February 18, 2003 10:31 AM PST

Wal-Mart boosts Linux line

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Linux software maker Lycoris is set to announce Wednesday that it will begin selling boxed software through retail giant Wal-Mart, another sign of growing mainstream acceptance of the open-source operating system.

The online arm of Wal-Mart, which already sells low-budget PCs preconfigured with Lycoris and other versions of Linux, will sell its desktop version of the operating system and two packages of related open-source software, said Jason Spisak, marketing director for Lycoris.

Lycoris' Desktop LX package includes numerous user interface adjustments that make Linux look and operate similarly to a Windows XP desktop. The $30 package includes open-source applications for editing photos, playing digital media files, and common tasks such as word processing and e-mail.

Lycoris will also sell ProductivityPak, a $50 package that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program and other applications based on the OpenOffice offering developed by Sun Microsystems. Wal-Mart will also sell Lycoris' GamePak, a $35 collection of popular Linux games and software that allows many Windows games to run on a Linux PC.

Wal-Mart has become one of the most significant mainstream supporters of Linux over the past year, selling a number of Linux-based PCs at prices starting at $200 and boxed software from Lindows.

Spisak said Wal-Mart's support, combined with aggressive pricing, has played a major role in helping spread Linux's appeal beyond the technical elite.

"When Wal-Mart picks something up, it's like they're saying, 'We think average folks are ready for this,'" he said. "It's a way to encourage people to give it a try if they're feeling trepidation."

Lycoris was launched in Redmond, Wash.--home base of OS rival Microsoft--two years ago by former Microsoft systems tester Joseph Cheek. Lycoris began selling its version of the Linux operating system early last year and quickly won recognition for dressing up Linux with a user interface similar in look and feel to recent versions of Windows.


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