January 24, 2008 10:00 AM PST

Five reasons not to fear a $200 Linux PC

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Linux is not just for computer whizzes.

In fact, buying Linux and learning how to use it are easier than ever, thanks to the open-source operating system's expanding presence in affordable computers and mainstream retail outlets.

In quick succession, the number of mass-market, sub-$200 desktops has tripled--from one to three--in less than three months. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, small form-factor PC maker Shuttle debuted its $199 KPC. The catch? It's not preloaded with Windows, but an operating system based on Linux. Then last week, Mirus and Linspire collaborated on the Mirus Linux PC, which is now for sale at Sears.com. It's $299 (although an included $100 rebate brings it to $199), and is preloaded with Freespire 2.0, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution.

But the beginning of the low-cost computer trend actually started last fall. The Everex gPC showed up on the shelves of Wal-Mart for $198, a low price even for a desktop PC. It's bundled with speakers, a mouse, and a keyboard, and it comes with 24-hour tech support. The operating system is called gOS, a version of Ubuntu 7.10. Sure, that may be almost unpronounceable for most average consumers, but despite that, Wal-Mart is having trouble keeping the gPC in stock.

Photos: Three sub-$200 Linux PCs

Linux is getting more mainstream exposure than just appearing in inexpensive computers. It's now being offered by two of the world's largest PC manufacturers, Dell and Lenovo, and is making its way into tiny--not to mention trendy--inexpensive laptops, like One Laptop Per Child's XO, Everex's CloudBook, and Asus' Eee PC, all of which come with Linux preinstalled. In the case of the Eee, it is doing surprisingly well with consumers.

So what are we to think now that Linux, long popular among a very narrow niche of computer users, is making its way to mainstream retail outlets? Perhaps that trying a $200 Linux PC isn't as risky as some might think. Here are five reasons why.

Lower barrier to entry
At $200, that's not a huge penalty for trying an unfamiliar operating system packaged by a hardware company you may not have heard of before. Just to put it in proper perspective, $199 is less than half the price of an iPhone, and is roughly equivalent to about 5 percent of the cost of a new decent-quality 32-inch high-definition TV or five to six tanks of gas. If you don't have a ton of expendable income, you can always put off updating your current Windows or Mac machine for six months, try it out, and see what you think.

Preinstalled is perfect for newbies
True, the biggest headache associated with most versions of Linux these days is the actual installation, but that's the case for any operating system, Stephen O'Grady, principal analyst for Redmonk, points out. Installing Windows from scratch on a machine can hit snags just as much as installing a version of Linux. But, he added, "If you're getting it preinstalled, the manufacturer has done the legwork to make sure the individual parts in the machine work with the operating system involved." All of that can translate to fewer headaches for the user.

And maintenance is relatively easy. That's because most versions of Linux come with package management. Unlike Windows, which just updates the operating system itself, Ubuntu, for example, will update the OS plus any of the applications included. "The average everyday user doesn't have to do anything," O'Grady said.

Familiarity breeds loyalty
Linux is getting easier to use all the time--and better looking. The past two years have seen the most consistent leaps in the improvement of the user interface. In the last year alone, 3D desktop effects--a la Windows Vista and Mac OS X--have been introduced.

"There has been some effort in recent years to make the transition more comfortable by mimicking some of the user conventions of Windows or Mac OS," said O'Grady. For instance, a "Start" menu or an applications "dock." The Everex Green PC runs gOS, whose desktop looks strikingly similar to Mac OS X.

The specs are acceptable for general use
All of the companies making sub-$200 Linux machines--Everex, Shuttle, and Mirus--use brand-name parts you've heard of: Intel processors and chipsets; ATI graphics cards; and more. Mirus' and Shuttle's Linux PCs come with a minimum of 1GB of memory, and Everex's comes with 512MB, upgradable to 2GB. All three have an 80GB hard drive, enough to do basic computing tasks. It should be noted that none of the offerings is a complete PC, however. The gPC and the Mirus lack a monitor, and the Shuttle comes with nothing but the PC.

The Web browser is your friend
It sounds simple, but most of what the average user wants to do with a computer these days can be done online: word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, photo editing, and more, which means less storage is less of an issue. You want e-mail? Gmail and the included GTalk instant-messaging feature are free. And Google's Docs and Spreadsheets Web apps get all of your office productivity done online (though most of the three PCs have open-source versions of Microsoft Office). For watching videos, there's YouTube and Hulu.com. And rather than downloading a photo editing tool, anyone can upload their photos to Flickr and use Picnik's editing software right in the browser.

The success of devices like the gPC and Mirus Freespire--both are sold out at Wal-Mart and Sears.com, respectively--and even the more expensive and portable Eee PC, is a surprise to most.

"The success is, in part, driven by the fact that for people doing an increasing percentage of day-to-day tasks like e-mail in the context of software as a service, at that point it soon doesn't matter what operating system you have," said Redmonk's O'Grady. "If a majority of (computer) usage is browsing the Internet and doing things like that, (Linux) is perfectly credible, perfectly usable."

See more CNET content tagged:
Linux PC, Stephen O'Grady, Linux, Everex, Ubuntu


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I could go to a local walmart and pick up a linux PC for 199 since last year? Humm, I was told by the *nix fanboys that people buy Vista PCs only because they don't have an option, they are "forced" to buy them!!!
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, really.
* Wal-Mart can't keep them in stock (and only sells them through a number of their stores, not all of them... this may change sometime this year, but until then...

* Dell and Lenovo stock their Linux offerings in areas where you have to go looking for them, and not on all models.

So, pretty much, the average consumer is still stuck with having Vista jammed in their faces everywhere they turn.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
To be honest
I know people don't go to Wal-Mart to buy a Linux based computer. They see the price of the Linux based computer and think they're getting a great bargin. I doubt anyone knows that it doesn't have Windows on it until they get it home and start it up.
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
Link Flag
Try to think
Major vendors are just starting to sell them, they are still not at traditional Computer stores, so, for most users, Vista and MAC are still the only options.

That's why this news IS news, because they are starting to appear AND that they are sold out indicates that addoption MAY start to happen.

I don't know how you can equate "sold (out) at wal-mart and sears" with generaly available. Make an effort, think, and you'll see that those two sentences are not equivalent.
Posted by rarsa (11 comments )
Link Flag
The local Walmart does not have Linux computers.

Never has.

At any price.

Neither does any of the computer stores, for over 200 miles in all directions.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
Newsflash: FurtureGuy spouting more babblecrap!
The average person has never even heard of Linux...that's why they buy Windows.
Posted by skillingssucks (270 comments )
Link Flag
It's not ready.
Look, I am a big fan of Linux in the corporate and hobbiest spaces. They are excellent and robust servers and powerful workstations in the hands of tinkerers and computer professionals. But for mainstream users who are hopelessly addicted to the Windows way of computing, they are a non-issue. Sure, Linux has come a long way since the days of X but even the best desktop environments are not very new user friendly.

Remember when WordPerfect was the king of the hill in word processing? Remember how MS Word took over the throne? They implemented a series of helper functions to assist those who were hopelessly addicted to WordPerfect migrate to Word. Help functions, pop up hints, even menu structures, were mimicked as close as legal to WordPerfect so it would make it easier to migrate. And it worked.

Like it or not, Linux is going to have to do the same thing if it wants to win over the mainstream user. The desktops will have to be very similar to Windows and the applications will have to be as well. It's not going to happen overnight and it's not even happening yet. The person who wrote this article would better serve the mainstream readers if they would stop being a fangirl and start being a realist.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, it is.
* right now, I can install Linux and not have to reboot 6-8 times, then go hunting for a dozen or so drivers... like I would if I installed Windows. That makes Linux easier to install

* I can update all of my apps on Linux (along with the OS) in one go, as opposed to only getting Windows Update for the OS alone. That makes Linux easier to maintain.

* In regards to "[i]The desktops will have to be very similar to Windows and the applications will have to be as well."[/i]? That's not true at all. Otherwise, perhaps you can explain why Apple OSX is growing so explosively?

* KDE and GNOME (whichever is chosen by default) already have the look and smell of a typical PC layout in organization and menu items.

PS - Word took over from WP for two reasons: Corel screwed up a bit when it bought WP, and MSFT went out of their way to subtly break WordPerfect functionality in Windows.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Heck No!
MS Word alone didn't out do WordPerfect. MS Word + MS Excel + MS Access + MS Outlook as a suite out did WordPerfect. Don't even mention those help functions! They never provide any sane answeres!
Posted by ExWinUser (147 comments )
Link Flag
Nothing Perfect, but it maybe good enought
If you talking to someone that has never used a computer they simple don't know any better, so the installed base of windows users are not you target. It's new users, and for expressed user who are looking for a cheep computer for a kids bed room, it just might work. We also have the pissed off windows users who will do anything not to use vista. So I think that market is their and it just has to work. working is relative and that remains to be see.
Posted by mshidden (42 comments )
Link Flag
Sort of agree
Linux needs a solid business distro WITHOUT a bunch of options to choose between. Let IT go get what they want to install on their own.

It also needs a solid GUI, Gnome and KDE have been "under development" for far too long. Clean it up!

Best, optimize for a specific set of hardware.

Linux is /too/ flexible for most people to deal with.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
You have no idea what you're talking about....
You have no idea what you're talking about. These particular devices are primarily for "cloud" computing and not so much for running stand alone applications.
Posted by skillingssucks (270 comments )
Link Flag
Wrong recollections
Having used WordPerfect since 4.2, the pop-ups and such or Microsoft for that matter, had almost nothing to do with the destruction of WordPerfect. It was WordPerfect itself. There port of WordPerfect 5.1 to Windows was a near disaster and the users they didn't run off left in droves when WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows was an absolute failure. Had almost nothing to do with Microsoft.

What I wouldn't give to get reveal codes back.

Posted by wyohman (11 comments )
Link Flag
A big fan of linux? KDE is that different from winxp. In fact I'd say that Kde is closer to winxp than vista is. As far as menu structure goes.
Posted by mariusthull (67 comments )
Link Flag
They are not $200 PCs without a monitor!
Just shows how silly tech reporters are these days when they cannot do a simple analysis. You need a $100 monitor to go with that PC. So then why not pay another 50 dollars and get a real Windows PC from big names like Lenovo/Dell/Acer etc? I'm sure users will find the $50 premium for being able to run the vast majority of software out there quite reasonable. Yes even the internet requires plugins like Flash/QuickTime/Windows Media etc etc and Linux just doesn't cut it.

This is a silly stupid story without a point.
Posted by krosavcheg (262 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Odds are good that you already have a monitor from a previous machine that you can use. Or if money's tight, you can buy one used for like $20.

So why not pay $50 more and get something w/ Vista on it? Because odds are very good that that $250 Vista box will barely run itself, let alone anything else.

Flash and QT? No problem - I get those right now on the Linux box I'm typing this on. Windows Media files are worse than worthless on the Internet, unless you're downloading bootleg porn or other pirated media... that said, VLC (which comes standard with most Linux distros) runs even those files just fine, as long as there's no DRM latched onto them.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Linux can do ...
Quicktime, windows media, flash long time ago.

Who is not doing the research here?
Posted by JunkSiu (72 comments )
Link Flag
Not every PC needs a monitor
I use monitors MUCH longer than I use PCs. I tend to upgrade
computer boxes about once every two years, but I only upgrade
monitors once every five or so AND I keep the old ones going as
second monitors.

Also, new monitors can be had for $50, if you know where to look.
Posted by whoperson (32 comments )
Link Flag
$50 plus? can you add?
Plus $60 Antivirus
Plus $40 every year there after for Antivirus upgrades.
Plus $400 Office suite
Plus Office suite upgrades every now and then
Plus $60 every year for computer Tune ups

I'm sure you can add, so keep adding.
Posted by rarsa (11 comments )
Link Flag
The PC doesn't include a Monitor
The PC is just that, Personal Computer, not monitor. and where, pray tell, can you buy a new Dell, Lenovo, or Acer - with monitor- with M$ Winblows for $250? Real Winblows ... blue screen of death, all additional software at additional cost, M$ Eula that says whatever you just bought and paid for doesn't really belong to you, you can't take it with you to your next computer, etc,etc,etc. No Thanks, M$ fanboy, I'll take Linux over M$Crap any day!
Posted by linuxrunner (3 comments )
Link Flag
I'm running all of those things on this Linux box. Not to mention when was the last time interesting software was released? Norton 4.0?

The last software package I bought was PaintShopPro 10. There is NO exciting software left.

It's almost refreshing, since I save a lot of money by not buying software and I don't pirate either. Software is dead.

Posted by wyohman (11 comments )
Link Flag
$100 monitor?
You're paying way too much. :)
Posted by argraff (9 comments )
Link Flag
Apple took Unix and made it people friendly. OSX is great!

Linux still isn't entirely people friendly and fails to deliver a user friendly experience. I think Linux is worthless on a regular persons desktop machine. They might think they can go out and buy some software and install it, or buy a video game and play it, only to find out that nothing like that works with Linux. It can be a pain getting drivers and codecs to work properly. And no offense, but a lot of the programs written in the open source community are half assed and need to be better designed. They're just terrible to use compared to professional products. There are a few exceptions to this, but for the most part I don't care for open source that much. I'm glad it exists, but I don't want it on my machine and I don't think it's in the best interest of other people either.
Posted by coryschulz (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OSX is locked to Apple hardware via TPM. DISQUALIFIED.

Further, I use Ubuntu, and it's more user friendly by far than windows is. We'll be catching up quickly. By the way, I'm out there on ideapool, ideastorm, filing bug reports and feature requests, while you sit on your butt. Thanks for taking advantage of BSD while contributing, uh, nothing, to real progress.
Posted by ethana2 (348 comments )
Link Flag
Which ones?
Give me a list of 10 half-ass Linux programs.

Posted by wyohman (11 comments )
Link Flag
Okay then....
< quote

There are a few exceptions to this, but for the most part I don't care for open source that much. I'm glad it exists, but I don't want it on my machine and I don't think it's in the best interest of other people either.

end quote >

Well if that's truly the case then I would suggest you uninstall the tcp/ip stack in your mac. That is open source software.
Posted by mariusthull (67 comments )
Link Flag
Freespire is a user friendly Linux
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.freespire.org/" target="_newWindow">http://www.freespire.org/</a>

Anyone can download it and install it on their PC. It is based on Ubuntu, and has been modified by Linspire to be more user friendly than Ubuntu Linux already is, and it has abilities to use many Microsoft file formats with Linux software that uses the same file formats as Microsoft software for Windows does.

Freespire is a free version of Linspire, Linspire has all the codecs, drivers, etc already built into it, but offers them for $50 for a CD-ROM with them already built in.
Posted by Andy kaufman (291 comments )
Link Flag
5% of the cost of a TV?
According to this "journalist" $199 is about 5% of the cost of a "new decent-quality 32-inch high-definition TV" (to me that doesn't me top-of -the-line). Quick math: that's $3,980 for a 32" TV! When the last time this journalist looked at the price of TVs? 2001?? A very good 40-42" HDTV now costs around 2000 dollars... so 32" will be that much cheaper.

I'm getting really annoyed by these "journalists" on CNET that post random numbers. How do you even get paid to post this???
Posted by lordeagle (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
this person is showing either total innumeracy or a disconnect with the market. $4K for a 32" tv?
Posted by megustansalchichas (153 comments )
Link Flag
Out family has two computers. One has Ubuntu Linux installed and the other has WinXP Pro with all the virus protection, spyware protection, and latest updates. My teenage daughters are not computer geeks and don't care about OS versions, but they do care about MySpace, image editing, and loading music to their ipods. The Linux machine is still humming and the WinXP machine is down to a crawl. Now they love the Linux machine and hate the WinXP Pro machine! I already knew Linux was going to stand up to the riggers of two teenage duaghters and the WinXP Pro machine was going to eventually slow to a crawl. I will also never consider a Mac! Teenagers can easily adapt to Linux so give it a try!
Posted by ExWinUser (147 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Teenage Ubuntu user here to agree with you.
And if you don't want to do it alone:
--free support by email; redistributable, unlimited offer.
Posted by ethana2 (348 comments )
Link Flag
I remember in days of old, when I used a Mac (pre-OSX), I did lots of creative things on my computer. I played with music creation, made web pages, fiddled with graphics, etc.

Then I got a Windows PC (about 7 years ago), partly due to cost/performance, Apple's market position at the time, to play more games (which I actually never really did much - just more of the same old games, which also happen to be available on the Mac and sometimes even Linux). And my creativity plummeted. Now I'm far more of a consumer of content than a creator.

Recently I installed Linux on an old PC to use for a class (actually the same PC I first got for Windows...) and IMMEDIATELY felt like I might use it for the creative things I haven't been doing for years. The same old feeling was back!

It's hard to lay a finger on it exactly, but I really think there's something pathologically wrong with Windows that turns its users into zombies, relative to using other systems.

I also found the current Gnome interface (will try KDE later too) and installation of new programs to be very easy - so much so that I doubt any newbie would find it more difficult than Windows (in fact, in many cases likely much less so), and I believe it has more than enough good-quality applications readily available for virtually any common consumer use (gaming being the sole exception).

Why would most people need MS Word for instance? That has got to be the most confusing and infuriating excuse for a word processor I've ever encountered. New users, and even experienced ones, struggle mightily in fighting against the computer to get Word to do what they want. (And if you need more powerful features than a basic WP program provides, you're probably better off with a page layout program like InDesign or FrameMaker anyway.)

If a good selection of such commonly-used programs were pre-installed and the system were smartly set up and pre-configured, I expect such a PC could easily provide a happy and comfortable home computing experience for the vast majority of people - again, likely happier and more comfortable (not to mention cheaper) than they're getting from Windows.

(I think a Mac would be a better option still, but that is definitely NOT inexpensive.)
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Link Flag
I bet...
... that the majority of these machines will have their hard drives formated and then the users will install a (probably pirated) copy of Windows...
Posted by aemarques (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In most cases, the only reason I can think that any ordinary home user would want to do that would be to play games.

I think that in general, a good Linux PC (which can play a small selection of fun games, plus many on the web) + game console is a better option (granted that consoles don't specialize in the same types of games as PCs). Or if the household has more than one PC, there could be a Windows gaming PC (for the son, for instance), and a Linux computer for ordinary use (say, for the parents).

Besides, if anyone is savvy enough to find a pirated copy of Windows, format the drive, and install it, they probably have the knowledge to create a partition for Windows, and have both at their disposal.
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Link Flag
Open Source Version of MS Office?
I'm sure the people that design OpenOffice are very unhappy to hear you call their product that. Why not call it an open-source office suite or an open-source equivalent to MS Office? You make it sound like Microsoft made it.
Posted by sirrobertm (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OpenOffice = FREE Microsoft Office
I think that people know what Microsoft Office is. That's why he
used that shorthand way to describe OpenOffice.

However, OpenOffice is not a Microsoft Office "equivalent".

It is superior.

And it is free.

Microsoft's worst nightmare.

Well, maybe Ubuntu is their WORST nightmare...
Posted by punlman (19 comments )
Link Flag
I agree in General
I agree in general with the statement that these computers are usable by the average user.

I disagree with the tone that seems to imply that Linux "Is OK for lesser things".

Linux when preinstalled and when using the appropriate hardware can be as functional as other OSs. Of course not all OSs are the same so some will be better at some things some will be better at others, but that's true with anything. There is always a tradeoff.
Posted by rarsa (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Open source version of Microsoft Office?
When did this happen? I haven't heard of it before. Maybe you mean OpenOffice? That is not a Microsoft product; it works and it's free.
Posted by markforstneger (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You get what you pay for!
Where's the value at $199? There are no free lunches despite what FOSS and *nix fanatics proclaim. At that price, every corner will be cut and the customer WILL suffer. Now, add Windows Vista to it, and there my friend you have value!!
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista couldn't run on $200 worth of hardware.

Not even close.

Even if you did, a web browser or even solitaire would take 5 minutes to load since Vista is a memory hog.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Thanks WJeansonne!
I just love your sarcasm, it brightens my day. You're better than
Comedy Central my friend!

My machine at home has no chance of running vista. I do have
xp running on it for gaming - yes, winblows has more games -
and Ubuntu for real work (usually;)). Guess what. Ubuntu boots
faster, loads and runs programs faster, even shuts down faster
than xp. Everything works, even the wireless ethernet. Installing
it took less than an hour. I upgraded it from 0704 to 0710 the
other night while I was playing Mahjong. Try upgrading from xp
to vista while playing a game on it! Better yet, try backing up an
entire winblows system while it's running with a one line

I wouldn't refer to it as a "free lunch". Lots of people have
volunteered tons of code to the cause. It's just that they did it
for the betterment of society, instead of doing it for the
enrichment of Gates.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Link Flag
...so my ~$2200 Mac rocks in your opinion?

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
What can't it do?
Give me a list of 10 things this computer can't do.

Posted by wyohman (11 comments )
Link Flag
add vista....
To a Via c7 cpu with 1 gig of ram? I'm sure it would run but if you think people are complaining about vista performance now they'd be screaming then.
Posted by mariusthull (67 comments )
Link Flag
Yes, a $199 PC is not the most impressive piece of computer hardware out there. But most users don't know or care. It's fine for surfing the web, emailing, watching YouTube videos, writing letters and school papers, doing taxes and finances, playing casual games (many of which are on the web anyway) and a variety of other tasks.

On the other hand, paying for the OS does not add value, when you're talking about Windows vs Linux today (After 8 years of using Windows 98 SP2, then XP, on my home PC, I plan on moving away from Windows now that I have a Linux PC running, and Vista will certainly never exist in my home). 5 years ago I would have agreed that, for inexperienced home users, there was added value to Windows compared to the Linux distros of the time, but no longer.

Vista on a $199 PC? That only creates value as a boat anchor.
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Link Flag
Yes indeed...
No, if you added Vista to a sub $200 PC you would have a useless pile-o-crap.

And you are right, there are no free lunches (except maybe at a soup kitchen). However, a sub $200 computer running Linux is like a quick and nutritious meal, while a $500+ Vista ready PC is like a greasy lump-o-lard.

Linux aint the be all and end all of computing, but for most users, it'll do the job nicely thanks very much.
Posted by Poddy Mon (8 comments )
Link Flag
Linux desktops have had 3D desktop for several years. I am not sure if it was introduced before OSX, but it has been functional long before Vista.

Of course, most of them are worthless, but that is not an OS specific issue.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cut corners
As far as I can see, only one corner has actually been cut, and that is that you can't play high spec games on them.

Of course, if you're a mom with kids who wants a PC for the kids to do their homework on, or you are an adult who wants to write letters and to user the internet, this isn't a cut corner at all.
Posted by perfectblue97 (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I started playing around with Suse Linux recently. Many windows aps can be run using the wine emulator. Also, doom 3 can run nativly on linux. According to a couple of users, doom 3 runs better on linux than on windows. So you can run some higher end aps on linux. That said, linux isn't as user friendly as windows (although I am sure that would depend on the distro). I still think it's worth giving linux a try if you have a spare computer to put it on. Another good option is to download a live version that runs right off the CD. Thats what I did befor I decided to install it on my laptop. Open Suse has live versions available.
Posted by purplemutantas (1 comment )
Link Flag
While we're on the subject....
While we are on the subject of poor information, all of those web plug ins that the above reader mentioned are available on Linux, in fact you can use exactly the same plug ins for Windows as for Linux if you install Firefox.

Firefox offers an identical web browsing experience on Linux as it does as Windows.
Posted by perfectblue97 (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not True!
I have been attempting to get my Fedora computer infected with a nice pop up virus for years. I have yet to have any luck.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Honestly I dont get it
I am a big fan of open source but who is buying these things from Walmart?

Joe blow goes into walmart, buys a $200 Linux based PC then walk 2 rows over to look as loads of Windows software, and maybe some Mac software he can run on his new PC.

Maybe its just Linux users coming in to get a great deal?
Posted by Maclover1 (440 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, I'm sure they're dumb
You are a Mac lover, so I guess that after you bought your mac you went to check all the Windows sofware you could load, isn't it?

Oh, no wait! you are smarter than "those other" Wal-mart people. right?

Maybe they will see the loads of free Open source quite fine applications already included in their package manager. Maybe, just maybe.
Posted by rarsa (11 comments )
Link Flag
Little or no need to Buy Software.....
As most software is on the distro (or machine) already..
if not a simple download (&#38; automatically install) with your package manager.

So no need to look for software there....

What software do you see for sale at any store especially Walmart. (don't think I've ever seen Mac software)
Other than few retail copies of Windows &#38; Office, and this time of year tax software, the majority is Anti-virus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-software etc..... maybe games, but selection is larger for the settop boxes PS2/3, Wii, Xbox...

Anyway while there might not be every little thing (yet)
all of what most people need/want is already there.
Browsers, Mail, News/IRC, etc.
Productivity, Office apps,
Games, edutaiment
Imagining tools,
etc, etc

But I somewhat agree with your last statement as Linux users and those others aware &#38; interested would be the first to understand the value.
Posted by LazLong (10 comments )
Link Flag
Your right,
$200 is a pretty good price for a PC but most hardcore *nix users are do-it-yourself people and can build for less. While the nix will do everything Joe NEEDS to do, such as surf, e-mail, word process....the problem arises when it doesn't do the "golly-gee-whiz" thing his buddy's PC does. Then he takes it to his local "computer guy" and asks "how come?". Then, probably people like you and me have to explain that particular functionality didn't come with the box. Then "Joe" will ask us to make it able to. Then there we are, maybe for a small price, maybe as a favor, re-inventing the same wheel....over and over again. This is why Windows and Macs are popular. All the stuff (drivers and other software) are already in the box. Linux OS's are a lot better today than a few years ago but still have a way to go. Could be a boon for some young industrious tech people, though.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
You won't
You're a macboy. Why would anyone expect you to understand the concept of using anything but OSX under these conditions. It's obvious why you don't get it.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Here's the deal:
You buy the box, take it home, and discover that it isn't Windows. It says that it isn't Windows (or OSX) right on the packaging.

A person who takes it home will naturally go to "Add and Remove Software", poke around, and discover that there's a shedload of apps that likely do almost all of what they need... free for the download.

The scenario you described sounds plausible, yes... but the software can simply get returned unopened (it isn't that tough to boot the machine and realize that - waitaminute - this isn't Windows :) ).

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
There shouldn't be any fear regardless of the price
I don't think people are buying PCs these days for the operating systems or to play with the operating system. People by PCs for one of more of the following reasons:

1. Create documents (word, spreadsheet etc)
2. Send/receive emails
3. Web browsing
4. Play Games
5. Upload and manipulate photos sometime
6. Instant Messaging

All LINUX based distributions provide these things, possibly not very well on the Games front yet. Therefore I think your article is not giving the reader the correct impression as to buying a PC with LINUX OS.
Posted by ozicecool (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're behind times .....
I bought 10 PC's with Thiz Linux on them 10 years ago at Fry's Electronics in Phoenix, AZ. for $169.99. They were GQ (Great Quality) computers .... I still have a couple of them ... they weren't great, but they were OK for the time for a school computer. WalMart wasn't the first to sell for less than $199.
Just thought you should know ....
Posted by linuxrunner (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I never realized....
That I so superior to the masses of unwashed slack jawed mouth breathers that are collectively known as "Joe Blow average computer user". Sure I use linux but before that I used windows from 3.1 all the way up to XP, excepting ME thank god. When I had a problem in windows I always managed to find a solution. If there was something I wanted to do I always found a program that would do it.

I wonder why I, so average in every other way, have managed to excel so prodigiously in the use of such an advanced piece of technology. Did my mother read COBOL manuals aloud when I was in the womb? No, there are no old COBOL manuals in my parents attic. Perhaps it is the long line of engineers, Ph.D's, and inventors whose DNA I've inherited. No, that's not it. Nothing but blue collar workers in my family tree. I have it! I should have realized it sooner, forest through the trees and all that I suppose...The reason is obvious, I am a frigging genius!

Okay you caught me. I'm not actually a genius. I do however now how to ask questions. Simple questions like "Why doesn't this work?" "Is there a program that does this?" "Where can I find more information on this subject?" And I can follow directions. I believe the process is generally referred to as learning. Now don't quote me on this, I have no numbers to back it up, but most people can develop this rarest of skills.

Joe and Jane Blow average computer user can ask questions too. And given the nature of most linux communities the people there will be happy to answer them. But don't worry the people who answer their questions will use really small words and type really slow. That way Joe and Jane won't get confused and their little pea brains won't become overly taxed. And who knows, they might even learn how their computer works in addition to actually using it. Imagine that a computer user that understands how their computer works.

The average computer user is capable of learning how to use linux. And every well known distribution of linux is capable of doing what ever they need it to do. KDE is very windows like and most of the applications not only work they work well. And all of them are free so if they don't like what comes with their distro they can find one they prefer.

And to all of you who think linux apps aren't ready for prime time I say this. Microsoft has gotten where it is today with applications that are "good enough". And it hasn't changed. How long did it take MS to upgrade IE from v6 to v7? Why? Because until firefox came along IE v6 was good enough. MS releases a new operating system and within 9 months there's a service pack. Why? Because it was good enough to release. Can you imagine if you bought a TV and every time you went from channel 27 to 52 it shut off. What would you do if the manufacturer told you that that problem would be fixed with the next SP?

Sorry, I didn't want to bash MS. If you're happy with Microsoft and it's products then by all means I wish you happy computing. I might even suggest for the adventurous among you to download a live cd and try it.
Posted by mariusthull (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't understand people humans.
First, why would I fear a Linux PC. You want to sell a PC with Linux fine by me. There's nothing to fear is there. It's not like the computer is going to eat me is it?

Why all the Linux vs Windows stuff. I'll just use whatever OS I want, and you can use whatever OS you want. If someone has a problem with my OS I'll just hit em in the eye or something because it's just a stupid argument.

If Linux people want Windows to switch just keep working on the pretty eye candy stuff because that's what the average user really cares about. Movie's, games, audio, email, web, and pretty colors.
Posted by Imalittleteapot (835 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There's a good reason...
That's the thing, YOU don't fear a Linux PC. But he's talking about the mainstream public here. That is why your point that people want the "pretty eye candy stuff" is what is going to make Linux more mainstream. A good number of people that use Windows have never even heard of Linux (or if they have, they don't know what it is or how it works). So when people go into a retail store and buy a computer, they expect it to come preloaded with Windows. If they aren't greeted with something that resembles and works like Windows, then those Linux PCs will be returned to the store. Now that these Linux distros are becoming easier to use for those who aren't tech-savvy, that is less of an issue.
Posted by Lucky Bob (47 comments )
Link Flag
OpenOffice = FREE Microsoft Office
Yes. OpenOffice is the free, open source, version of Microsoft

It runs on Windows. It runs on Mac. And it's built-in to Ubuntu,
of course.

Download it free and try it, at OppenOffice . Org

Ubuntu is the best.

Windows &#38; Mac will very soon be history.
Posted by punlman (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft Office is an office package with a word processor, spreadsheet program and such. Open Office is also a office package with a word processor, spreadsheet and such. Please don't say that the excellent Open Office package is the same as the junk that Microsoft makes.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
cheaper pc's using Linux
I love using My Tivo's and have read somewhere that all Tivos's use the Linux operating system. Bmaybe thats why they run so well and can do so much more than ordinary dvr's
Posted by johnnywould (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS Vista is the reason people are buying them
Vista just can't run on low end computers, some would say that it hardly runs on high end ones. So if you are looking for a cheap computer your choices are this one or a Vista box that can hardly boot up due to Vista's bloat.
Posted by k2dave (213 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A new convert
I just got an eeepc for three reasons:
1) I'm a gageholic and that gaget is just too cool
2) I've been really curious about Linux for some time and wanted to get my hands on it.
3) I've got a really bad back and even a 4 pound laptop gets to be too much.
I can't find anything negative to say about Linux. I'm really enjoying finding out that the difference between it and Windows is (from what I can see) negligible. Granted I've only had it a few days, but there was no learning curve. It worked right out of the box. What's not to like?
Posted by mrskelly (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux is soooo..much easier than windows!All the apps you need are included and are updated along with the os.I think these inexpensive linux boxes are the beginning of the end for MS.
My personal favorite distro is PClinuxOS.Check out www.distrowatch.com And my favorite game "Tremulous" is in the repository! Cool:) It's a great FPS!I feel like a kid in a candy store with all the variety available in linux.
Posted by ploppypants (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Will they even care?
Not everyone has joined the Microsoft religion, and must donate $299.95 every year to it's profit (er prophet) Bill Gates.

People who buy computers at Walmart or Sears are unlikely to really care what is under the hood, as long as the computer does what they want it to. If all your doing is a little word processing, and checking your online email, these machines are perfect at that. Heck if you want a cheap way to call the Grandkids across the country or the world, one of these units, Skype and a cheapie webcam, and your all set. I run Ubuntu on my computer, and have just that kind of setup.
Posted by wogsterca (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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