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Mandrake to Come Preloaded on Wal-Mart PCs 617

Posted by timothy
from the hey-this-came-with-an-operating-system dept.
surfimp writes "Here's a story from NewsForge: 'MandrakeSoft CEO Jacques Le Marois confirms the news this morning, and company spokeswoman Margaret Waters says, while a contract with Microtel has not been finalized, the company is working on getting Mandrake certified to run like clockwork on the Microtel systems. Waters is hopeful that the dotted line will be signed and PCs up for sale by the end of next week.'" Update: 06/20 17:21 GMT by T : Ooops! The Mandrake spokeswoman's name is Margaret Waples, not Waters. Apologies, and thanks to Todd Lyons of Mandrakesoft for the correction.
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Mandrake to Come Preloaded on Wal-Mart PCs

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  • by ShawnDoc (572959) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:21PM (#3730251) Homepage
    For those that are too lazy to read the story, the computers pre-loaded with Mandrake are going to be available at walmart.com, not at Wal-Mart retail stores. There's a difference.
    • Good Call. I was too honestly making a shopping list for walmart (Deoderant, Sams Choice, over Stuffed Bean bag, Microtel machine running Linux..).

      But I can see where they are just pushing on their website as opposed to in stores. For one, think of how many stores they have throughout the country (US), just putting 10 of these units alone is quite a chunk of change, and if no one bites at the offer, there now stuck with all that inventory on these machines.

      But from a website, you keep it at one area, you don't have to stock up on the machines, you can pass the order directly to the manufacture and have them ship it to the customer (In this case Microtel.), this way you keep a lower surplus, and the customer still get's their product.
      • They could still let people order the PC through the local WalMart store, and the fulfill from the central warehouse. It would be nice to see a display saying "Buy a WalMart PC!" in the stores. They need to make a deal with an ISP now -- "includes internet service for 6 months."

        Actually, they should pressure AOL to write a Linux version of their client, and then sell "WalMart AOL-PCs!"

        I think their average customer might be interested in it. After all, they sold those MSN Companions for $200+ each ... and they just run Wince.
    • But that's also where they are selling the Lindows computers isn't it? Sounds fair. I wonder what the price difference is?
    • by sharkey (16670) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @03:40PM (#3731418)
      the computers pre-loaded with Mandrake are going to be available at walmart.com, not at Wal-Mart retail stores. There's a difference.

      Right. To get the PCs preloaded with Mandrake, you simply drive to Wal-Mart, purchase a Lindows PC, take it home and sign up with an ISP. Then, connect to the Internet, visit walmart.com and order yourself a Mandrake PC. Finally, return the Lindows PC to the store and wait for your new Mandrake PC.
  • wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheMMaster (527904) <hp@tmmRABBIT.cx minus herbivore> on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:21PM (#3730254)
    I am no american so I might be talking out of my ass here, but it seems that wallmart really is trying to bring choice to ther customers, I just wonder if they'll support all OS's they ship now (mandrake, windows and lindows), if they do, and are succesfull, maybe more companies will follow...
    I can't help but feel that this is "a good thing (TM)"
    I'll bet dell is really wondering what they did wrong back then ;)
    • Re:wow (Score:2, Informative)

      by BionicElf (580800)
      WalMart doesn't provide support for anything they sell. Typically, there's a card in the box that you use to register with the source company (in this case, MandrakeSoft) to get support. I would assume the same practice would be followed here.
    • Re:wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by astrashe (7452) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:36PM (#3730413) Journal
      I think that WalMart is trying to push prices lower, and that choice is a byproduct of that. They are as feared and hated in their circles as Microsoft is in the tech world.

      Small computer shops in California are selling decent PCs without OSs or monitors for under $300. The cost of the OS is becoming a more significant chunk of the total price, and if you want to push the prices way down, you've got to confront it.

      For all we know, this is brinksmanship, and Wal Mart is just trying to push MS into giving them special deals on OS pricing. They've done that to other suppliers.

    • Re:wow (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuperCal (549671)
      I don't really think that WalMart cares if its customers are getting a choice. I think what they are trying to do is to figure out wether or not they can make higher profits by avioding the MS tax(I know, I know, that term is getting old). If people will buy a PC w/o Windows and Walmart can keep some of the difference then you can bet they will stick with it. If not they won't keep linux around just to give a choice to customers.
    • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SirSlud (67381) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:52PM (#3730567) Homepage
      Walmart is notorious for demanding that magazine covers and CD covers be changed if they are going to carry it. Seeing as Walmart represents 15% of all US music sales, and an even higher percent of the magazine retail market (I think, might be wrong on that), publishers constantly have to succumb to Walmarts desire to retain its 'family image'. In that sense, Walmart censors .. they couldn't give a rats ass about choice. They are down to make money, and by opting to force magazines to self-censor, I don't really think choice has much to do with this story.

      I think money. The margins. No MS Tax. Yadda yadda. Ironically, due to their size that causes the negative behaviour referenced above (nevermind they represent the new generation of ultra-shitty employers), they might just be more than a little 'blip' on MS's radar. It's like Godzilla and Mothra; they're both evil, but if one takes down the other a few deserved notches, I won't complain!
      • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

        >Walmart is notorious for demanding that magazine >covers and CD covers be changed if they are >going to carry it. They are down to make money, >and by opting to force magazines to self-censor, >I don't really think choice has much to do with >this story.

        That's not censorship, that's is choice. Don't like it, go to Target or KMart. I personally love the Wal-Mart policy and shop there because if it. But that's my choice.

        I mean, there is alot of crap out there in this country. Which is fine, it is a free country. But just because you create crap doesn't mean people or corporations have to buy it! That's the other part of a free country.

        Don't you think it is pretty arrogant of you to basically say, "I don't care what Wal-Mart or its loyal customers say, you must carry these soft-porn magazines and raunchy CDs"?
        • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SirSlud (67381) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @02:48PM (#3730981) Homepage
          Two things:

          1. Walmart gets magainze covers changed before they are printed. That means, *every store* carries the 'walmart approved' copy. Thats not choice. Thats Walmart unfairly influencing what musicians (Nirvana is one such band that changed the cover of their CD before releasing it, *soley* due to Walmart issuing a complaint with their label.) and magazines wish to print. You really shouldn't talk like you do, in a country which claims free speech (both the right to be free of censorship, and the right to be free of undue pressures to self-censor.) is one of its founding principals. But you dont sound like somebody whos interested in these types of issues. No worries, people like me will care about the world you live in such that you dont wake up and find free speech an outdated concept in a not-so-distant future.

          2. These are not soft-porn magazines. This is Time. Rolling Stone. Seventeen. All mainstream magazines. Many magainzes specifically call up Walmart and seek approval for their covers pre-printed, because if Walmart refuses to carry the published run of the magazine, you cannot justify to stockholders, as a magazine publisher, giving up 15% of your sales right off the bat.

          You dont sound like you have a clue as to the scope of leverage and power that Walmart brandishes in the marketplace. Sit down and really think about what it means, to have virtually every magazine in your country seek approval from Walmart before running the presses. Walmart is censoring your culture.
          • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nathanm (12287)
            1. Walmart gets magainze covers changed before they are printed. That means, *every store* carries the 'walmart approved' copy. Thats not choice. Thats Walmart unfairly influencing what musicians (Nirvana is one such band that changed the cover of their CD before releasing it, *soley* due to Walmart issuing a complaint with their label.) and magazines wish to print.
            There's nothing unfair about WalMart's policy. Nobody has a right to sell their products in any particular store. If they want to sell in WalMart, they'll just have to comply with their policies.

            You really shouldn't talk like you do, in a country which claims free speech (both the right to be free of censorship, and the right to be free of undue pressures to self-censor.) is one of its founding principals.
            The right of free speech is protection from the government. The first amendment starts out Congress shall make no law... Gee, I can't find WalMart anywhere in the US Constitution.

            2. These are not soft-porn magazines. This is Time. Rolling Stone. Seventeen. All mainstream magazines.
            Mainstream magazines and the advertisements therein show a lot more skin than they used to. Many people, myself included, see this as a problem. Just because something is popular doesn't make it right, or preferable. Personally, I could care less what's in these magazines, I just won't buy them.

            Many magainzes specifically call up Walmart and seek approval for their covers pre-printed, because if Walmart refuses to carry the published run of the magazine, you cannot justify to stockholders, as a magazine publisher, giving up 15% of your sales right off the bat.
            Then that's a choice they've made. No censorship involved.
    • WalMart is simply doing what WalMart does best. They are undercutting the competition. The only way that WalMart can undercut their competition in the fiercely competitive PC business is to remove the Windows tax. They can afford to do this because they aren't really a player in the PC industry. Microsoft can complain all they want, and as long as WalMart stays within the bounds of the law they are home free. If Dell were to do something similar Microsoft would raise the price they pay for Windows and effectively kill them. Since WalMart doesn't really sell computers, they could care less what Microsoft thinks. Even better, because they are the world's largest retailer they can sell Microtel OS-less PCs right next to HP computers running Windows.

      If these OS-less and Linux based computers start to do well, then it will put pressure on Microsoft, and the entire PC industry, to lower prices. If not, then WalMart hasn't risked very much. These computers aren't even available in their stores. The Microtel PCs are a pretty savvy move by WalMart.

    • They want to sell more PCs by undercutting competition. To help them do this, they want to avoid paying MS tax. However, it's hard to tell a computer is even working at all without an OS installed. Also, they sidestep MS's shrieks that they are encouraging piracy.

      I fully believe that they expect most buyers to immediately reformat and install some flavor of WinXX either borrowed from a friend or left from previous purchase.

      So they are promoting choice, but only as a minor side effect.
    • I am no american so I might be talking out of my ass here, but it seems that wallmart really is trying to bring choice to ther customers

      Wal-Mart has a reputation for being the Cheap Store. They can sell Linux-based PCs cheaper than Windows, so naturally they'll go for it.

      When you need a shirt for four dollars, Wal-Mart is where you go.
      • by ZaMoose (24734)
        When you need a shirt for four dollars, Wal-Mart is where you go.

        That's almost .sig worthy.

        Thanks for the quick chuckle.
  • Why so much stories on that same topic? If it's a really important topic, give it a category so I'll be able to filter them!

    There's been plenty of retailers shipping PCs with Linux (or OS-less). None of the size of Walmart, I agree. But I don't know much people looking to Walmart for PCs. Neither I know people going to Walmart for a dishwasher of a freezer. A PC might have become a commodity, but there are commodities better handled by more knowledgeable businesses. And they usually have a larger selection to boot.
    </RANT>
    • A PC might have become a commodity, but there are commodities better handled by more knowledgeable businesses. And they usually have a larger selection to boot.

      What like Circuit City, Best Buy, and CompUSA??? Hehehehehe.
  • YES! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not a Mandrake user (I prefer Slackware), but I know that Mandrake has an excellent desktop distro, and it's great to see a viable option being sold besides that crap called LindowsOS. I hope Mandrake squashes LindowsOS like a bug -- for the sake of Linux and the consumer.
  • Im suprised they didn't call it wal-hat or wal-drake linux...
    • by miracle69 (34841) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @02:32PM (#3730836)
      I've actually suggested this exact thing on the Mandrake Forum.

      Mandrake could increase market share by offering other resellers a "branded" OS, while making money on the support of the machines and the O.S.

      Take Mandrake 8.2 and brand it to say, WalMart.

      During Boot-up, Walmart gets screen space. They get a link on the desktop to Walmart.com. And Mandrake gets 30 bucks or so to do tech support for the OS.

      If the big retailers pick up on this, Linux will be poised for a several percentage point growth. Combine this with an AOL client for Linux, and this could easily propel Linux into the mainstream desktop.

  • by dzym (544085)
    But what about Lindows?
  • If I were to wish for the american public to have the first taste of one version of Linux, it'd be Mandrake. Mandrake in my opinion has always been the friendliest. Others have tried but Mandrake always managed to keep the install reasonable.
    • Install is irrelevant. Didn't you read the title of the story?

      A braindead user can use Slackware (for example), if a competant admin has set up nice icons on a auto-loading desktop for them to click.
      • RE-Install is always a factor. And the fact that the initial install is such a breeze says something about how usable Mandrake is.

        And you're hoping for competant admins at WAL MART. I'll rely on the distribution developers to give Linux a good name to the masses, and not the Wal-Mart branch tech.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:43PM (#3730493)
      Hi !

      Thank you, stupid American.

      You consider Mandrake like the Best distro of the world, and you are right !

      As I said before, French is the smartest people of the World, and as Mandrake is French, Mandrake is the Best !

      SuSE, distro of German, poor Quality, totalitarism, Nazism --> Burn it !
      Redhat, Lindows, Windows : American , so like Americans are stupid, these products are not good !

      thank you American, and please repeat after me :

      NOUS SOMMES LES MEILLEURS, NOUS SOMMES LES CHAMPIONS, ON VA BOTTER LE CUL DES AMERICAINS !
  • by scott1853 (194884) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:26PM (#3730302)
    Why carry Windows, Lindows & Mandrake? Isn't this just overkill?

    Worst yet, it's going to really confuse the people that can't afford to get confused when buying a computer because all they can afford is the cheap models. This is a disservice to their loyal customers because they'll have just bought a computer from WalMart but won't understand why they can't walk down the software isle and pick up a game for the kids. So is Wal-mart going to carry shrink wrapped Linux apps too, or are they going to blindly claim that every Windows application can run on it like they did last week?

    • by PunchMonkey (261983) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:28PM (#3730319) Homepage
      Good point. Let's drop that Windows thing.
    • by thelexx (237096) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:50PM (#3730552)
      "Why carry Windows, Lindows & Mandrake? Isn't this just overkill?"

      As sold at least, this seems very logical to me:

      Machine A - 100% Windows
      Machine B - Linux w/option to run some Win stuff (they've lost points on marketing this though I know)
      Machine C - 100% Linux

      "Worst yet, it's going to really confuse the people that can't afford to get confused when buying a computer because all they can afford is the cheap models."

      Well yes, options brings complexity. I've long felt that the entire consumer-level computer industry has played it very close to false advertising at a root level though. It's a rant for another time, but cripes, you can control a robot, your stereo, enjoy the internet, play chess, etc a computer. It's a COMPLEX device because it gives you so freaking many fundamental options. Yes, cute and limited software can be used quite easily by the unlearned, but that's not what started the revolution or the interesting part of its unfolding. Anyway...

      "This is a disservice to their loyal customers because they'll have just bought a computer from WalMart but won't understand why they can't walk down the software isle and pick up a game for the kids. So is Wal-mart going to carry shrink wrapped Linux apps too, or are they going to blindly claim that every Windows application can run on it like they did last week?"

      Indeed, but how many more companies will, between things like the IBM commercials and Linux being sold pre-installed on a highly visible chains shelves, see Linux as a viable market and target it? Maybe our time has finally come.

      LEXX


    • This was all part of Linuses nepherious plot when he said(roughly), "All I want is for people shopping for a computer to have to make a choice. To actually think about what operating system they want."
    • "Why carry Windows, Lindows & Mandrake? Isn't this just overkill?"

      Three whole choices? Well OF COURSE that's overkill! Americans can't even handle a choice of more than two political parties. Muahaha.</sardonicism>
  • by Sanity (1431)
    ..the condescending [slashdot.org] remark about Walmart customers this time! How are we geeks supposed to maintain any self-esteem unless we can pick on someone else the way that we were picked on at high-school?
  • Support (Score:2, Interesting)

    by X_Caffeine (451624)
    What I'd like to know is, how are they going to wing support for these systems? While I'm sure the likes of you, Joe Slashdot Reader, hasn't had to call Microcorp Software tech support for OS help, I can assure you that Joe Sixpack keeps the number on a post-it note affixed to his monitor.

    Is this how Linux will really start making money?
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) <`jhummel' `at' `johnhummel.net'> on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:28PM (#3730321) Homepage
    Before people think Wal-Mart is being all altruistic, think of it this way.

    Wal-Mart wants to advertise they're underselling the compitition. Easiest way to do this? Sell computers without an operating system. Of course, if you do this, you sell a computer that is a) useless to Joe User (who probably doesn't know how to install an OS without help), and b) Microsoft cries piracy (I don't have the link, but one of their white papers basically says that only software pirates buy computers without operating systems.)

    Now, go to Dell. Computer comes with Windows, and Microsoft Works (or Office, or whatever). You can't tell them *not* to put it on, and odds are, they have some legal ass bullshit agreement with MS that all computers must have the OS and some office suite on them (aka, the "Windows Tax").

    So Wal-Mart figures they can save $100-$200 on each computer sale by putting on Mandrake and probably Open Office. Joe User gets a computer he can do email/web browsing/document editing on. Yes, it might not run all the same software as Windows - but if he wants that, he goes back to Wal-Mart and shells out another $100 (or he learns to live with it and gets a Playstation 2 instead).

    Guys like me who just want cheap ass hardware without the Windows Tax get hardware. Everybody wins. Well, except for MS, but the way they've been acting with their draconian "Use software subscription or no patches for you!" additude they've been shelling at the Corporate Level, I don't feel too sorry for them.
  • by rohdem (321708)
    preloaded with DOS.
    Thank you!
  • Just a slight correction to the previous stories about Lindows being pre-installed on Wal-Mart PCs, people on HardForums [hardforums.com] claim to have seen the Lindows machines IN STORES>
  • The pessimist position here is that Wal-Mart knows full well that 99% of consumers will immediately get their smart uncle Bob to come over, reformat the hard drive, and install a version of Windows. So, the installation of Mandrake is just a ploy to make their PC's cheaper than their competition and get sales.

    I'm not saying that Mandrake isn't good, or that Linux isn't fun to run. I'm just saying that the average consumer is going to be upset when they find that they can't run Microsoft Word or Quicken.

    - Twid

    • You have a point, but won't it be funny when microsoft-centric Uncle Bob comes over to install Windows WhateverVersion.3, and doesn't get his familiar windows or DOS prompt?

      after all, uncle bob may not be smart enough to bring his own boot floppy with CD driver, etc. to install (or infect, as I see it) with windows...

    • Its all about percentages.

      I think a fair number of Joe Everybody's will most likely pirate a copy of Windows XP or whatever.

      but the question is What is the mean time between plugging in the box when you first get it and installing a Windows OS?
      That initial exposure is what's most important.
      Also if there is a "kid" in the house (becuase kids don't shell out the money, thus they have no "value" associated with the computer, thus they are more likely to mess-around with it) that kid may be the one installing Windows but he may like linux and the box could be set up to dual-boot.

      Give enough people general exposure to linux, and it transforms from "something that them there hakkers use", to "something that worked pretty well, and didn't crash nearly as much as..."

      Now maybe those people are in a position to buy some computers for there small company, and maybe now that they've had a favorable experience with linux they decide to save their business a lot of money by becoming a linux shop...

      Now that the name is out there, give the people a favorable experience with it and a cute mascot. Tux could be the next mickey mouse!

  • Dude! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hard_Code (49548) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:31PM (#3730351)
    You're getting a Microtel!
  • Hmm, does this make Madrake Sam's Choice Linux... is is the Dr. Thunder to Red Hat?
  • by Capt_Troy (60831) <tfandango.yahoo@com> on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:34PM (#3730390) Homepage Journal
    I'm a little worried to where this is heading. If these PCs are intended for low budget novice consumers...

    A> They might be confused about Lindows (while not infringing on MSs Trademark, it is definitely misleading). How many novice users are going to buy a PC that they think will run all the screensavers and games that a Windows PC will?

    B> Giving novice users a choice between Mandrake and Lindows seems strange to me. How will most novice users be able to choose the most appropriate? I think we might just confuse them out of buying a computer, or they will probably choose the Lindows box just because the name sounds familiar.

    C> As far as I know Walmart sells Windows PC software (maybe Mac??). Won't user's assume that since they buy their computer from Walmart, that the software they buy from Walmart will work on their computer? Is Walmart planning on selling Linux software somehow as well?

    I like the Mandrake thing, but I am a little worried that the inclusion of Lindows will be confusing to the non-technical user who is most likely to buy these boxen. The name of the distro implies that it is analogous to Windows. As far as I have read, it is not. This will only serve to make the general public hate linux because they can't run "regular" software on it.

    Troy
    • I'm a little worried to where this is heading. If these MS-DOS computers are intended for low budget novice consumers...

      How many novice users are going to buy a PC that they think will run all the programs that a CP/M system will?

      Giving novice users a choice between MS-DOS and PC-DOS seems strange to me. How will most novice users be able to choose the most appropriate? I think we might just confuse them out of buying a computer, or they will probably choose the MS-DOS box just because the name sounds familiar.
    • by surfimp (446809)
      Could it be that consumers shopping Walmart.com, where these machines are being offered, are not as dumb as most /. respondents seem intent on making them out to be?

      Remember, the systems are being offered as "fantastic low-cost alternatives to models that are preloaded with Windows". There's nothing ambiguous about that statement; these machines DO NOT COME with Windows, and thus WILL NOT RUN Windows applications.

      In fact, what I think Walmart is really trying to do here is not necessarily directed at the home user market. I suspect that many of these systems are being sold to technologically-savvy small businesses, the same sorts of people who might go to Fry's to purchase some low-cost computer equipment to help meet a need in their office. At $300, these things are a steal. Whether or not they end up with pirated versions of XP on them is not something that I think Walmart is concerned about, but by selling them with Linux preloaded they can escape from the "aiding and abetting piracy" whines that Microsoft was laying on them when they were selling these machines with no preloaded OS.

      However, the fact that Walmart is selling PCs with Linux preloaded is a huge opportunity for Linux to make inroads with all sectors of consumers, and I'm glad to see that Mandrake is proactively pursuing this by agreeing to provide their distro for these machines.

      If you consider that these systems are going to be offered with Mandrake preloaded, and then take note that you can download Evolution and OpenOffice (assuming they aren't preloaded), then you're talking about a system that is pretty much there as far as Windows-land compatibility goes, from a home-user and small business perspective.

      It's up to Mandrake, Lindows, and Walmart to see to it that their users' experience with this software is all that it can be. And I'd also like to forward the notion that anyone who's genuinely interested in seeing Linux gain desktop marketshare consider helping out some of these Walmartian newbies when they invariably start showing up to the message boards and newsgroups. After all, that's what the spirit of the OSS movement is all about, right?
  • by colmore (56499) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:36PM (#3730405) Journal
    This is good to hear. Lindows is a beta product, and acts like it, Mandrake is as competitive as entry level desktop Linux gets these days.

    I hope someone will write a *really* good users manual, one that involves the words "terminal" "compile" and "man" as little as possible.

    • In a world where it is a struggle to get the average user to use Mac OS because they are so used to Windows and confused by the smallest differences in user experience, I think pitching Linux to the average user is a Bad Thing. The average user will try it and hate it for eternity.

      Remember the Newton? It became a killer PDA, but it could never live down the first rev's handwriting recognition reputation.

      Until Linux has a polished user experience (user interface and hardware/software compatibility) this should not be attempted. I know someone who got an iBook, got a scanner without checking compatibility, and then found there wasn't an OS X driver really hated it.

  • by rirugrat (255768) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:36PM (#3730409)
    Hmmm...let's see...

    Powerbait Rubber Worms (check)
    Sam's Pork Rinds (check)
    Nascar Queen-size bed sheets (check)
    George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine (check)
    Unix box (check)

    Chris
    • George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine (check)
      Hey, those are actually pretty cool. I got one as a present and laughed at it for a bit, but as it turns out, we use it all the time. Seriously, we end up cooking practically everything on it. It's awesome. :P

      Yeah, yeah, I know, (-1, Offtopic) :)

    • Now that you mention it, it is kinda cool that a "cheap" UNIX box has seen a ten fold drop in price, a ten fold increase in processor speed, a thousand fold increase in storage, a twenty fold increase in memory, and a huge leap in user friendliness, since I went looking for one back in 1991.

      Plus I can get one at Wal-Mart. Wow.

  • I'm just curious why Wal-Mart all of the sudden has this affinity to sell computers without MS OSes or competing OSes....
  • by Fizzlewhiff (256410) <<jeffshannon> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:36PM (#3730414) Homepage
    If Walmart struck a deal with AOL to develop a Lindows friendly version of AOL (or a Linux version) and preinstall it on their machines. The cheapest Walmart.com PC is $299. With those prepaid subscription rebates Walmart and AOL could give these machines away.

  • is whether Lindows OS or Mandrake will sell better. It will show which OS is more appealing to the non-geek (i use that term lovingly) consumer.
  • Is if they also pre-configure them with StarOffice or OpenOffice, with all the icons changed to look like MS Office XP icons, install Opera as the default browser, change the icons as above and set it up to mimic IE, install GIMP and change it as above to look like MS Paint, port Real Player and WMP to Linux and then somehow set it up so it crashes more often.
    • Is if they also pre-configure them

      You are assuming that Wal-Mart is aiming these PCs at novices, which I don't agree with. I think Wal-Mart is aiming for geeks who want cheap hardware. But I'll go with your assumption to answer the rest of your comment...

      with StarOffice or OpenOffice, with all the icons changed to look like MS Office XP icons,

      You think that novice users/new computer owners are going to know the Office XP icons? I've talked with users here at work (I work on a help desk) that have been using Windows and Office for years and still can't remember which icon launches which office app.

      As long as the icon is labelled, users won't care what it looks like.

      install Opera as the default browser, change the icons as above and set it up to mimic IE,

      See above. For a novice user, it'd be better to make the icon look like AOL's icon instead of IE. But the best thing to do is to make sure the icon, no matter what it LOOKS like, is labelled "Internet".

      install GIMP and change it as above to look like MS Paint,

      Novice users are not going to expect a paint program to come with their computer. And The Gimp is not equivalent to MS Paint, anyway, it's more of a Paint Shop Pro/Photoshop application.

      port Real Player and WMP to Linux and then somehow set it up so it crashes more often.

      There's a native version of Real Player for Linux; Mandrake includes it with their distro. There's no solution for WMP, of course. For everything that you mentioned in your comment, WMP is the only valid point. Lack of WMP support just may be a problem on these computers. But it won't be a big one.

      • There's no solution for WMP, of course. For everything that you mentioned in your comment, WMP is the only valid point. Lack of WMP support just may be a problem on these computers. But it won't be a big one.

        Look into mplayer. It plays just about everything: WMV files, DVDs, DivXs, and of course, all your MPGs, AVIs, VIVO files, etc. Excellent support for acceleration, video capture and other hardware features. It is very stable, and does full screen beautifully. There are several GUI interfaces for it now - probably it's major weakeness, as since there is no "standard one", there's not a single really strong one with semi standard interfaces. Work is being done on interfacing it to aRts, so any KDE player interface can control it, though.

        --
        Evan

  • by FortKnox (169099) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:41PM (#3730472) Homepage Journal
    When the customer buys the PC and goes to the computer software section and picks up MS Word for their kids, cause they need to type up papers (or games to play, etc...), and it doesn't install on their new shiny boxes, what are they going to think?

    When they want to get online, and put in the AOL CD they got in the mail, and nothing happens, what are their impression of Linux?

    Software is what makes windows big. Its how they stomped Mac. Is your average Wal-Mart shopper going to be able to know to pick up linux software, and will they be able to install it by themselves?

    I'm not going anti-linux, pro-ms, I'm just getting you people to think before patting yourselves on the back.
    • Many people here are too young to remember the earlier days of personal computing. When a Commodore 64 with a tape drive was considered a luxury item. With Apple, Atari, Commodore, IBM, and others competing for the same (relatively) small market share, there were many options for those that wanted to buy a computer.

      When I would walk to the local book store to look at the software (on a shelf with a box of floppy disks that cost more than some CPUs cost now), I would see different sections, with signs like Apple or Commodore or IBM. Most of them had the same games available, too.

      Asking my mother for a new game for my birthday didn't involve going with her to the store, writing it down, or ending up with an Atari game for my C64. Without ever touching the computer, she knew it was a Commodore 64, just like I knew that my dad drove a GM station wagon, even though I wasn't allowed to drive it.

      Every kid I knew with a computer was able to get the correct kind of software. The small computer lab that we somehow ended up with at my elementary school ended up with the correct software. I never even remember hearing of anyone that had any confusion about the type of computer they were using.

      Now, some might say that computers are a commodity item, a mass market item, something that every home needs in the same room as the TV. I have no problem with that. I think it is great, as it will drive down prices for all of us. Let the masses have their Microtel computers.

      But when they try to install Windows software on their shiny new computers, we should laugh at them. The same way that 'hillbillies', as people have called them, would laugh at you if you put the wrong fuel mixture in your chainsaw. Read and learn, or be a fool. There is no excuse for ignorance, and it doesn't take much brainwork to figure out what kind of operating system you are running. Read the fucking manual.
  • The Walmart marketing staff undoublty saw the huge Linux user base and are marketing to it. But the reality is we all like to build our boxes are convert an old one when we build the 'master of all boxen(every 4 months). So at least their choice generates much talk on /. Well the good thing is this: When a lower income person has an intelligent child and they wish to purchase the system, they can get one with Linux. The box will have sortsa games and goodies for them to play with. They will be intrigued, and since mom cant fork out for new games (and the lack of games in linux) they will start writing their own, learn gimp, learn the OS in and out) And they will be kept out of the windows world because they will not be able to run burned games from their friends. All of my frinds who are coders I respect started in this manner. They had a Vic 20, C-64, TRS 80, something low end instead of an Apple // which had tons of wares and did everything for you. If you look at your friends(I mean people who are now in their 30's, people who remember the real Wolfenstein, not the PC 3d crap) you will find this true. I see this could lead to a new generation of great coders and admins cuz they were not polluted with other OS's from the get go. When you don't got much, you make what you got do wonders. Puto
  • WOW!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tadd (51292) <tadd.davisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @01:46PM (#3730523) Journal
    This rules!!! When did Wal-Mart become so cool. Now that they've put so many Mom&Pops out of business I guess they've got bigger fish to fry... like Micro$oft!!!!
  • Been using Mandrake 8.2 for dev work for the last few months and I'm *very* impressed. Most of the traditional Linux pain has gone: stuff 'just works'. Like the IBM geezer said earlier, I can configure XFree86, I'd just much rather not have to bother...
  • One stop shopping - go to Walmart, buy PC with Linux and The Sims preloaded, go home, plug in, have fun.

    Sweet!
  • A Mandrake preload on a cheap (damn near disposable) pc? I'm in heaven!

    This is VERY good news.
  • My question is, why hasn't Red Hat jumped all over this? It's risky, but if it pays off, people will be demanding that software companies create games and office suites for our Linux.

    Red Hat has a good thing going, but couldn't it get better? Will this push Mandrake ahead of RedHat in terms of popularity?

    Only time will tell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @02:07PM (#3730669)
    GNU/Wal-Mart?
  • So, who's going to be the first company to make up CD's full of click-to-install games and applications for Mandrake, to be hung on a peg next to the $300 computer at $15/ea?

    Seriously - Why not?

    And I think Joe Consumer will be willing to put up with the diffrence between OpenOffice and MSOffice for the $x00 dollars price diffrence. Hell, they're shopping at Wal*Mart, for crying out loud - You KNOW they're looking for a bargain!
  • ...they'll replace the traditional Walmart smiley face with a smiley tux =)
  • by sielwolf (246764) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @02:19PM (#3730767) Homepage Journal
    Ok we have seen a pretty consistent stream of articles about how Walmart/walmart.com have taken a decided interest in pushing non-MS OS machines (be they Linux based or clean).

    But the 10k question is: who is behind this? I mean, this isn't like some normal free or open software guru we've known for ten years. Somebody at Walmart must be putting their John Hanncock on this.

    Personally I'd like to get to know a little more about them (to congratulate them at least). Even more so I'd like a little more insight in to what got them started on this and how it all went down.

    Short take of this Post: I wanna /. Interview! I'm sure it would go over huge.

    To me this seems to be one of the first mainstream (outside of the IT industry and for endusers) acceptances of things most geeks hold dear. Who wants to miss this part of history?
    • by nolife (233813) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @03:11PM (#3731199) Homepage Journal
      I view this differently. The department store operation and computer selling in general is cut throat. Walmart needed a way to stand above the crowd and sell PC's for less then the competition. Walmart and Microtel got together and started offering cheap PC's with no OS at all. To 99.99% of computer users that planned to stay legal, the PC was useless, remember the first versions had a Winmodem so in theory, Linux was out also. Microtel switched modems and shortly there after started shipping with Lindows. Both Walmart and Microtel come out looking better because Walmart is getting more for there money and Microtel added very little cost to their bottom line. Now the same is happening with Mandrake. Mircotel ships a more stable full operation system with the PC's (no disto jokes, just making a point here). Again both companies gain. Walmart could probably care less what the hell the machine runs, as long as they are not paying any more for it, after all, they initally were happy selling it with nothing on it. I think Microtel's and more so Walmart's involvement in choosing Linux is next to null.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... I'd like to report a problem with my computer. I've been running it for several days straight and I just had to ask; Why hasn't it crashed yet? My last one did."
  • If WalMart starts using Linux desktops for their own business, that will have a much bigger impact. For example, if WalMart were to tell all of its vendors and suppliers that they have to submit their documents using open file formats instead of MS proprietary formats, that would create a ripple effect across corporate America.

    Technology review had an interesting article [technologyreview.com] on this very topic a few months ago.

    The reason is simple. Wal-Mart is by far the commercial world's most influential purchaser and implementer of software and systems. It is the 800-pound gorilla in a retail jungle of bonobos and howler monkeys. Microsoft and Cisco may set technical standards; Wal-Mart sets business process standards. When Wal-Mart--which is bigger than Sears, Kmart and J. C. Penney combined--wants global suppliers like Procter and Gamble or GE or Pfizer to comply with its inventory software and data networks, they do so or else. "Everyday low prices" don't come cheap.

    *-snip-*

    This power of procurement facilitates the procurement of power. Suppose Wal-Mart decided that it would be economically advantaged by abandoning proprietary software formats in favor of "open source" to manage its supplier interactions. Imagine the ripple--or rather, tsunami--effect on the future of systems design and development in the retail, wholesale and consumer goods sectors. What happens to a Microsoft or Oracle in that environment?


    Hopefully, selling Linux PCs is just the first step. When WalMart starts using Linux-based PCs internally, then the game will really change.
  • by binarytoaster (174681) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @02:39PM (#3730900)
    Wal-Mart... but... Linux PCs... but... Wal-Mart... but... Linux PCs....

    AAAARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHH
  • by Milican (58140) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @03:06PM (#3731150) Journal
    I e-mailed Microtel Computer Systems and asked them what their hardware specs were for their SYSMAR701 PC With 850 MHz Duron. I got a response back on 6/17/2002. Anyway, the motherboard for the $299 PC is the MSI MS-6378X-L (MS-6378 V.3) [msicomputer.com]. A quick rundown of major specs is shown below:

    • 200/266MHz FSB, Supports AMD Duron/Athlon/Athlon XP up to 2000+
    • Ultra DMA 66/100, 2 PC100/133 DIMM Sockets up to 1GB
    • Integrated Trident Blade3D AGP Graphics Engine shared memory up to 8MB
    • Micro-ATX Form Factor, 3 PCI, 1 CNR, AC 97, 2 USB, AGP 2x
    • ADMTek AN983B 10/100 BaseT Ethernet


    Also, I should note the motherboard used changes based on model. Not bad for a $299 PC with Linux!

    JOhn

    P.S. Big thanks to Rich at Microtel for the quick repsonse :)
    • by MsGeek (162936) on Wednesday June 19, 2002 @04:06PM (#3731647) Homepage Journal
      Anyway, the motherboard for the $299 PC is the MSI MS-6378X-L (MS-6378 V.3)

      That's no slug of a motherboard. I was expecting PC Chips crap, like EliteGroup or Amptron, but MicroStar International is not a company that makes crappy motherboards.

      I've had one exemplary experience in dealing with MSI. I was putting together a machine with an ancient 486 motherboard. It was a weird bugger too...it had PCI SLOTS and none of the VESA Local Bus slots you expect on a 486. Anyway, I needed the jumper diagrams and the support area of the web site had nothing.

      What did those nice folks at MSI do for me? They scanned the whole Fine Manual for me to a series of .JPGs, then they emailed the .JPGs to me. I had my jumper settings, they had a happy customer.

      These machines are BARGAINS, folks. And to have them preloaded with a DECENT Linux distro is a Very Good Thing (tm) indeed. Yeah, Wally-Mart is an evil place. But so are most of the other big discount store chains. And often, what Wally-Mart does, more palatable establishments like Target will follow.

      Ha ha, Bill Gates! Just watch as the floodgates open, and there's a cascade of bargain PCs with Linux pre-installed rushing out over the country!! Did I hear a "Glub, glub" somewhere near Redmond, WA?

      PS: who makes their hard drives?

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