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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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:06AM (#21470481)
    ...does it run wind... Never mind
  • by User 956 (568564) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:06AM (#21470485) Homepage
    the pre-installed gOS flavor of Ubuntu has a lot of rough edges.

    If you think gOS is bad, you should see gladOS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by HalifaxRage (640242)
      Still sounds like a POS to me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The Aperture Science Enrichment Centre is unhappy to hear you say that. please assume the party escort submission position, a party associate will be along shortly to bring you to your... party
    • by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @01:10PM (#21472343) Homepage
      I have been waiting many years for Linux to get to a point where I could dump Windows. Well, I installed Ubuntu just a couple of weeks ago and was extremely impressed. Over the years, I have gone from somewhat of a power user to doing little more than surfing the web and doing e-mail, so it should be perfect for me, right? Over this weekend, I really got to start using the Ubuntu system. The very fist issue I ran into was the Evolution address book wouldn't display contacts you added...if you could get them to even add. I researched the problem and found people describing the exact same problem, in forums dated 2005. The next thing I wanted to do is search and replace some hard returns in OpenOffice's word processor. You can do it to some degree, but you have to search the web for an explanation on how to do it. In the end, it wouldn't work properly, and I had to transfer the file to my Windows system and do it on Word, which just has a menu option to search for special characters (really cool that Ubuntu saw my Window's share and I could just transfer the files over the network). 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.

      All in all, it is hard to complain about something that is free, and I totally plan on continuing my move away from Windows. But I think anyone would be pretty darn hard pressed not to say that Ubuntu doesn't have some rough edges.

      One really nice advantage I see, too, is that it sure if nice not to have my hard drive constantly thrashing from all of virus scanners, spyware scanners, etc., running in the background!

      Transporter_ii
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Stormx2 (1003260)

        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

      • by turing_m (1030530) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @07:03PM (#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.
  • Hardcore gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:08AM (#21470493) Homepage
    It would appear that there are two kinds of PC users, hardcore gamers and normal people. Not so, there are also people who enjoy an occasional game of HL2 or people who work with huge amounts of data or who run extensive calculations on their PCs (or hell, even Photoshop). Lumping PCs into two categories, "Bleeding edge, $2000 PC" and "Everything else" isn't that informative. Maybe he should have said "very good for the average user (web browsing, flash games, office suites)", which I don't doubt it is (average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wfberg (24378)
      average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have

      If I had a dime for everytime someone complained about their lowend PC being "too slow!" and then finding out it only has 512MB of RAM, I'd.. well, I would've earned a couple of bucks anyway..

      Selling a PC with less than a gig (or 2, if it comes with Vista preinstalled) is downright criminal.

      Sure, average moes won't stress the CPU or play high end video games, but visiting a few Jpop-video rich myspace pages, while skype'ing and IM'ing
      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:24AM (#21470561) Journal
        "Selling a PC with Vista preinstalled is downright criminal."

        Fixed that for you.

        The Everex PC is designed from scratch as a low-end machine and the OS is lightweight to match its specs. You don't put tractor tyres on a Hyundai Excel, and you don't put Vista on this machine.

      • 512M of ram? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:39AM (#21470625) Homepage
        It is cheap to add another 1GB of ram. Most users want to be able to run a word processor, look at pictures, and surf the internet.

        Most of the stores just keep pushing faster and faster machines on people, more than what they need. Vista helps with that being such a pig.

        • Here's my case: As you can see now, many OEMs have upgraded even their low-end computer specifications to meet Vista's demands. This means minimum 512mb ram, 1.x Ghz processor, etc. With their upgrade to Vista, their distributed-medicine computing calculations have also gotten a boost. Hence, the help to humanity! (And, if they decide to switch back to XP because of Vista being a behemouth, which many are doing, this gives just that much more resources to humanity!)
          • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:57PM (#21473121)

            Here's my case: As you can see now, many OEMs have upgraded even their low-end computer specifications to meet Vista's demands. This means minimum 512mb ram, 1.x Ghz processor, etc. With their upgrade to Vista, their distributed-medicine computing calculations have also gotten a boost. Hence, the help to humanity!
            What you're forgetting about is opportunity cost. Money being spent to buy higher-end hardware could instead be going to a myriad of other purposes -- or simply enabling people to buy more computers (or, turning that around, enabling more people to buy computers). Artificially increasing system requirements effectively creates a price floor, pricing the low-end consumer out of the market.

            To go the reductio ad absurdum route, consider this claim: we should legally prevent anyone from buying anything less than a $20,000 32-processor parallel workstation, because humanity will benefit from the spare processing power.

            Artificially raising the cost of computers (by law or by unnecessarily inflated system requirements) is harmful in the same way that raising taxes is harmful: Individuals are denied the opportunity to optimize for the most effective use of their funds.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MMC Monster (602931)
          Actually, just realized a month ago that my workhorse machine at home has 512MB ram. I use it for photo editing and light video editing under Ubuntu Linux. I occassionally run WinXP as a virtual machine, as well. I also run my home website on the machine (basically just a photo album of a few hundred images), and stream music to a home internet appliance (a squeezebox, by slimdevices).

          I consider myself an advanced home user, and I don't need 1GB ram. In fact, the only things that would probably get mor
          • Sorry, this probably doesn't belong on a public discussion, but I'm really curious about a couple things you mentioned:

            1) What video editing software are you using for Ubuntu? I've been looking high and low and can't find any.

            2) What method did you use to get WinXP as a virtual machine? I've seen various different instructions for this out there, but just wanted to get an idea of what software someone used to do it successfully.

            • response to (2)

              VMWare, works perfectly for me
            • by J0nne (924579)

              2) What method did you use to get WinXP as a virtual machine? I've seen various different instructions for this out there, but just wanted to get an idea of what software someone used to do it successfully.
              I can't speak for the OP, but either Virtualbox or VMWare server/player work fine (they're both in the repositories). I'd recommend Virtualbox, because it's open source.
            • Re:512M of ram? (Score:4, Informative)

              by MMC Monster (602931) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:28AM (#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 inflex (123318)
              It's commercial - but I bought and use MainActor (made/sold by Main Concept - there is a demo version too, leaves a watermark on the output).
            • by PReDiToR (687141)
              VMware Server is working perfectly under gOS on my SO's machine, which has 512Mb. Obviously this makes the VM a fairly slow machine because you can't give it the whole 512, but it runs.

              Until recently she was completely unaware of FOSS, now she uses openSuSE on this laptop, and on the back of that I dropped gOS onto her desktop machine when the WinXP registry crashed AGAIN.

              I threw VMware Server on there and installed XP Home under it with the XP key on the side of her beige box so that she can use Photosho

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Real1tyCzech (997498)
              VirtualBox.

              Use Synaptic to grab it. Easy as pie.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by sgbett (739519)
            Actually, I just realised that I have legs. I use them for many things such as walking about.

            I consider myself an advanced walker, and I don't need to take the bus.

            In fact, the only things that it would probably get quicker for me by spending the extra money is likely the 13 mile trip to work each day, and the visit to foreign relatives 64 miles away (who I rarely go and see). I'd rather use the extra money to buy my daughter a picture of me so she doesn't forget who I am because I spend 8 hours a day comp^
          • With 320MB I end up in swap-hell every so ofren, I'd get more ram but the machine is so old it wouldn't be useable after the next upgrade.
          • Yeah it seemed like for a very long time, making the RAM upgrade to 512mb would provide significant performance gains, even for a home user, but above that it started to tail off in terms of noticable improvement.

            Nowadays, considering using firefox for a couple days without closing it, and with dozens of tabs open, makes firefox alone chew up 400mb or more, having a gig or so probably helps too.

            With regards to photo/video editing, I would presume that unless individual frames and individual photos are bigge
            • I would love to see from mozilla.org some stats about how long the average person keeps firefox running. This thing about memory usage after hours of use is something (I feel) only effects fringe users.
        • by westlake (615356)
          Most of the stores just keep pushing faster and faster machines on people, more than what they need. Vista helps with that being such a pig.

          The Geek never quite "gets" the home market.

          The technical hobbyist and the hard core action gamer are only narrow slices of that market, but that doesn't mean the applications others use at home are undemanding.

          The home PC is Internet Radio and TV. Home Video. Digital Photography. The pocket 720p HD camcorder from Walmart starts at under $200.

          The USB HD tuner card

      • Re:Hardcore gamer? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by meringuoid (568297) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:40AM (#21470629)
        If I had a dime for everytime someone complained about their lowend PC being "too slow!" and then finding out it only has 512MB of RAM, I'd.. well, I would've earned a couple of bucks anyway.

        My PC only has 512MB of RAM; built it in about February 2003. Runs Gutsy for most things, has a Windows disk in there for games too. The only RAM issue I've ever really had is that when a Civ 4 game on a big world gets into the modern era, everything slows down horribly - so very many cities and units around the place. I haven't tried to run Portal on this thing yet, though :-)

        I might build a new one this year, but... really, this PC's just a net terminal most of the time, or a movie player. Neither task strains it at all. Yes, I'd like to play newer games, but I already have stacks of games I haven't finished that I've accumulated over the years, and if I do decide that I absolutely have to play Bioshock, a 360 is a hell of a lot cheaper than building the gaming box o' doom.

        • If I do decide that I absolutely have to play Bioshock, a 360 is a hell of a lot cheaper than building the gaming box o' doom.
          If you had a decent PC to begin with, upgrading it to a high-end gaming PC would cost a lot less than a console, and you would have far superior graphics, too.
          • by toddestan (632714)
            If it's a early 2003 machine, it's probably an AGP machine with DDR memory. You'll be looking at a new processor, new memory, new CPU, and new video card at the least. While you can do all of that for the price of a PS3, I might be more inclined to spend $50 or so and put more ram into it and stretch it out for another year or more.
      • Selling PCs with 512MB of RAM is perfectly acceptable in my book, as long as it isin't running Vista. Just about every PC I use on a daily basis has 512MB (except one, my gaming rig, naturally), and they never really feel slow.
      • average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have

        If I had a dime for everytime someone complained about their lowend PC being "too slow!" and then finding out it only has 512MB of RAM, I'd.. well, I would've earned a couple of bucks anyway..

        And how many of those were Linux users? I ran Fedora Core 5 and 6 on a cobbled together PC with 512 meg memory, a cheap 128 meg Nvidia card and an Athlon 2600 processor while I was making the move to Linux, and it was quite nippy enough. It was more pleasent to use thatn my then 300Mhz Athlon64 running XP Pro.

        Selling a PC with less than a gig (or 2, if it comes with Vista preinstalled) is downright criminal.

        Agreed for Windows, not for Linux.

        Sure, average moes won't stress the CPU or play high end video games, but visiting a few Jpop-video rich myspace pages, while skype'ing and IM'ing at the same time does kinda require RAM.

        True enough, although I have found that not so many low end users are really into having several programs running at once.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Selling a PC with less than a gig (or 2, if it comes with Vista preinstalled) is downright criminal.

        Why? Many people can get along fine with half a gig, especially running linux (though not so much gnome or kde...) but also running XP. Sure, both are much better with 1GB...

        What I think is truly ridiculous is when a machine which does not support or does not need dual-channel memory comes with half its total maximum memory and all slots filled.

    • Re:Hardcore gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malsdavis (542216) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:31AM (#21470597)
      He's referring to the home consumer market, you are talking about the business/professional market. For the home market, there are really only 2 categories: normal and gamer. Those running "extensive calculations" on their PC, are almost always using the computer professionally (although the use of home computers for digital video watching & conversion is maybe changing this a little).

      Photoshop is a bad example, home users might dabble with a photo or two in Photoshop SE or Paint Shop Pro which will happily perform such tasks on an average cheap home PC. This is completely different to the sort of professional graphic design activities for which a high-spec business PC is required.
      • I agree that this was a bad example. HD movie playback, perhaps? Processors under 2 GHz can't handle it, from what I've seen, and it's something anyone would do. A 7.2 MPel picture (such as one from a digital camera), even in PSP, would take up 115ish MB of RAM (assuming 16 bits per pixel). All I'm saying is that there aren't only two categories of hardware, "average user" and "hardcore gamer".
        • As I feared, that calculation was (obviously) incorrect. Calculators will be the death of us all, I tell you.
      • by LM741N (258038)
        I am neither type of user. I need a fast machine at home for FreeBSD and OpenBSD for doing "make world" and other compilations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PReDiToR (687141)
        I respectfully disagree.

        I used to be a member of a chat community that had forums hosted on DelphiForums and the single largest demographic that used them was 30-50 year old mothers/housewives.
        This group used to ask me for advice on creating "sigs" and which program to use.

        They all thought that Paint Shop Pro, because it had a slightly shallower learning curve was the one for them, but I told them that the extra initial effort required to learn PhotoShop was worth it, to save learning the whole package f

    • by Darundal (891860)
      Maybe he should have said "very good for the average user (web browsing, flash games, office suites)"

      No, because he if you read the article, he got the computer because It was time to buy my daughter a cheap Linux system to be used for schoolwork and playing flash games . However, he never actually complained about the hardware being underpowered (which seems to be an assumption of your comment).

      Hardware wise, he complained about a low efficiency power supply (which, considering the machine is bra
    • average users require fewer resources than even today's cheapest PCs have

      You're much more right than you probably realize. As one of Slashdot's older readers, I remember quite clearly when it was possible to be productive - browse the web, email, office applications - with a machine with a 50 MB hardrive, 8 MB of RAM and a 150Mhz CPU. Shouldn't it be painfully obvious that even the cheapest machine today, being orders of magnitude more powerful than the machines of yesteryear, should be more than capable

    • by Sandbags (964742)
      I (unfortunately) worked in retail PC sales for about 3 years, so I'm very familiar with this premise. Major retail PC sellers (BestBuy, Walmart, etc) believe there are basically 4 PC user types; Internet users (grandma), school computers (which also double as photo/music PCs), Media centric folks with more than 1 PC (targets for media center based PCs), and hard core gamers.

      Here are the problems with this:

      1, the PC set up for grandma and young children, the bottom of the line hunk of shit, is also usually
  • I thought it was gentoo-based, not Ubuntu based.
  • I've been running the default Ubuntu from a laptop harddisk. With this system, it will not be any problem running the default Ubuntu, provided that you get the display drivers to run. Currently I'm stuck on VESA mode again, after trying almost anything to get the video to display anything other. The upgrade to 7.10 was the reason for this, upgrade to X means reinstalling video drivers again. Since I've also tried various compile/install methods, I may never get my system back on, which is the main reason fo
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JamesTRexx (675890)
      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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by asm2750 (1124425)
      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.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:19AM (#21470537) Journal
    Reading that, you begin to understand why professionals get paid to review products.

    It's full of inconsistencies;

    • The guy claims to be experienced with Ubuntu, but didn't know to type his user password at the sudo prompt.
    • He manually installs the Flash plugin and calls it unintuitive, when all you need to do is go to a website with Flash content, and it'll automatically install for you.
    • He can't find the "log out" menu item...
    • He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem.
    And so it goes on. There's almost no real review of what's installed, how easy it is to use, or even how to solve the problems he encounters.

    About the only thing you learn from him is that a little knowledge is dangerous.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:24AM (#21470559)
      If the reviewer didn't know and couldn't work it out, how is anybody buying it expected to know?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        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?

        If you're planning on reviewing a product, you need to put in enough effort to be sure you've got the basics right. This guy didn't.

        Use the Start button or right click anywhere on the desktop and select "My GoS", then "Shutdown" from the popup menu [reviewlinux.com].

        There's a much better review of the OS here [linux.com] anyway.

        • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:31PM (#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.

          • by sootman (158191)
            Ben--thanks for the review. I'm considering getting one of these, either to use as a small server (like this guy [walmart.com] describes) or to take out the guts and put them into a more size-efficient case. I would *love* to see some pics of the inside of this machine to see how small the components are and/or how much free space there is inside. Have you taken any?
            • by sgtrock (191182)
              I can't recall where I saw it, but I read a review that did say that the case was pretty much empty. Apparently, someone decided that Walmart customers would equate "big" with "powerful." They even had one photo showing that you could look right _through_ the case.
          • by Kelz (611260)
            Perhaps you should've RTFohwait.
    • by philicorda (544449) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:48AM (#21470681)
      It looks like a clash between old and new Linux.
      I used to use Slackware or Gentoo as they worked.

      I put Suse on my computer to see what it was like, and the sound was not working.
      My first reaction was to open a console and lsmod, then cat /proc/asound/cards etc.
      The card was there, but the modules were loading in the wrong order, so the motherboard soundcard was loading first and being used by default. So, I started to edit /etc/modprobe.conf

      My friend, who does not use Linux, was watching me do this and I explained what I was doing.
      He said 'Why not look in the menu?'

      In the menu there was a way to set up the sound card in Yast and select the default.
      For some reason, my technical long term Linux user brain never even considered this as a first and obvious thing to do. I think I probably acted like this guy did, instead seeing how the distro was designed to be used, or reading any documentation, I just assumed I knew best and was going to fix it by brute force.

      I think it's perhaps a throwback to when the autoconfig stuff was a bit dodgy on Linux and I really did not trust it much, so even if it was there I'd ignore it, and it got to be a habit. Nowadays I use Ubuntu and am happier to let the distro take care of configuration and the little details.
    • by rs232 (849320)
      'He can't find the "log out" menu item...'

      On this Xubuntu brings up a menu or press the power button and it goes into shutdown mode.

      'He thought installing Gnome would fix a network problem'

      Anyone here suceeded in getting the WMP54G card working on Ubuntu, perhaps you could help the man out ...
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:59AM (#21470733) Journal

      It shows that a 'random' person couldn't get the system/OS to work according to his wishes. To be really fair, you really should ask yourselve wether a 'random' person could get other system/OS combo's to work. This includes asking yourselve how well the average random person would deal with installing windows. If you ever had to deal with tech support you would know that most users stumble just as hard with MS software as with OSX and other unixes. Hell, people stumble with their toasters.

      To be specific, the SUDO bit had me wondering too, but as I am neither familiar with Ubuntu or sudo (don't use either on my own linux systems) I really can't comment. If Ubuntu does use sudo a lot then it is odd, but does the box say you need to be an experienced Linux user? Couldn't they have provided a help function? Please type in your password?

      As for flash, it would have been better if it had worked out of the box, but yes, recently installing it from your browser when prompted has been known to work. This however was not always the case, especially for Opera users.

      Enlightenment is a WM that does things a bit differently and the screenshots make it clear it is NOT a straight windows layout copy like KDE and Gnome use (By default). Perhaps he really just didn't know how to get it. Under E17 (The sequel) it is left mouse click on the desktop -> system Might be confusing to a person who normally would NEVER left-click anywhere on the desktop.

      He didn't think it would fix a network problem, he just couldn't get the tool too work. That is different. If you know how to setup your network in Windows XP and not in Vista then installing XP again 'fixes' your problem. Granted it does sound like "oh they are not doing everything 100% like I am used too, it sucks" but that is how most users are.

      So is it a good review? No, but it does tell us something and that is that Joe Average is a moron who doesn't like change and that it is very hard to develop an OS for that guy. See it not as a review but one of those usability reports usability experts so love to go one about. It might help you to develop an OS for average user.

      And no windows ain't that OS either and NEITHER is OSX (before the Apple fanboys pipe up), if ANY OS out there was the perfect OS for the clueless I wouldn't constantly be asked by the clueless to help with their machine.

      Recently I had to help people setup their network under Vista and OSX, and none of the users seemed to know how to do it. None of them make it very clear or easy. (Why does Vista break with DHCP run on linux anyway?)

      I do agree with your end conclusion, give me a clueless user who knows he/she is clueless anyday, they ask, you answer, they listen, problem fixed. The ones who think they know a little ARGUE with you over the solution. ARGH! If you know it better, why ask? But the horrors of support is another rant.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stewbacca (1033764)
        Calling somebody "clueless" lends nothing to the credibility of your post. If anything, this review shows that, a) Wal-mart is missing the target audience, and b) Linux isn't ready for Joe Consumer. Just because you think the reviewer is dumb really change anything.
        • could we stop saying asinine things like "Linux isn't ready for..." the variant here was gOS and then Ubuntu. Linux is (still) the kernel.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      I think you can summarize this as "terminal user using modern GUI". Since obviously he knows to use his sudo password at the command prompt, my only possible conclusion is the he's never encountered it in a GUI and didn't recognize it as a sudo prompt.

      He wants to install some flash games (I don't know what he's talking about, but surely it should be handled by the package manager?) not any website. It's not intuitive that you need to browse the web to get some offline(?) flash game working. If it's online h
      • by mikelieman (35628)

        I think you can summarize this as "terminal user using modern GUI". Since obviously he knows to use his sudo password at the command prompt, my only possible conclusion is the he's never encountered it in a GUI and didn't recognize it as a sudo prompt.

        YES! I installed gOS on a laptop to play around with it, and I got caught up with "Password for admin tasks? It didn't ask me for a password for admin tasks when I setup my user password. I don't think this *has* a root password." It took a while, until I

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lakin (702310)

      He manually installs the Flash plugin and calls it unintuitive, when all you need to do is go to a website with Flash content, and it'll automatically install for you.

      Well, he doesnt say its unintuitive, he just doesnt try any way other than installing it in the terminal. It was when he said that I knew this review was completely useless. And then again in his summary he says

      On the other hand, I was also being repeatedly frustrated with my attempts to get things done by the standard methods I'd use on a normal Ubuntu system.

      Im pretty sure Walmart are not aiming this pc at the average ubuntu user. I would have been much more interested in how usable this machine is by people with limited computer knowledge. Can they find the major apps, do any errors crop up, etc.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      About the only thing you learn from him is that a little knowledge is dangerous.

      If a moderately experienced user can't figure things out, what hope does a novice have? I have yet to see any Linux distribution that I would consider even remotely comparable to Vista or OS X. Ubuntu is definitely one of the friendliest, but there are still far too many pitfalls for new users, especially when it comes to configuring hardware.

      • I popped up a terminal window and installed it using "sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree."
        Point made? As much as I'd like to see a viable, novice-friendly version of Linux, all I get is review after review just like this one -- somebody with moderate computing experience floundering around in some non user-friendly Linux variant.
        • by sowth (748135)

          That is a bad example. I don't know about gOS, but Ubuntu comes with Synaptic [freshmeat.net] installed. No apt-get command line required. Even though I think it is a piece of crap, any MS Windows user would probably be comfortable with it.

    • by vtcodger (957785)
      ***The guy claims to be experienced with Ubuntu, but didn't know to type his user password at the sudo prompt.***

      I certainly wouldn't criticize anyone who has never encountered sudo's strange default configuration for assuming that a security feature popping up an administrative password box during setup would want the root password rather than the (pointless, no?) user password. Confused me also when I first encountered it years ago. Does Ubuntu ship with the default sudo configuration? Betcha not.

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @12:21PM (#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 Helmholtz Coil (581131) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:25AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tkid (821402)
      Yeah, I like ZaReason's description from their site, specifically this one: "Preloaded with: OpenOffice, Mozilla Firefox, gMail, Meebo, Skype, Wikipedia, GIMP, Blogger, YouTube, Xing Movie Player, Rhythmbox, Faqly, Facebook, all for ease of use on start-up." WTF, you mean they preloaded gMail, Blogger, YouTube and Facebook.. I know most have the internet but listing these as preloaded seems a little out of place. Should say internet subscription required.
    • I wanted to post this on this story [slashdot.org], but i got there too late... This article at LinuxDevices [linuxdevices.com] alludes that the gOS PCs are really intended to act as a development system for a range of future Linux products using the Ubuntu/Enlightment platform. If you cant get your hands on one of these now, don't worry, you will start seeing these soon a lot more commonly. I bet by the end of 2008, you will see a gOS port for say the eeePC [wikipedia.org] (and questions of whether Xandros is breaking the GPL [slashdot.org] can be tossed out with the
  • The advert above says 'See why the City of Indianapolis chose Windows Server over Linux'. Luckly clicking on the 'Compare' link does nothing on this Xubuntu with free-flash installed. Is curious as to why such adverts turn up in a review of the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC ..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by realdodgeman (1113225)
      That is because Microsoft has bought ads on sites with the keyword "Linux" as a part of their FUD campaign also known as Compare. For more FUD, visit Microsoft.com/compare.
  • Let me Summarize (Score:5, Informative)

    by vtcodger (957785) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:36AM (#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 Alcoholic Synonymous (990318) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @08:47AM (#21470675)
    Okay, I am telling on myself here. I work at a Walmart. My store has these in stock currently, but just two. Not sure how long we have had them, but the department manager decided not to put them out in favor of the expensive Gateway's that noone ever buys. Under the rare circumstance that I was allowed to be unchained from the game case, I got the honor of finding stuff to put on display tonight. I saw these and grabbed the store's assistant manager, told him the buzz of them and asked if there was any reason why I couldn't put them out. He said "do it". Now I am wondering if they will be bought up before I return from my weekend off, and if they go to tech savvy people who know what they are, or cheap dolts who grab the lowest priced stuff on the shelf. (Durabrand!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mh1997 (1065630)

      Okay, I am telling on myself here. I work at a Walmart.
      After reading billions of articles/posts about evil Walmart on the internet, I have to ask a stupid question.

      Which Walmart employee are you - the guy that is exploited for low wages with no benefits because of your lack of education or the guy that is destroying small town America?

  • This thing is a miss, because the people it is oriented to won't understand:

    I popped up a terminal window and installed it using "sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree."
    Ironically enough, that statement, coupled with the Author's remark --

    I didn't spend any time trying to figure out if a naive user would have been able to get through this step.
    -- is why Linux probably won't ever become a mainstream player.
    • by mspohr (589790)
      Being a somewhat technical person he knew he needed Flash and how to install it from the repository. The average clueless newbie running this machine will browse to a Flash website and get a message that they need to install Flash along with a button to press to install it... same result... they get Flash. This is also the same way that IE on Windows works to install Flash the last time I used IE.
    • by dbcad7 (771464)
      you bring up 2 issues...

      I popped up a terminal window and installed it using "sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree."
      I didn't spend any time trying to figure out if a naive user would have been able to get through this step.

      These are both issues related to the author, not Linux or this distro.. He could have just as easily installed with Synaptic, or as the other poster says, the web site... I also notice you using html tags, which is about as complicated to understand as the terminal apt-get.. I gu

      • As long as this distro has an icon driven way to install Flash, then it is an issue related to the author. If that is the case, then the author is wrong. BUT...to the eyes of the masses, Linux is just like this guy describes: typing in random stuff in a command line (even if it isn't true). In otherwords, because of articles like this one, Linux is getting a raw deal. The author is making Linux less accessible to people who casually gloss over the review.

        Yes, I used html tags...poorly, even. And ye

        • by dbcad7 (771464)
          I agree with you that authors should demonstrate more simplistic ways of doing things in their articles. For example, you don't see articles where a windows user opens up a command prompt to copy a file, even though you could do it that way.. I suppose when an author uses apt-get in a terminal as opposed to the simpler to understand Synaptic he is bragging about his knowledge of the command line.. which in not helpful to potential users (although may benefit new users)

          If you are a particularly fast typist

  • by iamwahoo2 (594922) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:42AM (#21470955)
    And apparently that is "f you".

    Look at the first screenshot, the "f" icon on the bottom menu bar is followed by the word "you". I guess the "you" is half of the youtube icon. They need to reorder that menubar.

  • With a 1.5GHz, VIA -D Processor, 512MB DDR2 533MHz, SDRAM, 80GB Hard Disk Drive, DVD-ROM/CD-RW Optical Drive, and VIA UniChrome Pro IGP Graphics?

    alot of non gameing uses may want a DVDRW and they cost about $10 more then a DVD-ROM/CD-RW.

    And you can buy 1GB of low end DDR2 for about $30 after rebate higher end DDR2 800 2x1gb dual channel kits with times like 4-4-4-15-1T and heat spreaders are only about $50 after rebate.

    A 80GB HD is ok but a lot of non games may need more space.

    VIA UniChrome Pro IGP Graphics
  • The following line from the review strikes me as fishy:

    OpenOffice.org Writer starts in 10 seconds, which is actually slightly faster than on my dual core 2.2 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+!

    He doesn't mention what OS the Athlon64 box runs, but my ancient AMD Athlon 1 GHz with 1 GB of RAM running Vista Business starts OpenOffice Writer in 12 seconds. This is with multiple open Firefox windows, Winamp, IRC client, Thunderbird and phpEd running at the same time and all the Vista graphics effects turned on.
  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:25AM (#21471611) Homepage
    I couldn't get the wifi working by clicking around in Exalt's GUI; it recognized our home network, but wouldn't connect to it via DHCP. I decided that since my previous successful experience had been with Gnome, I would install Gnome and see if I could get the card working with Gnome Network Manager.

    Then later

    To be fair, I ended up finding out that there had been a regression in wifi support for RT2500 in recent versions of Ubuntu, so it wasn't exactly smooth sailing on the new system.

    Why do people insist on thinking that changing the desktop environment will change anything about the experience. I've run in to endless wifi problems with my old ubuntus, and it's nothing to do with the desktop environment. Yet, I would still sometimes get people writing back saying "kubuntu sucks, go install ubuntu, everything just works!".

    Linux is basically Linux, and if hardware doesn't work under KDE it's not going to work under GNOME, or IceWM or anything else. Why do people insist on this sort of thinking? Can someone point me to a situation where *hardware* recognition or functionality didn't work under Gnome but worked under KDE (or the reverse, or anything similar)? Especially something like a wifi card?
    • Sound works on my laptop with gnome but not with KDE. Some of the tools used to configure the devices are different.
  • The gOS Website [thinkgos.com] described gOS this way:

    We're still in alpha stage...

    At our current state, we are just encouraging interested developers to download, play with, and help improve the gOS. For our general audience, we encourage trying a gOS product that gOS has already been qualified on.

    They just recently changed it (since it still said the OS was in alpha stage after Walmart sold out of them).

  • I have a computer illiterate friend who has an el-cheapo HP machine that is a few years old. She runs Windows and constantly gets infected with viruses. She periodically takes it to a computer shop to get Windows reinstalled which costs about $40.

    I've run Linux on her machine via LiveCDs but I've had no joy with her winmodem and she is strictly dialup. An external modem from the local (very small town) computer shop is about $90. The Walmart specs for their $200 Linux PC say it has a modem. I figur
  • Hey kdawson, wake up and smell the 90s. Some of us have monitors more than 640 pixels wide, so your 500 pixel fixed width is just a TAD hard to read when it is 5" wide on the left edge of a 30" monitor. Thank god for firebug, I just had to delete the width style on your container div.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday November 26, 2007 @12:13AM (#21475527) Homepage
    I built the packages from the thinkgos repo's and found the following on a Fiesty install.

    For those that don't follow enlightenment, it's e17. All the gee-whiz graphics without the overhead. Errr, except:

    1. The thinkgos.com package builds are buggy as hell. These don't even qualify as Ubuntu quality. I certainly get better builds out of Debian unstable.
    2. udev wierdness. It's an odd situation where udev does the right thing according to dmesg, but the desktop environment (DE) doesn't work right in common situations.
    3. No system tray or task bar. Stalonetray works far better than trayer, but you still have to work at it a bit and it's a nasty hack that hangs off the end of the bottom panel no matter what. The head-honcho at e17 does not feel whatever standard exists for system trays is sufficient.
    3. I can't tell if the desktop environment is supposed to have sound effects, but I got pulseaudio working (finally) and it plays stuff, just no desktop environment sounds.
    4. No transparency. For whatever reason, there's no Xorg transparency support. Someone please point out how to do it. I'd love to be wrong.

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