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Linux Business Enlightenment GUI

Wal-Mart's $200 Linux PC Sells Out 619

Posted by kdawson
from the ok-there's-a-market-for-it dept.
hankmt writes "About a week ago Wal-Mart began selling a $200 Linux machine running on a 1.5 ghz VIA C7 processor and 512 MB of RAM. While the specs are useless for Vista, it works blazingly fast on Ubuntu with the Enlightenment Window Manager. The machine is now officially sold out of their online warehouses (it may still be available in some stores). And the product sales page at wal-mart.com is full of glowing reviews from new and old Linux users alike."
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Wal-Mart's $200 Linux PC Sells Out

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  • It's been like this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eddi3 (1046882) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:58PM (#21331621) Homepage Journal
    It sold out much faster then this; It's been out of stock for at least 2 days.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:00PM (#21331639)
    Remember, these are typical Walmart customers here. How many of them are going to return these things when that AOL CD they have doesn't work automagically? How many of these people are expected to have DSL or Cable instead of dial-up? How many are going to be returned because they don't have MS Office pre-installed on them?
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:06PM (#21331705)
    It seems the people buying it know that it isn't Windows or they're buying it for friends/family and they'll be providing the support.

    And for home users it's all about knowing someone who can fix it when it breaks. With Windows there's usually some neighbor's kid who "knows computers".

    So don't expect too many returns on this.
  • by reporter (666905) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:11PM (#21331759) Homepage
    Walmart is not the sort of place where you find geeks, techies, and various assorted dweebs. This store is where America shops and is patronized by people who know little about calculus or physics.

    That a Linux machine is sold out at Walmart suggests that plain folks -- not like you and me -- know and respect Linux. The lesson is that there is a ready market, in middle America, for Linux-based applications. Will software developers heed this lesson?

    For most people, the monster computer (with globs of memory and a gazillion hertz of processor speed) running Windows XP is already more machine than most Americans need. Now, Microsoft will kill off Windows XP in order to sell Vista to us. We will need a super-monster computer to run Vista. This whole process of bloated operating systems (OSes) driving purchases of even more excessive amounts of hardware is a damned waste of money.

    The simple machine that runs Linux is good enough for most people. The number one application in America, after all, is e-mail.

    Software developers should tune into middle America and sell Linux-based applications so that we can put an end to this never-ending cycle of bigger, badder OS needing bigger, badder computer.

  • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:13PM (#21331787)
    There is something very wrong with the reviewers, I keep clicking "Read all reviews by this reviewer", and the reviewer only did this single review on a product. Which is unusual for people who write their reviews on products (usually they'll have a few others they've written reviews for). They all write excellent English, no grammar mistakes, punctuation mistakes or anything.

    I suspect manipulation of reviews.

  • by Eddi3 (1046882) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:17PM (#21331825) Homepage Journal
    From what I, and others (Like this guy [slashdot.org]) can tell, a vast majority of the machines were sold online.
  • by cryptoluddite (658517) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:24PM (#21331913)
    So who said geeks didn't buy them out? I almost bought one myself since before this you could even hardly get a C7 motherboard for $200. Average price on newegg is like ~180 now.
  • Re:Australia sucks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by renegadesx (977007) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:37PM (#21332035)
    Anything bigscale yes, however there are some smaller shops that will do it.

    You'd think Aldi would be doing Ubuntu PC's already ;)
  • by FSWKU (551325) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:38PM (#21332043)

    That a Linux machine is sold out at Walmart suggests that plain folks -- not like you and me -- know and respect Linux. The lesson is that there is a ready market, in middle America, for Linux-based applications.

    Of course with this being Wal-Mart, the more likely scenario is Joe Sixpack reads "Ayy Beth-Ann-Bobbi-Jo-Ruthie-May! They got dem compyooturz at thu walmart for $200!"

    With the absence of "them thar geek peopullz" that talk about "virusin' and spahhhwurin' the box", they can pick one up on their next trip out for junk food, beer, and a few copies of both Guns N' Ammo and American Hunter Motherfucker*. They will get it home, only to find out that it doesn't have Winduh Veesta or run their ancient copy of Deer Hunter.

    The fact that it is Linux-based has absolutely nothing to do with the sales figures. You forget that the system is being sold in a place where the absolute lowest price is the ruling factor in ANYTHING found inside. I can also assure you that the "associates" in Wal-Mart aren't going to know a damned thing about Linux vs Windows, and will answer any question with a blank stare. I forsee MANY returns on these items after Christmas. Maybe by then, stock levels will be back up and I can actually find one to use as a box to tinker around with.

    *Bonus points to those who get the reference.
  • Re:Dubious (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jaxtherat (1165473) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:44PM (#21332091) Homepage
    And MY point is that it doesn't matter if the user doesn't know what OS they are using...

    Analogy: a person driving a car shouldn't be able to tell what brand and model it is when he is behind the wheel, right? And guess what? 99.9% of people can't tell you what it is from just the feel of it, only freaks and psycho enthusiasts can tell you the make and model from the stock gear timings.

    The same should apply to computers. A computer is a tool, and it'd be better for linux if it was just usable, instead of distinctive purely for the sake of being distinctive.

    A user not knowing if they are linux when in fact they are has absolutely no reflection on whether it is ready for the masses or not.
  • by lordofthechia (598872) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:48PM (#21332109)
    What I wanna know is 2 things, how effective are the 3D drivers for the onboard Via Video chip. And what repositories is this thing using (How compltete / Up to date are they)? Best thing about Ubuntu are the kickass up to date repositories and snappy package manager (Thanks Debian!). This has Synaptic but not much else is mentioned.

    Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] is sparse at the moment. On the Graphics side, the Via Arena site I just saw:

    "XVidtune Tool". "2D", "MPEG2/4 Hardware Acceleration", "Hardware Video Overlay", and "TV Out" including HDTV, DuoView
    So... can I play Neverball, Warcraft III, etc, on this thing?
  • Re:good news, but.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:51PM (#21332149)
    yeah..judging from the customer comments, it sounds like they're quite happy with them. if the walmart crowd is happy with them, then I think Linux is definately ready for the masses.
  • by meehawl (73285) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {maps.lwaheem}> on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:20PM (#21332367) Homepage Journal
    trying to promote removing the "PC" from making any money what-so-ever in the U.S., ironically the country that invented the PC.

    A French company invented, marketed, and sold the first personal computer, the Micral, in 1973 [computerhistory.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:00AM (#21332633)
    True that. Via's boards are spendy for what you get. What I'm wating for is when Intel releases their d210gly2 motherboard. It sports a 1.2GHz Conroe based Celeron, DDR2 slots, SATA, USB and a PCI slot, reportedly all for $70.
  • Aargh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:01AM (#21333027) Journal

    I had it in my cart this morning. Didn't close the deal. Maybe I can catch the next round. I also would like to know how many they sold and how fast. If any come available open box maybe I can get one of those.

    I have the 1.3GHz via, and I like it. With Vista any kind of video is a slide show, even with the XP drivers loaded. Runs XP decently well with 1GB of memory. With Ubuntu it's just a regular PC. Power efficient, there are kits to scale it down for your car. It's not a toy -- you can do real stuff with it.

    If anybody bought one of these and aren't happy with its linuxy wierdness, try selling it on ebay. I think you'll do better than taking it back to the store. :-)

    I'm not buying the $299 one with Vista and twice the RAM. They can keep that. You can get a 2GB stick of DDR2-800 at newegg for $50 so if they wanted $250 for the box with 2GB in it I could go there.

    WalMart does not like to run out of stuff. I wonder if they'll take this as a sign that Everex isn't ready to be a WalMart supplier, or as a sign that we're all ready for the smokin cheap environmentally friendly linux pc. Can Via even make the motherboards to meet the demand? I hear their output is rather limited.

  • Re:I ordered one. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:10AM (#21333073)

    I used to buy the $200 Fry's Great Quality machines, but Fry's is no longer selling those.

    I worked at Fry's in the tech department when they sold those. There's two very big reasons they don't anymore.

    1) That distro of linux they used... no idea what it was called, but it was some Korean piece of complete SHIT. Not even linux users would like it.

    2) Every one we got back, EVERY SINGLE ONE either had Windows XP installed on it by the user or a complaint that Windows wasn't on it and it couldn't run their programs. I've never seen a better argument against "linux for the masses" than seeing the absolute disdain people had for a commercial attempt at packaging linux.
  • It's not the 'year of the Linux desktop.' It's not this year, it won't be next year, and it won't be any year after that.

    But that's okay. Linux -- and other Free OSes -- don't need a "year." They're gaining traction, slowly, and will continue to do so. The migration away from vendor lock-in on the part of the general public isn't something that's going to happen in a single year. It's going to happen over the course of decades.

    The writing is mostly on the wall: the price of hardware has dropped and will continue to fall, and that makes it a lot harder to justify big bucks for an OS, while at the same time more people are satisfied with their current machines and don't want to upgrade, meaning you can't lower your price and make it up in volume. Less revenue means less to spend on top talent, and that means a crappier product. The public may be slow, but eventually it catches on when you try to push too many lemons. (And once it does, it can be brutal and unforgiving; just ask the big U.S. automakers.)

    Microsoft will do what it can to wring the last drops out of the Windows/Office monopoly, but they're busy diversifying as quickly as they can out into other areas. They're too big to just keel over and die overnight, but they'll probably have to pull an IBM: preserve their brand and reinvent themselves as a different company.

    I'm optimistic that when the history of the late 20th and early 21st century is written, it will be remembered as a sort of digital Wild West, a lawless time, when proprietary non-standards roamed and fortunes could be made and lost overnight. But that's all going to come to an end, and when it does, the advantages of open standards -- and, to a slightly lesser extent, open source and Free software -- will be pretty clear. The forces driving that transition, however, are slow and grinding. They're not the sort of thing that lend themselves to a "year of," except arbitrarily and in retrospect.
  • Re:lol dollars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:42AM (#21333217) Homepage Journal

    I've yet to meet someone who hates Microsoft Office
    Microsoft Office is total hell. The menus take two or three clicks to get right on a notebook for me. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. (Star Office on Sun's is a little better, but not by much).

    Microsoft Office has an interface designed in Hell by idiots. I hate it. HATE IT.

    You can't do anything that isn't programmed in. My boss, who is a Microsoft fan, fumbles around in its interface, I've watched him. The emperor is wearing no clothes.

    You just think it's OK because you don't know anything better.

    Yeah, I know I"ll be modded down for this. Whatever. Star Office sucks, but so does Microsoft Office.

    I was impressed by what is now known as Microsoft Word before it was bought out by Microsoft, but that was a couple decades ago. What is also impressive is that I see the same kind of fumbling around in a twisty maze of GUI menus all alike that I saw when someone was once trying to impress me with Microsoft Windows for Workgroups. Not more than a couple of years previous, I had people screaming at me at my workplace to not require any of that in the UI guidelines I was writing for that section of the company.
  • by HW_Hack (1031622) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:46AM (#21333233)
    Welcome to the global market - however I've never shopped WalMart - never will. Walmart is seeing and doing what Intel refuses to do or acknowledge ---- and that is that modern CPU's/Graphics/Memory are more than enough for the average user even if they want to do some very basic digital photos / video. I used to work at Intel -- this kind of stuff scares them shitless just like Linux scares M$ shitless. Intel is all about the next gen chips / architecture ... why ? Because those new CPUs sell for $800 -$999 each versus a last gen CORE chip for $125 or less. Those new chips are great if you have the need for the juice and the extra $$ for a top end PC. I would say less than 20% of the market really needs that level of power. But Intel and AMD are locked in a battle to produce hyper-sonic space planes --- average folks just need a basic jet plane. Add to this the market is fairly saturated with decent HW -- so unless you're a fortune 1000 company you probably don't need $1400 PCs. Also don't forget the "Google Factor" - if Google can successfully augment + cement the Linux OS - making the whole experience "pleasant" and easy to use ... they will have opened up another front against M$. Prediction --- if Walmart + Google can make 50% of these users happy (while also learning from their mistakes): the current model will drop to $150 - a new better $200 PC will appear - and probably a $250 PC. A $350 laptop may not be far behind. PS - In 2004 Intel set a target for 25% of ALL company positions to be in China, Asia, India by 2009.
  • by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @02:56AM (#21333547)
    Not fast enough for XP? I know the C7 isn't the fastest machine, but, I don't buy it. I ran XP on my PII-350 laptop with 300 some MB of ram for years without problem. I only upgraded for the luxury, really. If I'd just put in a flash blocker, I could still be happily browsing Slashdot and doing work on it. I suppose it's possible that a PII-350 could out preform a 1.7 ghz chip of a different architecture, but it dosn't seem likely, could anyone enlighten me here?
  • by o'reor (581921) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @05:42AM (#21334167) Journal

    It has a serial port, so if you want to use dialup, you can always attach a real modem. Those are well supported on Linux, far moreso than internals.
    Yup. Besides, external modems are no longer supported out-of-the-box on Vista. I tried to hook up a serial-line US Robotics Sportster 56k on my dad's laptop lately. Windows Vista simply ignored it, and proposed no solution to try and detect it. Kubuntu, on the other hand, set it up immediately with KPPP. That was one more reason for my dad to abandon Windows and switch completely to Linux.
  • Re:lol dollars (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @07:13AM (#21334555) Homepage Journal

    Well, I am an Emacs user. And you know what, I used it for 3 years before touching its configuration file. Also, my current config file is 5 lines long for using a GUI and 1 line for using a CLI, and 2 more for an obscure programming language I've tried once, totaling 8 lines. I can copy that same file on every machine I touch and have (cumulatively) spent less than half working day configuring it.

    Emacs comes with sensible defauts, you just need to configure obscure functions. Word is a hell to use without configuring, and doesn't get much better after that since there is no way to bind keys to all the needed functionalities. All you get is a bit more screen space or more sane menus. Also, you must configure it on every machine you use, on every upgrade and, if you are not very carefull, on every reinstall.

  • Or on the other hand, if you had no knowledge of computers and walked into a store only to see a machine for $200 and right next to it the same machine for $500-$700 which would you buy?
    Your figures are greatly exaggerated. Even in rip off britan XP home/vista home basic (which are the editions are a cheap shit box would come with) whitebox OEM are arround £50 ($100) including VAT (our equivilent of sales tax), it is widely believed that the big brand OEMs pay even less.

    The problem is that the same time Joe Average is picking out that computer they are also looking at the software shelf loaded with Microsoft centric crap. The moment they pick up that shareware disk for $5.00 and ask, "will this work on that box I'm buying?" will be the kiss of death on that sale. Add in the fact that sales people at WalMart aren't the pick of the crop and mess up even Windows technical issues and it is a recipe for a PR disaster.
    Agreed, selling linux succesfully requires educating the buyer that it is not windows and what it's advantages (zero cost, less vulnerability to shitware, availibility of a lot of very good free software from the distros repositries) and disadvantages (inability to run the software they are used too and they see on the shelves in every computer related shop, lack of availibility of support from your more geeky but still MS using friends) are and letting them make an informed choice. Sadly this is hard when they don't even know what an OS is.

    Tricking people into buying linux when it is not right for them will only breed resentment, especilly when they have to pay three times as much to buy windows after the fact as they would have to buy it with the PC.

    I would only reccomend linux on the desktop to anybody if I knew appropriate software for the tasks in hand was availible and either:
    * I was going to be supporting it
    * I knew someone with appropriate linux knowlage was arround to support it.
    * The box was being used for a very limited set of tasks with little prospect that it was going to be used for more

    Also even if I reccomended linux on the desktop if I thought there was a reasonable (more than 1 in 3) chance the box will ever be used for something requiring windows then I would have to reccomend getting the windows license anyway due to the aforementioned huge price differential between OEM and retail (afaict most if not all windows volume licences are upgrade/downgrade only).
  • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:10AM (#21334899) Homepage
    I pretty much agree, previously no one I know has taken the idea of Linux at all seriously but in the last month 2 people have independantly told me they tried Ubuntu and really liked it ( looks much better than Vista even was one comment ) and someone else is asking me which is the best version of Linux to install.

    In addition to that members of my family have bought a variety of consumer electronics which have turned out to run on Linux ( FSG, Tom-Tom and some sort of cable box thing ). I'd say Linux has a higher profile now and is looked on pretty favourably by ordinary folks.
  • Re:Aargh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @08:59AM (#21335323) Journal
    It's not a toy -- you can do real stuff with it.

    You put me straight into geezer mode with that statement - This blows my mind. The IBM XP is a quarter of a century old, had a 5mhz clock speed (this box has a 1300mhz clock speed), had 64K of memory and a ten mb hard drive, and guess what? you could still do real work on it! Spreadsheets, word processors, statistics, databases; I used these things at work in 1987 (we also had a couple of 286s and the blindingly fast 386 at the time).

    I bought one used, the one I bought for my home had a Hercules card so was capable of graphics. I bought some extra memory and a joystick port, installed them, and had a gaming machine.

    Real work? Pshaw, when the 486 (capable of internet A/V, could sample and play CD quality WAV files) came out a computer like the Wal Mart Ubantu box was a supercomputer.

    -mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]
  • Re:Via chipsets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @10:26AM (#21336315) Journal
    Short answer is... kinda.

    I replaced mine and it worked for awhile, but then died again (not sure why). You can give it a shot, since caps are cheap. Basically you need to find caps with the same rating, clip the existing ones so there's some stalk above the board, and then solder a new cap onto the remnants of the old stalk.

    Sadly, it seems that VIA uses (or at least used to use, not sure about current) inferior caps, as I had an M10000 and an M10000-2 (or whatever the one with the PCMCIA slot is) fry over the summer. If you're replacing it, I'd look into the Jetway boards with VIA CPU's (but watch for the TV-Out/Firewire, not all of those have 'em onboard if you need them). I used to use the VIA boards as low-power webservers, now I'm running Jetway boards with 1.5GHZ C7 CPUs and Dual 1GB LANs. They're a bit flakey until you update the firmware, but after that they run wonderfully.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @11:14AM (#21337019) Journal
    Er, the TRS-80 was out at the same time as the XT. Let me fix that for you:

    You young whippersnappers with your new-fangled IBM-XP computers. Why, when I was a lad, we did business on a PDP [wikipedia.org]. Model I no less. My dad wrote a program to analyze Rorschach test scores on it. And get this: he sold it to a friend back in, oh, '85 I think, who used it for book keeping at his home business for the next ten years. That's right, this guy was keeping his books on a fricken' PDP-1 in 1995
    The funny thing is, there probably were people using PDPs in 1995!

    Even funnier, it would probably run Linux. I'm not sure about a beowolf cluster of them though.
  • by chefmonkey (140671) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @11:19AM (#21337101)
    Does it play DVD movies?

    Yes. [thinkgos.com]

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