linux-based OSes vie to be more and more 'user friendly' the thick layers of obfuscated mess that their GUI configuration tools represent become more and more complex. I've loaded up some of the 'new' Linuxes (I used to use Slackware back in the mid 90's before I discovered NetBSD) and it's another 'doze experience except with less polish.

Give me the fricking textfiles in /etc and stay the hell outta my way.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470717)

'He can't find the "log out" menu item...'

On this Xubuntu brings up a menu or press the power button and it goes into shutdown mode.

'He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem'

Anyone here suceeded in getting the WMP54G card working on Ubuntu, perhaps you could help the man out ...

One thing this does tell you (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470733)

It shows that a 'random' person couldn't get the system/OS to work according to his wishes. To be really fair, you really should ask yourselve wether a 'random' person could get other system/OS combo's to work. This includes asking yourselve how well the average random person would deal with installing windows. If you ever had to deal with tech support you would know that most users stumble just as hard with MS software as with OSX and other unixes. Hell, people stumble with their toasters.

To be specific, the SUDO bit had me wondering too, but as I am neither familiar with Ubuntu or sudo (don't use either on my own linux systems) I really can't comment. If Ubuntu does use sudo a lot then it is odd, but does the box say you need to be an experienced Linux user? Couldn't they have provided a help function? Please type in your password?

As for flash, it would have been better if it had worked out of the box, but yes, recently installing it from your browser when prompted has been known to work. This however was not always the case, especially for Opera users.

Enlightenment is a WM that does things a bit differently and the screenshots make it clear it is NOT a straight windows layout copy like KDE and Gnome use (By default). Perhaps he really just didn't know how to get it. Under E17 (The sequel) it is left mouse click on the desktop -> system Might be confusing to a person who normally would NEVER left-click anywhere on the desktop.

He didn't think it would fix a network problem, he just couldn't get the tool too work. That is different. If you know how to setup your network in Windows XP and not in Vista then installing XP again 'fixes' your problem. Granted it does sound like "oh they are not doing everything 100% like I am used too, it sucks" but that is how most users are.

So is it a good review? No, but it does tell us something and that is that Joe Average is a moron who doesn't like change and that it is very hard to develop an OS for that guy. See it not as a review but one of those usability reports usability experts so love to go one about. It might help you to develop an OS for average user.

And no windows ain't that OS either and NEITHER is OSX (before the Apple fanboys pipe up), if ANY OS out there was the perfect OS for the clueless I wouldn't constantly be asked by the clueless to help with their machine.

Recently I had to help people setup their network under Vista and OSX, and none of the users seemed to know how to do it. None of them make it very clear or easy. (Why does Vista break with DHCP run on linux anyway?)

I do agree with your end conclusion, give me a clueless user who knows he/she is clueless anyday, they ask, you answer, they listen, problem fixed. The ones who think they know a little ARGUE with you over the solution. ARGH! If you know it better, why ask? But the horrors of support is another rant.

Re:One thing this does tell you (2, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470983)

Calling somebody "clueless" lends nothing to the credibility of your post. If anything, this review shows that, a) Wal-mart is missing the target audience, and b) Linux isn't ready for Joe Consumer. Just because you think the reviewer is dumb really change anything.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470741)

I think you can summarize this as "terminal user using modern GUI". Since obviously he knows to use his sudo password at the command prompt, my only possible conclusion is the he's never encountered it in a GUI and didn't recognize it as a sudo prompt.

He wants to install some flash games (I don't know what he's talking about, but surely it should be handled by the package manager?) not any website. It's not intuitive that you need to browse the web to get some offline(?) flash game working. If it's online he's just smoking crack. And again the solution is a terminal, not a package manager.

"Log out" sounds the same way, why know where a button is when you can manage it by terminal.

Finally, a bad case of "this isn't the tool I like, and if I install the tool I like everything will be so much better"... only it wasn't. WTF kind of improvement is that? "Now it doesn't work, but now at least it doesn't work with a tool I know". Given the rest of the review, I'm kinda surprised he didn't hack a text file from the terminal.

If anything, this is a review of how horrible it is to have someone way too knowledgable to actually use the point-and-click tools to try to mimic a normal user. Nevermind that the first thing he does is to realize he's bought a machine he can't use out of the box, and start dicking around to install extras, which a normal user wouldn't. The whole review sums up as: If you know exactly what dark incantations to write at the command line, why bother trying to find any other way?

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471169)

I think you can summarize this as "terminal user using modern GUI". Since obviously he knows to use his sudo password at the command prompt, my only possible conclusion is the he's never encountered it in a GUI and didn't recognize it as a sudo prompt.


YES! I installed gOS on a laptop to play around with it, and I got caught up with "Password for admin tasks? It didn't ask me for a password for admin tasks when I setup my user password. I don't think this *has* a root password." It took a while, until I realized it was a sudo prompt.

I don't know if the printed materials accompanying the product make this clear, but sticking a "SUDO" label on the dialog box might help.

Re:Unprofessional Review (2, Insightful)

lakin (702310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470837)

He manually installs the Flash plugin and calls it unintuitive, when all you need to do is go to a website with Flash content, and it'll automatically install for you.
Well, he doesnt say its unintuitive, he just doesnt try any way other than installing it in the terminal. It was when he said that I knew this review was completely useless. And then again in his summary he says

On the other hand, I was also being repeatedly frustrated with my attempts to get things done by the standard methods I'd use on a normal Ubuntu system.
Im pretty sure Walmart are not aiming this pc at the average ubuntu user. I would have been much more interested in how usable this machine is by people with limited computer knowledge. Can they find the major apps, do any errors crop up, etc.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470885)

About the only thing you learn from him is that a little knowledge is dangerous.

If a moderately experienced user can't figure things out, what hope does a novice have? I have yet to see any Linux distribution that I would consider even remotely comparable to Vista or OS X. Ubuntu is definitely one of the friendliest, but there are still far too many pitfalls for new users, especially when it comes to configuring hardware.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470961)

I popped up a terminal window and installed it using "sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree."
Point made? As much as I'd like to see a viable, novice-friendly version of Linux, all I get is review after review just like this one -- somebody with moderate computing experience floundering around in some non user-friendly Linux variant.

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

delaine1975 (793535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471031)

Could not agree more. It's annoying to read more and more posts from Linux "experts" who don't distinguish between their OS and WM experience. This is not Windows, folks...

Re:Unprofessional Review (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471049)

***The guy claims to be experienced with Ubuntu, but didn't know to type his user password at the sudo prompt.***

I certainly wouldn't criticize anyone who has never encountered sudo's strange default configuration for assuming that a security feature popping up an administrative password box during setup would want the root password rather than the (pointless, no?) user password. Confused me also when I first encountered it years ago. Does Ubuntu ship with the default sudo configuration? Betcha not. (I'm a Slackware-xfce user myself).

***He manually installs the Flash plugin and calls it unintuitive, when all you need to do is go to a website with Flash content, and it'll automatically install for you.***

My reading was that he thought that Flash should have been preinstalled on a consumer PC. Seemed reasonable to me. Still seems reasonable to me. Is there some sort of licensing thing that mandates that Flash be user installed?

***He can't find the "log out" menu item...***

Looking at the screen shot, neither can I. This is supposed to be an OS for non-technical users, no? His point is probably that a non-technical user is likely going to turn the silly thing off with the power switch or power cord. That would be OK if this were a sensibly designed consumer device, but being a computer it almost certainly isn't OK. I'm with him. When I encounter a "control" panel that looks like that, I install something I can understand. (BTW Is the '"F" you' at the bottom right end of the panel some sort of oddball joke? Almost makes me want to buy one of these things just so I can click it).

***He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem.***

Ehrr, no. He thought that the Exalt didn't give him proper access to his WiFi configuration whereas he believed (correctly apparently) that Gnome Network Manager would.

Re:Unprofessional Review (5, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471987)

Hi, I'm the author of the review.

The guy claims to be experienced with Ubuntu, but didn't know to type his user password at the sudo prompt.
You have a valid point there. I normally use fluxbox, however, not gnome, and I normally do administrative stuff as root, not using sudo. Also, it demanded the administrator's password even though I hadn't initiated any administrative action other than logging in for the first time. Remember, this review is also talking about what the experience would be like for someone who's in Wal-Mart's target audience.

He can't find the "log out" menu item...
That's because there is none. Here you just didn't read the review carefully enough. It isn't Gnome, it's gOS's custom flavor of Enlightenment. There's no "log out" menu item in the WM. As I also explained in the review, they replaced the normal gdm login manager with their own, and it also doesn't have the normal menus, either.

He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem.
Again, you don't seem to have read the article very carefully. As explained in the article, Gnome has a GUI called Gnome Network Manager, which I'd used successfully in the past to get the same wifi chipset working on Ubuntu, without resorting to the command line. gOS has something called Exalt, which failed with an error message when I tried to run it by clicking on its icon.

Also available at ZaReason (4, Informative)

Helmholtz Coil (581131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470571)

If you're desperate (?) to get your hands on one of these, I noticed the other day that ZaReason's got them too [zareason.com] . Don't know if they're 100% the same, but they're the same price and so possibly worth a look.

Re:Also available at ZaReason (2, Insightful)

tkid (821402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470731)

Yeah, I like ZaReason's description from their site, specifically this one: "Preloaded with: OpenOffice, Mozilla Firefox, gMail, Meebo, Skype, Wikipedia, GIMP, Blogger, YouTube, Xing Movie Player, Rhythmbox, Faqly, Facebook, all for ease of use on start-up." WTF, you mean they preloaded gMail, Blogger, YouTube and Facebook.. I know most have the internet but listing these as preloaded seems a little out of place. Should say internet subscription required.

The Real Reason They Sold Out (1)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471277)

I wanted to post this on this story [slashdot.org] , but i got there too late... This article at LinuxDevices [linuxdevices.com] alludes that the gOS PCs are really intended to act as a development system for a range of future Linux products using the Ubuntu/Enlightment platform. If you cant get your hands on one of these now, don't worry, you will start seeing these soon a lot more commonly. I bet by the end of 2008, you will see a gOS port for say the eeePC [wikipedia.org] (and questions of whether Xandros is breaking the GPL [slashdot.org] can be tossed out with the bathwater while keeping the baby!)

Windows adverts in a Linux review .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470601)

The advert above says 'See why the City of Indianapolis chose Windows Server over Linux'. Luckly clicking on the 'Compare' link does nothing on this Xubuntu with free-flash installed. Is curious as to why such adverts turn up in a review of the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC ..

Re:Windows adverts in a Linux review .. (2, Insightful)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470617)

That is because Microsoft has bought ads on sites with the keyword "Linux" as a part of their FUD campaign also known as Compare. For more FUD, visit Microsoft.com/compare.

Re:Windows adverts in a Linux review .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470725)

And Slashdot took their filthy lucre, for shame TacoMan ..

Re:Windows adverts in a Linux review .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471151)

And Slashdot took their filthy lucre, for shame TacoMan ..
Isn't it ironic that Microsoft is paying for ads on a site where people are pretty much immune to them?

Re:Windows adverts in a Linux review .. (1)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471423)

I've noticed that on dozens of Linux and anti-Microsoft websites. I always ask "Why in the hell would Microsoft waste their money advertising Windows Server if everyone on those websites is going to know how to turn a Linux box into a kickass server?"

Let me Summarize (5, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470609)

Let me summarize the article for those who won't/can't read it.

The machine is not actually available in some Walmart stores at this time, but you can mail order it and get it shipped to your local store (aside: No way in hell -- I'd rather drive in Boston than navigate the parking lot at that place). Everex has this in other stores besides Walmart now. What Walmart has in your local Walmart store maybe is a $300 version that runs Vista. A Monitor is extra in all cases so it's really a $400-500 PC.

Hardware is fine -- really. Power consumption is OK. Not great, but OK. OS has some rough edges including, but not limited to, no obvious way to shut the thing down. The author scrapped the included gOS and installed vanilla Ubuntu which is, he thinks, what most users should do.

All things considered he says, it's OK except for the OS.

Re:Let me Summarize (1)

ReeceTarbert (893612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470853)

All things considered he says, it's OK except for the OS.
I think the OS is good enough for (what I imagine is) the intended audience.

Granted, the desktop is a bit too green and maybe too much Google oriented but, let's face it, anyone who's been using computers at least a little as heard of Google and the gazillion services on offer, so it doesn't take very long to figure out what those icons at the bottom of the screen are supposed to do.

Also, in addition to the typical "OS on a cheap computer for mail and stuff" scenario, I think gOS might be quite useful in internet cafes: most of the applications needed by the average user are there, and there's very little to maintain -- or break.


RT
--
Your Bookmarks. Anywhere. Anytime. [simplybookmarks.com]

Review is rough around the edges. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471417)

Others have done a better job [slashdot.org] .

Google turf... (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470613)

From the article:

"None of this was anywhere near as annoying as all the crapware that comes installed on many Windows boxes, but it did give me a little bit of the same feeling that my eyeballs were being treated as a commodity."

What is the difference?

Anyway, I prefer Google than Microsoft, but then again that's just my opinion...

a real review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470651)

the hardware is fine to run windows 2000 or a cleaned up xp along with many year old+ games.

so grab one cheap. make it a fileserver or a terminal for old people. web, email, office. or a second pc you can play on while your real one is working hard.

its nothing really damm amazing. but it is $200 for a full pc.

VIA UniChrome Pro IGP Graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470673)

Does anybody have that graphics card? Is it any good? Are the drivers open-source? I heard that it supports some nifty Motion Compensation (somewhere on the Wikipedia) ... is that supported? How's 3D? I wouldn't expect much, just maybe Q3A (quite an old game) to run well. What about Beryl/Compiz?

Available at my store... (3, Interesting)

Alcoholic Synonymous (990318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470675)

Okay, I am telling on myself here. I work at a Walmart. My store has these in stock currently, but just two. Not sure how long we have had them, but the department manager decided not to put them out in favor of the expensive Gateway's that noone ever buys. Under the rare circumstance that I was allowed to be unchained from the game case, I got the honor of finding stuff to put on display tonight. I saw these and grabbed the store's assistant manager, told him the buzz of them and asked if there was any reason why I couldn't put them out. He said "do it". Now I am wondering if they will be bought up before I return from my weekend off, and if they go to tech savvy people who know what they are, or cheap dolts who grab the lowest priced stuff on the shelf. (Durabrand!)

Re:Available at my store... (2, Funny)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471059)

Okay, I am telling on myself here. I work at a Walmart.
After reading billions of articles/posts about evil Walmart on the internet, I have to ask a stupid question.

Which Walmart employee are you - the guy that is exploited for low wages with no benefits because of your lack of education or the guy that is destroying small town America?

Yuo fail It... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470753)

OPEN PLATFoRM, [goat.cx]

Missing the Target (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470937)

This thing is a miss, because the people it is oriented to won't understand:

I popped up a terminal window and installed it using "sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree."
Ironically enough, that statement, coupled with the Author's remark --

I didn't spend any time trying to figure out if a naive user would have been able to get through this step.
-- is why Linux probably won't ever become a mainstream player.

Re:Missing the Target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471051)

So, sold-out linux boxes at Walmart isnt mainstream enough for you eh? What, are you waiting for them to turn up at 7-Eleven?

Re:Missing the Target (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471089)

Being a somewhat technical person he knew he needed Flash and how to install it from the repository. The average clueless newbie running this machine will browse to a Flash website and get a message that they need to install Flash along with a button to press to install it... same result... they get Flash. This is also the same way that IE on Windows works to install Flash the last time I used IE.

The gOS has something to say to you... (3, Funny)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470955)

And apparently that is "f you".

Look at the first screenshot, the "f" icon on the bottom menu bar is followed by the word "you". I guess the "you" is half of the youtube icon. They need to reorder that menubar.

Big difference (1)

Fri13 (963421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471021)

There is big difference with sudo and root accounts. Every Ubuntu user gets ROOT rights, even they dont know what is difference between super account (root) and normal account. Ubuntu just gives permits to user rule everything on machine what they dont even know, just some forum is tellin to do sudo . There is big difference is application asking "Give root password" and "Give your password". yes, it is easier to try to crack root account because we always know there is "root" account and sudo littlebit helps this by using username account what is difference. But how many use username other as own name? I might have Fri13_nextdoor and password as TryTOD0Th1S0N3_t0_M3 and it cant be hacked unless there is security flaw. But user is always that weakest chain in security and giving normal user two password, one for own purpose and one for admin purpose, there is big difference wich one is needed when login or opening screen lock and when needed to open Mandriva Control Center or SUSE Yast. And most users have same password on every webpage or same username. And forums even keeps track of IP. So it is easier to try first hack PHPBB to get passwords and then get IP and use just username and password to login that machine and crack it to own purpose. It is better security to have root account and then ask for it over 14 letter password so most users normal "dad" passwords cannot be accepted for admin but for normal account yes for usability. But better reason is to have just 14 letter password for normal account too.

Re:Big difference (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471273)

Assuming these machines aren't hardened you mean? (I don't see any reason a normal user would have sshd on for example)

very good, for a non-gaming machine?? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471187)

With a 1.5GHz, VIA -D Processor, 512MB DDR2 533MHz, SDRAM, 80GB Hard Disk Drive, DVD-ROM/CD-RW Optical Drive, and VIA UniChrome Pro IGP Graphics?

alot of non gameing uses may want a DVDRW and they cost about $10 more then a DVD-ROM/CD-RW.

And you can buy 1GB of low end DDR2 for about $30 after rebate higher end DDR2 800 2x1gb dual channel kits with times like 4-4-4-15-1T and heat spreaders are only about $50 after rebate.

A 80GB HD is ok but a lot of non games may need more space.

VIA UniChrome Pro IGP Graphics is low end video chip and intel gma video is better and it can run aero and most new systems with on board video have DVI ports now days as well.

Only 10/100 Ethernet Port most new MB have moved to a 10/100/1000 port.

Fishy facts (1)

W2k (540424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471351)

The following line from the review strikes me as fishy:

OpenOffice.org Writer starts in 10 seconds, which is actually slightly faster than on my dual core 2.2 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+!

He doesn't mention what OS the Athlon64 box runs, but my ancient AMD Athlon 1 GHz with 1 GB of RAM running Vista Business starts OpenOffice Writer in 12 seconds. This is with multiple open Firefox windows, Winamp, IRC client, Thunderbird and phpEd running at the same time and all the Vista graphics effects turned on.

My slightly more modern 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1 with 2 GB RAM (also running Vista Biz) starts OpenOffice Writer in about two seconds. In both cases, I measured the time from when the start menu item is clicked to when I can begin typing text into the document. Neither computer runs the "OpenOffice starter" tray junk that is supposed to speed up starting OOo.

In other words, while starting OOo Writer in 10 seconds is perhaps impressive for a five year old computer running Vista, a brand new PC running Linux should do it much faster. And the author's Athlon64 box is just plain misconfigured, or filled with crap, or perhaps a horribly old Java VM...

Re:Fishy facts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21471461)

his computer is probably full of spyware but i digress. the g0S machines use via processors which were primarily meant to be power efficient not fast... so 10 seconds seems to make sense.

Why change desktop environments? (2, Insightful)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471611)

I couldn't get the wifi working by clicking around in Exalt's GUI; it recognized our home network, but wouldn't connect to it via DHCP. I decided that since my previous successful experience had been with Gnome, I would install Gnome and see if I could get the card working with Gnome Network Manager.

Then later

To be fair, I ended up finding out that there had been a regression in wifi support for RT2500 in recent versions of Ubuntu, so it wasn't exactly smooth sailing on the new system.

Why do people insist on thinking that changing the desktop environment will change anything about the experience. I've run in to endless wifi problems with my old ubuntus, and it's nothing to do with the desktop environment. Yet, I would still sometimes get people writing back saying "kubuntu sucks, go install ubuntu, everything just works!".

Linux is basically Linux, and if hardware doesn't work under KDE it's not going to work under GNOME, or IceWM or anything else. Why do people insist on this sort of thinking? Can someone point me to a situation where *hardware* recognition or functionality didn't work under Gnome but worked under KDE (or the reverse, or anything similar)? Especially something like a wifi card?

Of course it's rough, they say it's alpha (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21471899)

The gOS Website [thinkgos.com] described gOS this way:

We're still in alpha stage...

At our current state, we are just encouraging interested developers to download, play with, and help improve the gOS. For our general audience, we encourage trying a gOS product that gOS has already been qualified on.

They just recently changed it (since it still said the OS was in alpha stage after Walmart sold out of them).
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