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Two Lackluster Reviews For LindowsOS on Wal-Mart PCs 382

Eugenia writes: "Two individual reviews of LindowsOS running on the MicroTel/Wal-Mart hardware were published today. The first can be found over at NewsForge and the other one at BayArea.com. Both reviews are not positive for the Lindows solution and they are not excited about the idea of Click-n-Run."
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Two Lackluster Reviews For LindowsOS on Wal-Mart PCs

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  • by GoatPigSheep ( 525460 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @08:58AM (#3821536) Homepage Journal
    So far, very nice. But then X Windows came up. Unfortunately, the monitor I normally use for testing is not a multisync monitor. This apparently was a problem for the system as configured. As a result, the screen became entirely unreadable. Faced with this, I decided to do what any novice user would do: I powered the machine off. Yes, I could have gone to one of the text consoles, logged in as root, and issued the shutdown command, but very few Wal-Mart buyers would know about that.

    I do not find this part of the article fair. I don't know about most of you, but almost all monitors that have come out in the last 7 or 8 years are multisync compatible. I don't think it's fair to blame ancient hardware not working on the system. Besides, most people who buy these walmart systems would pick up a new, and most likely multisync compatible, monitor.
    • by erasmus_ ( 119185 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:26AM (#3821619)
      Why is it not fair? He does not seem to assign a great deal to the fact that it did not work initially, giving them more credit for the fact that when he simply shuts off the machine, as Joe Consumer would, it comes back up ok. To me, it was a recoverability test, not a hardware compatibility one. His biggest problems are with Click-n-Run, as evidenced by the review summary.
      • To me, it was a recoverability test,
        The 'recoverablilty' that bothered me, if it's true, was this:
        A plague from the Windows world has now apparently made its way into Lindows: a rescue CD. If you have a problem, pop in the disk and return your machine to fresh-from-the-factory perfection. And, by the way, all your data will be gone
        If the filesystems are set up so that /home is a separate partition, then there's no reason why the rescue disk should kill your data (at least without asking you if you want to do that). And it's not really difficult to do
        ln -s /home/programs /usr/local/bin
        or whatever (although it would probably be better to have an entirely different partition for that, too) to make reformatting the root partition reasonably kind to installed packages.
        • WAL*MART CONSUMERS. Many of which who have ne'er owned a PC before. Your example above would be askng too much for gramma to type in so she can save her recipies she typed in.

          And asking tech support to create the script to save those files on a seperate partition is asking too much as well - what if someone saves their files someplace else, reformats their PC with the rescue disk, and *SURPRISE* it didn't copy the files you saved becuse they weren't where the rescue disk expected to see them!

          • That's why the system should come with a /home partition by default. And the user shouldn't be root, so he can only save in his home partition. Some preparation before the fact is all that's necessary to avoid some of the problems and your observed issues with the solutions.
          • Your example above would be askng too much for gramma to type in so she can save her recipies she typed in.
            Of course it is. That's why I'm suggesting that the install script do it. I thought that was so
            obvious I didn't need to spell it out the first time 'round.

            The review says that there's an icon labelled "C:" that actually opens up /home. So there's
            a more than decent chance that it is already a separate partition. Whether /usr/local should
            be a filesystem of its own (eliminating the need for such a command in the script), or sym-
            linked to a subdirectory of /home, isn't nearly asimportant as the idea that there are direct-
            ories that belong to the distro, others that don't. The default behavior of an install/restore
            script should be to leave those other directories alone; putting them on a filesystem separate
            from / makes it very easy to do that.

    • Why? Any decent OS should let you use a safe mode [e.g. 640x480x16 colors] before switching automagically to a higher color mode.

      Next your going to comment that anyone with a 5 yr old soundblaster PCI16 should get the latest and greatest PCI64 Soundblaster 128 or something just because supporting widespread hardware that is older than a month is taboo.

      • Given a good chunk of video card manufacturers are considering removing VGA and lower from the cards themselves (gets back a large portion of ROM space and some freedom I suppose) the 640x480x16 color standard VGA mode won't exist in a couple years.
    • Funny, here's me thinking that being able to run on old hardware (something windows generally can't do) is a selling point of Linux.
    • Most LCD monitors are not multisync.
    • "almost all monitors that have come out in the last 7 or 8 years are multisync compatible. I don't think it's fair to blame ancient hardware not working on the system."

      Of course the Lindows PC is a bare-bones system that comes sans monitor. Sounds like the perfect upgrade for someone who's currently doing word processing on their now ancient 286 or 386. And if it's just a simple, utilitarian solution, they might be interested in cutting corners by reusing the monitor.

  • Time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:01AM (#3821550)
    LindowsOS, at least in its present form, represents false economy. Any money you save buying a LindowsOS computer and downloading Click-N-Run software will be canceled out by the time spent coping with the many missing pieces.

    That reminds me of someone who said (JWZ?) " Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing ". Despite all the commendable advances, personally I'll keep it as a damn fine server and stick with Windows for my desktop.

    Next year though ... things might be very different ...

    • Re:Time (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Myopic ( 18616 )
      i agree. as it is, i have a years-old macintosh (original iMac) and i'm treading water waiting for Linux to become Good Enough for me. i had Linux installed on my iMac for a while but found it not-quite-usable enough to make it worthwhile -- it's not that i don't understand how a computer works (writing software is, in fact, my profession), it's that i don't know by heart the 150 little utilities, scripts, and commands to frob the tiny little details of the system, and couldn't convince myself to read any of the 1,000 page Linux tomes.

      i was heartened recently with the new releases of Mozilla and Gnome and OpenOffice. i'm waiting for those three pieces of software to make it into the distros and i'll be ready to buy a cheap PC and run only Linux (i don't and never have done Windows). i'm long past having developed a hatred for MacOS (for crashes alone; i think it's still the most usable OS).

      one really great thing about Linux is how absolutely sure i am that it and other Free software will "win". already, Free alternatives are just about as good as their commercial counterparts. already they are more stable and secure, and our community is watching as one after another popular title becomes super-user-friendly, too. it's folly to think that people will keep paying for software when free software is better. free operating systems, browsers, office suites, chat clients, file browsers, peer-to-peer software, mp3 players, and graphics programs WILL win market share in the end simply because they are Good and Free.

      plus, what about the next company which decides it wants to write it wants to release it's own web browser? you think they'll reinvent the wheel instead of using Mozilla? why would they do that? so they don't have to comply with the GPL? no way. with software so complex, companies will wisely choose to build on the already-Free options then bit the bullet and release their modifications back to the community.

      i really really believe that the momentum is absolutely impossible to stop. the future of consumer software will not be like the past. the reason is simple economics.
    • That reminds me of someone who said (JWZ?) " Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing ". Despite all the commendable advances, personally I'll keep it as a damn fine server and stick with Windows for my desktop.

      Well, I landed my current job in no small part because of the time I have spent learning things with Linux. So not only is Linux free, but also, it paid me back to use it. Now that I do know my way around, I can use it for EVERYTHING. Doing the same in windoze while possible, isn't practical. Windoze also requires far too much hardware for many simple tasks (like my libretto 20GB jukebox)

      And until windoze 2000 (and even then a little), windoze has *NEVER* been easy to install/configure/reconfigure at ALL. How much was your time worth to you again? In linux, if there is a problem, I can look at log files, see what is going on, look at the /proc filesystem, fix the problem, and move on. Windoze? Good luck fiddling with the installer and hoping it works.

      Oh, and you can't run windoze 2000 on older machines, or machines with weird unsupported hardware, so if you want windoze, you're stuck with screwing around with an older version (windos95/98) for a few days in the hopes that it will work

      Windoze hell scenario 1

      • Upgraded both sound card and video in my main computer. Went into linux. Changed 2 files. Everything works beautifully.
      • Under windows, auto-detect nightmare. The sound *still* doesn't work (but I never bothered finishing...like you, my time is worth something to me

      Windoze Hell scenario 2

      • Bought toshiba libretto. Came with windoze95, with the novell client installed. Have you ever tried to update your network config with that thing installed? Not fun. After a day of fighting with the stuff trying to get around the 'requirement' to run novell, I said fsck it and did a network install of Mandrake. Worked beautifully, including hibernation. Doing a win95 install over network would not be nearly as pleasant.
    • That reminds me of someone who said (JWZ?) " Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing ".

      This is so untrue. I work at a software company, and I spend SO LITTLE time actually making my linux-based laptop work in day-to-day use and installation compared with my co-workers who use windows.

      Add to that the fact that my little machine basically never crashes (although sometimes RealPlayer does), never gets viruses, never needs reinstalling, auto-updates through Ximian Gnome, and I'd say that I'm saving BOTH MY TIME AND MY COMPANY'S MONEY using Linux.

      Hey, nobody said Linux may not be gratis, just libre and "cheaper than windows".
    • Re:Time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @03:51PM (#3823482) Homepage Journal
      Remember, though, that Windows is only $200 if your time is worth nothing.
  • I was a bit shocked by...

    It took several phone calls -- escalating to the point of calling a Lindows.com executive, an option not available to non-journalists -- before I discovered LindowsOS doesn't yet have a feature for setting the refresh rate. Instead, the company sent me complicated and potentially risky instructions for changing the refresh rate by entering obscure Unix commands such as "xf86cfg."

    I did finally manage to set a high refresh rate, but only after taking a technical step that's equivalent to jumping off a cliff without knowing for sure if there's a safety net below.

    I mean come on guys xf86cfg isn't exactly rocket science, it no harder to use than playing with the control panel in Windows.

    • But if its so simple, why would they not have just incorporated it into their version of the Control Panel... I wish I could see a working version of Lindows and see what they're talking about!
    • I mean come on guys xf86cfg isn't exactly rocket science, it no harder to use than playing with the control panel in Windows.

      No, it's not difficult for you. However, most people don't have a clue as to what a refresh rate is, let alone how to set it by hacking at various commands.

      You can rant all you want about "people who don't want to learn the tools" and the other various regular geek arguments, but it boils down to this:

      Until a parrot can install and configure a Linux installation, it will not pose a true threat to the Windows desktop OS monopoly.

      Yeah, yeah, who wants that, blah blah, whatever. That's what Linux needs to succeed - simple, point and click and it just works installation and configuration (Mandrake is close and Suse [from the account of others] is perhaps closer, but both are not quite there, BTW) that is common to all distros. A tool for the drooling, unwashed masses, while we keep our "sup4r 1337 c0mm4nd l1n3 sk111z".


    • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:31AM (#3821632) Journal
      I mean come on guys xf86cfg isn't exactly rocket science, it no harder to use than playing with the control panel in Windows.

      It's easy to use, it's just there apparently isn't some kind of control panel item or icon to run it, and no indication that the program even exists. Most Windows programs I've run across also have short, barely-sensical names for their executables, but that's why icons with pretty, fuzzy names exist - so non-geeks who've never heard of man or seen a command line can figure out what to do without calling tech support.

      I can't say I'm surprised, but with some geeks installing the more user-friendly distros for their families, couldn't a few get together and figure out how to put together and sell/give away a really solid, usable Linux-based desktop computer? Maybe Wal-Mart's Mandrake PC will be this mythical machine?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Lindows" is open source innovation at it's most pathetic. At least KOffice adds a letter to a useable product, but Lindows just swaps one. Lame.
  • Open Source? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MikeOttawa ( 551441 )
    I thought that Lindows was based on a Linux operating system with a Wine type overlay for running Windows apps ... but did they develop everythingthing themselves?
    I thought that you had to allow the source code to be available when you used code from an open source source.
    It seems to me that they are charging for something that they didn't put the sweat into making.
  • by SpatchMonkey ( 300000 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:13AM (#3821583) Journal
    Because Lindows hardly measures up to Windows XP at all. It may be better than, say, Windows 95 or 98 due to stability and a decent GUI, but times have moved on since then.

    NT-based Windows systems are actually pretty good. The main benefit of a Linux based system, stability, has been negated as Windows caught up quite a while ago.

    Features like 'open source' and '$150 cheaper' aren't really bonuses to most PC users, when it doesn't have the feature 'runs all my Windows programs and games just fine' implemented correctly.
    • Windows has not yet caught up to Linux or UNIX in terms of stability. It may be a large leap from where it was a short time ago, it has by no means caught up. The thought that it has is no more then than a urban legend. Windows 2000 MTBF is 2,800 hours, Linux stable kernels on the other hand tend to have a average MTBF of around 15,000 hours.

    • I don't necessarily agree with your point about stability. My experience (I've used Win2kPro on my laptop for about two years now and used NT4 at work for about 1.5 years) has been that while I very rarely get out-right crashes (maybe 10 BSoDs in the time I've had the laptop), Win2kPro does tend to just gradually get to the point that it needs to be rebooted. Memory leaks, needing to install service packs, etc., etc., all add up to poor MTBF. But yeah, outright stability has improved drastically from the 95/98/ME days.

      I don't really think you have the right idea in your second point, though. My impression is that while the Lindows OS itself is aimed at eventually swaying over current Windows users, the Microtel / WalMart offering is really aimed at first-time users / buyers who don't aren't thinking "I need my win apps to run". They're thinking "My kids keep telling me I need to get the Internet". I don't think there are many people currently using desktop computers (home, work, whatever) who would take this machine seriously as a home system.

    • At work, we have about 13 Windows 2000 servers. We have 4 Linux servers (En Garde). Here are some fun statistics for you to ponder:


      -Every single one of the W2K boxes have had to been rebuilt at least once in the last 2 years
      -Three of the boxes have had been rebuilt 3 or more times in this same time period
      -The record uptime for our W2K servers is 3 months
      -Four of the servers have outright locked up and stopped responding even to ping packets

      Reasons for rebuilds: Nimda, Driver corruptions, DLL corruptions, Unexplained software instability

      En Garde Linux

      -The only time these servers have EVER gone down was once because lightning melted down a power substation that feeds our building and our battery backups didn't last long enough. Now that we have a diesel generator that can power us for days, we don't anticipate these servers to ever go down again

      Currently our Fileserver is W2K but we are seriously considering moving it to Linux because we can't afford any downtime on that.
      • I don't like Microsoft operating systems, but jeebus, come on and get real. Anyone with any experience can keep a Windows machine patched and well protected with a little effort. Nimda could have been prevented with patching and virus detection, "unexplained software instability" usually results from shitty third-party software.

        You say that you've never taken your linux servers down for any reason except by acts of God. Come on, give me a break. You're telling me you've never updated your kernel? Why not? That's a security issue in and of itself. Machines not responding to pings? I have had the same problems... turns out it was hardware and not software.

        Any system can be properly administered. Uptime is not a guarantee of quality by any means. Attention paid to patching often and patching quickly is the mark of a good system administrator. Quickly released patches by vendors is a hallmark of a good product. Having a product that has few patches because it's done right in the first place is the hallmark of a great product.

        Now, obviuosly Microsoft does not fit into this final rubrick very well. Hence, their product isn't very good.

        Your comparisons are flawed. Your overall gut feelings may be right, but your anecdotal evidence isn't very convincing.

    • Sorry, but I really do like the interface of Enlightenment much better than that of Win2k. Even if Windows were equal to Linux in stability, I still wouldn't want it. Others have brought up viruses, and I'll add to that a distrust of Microsoft ("What are you doing, Dave?").

      The things that were problems a few years ago (watching movies, listening to music, having a really good Web browser, reading Office documents) are gone now. I never really played PC games; we've got a PS2, Dreamcast, and Saturn downstairs, and if I get bored of those, I can fire up an emulator. So Windows doesn't really have any benefits for me.

  • by Eythian ( 552130 ) <robin.kallisti@net@nz> on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:21AM (#3821602) Homepage

    Personally, I don't see the need for dumbed down versions of Linux such as Lindows. I have been using Mandrake since 7.2, and have found the latest version (8.2) more than sufficient for me, as a compulsive command-line user, and when I was last down home I installed it on my parents Celery 400, where it runs better than Win98 did (with the exception of longer startup time). To do this, and teach them how to use it, I had to learn the GUI tools for things. I then discovered that these were much more capable than they used to be. The only exposure my parents have ever had to have to the command line is that breif period after the graphic bootup screen goes away, before X has fully started. They are now happily using konqueror, kmail, and all the games that come with Linux, without problems. Every so often I sent them an email such as 'A new security release has come out. Use MandrakeUpdate.', and thats it.

    Its definatly time for Linux on the non-geek desktop, and real Linux at that (none of the logged in as root business). The only thing they didn't do was the actual installation, however I am going to be doing the same conversion to my g/fs computer soon, and will let her do the install so I can see how easy it is for someone not familar with anything beyond powerpoint.

    It is also important to keep in mind that there is software to do almost anything that you require avaliable for Linux if you are a casual user. It may yet be missing important applications, those that are more niche products, but all the things a typical user needs are there, such as many variations of solitaire :)

  • In order to download Lindows from their website and try it out, you STILL have to register to be an insider! They say that when the general release comes out, it will be downloadable for free. Now that THEY ARE SELLING LINDOWS TO THE PUBLIC, shouldn't the free downloadable open source version be public?
    • I'm not sure how they set it up, but they only have to release source to the people they distribute the binaries to, and they are allowed to charge a fee for either or both. The source fee must be reasonable to cover costs of distribution and not be for profit, however, and it sounds like this may not be the case.
  • by bareminimum ( 456719 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:24AM (#3821610)
    It is sad to read two reviews of Lindoze and none of them addresses the alleged out of the box MS code compatibility. None of the reviewers even tried to install MsOffice.. In my mind that was the most spectacular claim we've been hearing about for months. A bit more research would be appreciated. Instead we get a guy whining about his out of a dumpster single frequency monitor (he was okay at least) and the other dude complains that his eyes hurt.

    I really wonder a) what refresh rate is OEM Windows set to out-of-the-box and b) what percentage of AOL users know how to change their refresh rate under Windows, let alone have a clue what a monitor refresh rate is.

    • Usually 60hz and changing it is a dropdown listing only the modes your monitor can display.
    • Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here but personally I haven't read a review of these machines by anyone with a sixth grade education.

      It seems people already have written Lindows off no matter which camp they are from.

      The Linux people go "blah! it's not _real_ linux blah! Linux should never be on the desktop, GO SLACKWARE!"

      The Windows people go "blah! it's linux too hard no matter what they do... It will never beat XP"

      Well. They are both wrong. I've had my fair share of problems with both XP (9x, NT) and a few linux distros. But! I think it is time for linux on the 'top and I think Lindows can grab some of that mindshare. Of course, Suse, Mandrake and Redhat are easy enough for most people to install (debian was easy on my first try which was a long time ago).

      Of course - anyone who bitches about having to download apps off the internet (for free might I add) is a moron.

      Do you know how many PC downloads there were at download.com alone last year? Most of them shareware at that.

      Where can we get a real review. None of this 'I tested it with my 10 year old monitor and not the one which goes with the machine... all computer users MUST have monitors lying around!' crap.

      (btw, Wal-Mart carries multisync monitors... even a flat panel KDS for around $300)
  • Jumping frogs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:30AM (#3821630)
    Bitching about LindowsOS aside, there seems to be some major misconception with Linux geeks. The NewsForge article complains towards the end people are being hustled into paying *gasp* money in order to use the Clink-n-Run system. This is "free" software. Free as in speech, not as in beer. THe misconception is that said software ought to always be free as in beer and that it is at some point free as in beer. Just because you can add a line to your sources.list and run apt-get without paying for anything directly doesn't make that download free. Someone somewhere has to pay for that. There isn't a 400 user limit on ftp.debian.org because bandwidth or rackspace is free.

    Charging $99 may or may not be fair. They are a company like any other trying to make a buck so it is in their best interest to overcharge you for the service rendered. Even if they are overcharging you it is at least a decent business plan the sort that actually has a step 2 and at some point looks to make a profit for all parties involved. If you want to fuck them over and potentially keep Linux out of the hands of people who would not use it otherwise, feel free to tell every LindowsOS user about using "free" apt mirrors. Or you could let buyers figure it out for themselves which ought to be a profound experience for them. Coupled with this you might want to think about kicking back a few bucks to the LinuxISO guys or some Gentoo mirror next time you download yet another Linux distribution or emerge some new program.
    • Re:Jumping frogs (Score:5, Informative)

      by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:09AM (#3821776) Homepage
      "...feel free to tell every LindowsOS user about using "free" apt mirrors."

      They already are using "free" Debian mirrors. According to a Lindows user posting on alt.os.linux /etc/apt/sources.list contains:

      deb ftp://ftp.us.debian.org/debian woody main contrib non-free deb ftp://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US woody/non-US main contrib non-free
      deb ftp://agent:foulfowl@ftp.lindows.com/agent-pool . .

      Lindows is charging for access to the Debian archive and they aren't even running their own mirror.
      • Lindows is charging for access to the Debian archive and they aren't even running their own mirror.

        And I bet the company selling Lindows and this access isn't giving a cent to the organization that's providing the bandwidth and hardware. I sense some interesting e-mails going back and forth between Debian maintainers and Lindows reps in the near future.
    • The NewsForge article complains towards the end people are being hustled into paying *gasp* money in order to use the Clink-n-Run system. This is "free" software. Free as in speech, not as in beer. THe misconception is that said software ought to always be free as in beer and that it is at some point free as in beer.

      Actually, the point brought up in the article is that the $99 per year fee is ``hidden'' from the buyer; they may not find out about it until they get home with their new, cheap computer. Spending an extra $99 on it right out of the box is going to wipe out most of the benefits of buying Lindows instead of Windows immediately. And then you get to do it all over again next year....

      I don't think the reviewer was trying to say that the software service should have been free. I think he meant that the cost should have been reasonable, and up-front.
    • Your misconception is that the author is complaining that you have to pay for the subscription to the Click-n-Run system. If you RTFA, you'd realize that what he's actually complaining about is that the Click-n-Run subscription is essentially mandatory, but not openly disclosed as such at the time of purchase. Thus the $300 PC is essentially a $400 PC, but that extra cost is hidden in an "optional service". The author suggests that they just charge the extra money up front, and give you a more functional distribution on the CD. Does that sound like misconstruing that software ought to always be free as in beer?

    • I think the bitch isn't so much that the LindowsOS folks are charging to access their archive (which appears to be a link to existing apt-get mirrors - thus charging you to use someone elses stuff, which seems wrong to me if in fact it's true) but that A: it's not clear before you buy that this "added value" costs enough to negate the advantage of losing Windows. And B: the things they are charging for are considered "part of the package" with most other distributions.

      Their business model may be good for them, but it seems to be bad for the community as a whole - the community which built the packages they're selling. As for kicking back a few bucks, I'd point to the various boxed editions of RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD I have on my self. Boxed sets purchased expresly to put some money into the hands of the people who make it possible.

      I (and I suspect most other people) don't mind paying for a distro. But I want it to be a good distro. With a complete RH or Mdk distro going for $80 with support, the LindowsOS model looks like a particularly bad one to pay extra for.

      The "mass consumer" folks aren't going to embrace Linux until it's as easy to use as Windows and actually costs less (to them). Sure, they can DL a better distro - but that's not as easy as plugging in and turning on. Sure, they can buy the $99 subscription to Click-N-Run, but that costs money.

      It's a step in the generaly right direction at least...

  • by Grab ( 126025 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:33AM (#3821638) Homepage
    You what?! I quote: "the hardware specifications were minimal: an obsolescent 850 megahertz AMD Duron processor, 128 megabytes of random-access memory (RAM), a 10-gigabyte hard drive and a CD-ROM drive".

    My main machine at home is basically that spec (but with a smaller HDD). Seriously, what do you need more than that for, apart from games (which largely don't exist for Linux anyway) and heavy academic number-crunching? It's certainly enough for every office/drawing/productivity program I have, and I use it for loads of fairly serious software and electronics development work.

    I really would like ppl to stop pretending that everyone needs a 2GHz processor to use a word processor. So it's not Deep Thought - so what?

    • They may not *need* it, but the price seems a bit high for that hardware all things considered. Hell, an X-Box is close to that spec and a hundred bucks cheaper, except the XBox has a higer horsepower graphics system...

      It's not really necessary, but it isn't that great either...
    • So true man, so true. The fastest machine I've ever owned was a Duron 850, and it busted. Now I am down to the previou machine, a K6-2/350 and a P5-266 laptop.

      Absolutely no complaintants. Everything run very acceptably. I am obviously not a gamer, and so I am not terribly worried about it.
    • Bragging Rights (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unformed ( 225214 )
      It's the same reason people get Bigger Trucks, Big Johnsons, and the oh-so-famous Penile Enhancements.
    • Some things:

      First off, though it may supprise you, not every one does the same sorts of things you do. I see posts like this fairly often on Slashdot and indeed at the time I write this there is one in response to yours that is along the same vein. Open source people that have very little hardware (the respondant is working with P2/K5 class hardware) and that can't seem to grasp the fact that anyone would want anything better. Well, a minimalist system may work well for you, that's fine, however it does NOT for everyone. Not everyone has the same computing needs as you because not everyone does the same things as you.

      For example one thing I do that taxes my system all the time is pro audio work. One part of mixing music is adding effects like compression (dynamic compression, not file compression), reverberation, equilisation and so on. Well rather than buy expensive specialised DSPs for this, modern processors are powerful enough to do it in software. Fine, but the more you want to do, the more power you need. I routinely slam my P4 1.6 and would gladly take more power if I could afford it.

      Second, lots of people DO play games on their computers and these do need lots of power. I don't have a GeForce 4 for pro work or anything like that, I have it to play games. You can argue that they should just get an X-box or something, but there are valid reason to want to play games on the computer, not the least of which many games are not available on any console. At any rate it is a very valid reason to want high end hardware.

      Finally, even if you don't NEED a fast computer, they are FUN. IT's just like a sports car, they are more fun to drive than a regular car. I'd love to have a sports car. I wouldn't race it or anything, they are jsut a lot more fun to drive than my little station wagon. Same with a powerful computer. It's nice to have something where programs start instantly you can open tons of software with no paging and so on. NEcessary? No, but nice.

      So you see, there are valid reasons to want a high end system. I will also mention in passing that their price seems rather high for the listed hardware, espically considering there is no Windows liscence to be paid for.
      • Sure, not everyone does what I do. I mostly use this for electronics and software design, so lots of schematic capture, PCB layout, design documents in Word, etc. But ppl buying a cheapo machine will typically be granny using it to type up recipes, or mom'n'pop using it for email, that kind of thing - word processors, email, web browsers. If you need a fast machine, you've been using a PC for a while and you know _why_ you want it. Cheapo PCs are really for newbies who just want a general-purpose PC. Which is why a cheapo PC that comes with poor instructions (as the reviewers say this one does) is pretty lousy.

        Point is, this is a commodity-level system. Dissing it for being slow is like (to take your car analogy) slagging off a Honda Accord for not being as fast as a Ferrari! ;-)

        I'd agree, it doesn't seem that cheap for what you get. But an 850MHz machine is an 850MHz machine, and comparing it to your 1.6GHz machine at home (as the reviewer did) is not a valid comparison.

    • My machine is only 750 and I would consider it fast as anyone elses because there really isn't anything to take advantage of it.

      Sure, some apps will pop-up a millisecond faster, distributed projects perform better on their machines but for games you need the "video card of the day".

      It always just depends on what your computer is for. Mine is for "everyday" usage, running a file server, burning CD's you know... stuff. I've yet to see something that would make me upgrade - that is, except my video card.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:34AM (#3821642) Homepage
    ...and I sure understand why. The entire point of linux is to cut costs, and 100$ to download free software is a huge showstopper. Other distros come with these included on cd (though optional), and with free update tools (up2date, apt-get). The game plan is good, but the implementation of the system didn't sound quite convincing, and with a huge (on a 299$ PC, 99$ is HUGE) price tag for the software system it isn't going to work out.

    Personally I'd rather think a well pre-configured standard installation of say Redhat, where it already has programs installed (which ones is bound to be a subject of many arguments, but still). Let them have a word processor/spreadsheet/email client/im client/ftp client/irc client right out of the box, and everything would be so much better. Choice is only good if there is an *informed* choice. The target marked here don't have a clue. Include OpenOffice not KOffice. Or opposite. But neither, or both isn't good. The user don't need to get flooded with choices, many of which (if Click-n-Run is anything like most open source repositories) SUCK. They don't have the time or the patience or the knowledge to find a product that works for them. You need to *show* these people what this machine can do, not wait around for "oh, sure you can install a word processor, any word processor, just pick one"

    • The entire point of linux is to cut costs, and 100$ to download free software is a huge showstopper.

      I'm not having a go at you, but there seems to be this misconception that they are charging money for old rope as the software is free.

      Maybe so, but bandwidth for you to download it isn't free, neither is hosting, testing that the products run fine, employing people to do all the tedious things that make sure the site stays running and 101 other things.

      They are not charging you for the products, they're merely charging you (if you like) a proportion of the maintenance free (plus profit) so that they can make downloading software for the users as simple as possible.

      There seems to be this strange idea in the Linux community that anyone who tries to make money is "selling out". Considering that unless the people who work on providing a service actually see some money to financially support them (and motivate them into not leaving) then you're never going to find people who work on open source stuff 100% of the time for free.

      And I agree with you. Most open source repositories do suck. Even with a specific application you get presented with about 50 different choices (i586, mdk etc. etc.) which is totally confusing for the novice. Someone has to sort that out and present everything nicely, and unless they get paid, it's not something they're going to do as a full time job.

      • I'm not having a go at you, but there seems to be this misconception that they are charging money for old rope as the software is free.

        Maybe so, but bandwidth for you to download it isn't free, neither is hosting, testing that the products run fine, employing people to do all the tedious things that make sure the site stays running and 101 other things.

        Pretty much all GPL'd software I know of is hosted without having to pay for it, and mostly they're stable and running fine. Where they really could provide value, particularly for these users, is to make things install and work smoothly. But:
        I try to download Evolution, the Gnome email client. Unfortunately, it gives a complex error, beginning with "Couldn't stat source package list." This is not good. So I try the "AOL Instant Messenger" client. That turns out to be Kinkatta, one of the KDE-based IM clients. Then I try Xine, the multimedia player. Like Evolution, this fails as well.
        Xine doesn't work, Evolution doesn't work. These are supposed to be some of linux's mainstream applications, and they don't seem to be tested at all, nevermind the slightly obscure. So what value does this service provide? Very very little. I'm not opposed to it on a principal basis, but 100$ for a download mirror of free software that may or may not work on your machine?

    • What about "Red Carpet"?

      I've yet to see anyone mention that. Just trying to point out this isn't the first time.

      Access to free software is out there... they are just trying to make it so that they can collect because it's easier. Like how KFC chicken is 10 times more expensive than cooking a whole one you bought yourself.
  • I just assumed that the whole point of this "Lindows" deal was to get a computer in the hands of consumers as cheaply as possible, M$ be damned. Once the computer gets home, it's pretty clear that the purchaser is supposed to borrow a Windows XP disk from work/their buddy, re-format the hard drive and install a pirate copy of Windows.

    Thus, the main points of this exercise are to 1) give consumers really cheap computers, 2) be able to advertise that they have cheap merchandise, and 3) send a warning shot to M$ that they are too big to be bullied around.

    In this sense it really doesn't matter how well Lindows performs, which is a shame because working towards a consumer-grade Linux is worthwhile endeavour.
  • Yes, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CaptainPotato ( 191411 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:39AM (#3821659) Homepage
    Whilst I would like to call myself an experienced computer user (maybe I'm not...), I do understand the point of Lindows, regardless of whether it works or not.

    Aside from the usual M$-related monopoly arguments, there does seem to be a real hope to replace Win* on the desktop - whether it is a valid attempt or not is another matter though...

    About two years ago I installed Mandrake 7.0 on my then-new machine, with Win98 on a separate partition. After over a week of trying to make the two co-exist (well, Win98 didn't want to let Mandrake live), I succeeded. Linux was to be the main OS, and for a while, it was. I used StarOffice, Netscape 4.7*, and so on. Then something broke. Netscape started to fail, as did my email client. I suddenly found myself in the purgatory of root access without the faintest idea how to fix it. Given everything else that happened at the time in my life, I was forced to give up on Linux for Win98, which I knew how to fix.

    Since then, Linux has not been on my machine, but there is not a single day that goes by that I don't long for its return (and for the return of the Amiga ahead of Linux, but that's another story...), and to be able to dump Win* for good. So what, I lose a few games, but I cannot remember the last time I loaded one anyway. I see that Mandrake 8.2 is much improved, Open Office works great on Win98 and Opera is now on Linux to boot (you don't think I use IE, do you?)

    Despite all this, I don't dare risk Linux at the moment, given that I cannot afford the downtime on my machine. Lindows looks promising, and the idea of buying a machine with a pre-installed version of Linux that has at least *some* Win* compatibility is a start.

    Cut Lindows some slack. Sure, maybe there are a few GPL issues that need examining, and maybe it does not work perfectly yet. And the $99 download fee does not appeal either. Whether it is Lindows, Red Hat or Mandrake, surely the important issue is replacing Win* on pre-built systems, rather than the (whilst nice, ultimately technical) minor points of those outlined at the start of this paragraph?

  • Well at least the SJM author had no problems with the KDE applications konqueror and kmail. Obviously these components are already at a point where a windows user can use them without any problem.

    Curiously missing: Attempts to install MS Office or games or any other win32 program on this wine derived Lindows.
  • by ishark ( 245915 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @09:45AM (#3821672)
    1- why use Lindows. I understand that it sounds like windows, but they are quite new to the "desktop" arena compared to people like Mandrake. And by paying Mandrake you get CDs/DVD full of precompiled stuff, without the need for huge downloads.

    2- The Lindows business model is flawed. If they think that AFTER buying the PC users are ready to shell out the cash for the applications they are dreaming (it may work for games - good ones - or some advanced app, like openoffice, but all the "useful" things must be in from the start). Giving out for a price the CDs full of stuff may work, but people from the Windows world just assume that as soon as windows is in place all the applications can be obtained for free from the neighbour (before flaming compute the ratio of windows users you know and windows users who bought Office for home use - for me it's beyond 50). The "free" point of linux is much less strong than people think, at least until Palladium or some other random heavy element forces users to pay for what they use.

    Overall, if this takes off I'll be surprised.
    • The likely scenario Walmart is counting on is that users buy the machine, even though both are aware that lindows is crap. Once home, the user pops in one of those windows setup cds (e.g. borrowed from neighbour).

      What won't happen is that linux users will buy this machine and pop in a mandrake or debian cd. The reason is that linux users generally spend more money on their hardware and are unlikely to want a low budget PC.

      In any case, Lindows is indeed likely to fail unless they add loads of value to their product. Right now any user friendly linux distribution beats them easily (Mandrake, Suse, ...) and if there's only a slight sign of pre-installed linux working, they'll jump on it.
  • i wanna puke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As a linux user, at work and at home, i am ashamed to see such a disgraceful product being put out. Who in their right mind would run as root to do daily tasks? If the producers of Lindows cant deal with creating normal user accounts and presenting it to the users in an easy to use way, then maybe they shouldn't be putting out such products.

    Lindows has a potential of harming the Linux Desktop OS market. The people who buy this PC are going to hate it, and they are going to tell everyone they know what a crapped out OS linux is (it isn't ofcourse). If I weren't any smarter I would say that Lindows is backed by Microsoft in order to convince poeple that their products are superior.

    Linux is not Windows and vice versa, and so any transition from one OS to the other is bound to include a learning and adaptation period. And that is why there are things such as support, books, and web pages. If the user is not willing to put any effort into the transition then they should stick to what they know.

    Creating a dangerous linux distro just to convert Windows users is not going to work. And what's this stuff about the C:> drive icon....I wanna puke!!!
    • Now you Linux guys know what we musicians were talking about when we warned you about Michael Robertson :D

      I love the removing lots of useful programs and trying to charge $99 for them. So cute. What a slime :D he's not changed a bit! I wonder if Wal-Mart will figure out they're being conned. Imagine the word on the street being 'oh, you should try Linux- wait, but for God's sake not Wal-Mart Linux! Don't do that, do this instead...'

  • Sadly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:35AM (#3821900) Homepage

    These reviews both strike me as fair. And they both highlight the big flaw in Linux on the desktop: support.

    Microsoft offers you one way of doing things. If you don't know how to perform an operation, one of your friends and relatives will. I suspect that most of us will have given free Windows 'phone support at one time or another. And if you do have to 'phone the manufacturer, they can usually follow a script, because there's only so many ways you can break a Windows setup.

    But Lindows... oh dear. If my mother bought one of these, she'd be on her own. The chances of me - familiar with Red Hat, SuSE and Solaris - being able to figure out and explain how to fix anything over the 'phone is next to null. And it seems that Lindows doesn't really have much of an idea either. The second article mentions that Lindows tech support eventually acknowleged that the only way to change the refresh was to fiddle with the xfree configuration. I actually think that's fair enough. What surprises and worries me is that Lindows tech support didn't know how to do it, and had to escalate it to an "executive" (and only because it was a journalist calling) before they found an answer.

    If these things start selling in bulk, I suspect that Lindows might be looking for more front line tech support. A lot more front line tech support. That costs real money, and their strategy of flat rate licensing isn't going to look so clever when they find that they're paying per installation to provide support.

  • I Miss BeOs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uncoveror ( 570620 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:47AM (#3821957) Homepage
    It's a shame Palm won't do anything with BeOs. It was easy to use, and fast, even on slow machines. Linux is too complicated for casual users, and slow as a slug if you don't have a buttload of ram. BeOs was also stable and reliabe, unlike windows. It did not crash. It was created from scratch. No legacy code to drag around like a ball and chain. To date, there are no BeOs viruses. Not one. Linux may rule on servers, but in the desktop environment, it is still a pain. Windows just sucks in any environment. I miss Beos.
  • Reviews (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:28AM (#3822181) Homepage
    Ok, we have a few people that have looked beyond the simple hype and pointed out some of the shortcomings of Walmart's new experiement into Microsoft free computers. This is not all a bad thing. But don't be too hasty to count them out as a viable alternative.

    Walmart has shown on at least one occasion that they listen to their primary consumer base, when they replaced the modems in their OS-free machine with a linux compatible one. They realize this is at best a nitch market, and they have to be sure to appeal that market as best they can. So they've made a few snafu's with this latest experiment, but at least they're trying. Tell them what's wrong. They'll probably make the effort to fix it.

    At least now, there's an alternative. It might not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but its something. And the company that's promoting it doesn't rely on a monthly infusion of venture capital to keep running and will surive if the stock market does another massive downturn. They will sell these products as long as people buy them. Sure, at first it'll be the geek crowd that doesn't really NEED them, but at some point, there will be someone that looks at the price and realizes that its worth the learning curve to save a few bucks. And they may very well be disappointed.

    But they might not.

  • by p3d0 ( 42270 )
    I can see it now...

    "Why is this computer so lousy? It has been running plenty of... 'Lindows'??"

    Now with vitamin R.
  • Where was all the text about how well Lindows ran WINDOWS applications. ALL I saw were complaints about refresh rates.. And how to download LINUX software. Guys? The LINDOWS OS was created to run WINDOWS apps first and foremost without having to send money to MICROSOFT. ---- How well does LINDOWS do this? THAT is what the entire review should have been about!
  • Lindows was kind of boring and very limited. Looks like it's built off of some of the debian stuff as it used apt-get.

    There were a lot of simple things that happened that quickly made me realize that this configuration of Linux was not ready for the average user such as my room-mate.

    1. Everytime he popped in a CD, the CD player software would start twice and both start playing. If you shut one down it would crash.
    2. Certain CDs would cause it to crash completely.
    3. The add 'n run feature was kind of a joke. They should have included all that software on a CD or DVD instead of trying to make a buck off of it. What good is a huge tree of categories when it's a pain in the butt to quickly try software in each category?
    4. Konquerer was crashing surprisingly often.

    So we booted up WinXP, and it would install fine, but for some reason it seemed not to touch the master boot record. So I booted into recovery and did fixboot and fixmbr with no effect.

    We then tried to get Win2k going but after one or two reboots, the computer suddenly has lost video and gives a bunch of beep diagnostic codes.

    So back to Wal-mart.com it goes. I recommended to him that if he wants to try Linux on the desktop to try SuSE 7.3 or 8.0. I think they would be much more userfriendly than Lindows.

    The funny thing is, we didn't actually try to run any Windows software. We were too fed up with all the other problems!
  • by Patrick13 ( 223909 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @02:14PM (#3823055) Homepage Journal
    One downside is that users must pay $99 a year for unlimited access to the warehouse, wiping out the roughly $100 savings from buying a PC without a Microsoft operating system.

    (from the San Jose Mercury News review [newsalert.com])

    What made me laugh at this, not even entering the debate whether or not Lindows is any good, is that he is saying that you can download and automatically install any Linux program for $100 per year, yet compares this to paying the extra $100 for microsoft OS.

    Excuse me, but the only way you can download free windows applications and install them on your computer is if they are pirated. I hardly think that paying $100 per year to be able to download the Linux equivalent of photoshop, excel, word, etc equates to getting the base install of windows in your machine.

  • Just last night I was inspired to write an article [eradicatewindowsnow.com] describing what I think would be a great Linux system for newbies. It's not low end, nor is it intended to be, but it's designed to get users excited about their computer and teach them things that a Windows computer wouldn't normally teach them.

    Check it out if you want! Note: it's on a site that I have no yet announced. Probably will in the next few days though. :)
  • I think LindowsOS is not good for Linux. Windows emulation under Linux is limited, and getting Windows emulation onto people's desks does nothing to encourage developers to develop Linux applications. Click-and-run seems particularly bad: a Linux installation could dazzle people with all the great software that is available, for free. Instead, customers are treated to downloading huge amounts of software.

    I don't know whether Microsoft should win the trademark infringement case against LindowsOS, but someone should take them to court over Linux tradmark infringement. This distribution claims to be Linux, but it delivers little of what Linux is so great for: tons of software, complete installations of everything from a single source, and robust and simple application installation.

    WalMart should ship a good Linux installation--RedHat, SuSE, Mandrake, whatever, with a full complement of word processing, games, and Internet access. They probably also need to offer something like Kapital. If they still want Windows compatibility, that should be a minor feature, kind of like VirtualPC for Macintosh, but it should be kept clearly separate from Linux.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.