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Fry's Electronics - Selling Linux... Or Not? 479

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read dept.
TheMadPenguin writes "For those of you who may not be aware, Fry's Electronics has been selling a Linux desktop PC loaded with ThizLinux for quite a while now. The question is, are they really selling it? The answer is a definitive no."
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Fry's Electronics - Selling Linux... Or Not?

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  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tirel (692085) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:06PM (#6659733)
    They had one of these machines at their store in Houston. I fiddled around with it for a second and came to find out that the root password was blank. I told the sales guy this and he just asked me, "what's that?" I just left.
    • Re:heh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slackingme (690217)
      ThizLinux is effective run entirely as root... you shouldn't have had to 'guess' the password was blank, because when you were at the console you were root.

      I get the feeling you've probably never come across one of these machines and you just wanted to show off your impressive Linux knowledge.

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:31PM (#6659863) Homepage
      How completely shocking, that $7-an-hour floor sales staff at a discount warehouse store aren't very savvy about technology! One would think they'd hire 20-year industry veterans and experienced Unix sysadmins to tell people on what aisle the mouse pads are, right?
    • Re:heh (Score:3, Funny)

      by macdaddy357 (582412)
      Why would anybody who doesn't have a VCR flashing 12:00 shop at Fry's Electronics in the first place. It hella sucks!
      • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

        by secolactico (519805) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:40PM (#6659906) Journal
        Indeed. Went there once (in LA) and was underwhelmed. The selection is not that good and the prices are nothing to write home about.

        Plus, I hate stores that make you "clear customs" before you can leave. Geez, if I managed to sneak an article past the cashier, what makes you think you'll catch me? "No, sir, that's not a CAT-5 spool in my pocket... I'm just glad to see you".
        • Re:heh (Score:4, Interesting)

          by The Salamander (56587) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:54PM (#6659973)
          Just walk on out and say "No, thanks" if they ask. Works every time. Its quite amusing to see a line of sheep waiting to be searched when you walk right past them. They stay in line, though.
        • Plus, I hate stores that make you "clear customs" before you can leave. Geez, if I managed to sneak an article past the cashier, what makes you think you'll catch me? "No, sir, that's not a CAT-5 spool in my pocket... I'm just glad to see you".

          I asked them once what they would do if I refused to let them search my bag. The guy told me that he would just tell me to have a nice day.
        • Re:heh (Score:5, Informative)

          by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @02:54PM (#6660521)
          Plus, I hate stores that make you "clear customs" before you can leave.

          They can't legally enforce that without good reason to think you're stealing something -- otherwise, they can be legally sued for false arrest by detaining you as you walk out the door.

          It's really happened, too (at least in Texas).

          This isn't the case for places like Costco because agreeing to let them look through your purchases is in the agreement you sign when becoming a member.
        • Re:heh (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Stonent1 (594886) <(ten.kralctniop.tnenots) (ta) (tnenots)> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:01PM (#6660550) Journal
          Plus, I hate stores that make you "clear customs" before you can leave. Geez, if I managed to sneak an article past the cashier, what makes you think you'll catch me? "No, sir, that's not a CAT-5 spool in my pocket... I'm just glad to see you".

          I used to be a door nazi at Fry's. And the reason why they are the way they are, is that they get a commission on "recovered" items. I caught a woman who had a 500$ laser printer on the bottom of her cart that she neglected to tell the cashier about. When I told her that it wasn't on her reciept she argued with me. I said "Your receipt totals 100$ and there is a $500 price tag on the printer" So she turned around and paid for it and I got a 50$ commission. The loss prevention people are always at odds with the cashier manager. Because our commission comes out of there budget. I had been verbally assaulted by the cashier manager on several occasions because I was "costing his dept too much money" I said "well maybe your cashiers need to lean over the counter and LOOK in the carts!" Finally he made up a story about me refusing to help a customer carry something to their car (even though loss prevention is expressly forbidden to do so)It turned out the "customer" was another loss prevention person who was carrying something out for someone else and he thought they were the customer. The store manager tore me a new a-hole.

          Finally they gave me the "option" to take a position in any dept of my choosing. I chose the computer service dept of course, as that was where I had been trying to move into since it was Incredible Universe. The store manager was fired shortly after I left.
          • Re:heh (Score:3, Interesting)

            by core plexus (599119)
            I had a job as a private detective, and for awhile my job was to see what I could get out of a store (major retailers) without being caught. The short answer is: anything I wanted. I won't say how I did it, but I will say as technology got better, the job was easier.

            Afterwards they'd have a meeting with their department heads and 'loss prevention' people. They even had this tired old video they showed, then I gave a little talk.

            I think it's a safe bet to say there are professional thieves out there, and t

            • Re:heh (Score:3, Funny)

              by hesiod (111176)
              > The problem lay in the desire.

              So, obviously, we must remove the element of desire. Electro-Shock Therapy anyone? anyone?
      • Re:heh (Score:3, Funny)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)
        Because it has everything.

        While the Internet has more than everything a geek might want to shop for, Fry's allows one the chance to poke at it, to pick it up and carry it around the store, then say "Fuck it" and leave it on a pallet of old NT4 Server books which are "On Sale" by the row of every electric razor blade you'd ever need.

        I love Frys. I wouldn't buy anything more complex than a Case Fan or DVDs from them, but I love Frys.
        • I bought my case there, much cheaper than shipping would of been. Overall the store wasnt bad, much better than bestbuy or something. Just stay away from the monitor isle or you'll never be able to leave. mmmm lcds...

          sidenote: does anyone know why all these display monitors that could do 2048x only run at 640x?
    • It probably wouldn't sell much if they just had a black console screen with root password prompt. Maybe a dozen bored teens might try to guess the name of the floor lackey's kitty, then move on. Probably very few fully-functional tax-paying adults would say "Gee Marge, look at that, an elite system with a 'root' password prompt. We gotta get one of those!"
  • No Suspens (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason_says (677478) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:07PM (#6659739)
    Why would slashdot readers read the article when he answers the question for you?

    Do they sell linux?No

    Oh, ok move along nothing to see here....

    He would make for a poor Soup Opera writer.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:12PM (#6659776)
      "He would make for a poor Soup Opera writer."

      S1: Oh Asian Noodle, how could you leave me?

      S2: You must understand Cream of Chicken, it's not because I don't love you but because...

      ...Another can bursts into the room...

      S3: It's because I, Split Pea, am your identical twin separated at birth, drowned in the ocean and come back to life!
    • The article isn't about how Fry's doesn't offer computers with Linux, it's about how nobody will actually *buy* those machines becasue the Fry's staff doesn't know squat about Linux and they're including ThizLinux, a distribution that is labelled on the company's website as an "Environment Tailor-made for Chinese" and is set, by default, to the Chinese language. Personally, I think the article is worth reading - it shocks me how little Fry's works to make Linux accessible. I mean, really, to put a sign up n
  • by rebelcool (247749) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:07PM (#6659743)
    fry's is a great place to find cheap odds and ends and assorted hardware. Of course they compensate by not hiring anyone who knows anything. Fry's is the candy store for someone who knows what they're doing. Why would you expect more?
    • by James Lanfear (34124) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:36PM (#6659892)
      Of course they compensate by not hiring anyone who knows anything.

      Obligatory Fry's Application Form [lagmonster.org].
    • I couldn't agree more. On slow days in college, my friends and I would go browsing through Frys just looking at various computers, cards, and consumer electronics. It's funny, but we also referred to it as the candy store. It is a great place if you want a ton of selection so that you can do comparisons. But don't ask the sales people for help, and if you do, tell them what exactly to do and don't ask for advice. Do your homework online, go to Frys and try the stuff out. They have a very liberal retur
    • by KingDaveRa (620784) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:51PM (#6659962) Homepage
      In the UK here we have PC World [pcworld.co.uk], a chain of large out of town stores owned by the wonderful Dixons Stores Group (who also own Dixons, Currys and founded Freeserve).

      Anyway, the staff in these places are generally pretty braindead. There are exceptions - two friends of mine currently work in our local branch and they do know their stuff, but most of the staff just read whatever it says on the card next to the PC. Their technical support staff in the little in-store kiosks are usually dire. They know next to nothing about maintenance. I worked for a local company doing much the same thing, and we saw many a PC the guys at PC World had 'repaired'. One they deemed totally dead, never to work again actually turned out to have two bent pins on the hard disk. PCW kept it on a shelf for about 2 weeks before saying it was kaput.

      This isn't to say PCW are totally bad though. They've lately started stocking a lot of OEM kit, and case mods. Their prices are coming down, and the range of kit they sell is pretty good. Rough with the smooth I guess.
      • There are excptions at PC World indeed, and the chain has improved of late - you can buy OEM stuff cheaper than the stuff in fancy packaging - so if you're in a hurry, it's faster to go to PCW and often cheaper if you offset the postage.

        PC World still isn't Fry's. I have a limited experience of one store in (Sunnyd^Hvale) and it is -very- impressive just to see the sheer amount of stuff. Who cares about the staff, they don't get in your way. Although I was gobsmacked by one thing, it looked to me like the

    • Beg to differ. Frys only redeeming attribute is that they've got everything. You can buy a SCSI cable AND a cd player AND the new Harry Potter book. The downside is that there's a 50/50 chance that cd player is broken, the staff not only don't know what a SCSI cable is but will lie to you to get rid of you ("Uh, scuzzy cables, uh, they're by the cds." "Really? Because I can see them right behind you.")

      If you've been going to the Sunnyvale Fry's (aka Nerdstroms), you can save time, hassle, and even money.

  • by tsvk (624784) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:07PM (#6659747)

    "Thiz Linux is not for sale."

  • 5.) You want to "Think Different" without looking queer.
    4.) You need an OS as unreliable as your '83 Ford Fairlane.
    3.) It'll help you get a job. Oh wait, nevermind, it's not 1999 anymore.
    2.) You have an extra $299 from your unemployment check.
    1.) You want to make uglier friends.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:08PM (#6659751)
    These people will not be getting my business. I insist on the ability to get a full refund from Red Hat if it comes with an OS I intend to erase anyway.
  • by bolind (33496) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:08PM (#6659754) Homepage
    Hmmm, Doesn't this feel a bit like they're trying to sell you a OS-less PC? Either to appeal to people buying this, and throwing a pirated copy of Windows on it, or to sell the customer a copy of Windows along with the PC...

  • by FuckMeter (695157) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:09PM (#6659755) Homepage
    For those of you who may not be aware, Fry's Electronics has been selling a Linux desktop PC loaded with ThizLinux for quite a while now. The question is, are they really selling it? The answer is a definitive no.

    First of all, their sales staff has no idea how to run Windows, let alone Linux. In reality, I didn't expect anything less from that caliber of employee. What are you going to do? Let's put it this way... I live in Las Vegas and have been to that Fry's location on more than one occasion and stood by while a salesman, approached with questions from a customer, stuttered and spit trying to come up with answers. They usually just end up blurting to the customer that the machine is "just NOT Windows". Nice sales pitch.

    To top that award winning sales pitch off, the customer is staring at a KDM login screen which has it's default language set to Chinese. Don't get me wrong, Chinese is a fine language, but hardly appropriate sitting on display in the Las Vegas branch of Fry's Electronics. Not only did the whole Chinese thing confuse me, but the fact that it was running an obscure Linux distribution that nobody has ever heard of really did the trick. Check out their web site and tell me what you think. Where is the support? Even if you visit their 'English' site, it is a bit confusing to the average computer user.

    To make things even worse, the distribution is old. It is running kernel 2.4.18 with KDE 2.2.2 as its default desktop, and their Xfree86 version is 4.2.0. It isn't even the latest release of ThizLinux. This is software more apt (no pun intended) to be used on a server system... not on a consumer desktop. Why not use one of the better desktop distros such as Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Libranet, or even (please forgive me for saying this but I have to) LindowsOS? They have better support and usability, are more appealing to the eye, and are far more likely to be accepted by end users than ThizLinux.

    What really set me off was my visit to the Las Vegas store this evening. I was simply going to purchase a few peripherals and wandered by the lonely Linux PC in the corner. Sometimes the normally $299 unit goes on sale for around $100. Sure, it's a pretty cheaply built box, but would make a nice toy for such a low price. What caught my eye this time was the addition of a new placard placed squarely on top of the PC chassis. It read something like this:

    This computer is running the Linux operating system. It is easily removed and can be replaced by Windows 98 or higher by formatting the hard drive and loading Windows. We will perform this service for you for a fee.

    I found that completely unacceptable for two reasons:

    They are immediately telling you that the machine is no good. Insinuating that it's in the best interest of the customer to remove the current operating system and install Windows is ridiculous. Even though the sign does not come right out and say "This OS is a piece of garbage", the sign conveys the message loud and clear.

    They are offering to charge the customer more money to fix a product which they are selling as 'broken' to begin with. Nothing like wearing your soul on your sleeve. Actually, this way of thinking is pure Microsoft. Since they are selling a product they know is garbage, why sell it at all? To be quite honest, as a Linux user I frown upon the insinuation that my chosen OS is somehow inferior to Windows 98.

    Maybe I shouldn't care... and in reality it isn't going to make a difference in my day whether they sell those boxes or not. It just bothers me that Linux is being portrayed this way to the general public. My message to the people who run Fry's Electronics (and any other outlet who may sell Linux PCs) is simple: If you are going to sell Linux boxes, please educate your staff on the subject, rather than allowing them to sound ignorant in front of your customers. It is an embarrassment to you as much as it is to the Linux community. Since you are selling Linux boxes, please make sure that they are set with a langua
    • Hi there! Are you a member of LVLUG?
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:27PM (#6660693) Homepage
      I have two of these machines, one on my desk at work, and one here at home, which I'm using to post this.

      The article's attitude bewilders me. Fry's is doing a good thing by distributing Linux-based machines, and letting people avoid the hidden MS tax. Why slap them in the face?

      It's true that these boxes come with a lot of prominently displayed info on how to erase Linux and install Windows. So what? Let's be realistic -- Windows has 98% of the desktop market.

      The article gives the impression that ThizLinux is a totally crippled OS. Well, I'm currently running FreeBSD on both my Fry's machines, but I did play with ThizLinux for a little while when I got the first machine. Everything was in English, not Chinese. It seemed like quite a nice system for somebody naive about computers. You could surf, send e-mail, word-process, and play games. Guess what? -- that's all your typical home user wants to do with a computer! It's true that the ThizLinux web site seems to be only in Chinese, but I'm sure plenty of people in China use Linux distros that have English-only web sites.

      I've been very happy with these machines. For $150-250 (the prices fluctuates based on the phases of the moon), I got hardware that feels essentially the same as my wife's $2000 new iMac. I've never had any hardware problems at all. My only complaint was that some of the hardware documentation was a little skimpy and/or incomplete. I did have to buy an external modem for my home box because it apparently came with a Winmodem. Also, they seemed to have changed sound chips between the time when I bought the first machine and the time when I bought the second one, and I was never able to get sound working on the second one -- maybe someone with a little more savvy would've been able to solve that problem.

      The Walmart Linux boxes seem to get all the attention, but I'd recommend the Fry's machines to a friend instead. For one thing, you can buy them in the store, which saves you money on shipping, whereas AFAIK the Walmart boxes are only available online.

    • by goodie3shoes (573521) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:29PM (#6660700)
      Um, you folks are missing the point. The whole reason Fry's is selling this box with Thizlinux on it is to avoid the M$ tax and be able to hit a low pricepoint without pissing off M$ by selling a box with no OS. A friend of mine bought one of these boxen. It did actually work, and I don't recall Chinese, but the functionality as-configured was minimal. And guess what - he put Windows(tm) on it. While Fry's may not sell a good system with Linux installed, somebody in the buying chain is certainly aware of the penguin. There's usually a decent selection of Linux distros and even apps sometimes - I've seen the obscure Xess on sale there, and stuffed plush Tuxes!
  • by Zebbers (134389) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:10PM (#6659759)
    And can explain how they came to be selling THIS machine? I mean. I totally understand how you can staff clueless people as most electronics store employees are pretty clueless or just FUD-injected. But who made the decision to sell this unit? Seems pretty poor to me.

    If you are going to sell something, it needs to be a quality product. This goes for anything. I just don't understand how a big retailer like Frys can end up with something like this on their shelves.

    A decent box running a current popular distro advertised as a cheap webbox could certainly sell IMHO, but not this.

    HOW DID THIS GET PAST THE PHB?
    • by FattMattP (86246) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:24PM (#6659828) Homepage
      Anyone work for Frys? And can explain how they came to be selling THIS machine?
      No one who works for Fry's knows how to use a computer. You won't get an answer here.
    • I think the theory is that it was the cheapest PC they could get into the store. Unfortunately, they seem to have cheapened it up so much that nobody knows what to do with it.
    • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:34PM (#6659881) Homepage
      Fry's will sell just about anything if you can get in to the right people with little regard for quality. This just emphasizes that. If it is something they think will move, they'll try it.

      You also have to be careful, because Fry's will take an item in as a return from a customer, and will shrink-wrap it and put it back on the shelf. Supposedly with a label, though I've bought shrink wrapped items that did not have a label and were obviously somebody's returns.

      I returned a web-cam that did not work, and they put it with stuff to be "returned to shelf". Moral here, if you see a lot of items with "return" labels on them, outnumbering the non-returned items, avoid that product as most seem to be returning it for whatever reason and Fry's is just putting it back on the shelf.

      I also purchased SuSE 8.0 Professional the weekend it was on the shelf, only to find out one enterprising person stole the CDs out of the box. I get the box home, open it up, and no CDs or DVD. I had to fight with two store managers and threaten public disclosure (hint: asking them for their first and last name and for them to spell it for you will often make the managers nervous) and who knows what just to get them to exchange the product so I could get disks. [The first box had no signs of tampering.] I opened the second box in front of the manager before leaving the store just to make sure I got the disks that time.

      As a customer of Fry's I have had to return about 50% of the computer components I have purchased from them. Either they were DOA, they did not work reliably if they did work, or they would fail within about 48 to 72 hours. [Just to be fair, others I've talked to have not had the same experience, however I shopped at 2 different Frys in the Bay Area with the same results.]

      The SuSE incident is also the last time I shopped at Fry's for anything other than a cable.

      I'm also about to find out how well they honor their "extended warranty". I bought a five disk DVD player for the house (my wife bought it as an anniversary gift), less than a year ago, and now it failing too.
      • I had an experience at Fry's recently that changed my view somewhat. I had purchased one of those ECS K7S5A Pro mobos with a bare Athlon CPU. I've set up the K7S5A a few times before so I know what to expect. This one had some serious problems, and rather than do some CPU swapping to see if it was the mobo or CPU I just took the whole thing back.

        The person I dealt with didn't ask me what was wrong; he just printed off a return/restock label and proceeded to give me a refund. I said, "Uh, there's something
      • I've been shopping at fry's for a decade or so now, first in the assorted ones around the silicon valley area, mostly the hamilton store because I lived in Santa Cruz, and more recently the one in North Sacramento. They are all the same, except in how they are laid out, and how much crap they have.

        Fry's is a place to go when you know what you want and you know how to use it. Never expect an honest and/or correct answer from a Fry's employee. The honest comes from the fact that it's a retail outlet, and the correct comes from the fact that they pay as little as possible. That is why, on average, 50% of the employees of any given Fry's store will be asian girls. They have small fingers which are good for hitting the buttons on cash registers, and no one expects them to know anything. (Whether they do or not, well, that's up to you, but none of the ones I've talked to at any Fry's have known their ass from... what's that round thing in the ground over there?)

        However Fry's can be a great place for you to pick up items on the cheap if you are close enough to get their sale circulars. They are definitely one of the stores with the least clue about the internet, they owned their domain for YEARS before they did anything with it, even a phone numbers/locations page, and their locations don't map or anything. They do some online sales through outpost.com but that's guaranteed to be their least exciting deals because you know they wouldn't bother putting anything with a lot of price fluctuation online. If you go to Fry's once a week, or read the ad circular, you WILL end up seeing a ton of items for good prices. These items will never be a motherboard, memory, or a CPU, unless you end up with most of a system (needing drives and video for example.) Their video cards are also always horrendously overpriced, as are cables, which is no shock.

        (A word on cables: Always buy cables over the internet unless you know someone at a computer store who will get them for you at cost. A cable that costs $25 at fry's will cost you $5 via mail order, this is literal, I just got the cable in the mail, and it's a 6 to 6 pin 6' 1394 cable.)

        In general I have had little trouble returning things to Fry's (I've never purchased software there though - at those prices? ha ha!) but I have definitely noticed the problem you describe where people return things broken and they just re-shelf 'em. What's really amusing is that people are constantly returning boxes with the wrong (old) product in them, and THOSE end up back on the shelf. Once I purchased a LVD SCSI controller from Fry's and got it home only to discover that it had an ISA Fast/Narrow SCSI card in the box. Needless to say I was pretty pissed and I took it back and I was pissed enough to where they didn't argue, in fact they gave me $20 off the better SCSI controller I ended up purchasing because the card I bought had gone off the market. Well, the card I thought I'd purchased, anyway.

        So, to make sure you don't get ripped off, open everything before you buy it. Shit, I've been known to open spindles of CDR media while standing in the aisle to find out what color they were, back when that mattered. Anything that looks like it might have been tampered with gets opened up and rooted through and if I don't like it, it goes right back on the shelf like that, fuck 'em. That's what they get for not running a tighter ship.

        If anyone is wondering what Fry's IS good for, besides returning your bad hardware in the box for some other, probably newer hardware, and getting a free upgrade; They often have sales on CDR media or assorted home electronics like DVD players. Their open box deals (this only helps you if you live close and go often) can get you some great stuff; I passed on them like a dolt but they had two $300-retail progressive scan dvd/svcd/vcd/mp3/photocd players (a real brand, not apex or something) for $99 each, I should have bought them both and then taken back whichever one was wonkier. And when they have a sale on cases, that's a good way to get a case at a good price without paying sales tax. They're also a reasonably economical and convenient way to get electronic components, heat shrink tubing, and so on.

      • hehe.. I like this thread. Fortunately I haven't had nearly as many problems with the local Frys (Phoenix, AZ). Probably 10-15% return rate on the stuff I buy there.

        Fortunately this location seems pretty good about labeling their returns. I don't think I have had an experience buying something that appeared new that was infact a return.

        Though like the other Fry's, this one is very similar -- you cannot go in there without knowing what you want and doing your homework and knowing what products are good
    • i worked for fry's at the palo alto until last week...the working conditions were horrible. The co-workers are ok for the most part, but management is just straight up retarded. I am not surprised that they would bundle a funky distro of linux instead of something normal like redhat or something like that. At work i would ask myself "what on earth are they thinking!?" probably 15-20 times a day. No Joke. Anyways, i quit fry's last week since i'm heading back to BYU at the end of the month anyways... the
  • by Bingo Foo (179380) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:10PM (#6659764)
    Of course they aren't really selling it:
    • Linux is the stolen property of SCO.
    • Sales of stolen property are null and void by law.
    Q.E.D.
  • by schnarff (557058) <alex@schnarLIONff.com minus cat> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:11PM (#6659771) Homepage Journal
    The thing that really scares me after hearing this is that the rest of the computer sales world is, by and large, well below Fry's in terms of knowledge and selection. The Fry's I frequented in Sacramento was full of people who could tell me the average failure rates of the brand name RAM vs. their generic stuff, whether a 5400 or 7200 RPM hard drive would make a difference, etc. When I moved to Washington, DC and found that the best computer store around was MicroCenter [microcenter.com] -- a horribly overpriced, understaffed, and generally terrible store -- I about cried. More to the point of this story, though, if Fry's is this clueless about Linux, I hate to see the rest of the computer stores out there attempting to sell it. Heaven knows that may cause a step *backwards* in terms of adoption by the general public!
    • by NineNine (235196) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:18PM (#6659809)
      Hang on for a sec... these kids are probably paid $8/hour, and you expect them to be knowlegeable on something as obscure and complicated as Linux? You're living with you head in the sand, buddy.
      • When an off-the-wall product such as a TiVo gets brought into such a store, they usually have some form of basic training for the reps in the department, or at least a cheat sheet of facts they can work from. These kids should at least be expected to read a one-page story of Linux if there's going to be a Linux box in their department, otherwise they come off clueless as seen here.
      • well linux developers..... that is your real goal.

        when you make this OS so simple the frys guys can sell it..... you have arrived!
        • Fry's is not trying to sell Linux. If they were they wouldn't be selling a Chinese-localized distribution. Fry's is trying to sell PCs without having to pay the Microsoft tax.

          Fry's employees are actually doing customers a favor by steering them clear of these machines. Most folks don't want such a beast, and the people that do want such a beast aren't going to be asking the "help" at Fry's for advice.

          Run along, nothing to see here.

    • Are you referring to the workers or the shoppers? I've been to a couple Fry's stores and have yet to see sales people that know their stuff.
    • Huh? I've never been in a Fry's where the person I asked questions of knew anymore about the product than I did. And their insistence on trying to bullshit me when they didn't know what they were talking about was somewhat annoying. Of course, that was years ago, and they might be able to attact better people in a down job market.
    • by fuckface (32611) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:48PM (#6659947)
      I have to agree wholeheartedly that the Sacto store has something going on that makes it better than the other branches. I've been to Sunnyvale a number of times, and LA and Vegas once, but now that I live up in Sacramento I have no fear of going to Fry's. In fact, just 2 weeks ago I dropped around $1500 on a half ton of parts for a mammoth machine. The salesman (who was happy to get my big commission) was extremely helpful tracking down everything I needed, and wasn't afraid to say "I don't know" when the subject got over his head. Not having built a machine in a couple years there were some new technologies that I wasn't schooled on but he stepped right up with clear concise descriptions of it all and even had the ability to discuss the subjects in some detail.

      AND!

      I had to go back 3 days later to replace on of the hard drives I had just bought. I was in and out with a brand new HD within 15 minutes. And I didn't even have the packaging, just the reciept!

      Maybe we're just lucky up here.
    • What MicroCenter does have - at least the one outside the beltway on Rt 29 - is an _excellent_ book selection. They've got everything from compiler theory to Java in 21 Days to Game Programming Gems. It's definitely worth a visit.
  • by Bruha (412869) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:12PM (#6659778) Homepage Journal
    I dont think it's the OS mostly though I would of preferred to see Redhat or SuSE installed. The hardware of the machine is subpar to the extreme IMO. But what can you expect for 200 dollars which is the common sales price for that PC.

    I hate to knock fry's since I'm a regular at the new Irving TX store but Wal-Mart ships better Linux pc's.

    I'd rather see PC's shipped without a OS installed and leave it up to the consumer. However there needs to be a few desktop app's that are not on Linux at the moment such as out of the box DVD playback (Even if it's commercial).
    • I hate to knock fry's since I'm a regular at the new Irving TX store but Wal-Mart ships better Linux pc's.

      I'd like to echo the sentiment- down to the reason. That Irving store's the best of the three in the DFW metroplex with regards to the quality of the store and the inventory that they seem to stock. It's really a nice store- but, sadly, it's still Fry's.

      I was in there the other day, pricing parts, like I usually do in advance of a hardware project. I was on the far wall, pricing DDR memory for a

      • I might need to go check out the Irving store, I only go to the one in Garland off NW Highway. Don't be surprised if you see one of these Thiz Linux boxen running Mandrake 9.1 soon. :) I'm gonna go 'fix' one.
  • Thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:12PM (#6659779) Journal
    1) Should I be astonished? It's Fry's and it's Linux. Some insane distro running the Chinese localization seems about par for the course. Hey, until recently buying a Mac in CompUSA was like that -- you'd keep telling the salesman, "No, I want to buy *this*. I do not want a Compaq. Either sell me *this* or I'll leave!" with no success.

    2) I suspect the point of the "Windows can be easily installed..." sign is not to enrage you by dissing Lunix but to attract the borrowed-or-warezed-Windows-CD crowd.

    3) The claim that WalMart is "doing an excellent job" seems odd given that their Linux boxes are catalog only. I think what they're doing is great but if they were selling them on the floor between bottled water and Barney coloring books, I wouldn't expect brilliant presenattion from them either.

    • Here, Here. Sales staff in generic electronics or other shops don't know about what they're selling full stop, let alone more obscure computer systems. If you find someone who does know what they're talking about, it's a rarity, not the norm, and their probably someone working there 'in-between' other jobs anyhow.
      Try going into any consumer electronics shop and getting accurate and informed information about Windows machines (or even that funky new dishwasher you've been looking at) and hardware they're sel
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:51PM (#6659959) Journal
      I've seen lindows boxes on the floor at walmart. Not open and on display, but in a big stack of boxes, right next to the big stack of dvd players and the big stack of tvs. I think people will buy anything walmart decides to stack in the middle of the aisle.
  • by adrianbaugh (696007) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:15PM (#6659791) Homepage Journal
    You can go about your business. Move along.
  • by dilute (74234) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:15PM (#6659793)
    At least you know the hardware is compatible, since it is running kernel 2.4.18. Just install the Linux distro of your choice and you are good to go.
    • I think that's a good point.

      I feel a lot better buying something that comes with a running Linux distro, because I know the hardware is compatible, even if I am going to reinstall right away (paranoid security-wise reinstalling is a damn good idea anyway). Thats why I bought a Zaurus, even though I didn't keep the original setup that was on it and immediately put OpenZaurus on it.

      Thats why when my non-technically minded neigbor asked for my advice in selecting a computer on a budget, and after we agreed

  • the new mindset (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redJag (662818) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:20PM (#6659816)
    Well maybe this isn't new as I'm fairly new to the Linux scene, but why does everyone seem to think Linux is ready for the average consumer? I don't have a problem with selling Linux computers, but you can NOT expect them to sell well. Seriously, the average person is the root of the tech jokes about the "any" key and the white-out on the monitor. Linux is becoming very nice, sophisticated, etc. but it just is not there yet.
    • I couldn't agree more. Linux (or *BSD) is really not ready for the desktop. Gnome (and presumably KDE) is a very nice workstation environment, but any OS that requires things to be configured by editing text files is not ready for the average user. If I can put a DVD in the drive and have it play, click on a word document and have it launch OpenOffice, without having to configure any of this myself, then I will begin to take an OS seriously for desktop use. At the moment, the only *NIX I would consider
      • On a related note, does anyone know what happened to YellowTab Zeta?

        It's making progress. Recently, YellowTab announced features like ODBC support [yellowtab.com], USB2 [yellowtab.com] and, if I remember correctly, a KHTML-based browser. As far as I know, they are in non-public beta now. You still can't actually buy Zeta from their site.

        OSnews did a Review [osnews.com] recently, and is generally a good place to get information on Zeta.

    • I agree with you. Some people here really do think that every desktop should be using Linux os some variation, but I'm firmly convinced that it's not ready for primetime yet (ever?).

      If somebody buys a Linux computer then they basically have said "I don't want to buy 97% of the software on the shelf," and "Reconfiguring things by command line is FUN!"

      But most of all they abandon all tech support. Most ISP's don't offer phone support for Linux at all. Even though I understand and can use Linux I'm still not
      • Did you see the recent story where XP was only slightly easier to use than KDE? Which means KDE is likely easier to use than Win95/95OSR2/98/98se/me/nt 4.0 etc.

        In other words, usability is at least as high as what linux has been compared to for years.

        My boss's boss, not a propeller head, just bought a used laptop with a linux distro. She couldn't recall the name, but it works fine for her.

        Primetime, baby.

    • Re:the new mindset (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Arker (91948)

      ...does everyone seem to think Linux is ready for the average consumer?

      OK, I'm taking that out of context and interpreting it slightly differenly than you had in mind, but it's the question you should be asking before the question you actually did even comes up.

      And the answer is no, but. But neither is Windows. Even the Mac isn't really ideal for the average consumer. They still manage to get them to work well enough for them, most of the time.

      If the average consumer can use a windows box, there's ab

    • *sigh* Not this tired old argument again.

      Linux IS ready for the desktop, maybe not yours or your boss's or your granny's, but it's ready. It'll probably never be 'ready' for the unwashed masses because all they are trained to want is a Windows clone without the huge price tag.
  • The guy needs to loosen up. Looks like he felt insulted with the placard placed squarely on top of the PC chassis that read :

    This computer is running the Linux operating system. It is easily removed and can be replaced by Windows 98 or higher by formatting the hard drive and loading Windows. We will perform this service for you for a fee.

    I am happy to that they atleast have an option where one can skip the windows Tax. Thats not all too common to find, yet.
  • by travail_jgd (80602) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:22PM (#6659821)
    ... it's how you say it. The sign over the display PC reads (paraphrased by article's author):

    This computer is running the Linux operating system. It is easily removed and can be replaced by Windows 98 or higher by formatting the hard drive and loading Windows. We will perform this service for you for a fee.

    Had they said that it's running ThizLinux and could be changed to any PC OS, I might be a bit more understanding. But they're just trying to sell computers without the MS tax, and increase their OS sales.

    The text showing up in Chinese could be the result of someone messing with the computer, rather than Fry's setting it up badly. OTOH, the author does a good job vilifying the Fry's staff.

    Cheap boxes are good for small standalone terminals and for Joe Sixpack checking his email. Cheap boxes that make Linux look as awful as the article states are not helping our cause. If it were a single store, I would suggest a user group get involved. Being a chain store, the manager may be unwilling (or unable) to improve things.
    • they're just trying to sell computers without the MS tax

      What wrong with that?

      It happens all the time the other way and MS get's money they didn't earn, Second the guy might already own a copy of Windows so have the clerk transfer it seems ok to me.

    • Regardless, the abstract says that Fries (note the mispelling) isn't selling Linux boxes, but the article makes no such claim. It looks like they're selling a cheap box with a bad Linux distro and hoping to make an upsell. But I see nothing to suggest that they aren't actually selling the box as-is.
  • by weave (48069) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:35PM (#6659885) Journal
    For the few of you who read the article, one bit said it had a sign on it that said that it was running Linux and they'd reformat and install Windows 98 for a fee.

    • Are they charging for and installing the retail copy of Windows 98? Is this even available anymore?
    • Are they gently suggesting that you buy this cheapo PC and you can just install your own bogus copy of Windows 98 on it?

    In either case, it should be Microsoft that is upset, not Linux people. Something stinks.

  • by nacs (658138) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:36PM (#6659888) Journal
    I've uploaded a mirror here [gpc.edu].
  • quetionable veracity (Score:4, Informative)

    by denny_d (454663) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:40PM (#6659909)
    The fry's in san diego sold out of their Thizlinux boxes quickly. One of the local LUG guys bought one, struggled with the interface (he couldn't find the counsel) then stripped the OS and installed RH. He was very happy with his ~100$ box afterwards.
  • Most of the people who use linux are technically apt enough to build their own machines. The reason lindows is such a big deal is it is for the very poor people who could not pay the windows tax. But once you get to a higher powered machine, most linux enthusiasts would rather build their own or use a pre-existing computer.
    • "The reason lindows is such a big deal is it is for the very poor people who could not pay the windows tax."

      Lindows taxes you just as much, if not more, than Windows does. The clieck-and-rob warehouse is one example of their exploitative business model. Most people will never know that they're one big rpm or apt-get away from free software...and it's a damn shame.
  • First off, the article is very uninformative and contradictory. Its more of a rant than a news article. Look at the first paragraph. It states they've been selling Linux PCs for a while but then asks the question: "Are they really selling it?"

    I'll assume that what the author is asking is: "Are they really trying their best to educate the public about the advantages of Linux?" Why even ask that question when you already know that their staff is technically incompetent?

    They are immediately tell

  • Thiz Linux (Score:3, Funny)

    by Geminus (602334) * on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:52PM (#6659968)
    Has anyone seen the PCs or Thiz Linux? The PC makes an e-machine look like a super computer... it's absolute crap complete with a Cyrix chipset. As far as Thiz Linux goes, it is also crap... If SCO wants to go after Linux, we ought to feed them Thiz Linux as a diversion. It's a stripped down e-mail, word processor, MP3 Player, and cheesy Web Browser. That's it! I hear users still preferred their speak-n-spell over Thiz Linux.
  • I bought one (Score:3, Informative)

    by torklugnutz (212328) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:55PM (#6659980) Homepage
    During the Vegas Fry's grand opening in Feb, these were on sale fr $99. Specs: 30gb, 128mb, 56k, 10/100, C3 733mhz, 52x, keyboard, mouse. Seems like at least $100 worth of file server hardware to me. I tried to leave ThizLinux on it, and configure Samba and all that, but in the end it was a huge headache, and no matter which panel (of 3) to configure the NIC, I still couldn't get online with it. So, I put Win2k on it, and used the included driver disk to get everything running. The driver disk installs all the drivers and handles all the reboots for you. Couldn't be easier to convert to WIndows.
    I think that is the purpose of this machine. It avoids the Windows Tax, and introduces people to Linux, which is far from user friendly. As for the decision to include this distro over others, who knows? Maybe Thiz gave them a better deal on media? Maybe they gave more support for creating the install image (not that it did any good). I don't know. It's still a pretty kickass machine for 1 bill.
  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @12:56PM (#6659985) Homepage Journal
    Apathy [despair.com].

    .

    DALLAS, TX - November 3, 1998 -- The call came in sometime after midnight. As soon as COO Kersten was informed that Fry's Electronics was calling, he rushed to the telephone.

    "I immediately sensed the limitless potential. My own customer experiences with Fry's were so excruciatingly painful that I was overwhelmed with the possibilities of a relationship. They are truly Jedis of Customer Disservice", from whom I could learn much," Kersten stated.

    Kersten was flattered to learn that Fry's was calling to talk business. Company President John Fry wanted to purchase APATHY Demotivators(tm), thousands of them. He had seen the design during a visit to his local post office, and felt it perfectly articulated their own indifferent sentiments towards customers. In completing the transaction, Fry's became the largest single customer of APATHY poster outside of the government sector.

    "It is a wonderful irony that the company that turned Customer Disservice into an artform has entered into a relationship with the company that turned it into artwork. We couldn't be more flattered, offered Kersten on the purchase.

    In reply, Fry offered, "This will keep our employees from losing sight of what is important. -- Nothing."

    At one point, during a conversation with Fry, the notoriously unemotional Kersten found himself choked up with tears. His personal secretary and confidante of ten years, "Hey You", later commented that they had revealed some radical new techniques for Customer Disservice"; they intended to test in their Dallas store.

    Kersten declined to reveal details, saying only, "How much does body armor go for these days" This led some to speculate that Fry's may be considering shooting customers at random to gauge subsequent buying patterns.

    Fry's legendary indifference to customer service, although occasionally drawing criticism and media scrutiny, has only led to increased loyalty amongst their customer base and continued explosive growth. Analysts theorize that Fry.s customer base, heavily skewed towards poorly socialized, pure geek demographics, may actually derive some erotic gratification from the masochistic purchasing experience.

  • ThizLinux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MikeFM (12491)
    ThizLinux is absolutely the worst Linux distro I've tried and I've tried a lot of them (over many years). Worse is that these machines seem difficult to get working with other distros unless your really know what you are doing.. making them a poor choice for average Linux users that just want to buy a cheap box and reinstall with their choice distro. However, if you can get them working they aren't bad for $100. They won't be playing any cutting edge games but they really work okay for basics.

    ThizLinux ran
  • I bought it (Score:5, Informative)

    by krokodil (110356) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @01:12PM (#6660048) Homepage
    I bought machine from Frys with ThizLinux around one year ago. Back then it was pretty decent small linux box for very cheap price (around $400). It was cheapest PC they sold at the moment and I needed new small linux machine.

    The fact that it runs some linux distro was imprtant for me that hardware is compatible with Linux.

    The first thing I did was to reformat it with RedHat Linux :)

    Machine works perfectly and I am very happy.
  • by Baron of Greymatter (156831) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @01:17PM (#6660073)
    I bought one with the SiS chipset and 1.1 GHz AMD Duron processor for $229. The hardware works, but you do get what you pay for.

    The first thing you absolutely have to do is expand the memory. 32 Mb of the RAM is used for video so expanding it from 128 Mb (96 Mb useable) to at least 256 Mb (224 Mb useable) is mandatory. KDE barely loads in the original (128/96 Mb) configuration. I'm using 256/224 Mb right now and it is much better.

    There is a reason why the KDE menu includes uninstall instructions, as does the manual. ThizLinux is a piece of unmitigated garbage and even they know it. It looks like a bastardized version of RedHat 8 converted to a combination of Chinese and English (Thiz is based in Hong Kong). Fry's probably receives these machines as-is from Hong Kong or China.

    Now, as far as Linux distros that work on this machine, I'm typing this on my Fry's machine running Slackware 9 right now. It seems to work fine. RedHat 8 also works OK (as well as RH8 has ever worked but better than ThizLinux).

    Mandrake 9.1 is a problem. The sound doesn't work (ALSA driver problem? It works in Slackware and RH8 with no ALSA) and neither does the wheel in the mouse (but it does see it as the middle button). Everything else seems OK, but I don't recommend Mandrake for this machine. It may be useable, but it shouldn't require this much work.

    The SuSE 8.2 Live-Eval CD doesn't work with this chipset either. Don't even bother to try it. X won't even start. I tried installing it 4 times and it never was functional. That doens't mean a "regular" SuSE install won't work, but I don't have the full distro so I haven't tried it.

    I haven't tried Debian, RH9, FreeBSD, Gentoo, or any other distro. They may work or they may not.

    Same with any version of Windows. I would guess that at least Win98 would work. Based on other "odd" hardware I've tried to install it on, Windows 2000 might be a problem, but I haven't tried it on this box since I don't have it.

    Overall, my recommendation for this cheap hardware is Slackware 9. This machine should only be purchased by those who can install their own OS.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @01:25PM (#6660115) Homepage
    WalMart sells Linux machines on-line. For a while, the Linux machines were shown more prominently than the Windows machines, but that's gone. Now, the WalMart site has the Linux machines two screens down from "Computers", at Computers->Desktops->Microtel. They do, though, offer Suse or Lycoris.

    WalMart's description of Suse notes:

    • The Linux-based operating system in this PC is not compatible with any Microsoft Windows programs. However it is perfect for basic operations, such as Web browsing, email and instant messaging and can be easily upgraded to be compatible with Microsoft Office documents that have .doc, .xls or .ppt suffixes.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @02:41PM (#6660467) Journal
    Oh, sorry. That was me. What else is there to do in Fry's but fiddle with the stuff they're selling.
  • by Cryogenes (324121) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:56PM (#6660825)
    or, in my case, a definitive 404 not found
  • Cheap boxes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @03:59PM (#6660839)
    This computer is running the Linux operating system. It is easily removed and can be replaced by Windows 98 or higher by formatting the hard drive and loading Windows. We will perform this service for you for a fee.

    Let's read between the lines, shall we:

    Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, warez monkeys. Here's a cheap and reasonably fast box you can rebuild with that Devil's 0wn copy of Windows XP you've had stashed in your bedroom since you leeched it from that Russian FTP server. We won't ask any questions, even though you don't have a beard or sandals. ;-)

  • Fry's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) * <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @04:26PM (#6660965) Homepage Journal
    I've only experienced the Fry's in Burbank. Pretty much, if you talk to a salesman, they want to sell you the most expensive thing.

    I looked at their Linux machine in the past. I managed to find it on my own, but when I approached a salesman to ask questions (like, how do I log in), they were quick to push me to more expensive machines.

    I'm never really happy to shop there. They do have a decent selection of cat5 cable and fiber patch cables.

    I went to look for a stereo receiver there a couple months ago. They annoyed the shit out of me. I had an old Sony receiver that was way behind the times. I wanted another Sony as a replacement. They were hell-bent on selling me another brand. So I told him, "take out the books, and let me compare features", since their feature list is really just what's on the box, which was almost nothing on most of the boxes. They wouldn't do it. I warned him that he was loosing the sale if he couldn't give me an accurate feature list. I ended up going down to Circuit City. They had the brand that Fry's was hard-selling me on. Ya, it was more expensive, but the Sony was better, especially for what I wanted.

    We went to Fry's to buy some parts for my friends new computer. He had bought some parts already, and needed a few final parts, including memory. He wanted it done that day, so we *HAD* to get at least some memory for it, and then ordered name-brand memory online. I opted for 256Mb of cheap memory. It was like $69 for the cheap brand DIMM. The salesman was trying to fast-talk my friend. The salesman offered him 2 128Mb DIMMS of what he said was a better brand for $69 each. Since none of them were name brand, it was all shades of crap.. I asked a few careful questions, being very sure to include verbage that had no way of being mistaken. He *SAID* my friend was getting both 128MB DIMMS for a total of $69 ($35.50 ea). He verified twice, and then rang up $138 ($69*2). My friend wasn't reading the nasty monochrome terminal screen that they work on, but I'm an asshole like that, and stopped him in mid-order. Like, WTF, I told him cheap. Cheapest you have, he's only using it for a few days til good memory comes in.

    BTW, my apologies if I got the prices or sizes wrong on that last example. It's the general idea that they were doubling the price on him.

    Generally, if I can make it through the store without talking to a salesman, it's a relatively pleasant shopping experience. I find it best to walk around with a "I'm going to kill you if you approach me" attitude, and growl if they ask "Can I help you." That actually works in most stores. :)

  • For Piracy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EvlG (24576) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @05:05PM (#6661152)
    Who do they think they are fooling? This machine is built to 'avoid the windows tax' so that people can pirate copies of windows for it. Sell it ultra cheap without the OS 99% of people want, and then let them get a copy from their friends. Nobody wants to run a lame Linux distro on it. They want to steal windows.
  • by thalakan (14668) <jspence AT lightconsulting DOT com> on Sunday August 10, 2003 @05:44PM (#6661315) Homepage
    I spent 3 years at the Fry's Corporate Headquarters as a consultant doing various Linux stuff for them. Note that this does NOT mean I worked for Fry's in the sense that I'm a drooling moron who can't tie his shoelaces without instructions. Actually, even that description is a bit inaccurate; Fry's has a videoconferencing network set up where vendors give technical product information to the sales associates so they at least have some foundation of knowledge with which to answer technical customer questions. I suspect that the popular perception of their associates comes from the fact that retail shops only exist because people want to feel superior or special somehow, and the folks on slashdot are at some extreme of the personality spectrum where they feel some overriding need to talk down to people at Fry's, or something. The associates in Fremont and Sunnyvale (the highest grossing store in the chain) actually know stuff like whether a motherboard will take DDR or what this onboard IDE raid thing means, for example; they're not all complete morons, especially now that they're picking up semi-technical people who got hit when the bubble burst.

    One day at the corporate office when I was doing the ISP thing for them (John Fry had a hard-on for doing an ISP because he wants to be in some business with low-cost recurring service revenue, or something), they drop one of these boxes in my lap and said "give me your opinion of this thing". So I poke around and find out that it's a cheapo Asian Linux distribution with the then-amazing Linux port of PowerDVD so users could play DVDs on their Linux machine. Someone else and I grabbed a random sample DVD from the buyer's cubicles (an awful horror movie iirc) and tried to play it - worked mostly fine.

    Then they wanted me to come up with installation procedures for Windows on the machines. I asked them why so I would have some context, and John did everything but say outright that they wanted to sell a machine that people could put their own operating system on. The reason why is because Fry's has this low price leader mentality where they feel something's wrong unless they have the lowest price on a certain product, and the Windows tax is applied pretty equally among the large computer manufacturers. The idea is that they could undercut everyone if they had a computer without an operating system... the fact that we were going to be supplying something with the machines (a set of instructions for installing Windows on the machines) demonstrated how important this was to them, because as a rule Fry's doesn't sell anything except what the vendor sticks in the box.

    Regarding the posts about how there are people in the buying chain who understand Linux - yes, there are. There was a buyer who did do mainly Linux stuff, and had little stuffed penguins spread around his desk all the time. I was in there a lot asking about whether we would be carrying various things, or letting him know where he can get stuff from Loki to put on the shelves. At one point, they actually stuck the Wasabi distribution of NetBSD on the shelves, although it didn't sell very well.

    Linux is actually pretty important for Fry's - at one point they were selling more of it than Windows, although I'm not sure that's still true now that the "hobbyist" feel is fading. The fact that Linux was outselling Windows was one of the main driving factors for Fry's to start sticking various infrastructure systems on Linux instead of Netware or Windows, which is what they've run in the past. They're still mostly Netware or Windows, but they're looking real hard at moving parts of outpost.com (their online sales group) onto Linux from Oracle/BEA/Solaris.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @06:08PM (#6661463) Homepage Journal
    Rob, you gotta stop accepting stories from this idiot. He only submits them to promote his own site. Which I don't mind, except that his site isn't SE-effect-proof, and he always submits invalid links!
  • by cmacb (547347) on Sunday August 10, 2003 @06:35PM (#6661588) Homepage Journal
    "Maybe I shouldn't care... and in reality it isn't going to make a difference in my day whether they sell those boxes or not. It just bothers me that Linux is being portrayed this way to the general public. My message to the people who run Fry's Electronics (and any other outlet who may sell Linux PCs) is simple: If you are going to sell Linux boxes, please educate your staff on the subject, rather than allowing them to sound ignorant in front of your customers. It is an embarrassment to you as much as it is to the Linux community. Since you are selling Linux boxes, please make sure that they are set with a language appropriate to your locale. If your local to France, sell a French 'speaking' machine. It's that simple. One last thing: Load a distribution that is consumer friendly. This should have been consideration number one, but since you missed it entirely, I'm pointing it out now."

    I agree with this, but I also realize that the people in these stores are not computer experts of ANY kind. They can't answer questions about Windows either, although they are more inclined to react to Windows questions with something out of their own experience.

    One of the biggest problems with Windows right now in fact is that there is so little DEFINITIVE reference material on it from a users point of view. Microsoft stopped documenting anything beyond the APIs a long time ago and now everything your read about Windows is speculation. Diagnosing Windows problems has gotten to be a voodoo art more than a well defined process. All the more reason for it to wind up in the sh*t can of history where it belongs.

    As far as the bad version of Linux this thing is running, I bet the hardware AND software came bundled to Fry's from China at a super bargain price.

    On the other hand, if my intention was to buy a cheap machine to run Linux on, I'd feel a lot better about getting one of these than one of the cheap Windows machines. Chances are the cheap Linux machine has more generic components that will operate with ANY version of Linux, while the Windows machines are more likely to include some proprietary component to make you either dependent on the manufacturer, Microsoft, or both.

    If I were in the market for a laptop right now I'd probably get one of those $700 Lindows version and then install Debian on it. I bet it would work just fine.

Pause for storage relocation.

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