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Enlightenment Linux Business

A Review of the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC 235

Posted by kdawson
from the green-around-the-edges dept.
bcrowell writes "Wal-Mart's new $200 Linux PC has generated a lot of buzz in geek circles. Although they're sold out of stores, I bought one for my daughter via mail order, and have written up a review of the system. The hardware seems fine for anyone but a hardcore gamer, but the pre-installed gOS flavor of Ubuntu has a lot of rough edges."
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A Review of the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC

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  • by Helmholtz Coil (581131) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:25AM (#21470571) Journal
    If you're desperate (?) to get your hands on one of these, I noticed the other day that ZaReason's got them too [zareason.com]. Don't know if they're 100% the same, but they're the same price and so possibly worth a look.
  • Let me Summarize (Score:5, Informative)

    by vtcodger (957785) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:36AM (#21470609)
    Let me summarize the article for those who won't/can't read it.

    The machine is not actually available in some Walmart stores at this time, but you can mail order it and get it shipped to your local store (aside: No way in hell -- I'd rather drive in Boston than navigate the parking lot at that place). Everex has this in other stores besides Walmart now. What Walmart has in your local Walmart store maybe is a $300 version that runs Vista. A Monitor is extra in all cases so it's really a $400-500 PC.

    Hardware is fine -- really. Power consumption is OK. Not great, but OK. OS has some rough edges including, but not limited to, no obvious way to shut the thing down. The author scrapped the included gOS and installed vanilla Ubuntu which is, he thinks, what most users should do.

    All things considered he says, it's OK except for the OS.

  • by JamesTRexx (675890) <m DOT nystrom AT mbitz DOT nl> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:44AM (#21470649) Homepage Journal
    No problem on mine, but then I've not bothered upgrading from Dapper Drake.
    I use the via driver, running 800x600x24 on the TV out (PAL) and only the cpu intensive H.264 codec is too much for the 1GHz cpu.

    I do plan on either upgrading Ubuntu or installing FreeBSD 7.0 though, depending on how good the driver for the Terratec audio card is.
  • by asm2750 (1124425) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:39AM (#21470943)
    I haven't had an issue on my via SP13000, you might want to read the community doc on openchrome, and just set the monitor config to plug and play.
  • Re:512M of ram? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:28AM (#21471193)
    1) I use kino. It's in the Ubuntu repositories, and also available at http://www.getdeb.net/ [getdeb.net] . For simple video editing, it's really a breeze to use.

    Video authoring software (to create the final DVD with menus) that is quite good is DVD Styler.

    2) I use vmware server. It's a free download from vmware.com, and free for non-commercial use. When you register, you get a serial number emailed to you.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:21PM (#21471987) Homepage

    Hi, I'm the author of the review.

    The guy claims to be experienced with Ubuntu, but didn't know to type his user password at the sudo prompt.
    You have a valid point there. I normally use fluxbox, however, not gnome, and I normally do administrative stuff as root, not using sudo. Also, it demanded the administrator's password even though I hadn't initiated any administrative action other than logging in for the first time. Remember, this review is also talking about what the experience would be like for someone who's in Wal-Mart's target audience.

    He can't find the "log out" menu item...
    That's because there is none. Here you just didn't read the review carefully enough. It isn't Gnome, it's gOS's custom flavor of Enlightenment. There's no "log out" menu item in the WM. As I also explained in the review, they replaced the normal gdm login manager with their own, and it also doesn't have the normal menus, either.

    He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem.
    Again, you don't seem to have read the article very carefully. As explained in the article, Gnome has a GUI called Gnome Network Manager, which I'd used successfully in the past to get the same wifi chipset working on Ubuntu, without resorting to the command line. gOS has something called Exalt, which failed with an error message when I tried to run it by clicking on its icon.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:31PM (#21472059) Homepage

    I'm the author of the review.

    how is anybody buying it expected to know?
    Because it's not very hard? Because it's explained in the pamphlet that comes with the PC?
    I have the poster that came with it right here in front of me. It's not explained there.

    Use the Start button
    I tried that. I didn't get the menu items you're talking about.

    or right click anywhere on the desktop and select "My GoS", then "Shutdown" from the popup menu.
    That's good to know, but the documentation never suggests right-clicking on the desktop.

  • Re:Wireless (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:42PM (#21472597)

    As I recall, there aren't any wireless receivers that reliably support Linux. Has that changed?
    Yeah, this has changed way for the better in the last few years. My Intel wireless works out of the box on most Linux distros, including Ubuntu (hell, even getting it to work with Solaris was a breeze).

    Other cards are supported too, Google is your friend.
  • Re:Wireless (Score:2, Informative)

    by nbarriga (877070) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:45PM (#21472629)
    My Intel Pro Wireless 3945 works fine on Linux.
  • Re:512M of ram? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Real1tyCzech (997498) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:26PM (#21472915)
    VirtualBox.

    Use Synaptic to grab it. Easy as pie.
  • by Stormx2 (1003260) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:44PM (#21473713)

    Also, someone said that you could add Flash just by going to a web site that required it and clicking on "add plugin." Well, I tried that, and I had to manually install it, myself...it wasn't hard, but it took me about 15 - 30 minutes of reading some "how to" forums before I got it installed.
    sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree

    Or use synaptic to locate and install it, search for "flash".

    Also, I found windows to have these rough edges when I did my first install in a few years. I actually have to open a web browser to install software? Madness.
  • by turing_m (1030530) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:03PM (#21474385)
    Your first two problems are a result of diving in head first. If you had first made a list of what applications you use, and then found an open source program (in the repos, but virtually everything good is in the repos) that does the same thing and is installable in windows, you wouldn't have been beaten over the knuckles as hard your first time around. i.e., you should have installed openoffice in windows and evolution (or thunderbird) in windows first.

    As far as flash, someone else here said synaptic. That should be your first port of call whenever you want to install something new. Type in the application type (e.g. email), and optionally google the names of things that come up in order to research. If you just want to suck it and see, the applications with the ubuntu symbol next to them tend to be more polished.

    That you made it this far and still use it is a tribute to Ubuntu's ease of use and default app selection. It tends to be a recipe for frustration and failure to switch operating systems before you are comfortable with the FOSS alternatives to your mission critical applications.
  • Re:Wireless (Score:2, Informative)

    by gudnbluts (1186023) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:18PM (#21475183)
    Your comment's out of date. Broadcoms with ndiswrapper supported WEP just fine. With the latest version of Ubuntu, Broadcoms work without ndiswrapper. Can't speak for other distributions.
  • by sheepweevil (1036936) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:57AM (#21475653) Homepage

    For previous versions of Ubuntu, I had problems getting the Java Firefox Plugin and Flash to work, even after wading through a long and complicated how-to. But with Gutsy Gibbon, I simply used Add/Remove Programs and Synaptic Package Manager to install them with only a couple of clicks, and they have worked perfectly. It seems like Ubuntu is doing well to solve some of these problems.

    As for OpenOffice and Evolution, that isn't Ubuntu's fault. You could use Thunderbird for email, and perhaps try KOffice instead of OpenOffice.

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