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$200 Linux PCs On Sale At Wal-Mart 537

Placid sends in a Wired blog entry on Wal-Mart's new sub-$200 Linux-based PC. Wired calls it "a custom distribution of Ubuntu Linux," and the AP identifies the distro as gOS, made by a small company in Los Angeles. Wal-Mart began selling Linux PCs in 2002 but they have been out of stock for a while. From the Wired blog: "It has a 1.5 Ghz VIA C7 CPU embedded in a Mini-ITX motherboard, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Normally, this would simply mark it as unacceptably low-end for use with modern software. By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager (instead of heavier-duty alternatives like Gnome or KDE), the makers say it's more responsive than Vista is, even on more powerful computers."
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$200 Linux PCs On Sale At Wal-Mart

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  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nibbler999 ( 1101055 ) <tom_atkinson@[ ] ['fsf' in gap]> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:44AM (#21196573) Homepage
    There's a powerpoint equivalent (Presentation) in Open Office.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:04AM (#21196915)
    "1970? 1971?" How quickly they forget. That far in the past those specs would have made this thing a supercomputer. In 1990 or 1991, however, this would have been a a high-end PC. In fact, a review of it written then would have described it as being suitable for "the most power-hungry applications".
  • by mhall119 ( 1035984 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:05AM (#21196961) Homepage Journal

    I bet windows XP or 2000 would install on this thing and run just as fast as this Ubuntu variant they're using
    So you can have a 7-8 year old OS that you can't upgrade to the next version, or a 6 month old (at most) OS that you can upgrade, for free.
  • by hummassa ( 157160 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:19AM (#21197187) Homepage Journal

    If memory serves, it wasn't all that long ago (1970? 1971?) that 1.5GHz, 512MB, 80GB would have been the specs on a pretty high-end machine.
    I think -- better said, I _HOPE_ -- you are joking. But, as I didn't see a smiley --

    In 1970, 1.5GHz, 512MB, 80GB would be an billion-dollar-expensive, multiple-building-sized computer.

    Hell, in 1991, when I graduated, such a machine would /still/ be a supercomputer. The 1993 Cray Y-MP C90 916/16256 (16 processors) performed at 15 MFlops (the VIA C7 should be like 75 MFlops), had 1GB of RAM, and up to 32GB of solid state disks (battery-backed RAM banks), and it was closet-sized. It's not a testimony to Linux quality the fact that it runs snappy on such a machine, it's a testimony to XP/Vista's lagginess that they don't.
  • You're looking for avant-window-navigator. Be warned that it won't work without Compiz running.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:24AM (#21197283) []
    Here is one of your cheapest alternatives on the market

    Brand eMachines
    Model W3609
    Recommended Usage Home / Home Office
    Processor Intel Celeron D 356(3.33GHz)
    Processor Main Features 64 bit Processor
    Cache Per Processor 512KB L2 Cache
    Memory 512MB DDR2 533
    Hard Drive 120GB SATA 7200rpm
    Optical Drive 1 DVD±RW 16x Multiformat Dual-Layer Optical Drive
    Graphics Intel GMA 950 Up to 224MB Shared Video Memory
    Audio 6-channel (5.1) high-definition audio
    Ethernet Intel 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN
    Speaker Amplified Stereo Speakers (USB-Powered)
    Keyboard Standard multifunction keyboard
    Mouse 2-button wheel mouse
    Operating System Windows Vista Home Basic
  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:55AM (#21197795)
    My settop box is running a Via 600 MHz processor, 512 meg of RAM on a mini-itx motherboard, feeding AVIs to a tv screen. It also runs KDE. Picture quality is pretty good, considering.

    I think I can punch it up to a gig of memory if memory serves me right. Can't remember off the top of my head what model number the motherboard is, I've had it for like 3 years...

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:57AM (#21197849)

    It is not a terrible deal given that it's a mini-ATX motherboard, but using that big a case for it is just wasting space.
    It provides more room for expandability. I can certainly see wanting to at least add a second hard drive for backups.

    has nothing to do with being enviromentally conscious.
    From the Via website: " Developed from the ground up for low power operation, the VIA C7 processor is based on the advanced VIA CoolStream(TM) Architecture and manufactured using IBM's state-of-the-art 90nm Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) process, and delivers the greatest performance per watt in the business.

    Capable of running up to 2.0GHz with ultra low power consumption of around 20 watts peak power and operating at an average power of less than 1 watt, the VIA C7 processor is the embodiment of cool processing and sets the standards for next generation of desktop, mobile and personal electronics systems."

  • what?!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deadplant ( 212273 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:16PM (#21198137)
    "It has a 1.5 Ghz VIA C7 CPU embedded in a Mini-ITX motherboard, 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Normally, this would simply mark it as unacceptably low-end for use with modern software."

    You've got to be f-ing kidding me.
    That is nonsense. the author has been talking to sales people and/or the microsoft vista team.
    That is double the spec you need for XP with office-like software and broadband Internet multimedia stuff.

    The latest games and vista are the only "modern software" for which those specs are inadequate.
    And that is only because games can always use more power and are thus coded for the latest and greatest equipment.
    (I can't explain vista)
  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nullav ( 1053766 ) < .ta. .com.> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:52PM (#21198629)
    Are you kidding? About the only differences in size come from buying a nice video card instead of using onboard video or a low-profile card, and having more hard drives. Regardless, it's nice to have the room to expand and good airflow that come from having a needlessly large case.
  • by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:20PM (#21199143)
    Yeah, really.

    My family computer at home is a 1.2GHz 512MB machine that I threw together about 5 years ago. It dual-boots Ubuntu and XP, and runs everything from desktop publishing, to office apps, to web browsing to home video editing just fine for our needs.

    This box would be a step up, and for half what it cost me building what I already have.
    Too bad this is only WalMart USA (not their Canadian branch) selling this.
  • by martalli ( 818692 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:59PM (#21200479) Homepage
    I agree that ubuntu is much easier to use than debian potato, or woody (released in 2002). However, they certainly predate any ubuntu release. I use ubuntu and kubuntu on almost all of my machines, but I would be cautious in attributing all the development in linux to ubuntu. They are simply pulling together other people's work....although that is what disto makers do, and maybe the word "simply" is inappropriate there. =)

    Adept is sponsored by Canonical. Synaptic predates ubuntu and in fact was started by Conectiva. Aptitude apparently dates all the way back to 1999. (all info from wikipedia)
  • by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:18PM (#21200747)
    Are you saying that office 2007 performs the same as office 2000? Or OOo the same as 2000? Really... Having run both, I beg to differ. Office 2K is much faster than current Open Office on the same machine. Open Office has been plagued with performance problems for years. In fact, MS Office 2K runs faster in a vmware virtual machine than open office does natively on the same machine! That says something.

    Despite that, I still primarily use OOo because my modern linux systems are screaming fast and the result is "fast enough".
    I'm not knocking OOo (other than on performance, a criticism it deserves) as much as I am the performance that machine will have.
  • by logicpaw ( 868693 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:19PM (#21200757)
    As far as Hertz, No such thing was possible in 1970 or 1990. Supercomputers don't use higher clock speeds to do their work - those 1980s Crays (the ones with the seat cushions!) ran at speeds on the order of 25MHz.

    The first ones with the seat cushions were Cray 1's, 1976 vintage, single CPU, 80 MHz processor clock. A 1988 vintage Cray Y-MP had from 2 to 8 processors at around 167 MHz.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Informative)

    by cycoj ( 1010923 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:37PM (#21202169)
    They are using e17, which is still in development. IMO this outshine anything you get with gnome or kde unless you have compiz installed (not viable on these specs). Have a look over at or What they've done is quite amazing. Lots of eyecandy without resource hogging.
  • by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @07:49PM (#21204971)
    Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 - retail version
    "The software is not licensed for use in any commercial, non-profit, or
    revenue-generating business activities."

    So only use it for homework or family use. DO NOT use it for charities, churches, working at home, etc.
    The good part is that you can legally install it on 3 computers at home.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"