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

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

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  • by compumike ( 454538 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:10PM (#21331745) Homepage
    In the community around me, I've seen a lot of growth in the use of Linux on the desktop just in the last year. But probably the most interesting trend is that I've seen a bunch of new Ubuntu users among the mechanical engineering students, who in general aren't particularly computer-nerdy, and even more amazingly, are actually dependent on Windows-only software for some of their CAD tools (i.e. Solidworks).

    I think the Walmart results might be indicative of a growing trend where people are just about ready to make the leap themselves... particularly when it comes preinstalled like it does here. Another step in the right direction.

    What I'd love to see, though, is how much previous computer experience all of those Walmart reviewers had -- for some, it seems like quite a bit.

    Electronics kits for the digital generation. []
  • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:12PM (#21331769) Journal
    how many AOL users bother to change their OS to linux? how many people use the features in MS office that OpenOffice doesn't support? how many would even notice the difference?
  • Dubious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Paul_Hindt ( 1129979 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:19PM (#21331841) Homepage
    This sounds good and all, getting Linux to the teeming masses...but at the same time the people that might buy a computer at Wal-Mart are probably people that don't even know what Linux is or even what Windows is and that there is even any difference. Some people may have just bought these because, Hey!, $200 for A WHOLE COMPUTER is a steal, right?!
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:19PM (#21331845) Homepage Journal

    Remember, these are typical Walmart customers here.

    That is important, they are not like Slasdot readers. Unlike business users or college students, M$ has done no favors for these people and they have zero loyalty.

    How many of them are going to return these things when that AOL CD they have doesn't work automagically?

    I don't know. The EEE has an AOL button, no CD is required. I know it's hard to believe but AOL would be happy to spam users of other OS.

    How many of these people are expected to have DSL or Cable instead of dial-up?

    None. Why should they?

    How many are going to be returned because they don't have MS Office pre-installed on them?

    None. Open Office is more than enough for the average school paper. Very few people actually NEED M$ Office for work and even they hate it. The rest of the world considers M$'s ever changing, secret file formats an expensive ass pain. They are right.

    Anyone who actually needs M$ Office will have their boss pay for it or pirate the junk. If M$ makes the second option impossible, the first option will have to happen or the boss will learn to use free software. M$ is not going to be able to get everyone to pony up $400 every couple of years for a text editor and that's where they system breaks down. Sooner or later, all of those smart business users and college graduates will figure out that they don't need M$ either.

  • by Tracy Reed ( 3563 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:23PM (#21331903) Homepage
    I am very happy to hear this news and pointed a number of people at this machine. But it would be a lot more meaningful if we knew how many they sold out of. 10? Big whoop. 10,000? More impressive.
  • by brue68 ( 1159419 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:23PM (#21331907)
    Or they could have gone to Wal*Mart exclusively for this item. The Ubuntu forums have exploded over this, and there are several people who have bought the product for friends or family. The torrent for gOS had quite a few seeders when I downloaded it (didn't like it). Took less than 45 minutes, more like 30.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:35PM (#21332025)
    The biggest vote of confidence in Linux is that Walmart even sells it. Walmart doesn't put stuff on the shelves if it isn't going to sell. That it sold out just shows that Walmart was right.
  • by cain ( 14472 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:43PM (#21332083) Journal

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

    WalMart consumers don't care what the machine runs. They just see a machine than can do email, word processing, and can browse the web. The most important thing about the machine is price. If it ran Windows and cost $200, it would still sell out.

  • by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:51PM (#21332143)
    I don't believe a lot of buyers were typical wal-mart customers. These PC's have been blasted all over every tech site for the last several days and each site has been covered in comments about people who want to get one. There are comments on this slashdot article by people who have bought them.

    I think a load of these were bought by linux fans wanting to support linux on a retail box. for a low price.
  • Re:Oh get real (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:00AM (#21332223)
    "People just don't have a real use for a very crappy PC."

    Most people I know use their PC for web browsing and word processing; this system would be plenty good enough for that, so long as they had a monitor to go with it.

    Heck, if I can install more hard disks in there I'm tempted to buy one myself and stick it in the basement to replace my desktop system as our file-server... it's got to burn less power than a 3GHz Pentium.
  • by xebra ( 140155 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:08AM (#21332275)
    Wow, are you ever an elitist prick. I guarantee you almost everyone on Slashdot shops at Wal-Mart, because almost everyone on Slashdot is "plain" and normal in almost every respect. If the PC is sold out, 85% of it is because of dorks like you and me. The other 15% is people that didn't know what they were buying.
  • Re:Must resist.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:23AM (#21332383) Journal

    Er, exactly which store *is* selling them for alturism, "free-as-in freedom" or geek points, and is *not* doing it for money?
    Fair enough. Clarification: WalMart is widely recognized as an unscrupulous retailer who does the socio-economic equivalent of "strip mining" wherever they take root. The GGP poster was pretending to be caught in a dilemma between supporting WalMart's offering of an open-source product and their unethical business practices. My point is that, as an individual, you simply give your money to some other capitalist who operates in a manner that is less offensive, or hey, maybe even does the world some good.
  • Re:Support??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nullav ( 1053766 ) <`moc' `at' `liamg.valluN'> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:25AM (#21332399)
    I could imagine this being more usable for newbies in general, rather than just those unfamiliar with Linux. It certainly sounds a lot better than Windows with its interactive flow charts ('Troubleshooting Wizard').
  • lol dollars (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:34AM (#21332459)
    I think you reached the threshold where your use of the dollar sign to spell "MS" rendered your post unreadable and accidentally humorous.

    BTW, I've yet to meet someone who hates Microsoft Office (the "junk" as you call it, lol), as per your assertion. I guess since OpenOffice is an exact clone of it, they'll hate it too as well, right? I doubt that was your intended point. But I bet that sort of vague power statement does wonders with the moderators.

    Are you what they call "free software evangelist" these days?

  • by renegadesx ( 977007 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:45AM (#21332519)
    Im in trouble for slashdotting at work I laughed so loud when I saw "Tried XP and Vista and it runs like a champ"

    Can somebody say "Liar"?
  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:46AM (#21332527) Homepage
    With Windows there's usually some neighbor's kid who "knows computers"

    The same kid may also know a certain alphanumeric string that can fix the Linux trouble.

  • Re:lol dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) * on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:49AM (#21332545) Homepage Journal

    BTW, I've yet to meet someone who hates Microsoft Office (the "junk" as you call it, lol), as per your assertion.

    Agreed. "Hate" might be too strong a word.

    However, tell a small business client that they've got to buy a separate license for EACH station for MS-Office. While you might not get "hate", you're sure not going to get any "sweet sweet lovin' ", either. Typically, they next ask for workarounds to install one copy on multiple machines.

    Personally, that's my big gripe with Office and Vista. MS marketing aside, I can't see the value in paying $400 for a software package that does what its parent company wants. Heck, I have installed an OS that didn't cost a dime and uses an office suite of the same cost... and it does what *I* want.

    ....and I donate to support those. THAT is value.

  • by jwisser ( 1038696 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:19AM (#21332749) Homepage
    Ack... I meant to mod this "insightful" but accidentally clicked "overrated". So I'm breaking my moderation by posting.
  • by Excelsior ( 164338 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:28AM (#21332811)
    Should an Apple PC have a warning that it does not use Windows? Should your cell phone, TV, Tivo, Microwave, vehicle diagnostic computer, DVD player? Should a Vista PC warn it's not really Windows compatible? That would be a little like a Mazda RX7 having a warning that this is not a Lamborghini. Buyer beware.

    If people were lining up for this, they knew what it was. They read about it ahead of time. They didn't just line up for the fu...n of it.
  • by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:33AM (#21332829) Homepage
    Or on the other hand, if you had no knowledge of computers and walked into a store only to see a machine for $200 and right next to it the same machine for $500-$700 which would you buy? OS choice really isn't as important as some on /. would make it out to be to the average Joe. All they are looking for is will it do what they want it to do for the cheapest price. Here is where Linux can fall flat on its face if someone doesn't make retail versions of software as available and ubiquitous as Windows software. Put a boxed set of Open Office next to that Microsoft Office suite and then we can talk. You see, there is the problem with this thing. Everything you need is included with the distro making this kind of visibility moot. The problem is that the same time Joe Average is picking out that computer they are also looking at the software shelf loaded with Microsoft centric crap. The moment they pick up that shareware disk for $5.00 and ask, "will this work on that box I'm buying?" will be the kiss of death on that sale. Add in the fact that sales people at WalMart aren't the pick of the crop and mess up even Windows technical issues and it is a recipe for a PR disaster.

    Assuming that at least some of those sales of this box was to Joe Average, this can be a boon or bust moment all dependant on the support they get from WalMart. If WalMart washes their hands after sale (i.e. "All sales are final. Take it up with the manufacturer or Ubuntu") then this could be doomed after all the geeks have gotten theirs.

    Personally, I wish WalMart success on this venture. There is nothing more healthy to a monopoly than competition.
  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:36AM (#21332843) Homepage

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

    Me too. Well the architecture is pretty similar (cyrix CPU) but it looks like the software is a factor better, many of those GQ machines didn't have adequate drivers to support the on-board video so you were stuck at 640x480 or whatever. Though installing Mandrake (back then) usually took care of that.

    The thing that really burns me is all the "Good for Light Word Processing"crap these power-system zealots keep spewing - and I ma not discriminating here, all of the platforms, Windows, Mac and Linux are full of em. I can tell you that machine (512MB RAM/80GB HDD) is probably capable of some great DTP (Scribus) could be great for illustration (Inkscape) and really serious office work (OOo). It may not be fast at doing such things, but we should never say it is not capable.

    As a Classic computerist I know of authors who write books and other published works still on Commodore 64s, (heck some have never left their typewriter behind). To them they get familiar with something and stick to it they don't upgrade because they are to busy being productive with what they have (the hard part is finding replacement parts for their daisy wheel printers). Same reason why the XO will be a hit with kids, they will not see those laptops as underpowered or slow, but the draw is they have access and the speed isn't really a factor when you are starting out (as they get better and outgrow it, then that's another matter; it took me years to outgrow the VIC-20).

  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) * <> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:37AM (#21332851) Homepage Journal
    It has a serial port, so if you want to use dialup, you can always attach a real modem. Those are well supported on Linux, far moreso than internals. So if someone wants dialup, you have a pretty easy solution to give them. I can't imagine that a modem costs more than $25-30 these days anyway. (That's assuming you can't find one for free; people give them away all the time on Freecycle.)

    But anyway, I think this is a moot point; most people who bought the machines probably knew exactly what they were buying. It'll only be when the enthusiast market gets saturated that you're going to see these machines trickling down to the "retractable cupholder" crowd.
  • by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:49AM (#21332949) Homepage
    How many AOL users even know what an OS is ??
  • by yyttrrre ( 741310 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:55AM (#21332985)

    I don't shop at Walmart. I don't like their business practices so I choose to spend my money elsewhere. Maybe everyone doesn't have the luxury to avoid buying at the lowest common denominator.

    Every time I walk into a Walmart it's full of wretched looking shoppers and employees that appear even worse. I would rather not spend my evening or weekend standing in line with my items waiting because Walmart can't be bothered to hire more cashiers. It isn't as if they cost much to employ. On average Walmart doesn't even pay health care for their employees.

    It's really great that Linux based PC's are selling but after all the horrible experiences I have had at that place I'm not willing to recommend shopping there to anyone even if only online.

  • I disagree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fbartho ( 840012 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:55AM (#21332987) Homepage
    This development has gotten so much press in the tech world, that people who would otherwise never bring their business to Walmart (or at the very least would never review products for it) found the need to make an exception for something they considered temporarily more important: to support a big 3rd party making a big step in the right direction: moving away MS's monopoly, and making it possible for the average person to do so too. If this was not such a big deal, and this laptop was a normal product then you'd probably see more reviews from reviewers with longer, more respected review histories. Also, many retailers filter there reviews to some degree, moderating away the excessively vulgar, inappropriate reviews... those usually rate the product badly, so of all the reviews made, more poor reviews end up being deleted.

    The reviews on Walmart could be subject to that sort of deletion process, or they could just be completely benign, the stores having been flooded by Linux afficionados absorbing all their supply, leaving few to no laptops for any random regular Joe Lusers to try.
  • by c7fanboy ( 1133369 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @02:00AM (#21333023)
    It's nice to see a non-Intel / non-AMD x86... Way to go VIA / Centaur Technology!
  • Re:lol dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @02:46AM (#21333235) Journal
    Please don't pay attention to this guy.

    Then perhaps you'd like to address the issues he raises instead.

    I've listed them below for your convenience.

    • These are typical Walmart customers who have zero loyalty to either Microsoft or Linux.
    • No CD is required for AOL. It is easy for an ISP to be platform-agnostic.
    • DSL and Cable are platform-agnostic, but dial-up users can purchase a modem for less than the cost of a Windows license, let alone Office, antivirus, spyware removers etc.
    • Nobody will return a $200 computer because it doesn't have Office installed on it. OpenOffice does the job nicely, and M$ Office is never installed free on budget Windows computers. Moreover, M$'s ever changing, secret file formats are an expensive ass pain.
    • It won't take long before anyone with a clue realises ponying up $400 in monopoly rent every couple of years for a document writer is pointless when there's another option for half the price and better longevity.
    I'm looking forward to your reasoned response...
  • by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <frogbert@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @03:00AM (#21333307)
    Wow are you ever an ethnocentric prick. I guarantee you there is a significant percentage of Slashdot users who aren't even in a country that has Wal-mart stores.
  • Excellent. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @03:01AM (#21333315)

    This is excellent since it means that the PHBs at Walmart will notice that this product is a bestseller. That further means more cheap Linux PCs being made available and sold.

    All of this serves to bump up the percentage of computers sold with Linux versus Windows PCs and Macs. I imagine that it will serve mostly to take percentage points away from Windows, since the market share of Macs has only increased lately with the availability of Boot Camp, VMware Fusion, and Parallels.

    The extension of the above logic is one small increase in the snowball effect: More Linux PCs sold means pie charts in corporate meetings show less Windows market share coupled with increasing Linux market share. This lends additional credibility to the platform, besides the credibility it already has with support from all major computing companies except a certain behemoth from Washington state, and the reputation it already has as a platform with many choices and possibilities, rock-solid stability, and widespread use in servers. The additional credibility applies to the use of Linux on the desktop. This leads commercial developers to make more Linux software; both in turn lead to higher credibility for the system. Bottom line: Linux is chipping away, slowly but surely, at the market share, power, and revenue of the aforementioned behemoth.

    Google is a better company than Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:12AM (#21334909)
    I'd rather see them bump up the ram and video and install regular Ubuntu with Compiz tricked out. I'd really like it if Linux wasn't always put on low end machines and viewed as a cheap alternative for doing basic things. It should be viewed as a high end desktop/server that's very powerful (which is the truth).
  • by Darundal ( 891860 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:21AM (#21334993) Journal
    Well, actually, it looks like all the people who are buying it online and writing reviews know that it isn't Windows.
  • by Dr. Zim ( 21278 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:42AM (#21335191) Homepage
    I know several millionaires. They got that way by not spending a dime more than they have to. Walmart fits nicely into their strategy.
  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:58AM (#21335321)

    Wait... does this mean that we like Walmart now?

    Just wondering...

    I never disliked Walmart. Although I am aware of the reasons many people do not like Walmart. (No, I don't need them reiterated here, thank you.)

    One thing I've suspected for awhile, is that the "Linux Revolution" (Linux taking off as a desktop alternative) would NOT happen at businesses or with high-end users. It will happen much like the "Windows Revolution" happened back in the 90's. It will start with the "Walmart buyer". Ordinary people making ordinary FINANCIAL decisions to buy a cheap PC.

    This is the regular, ordinary, joe-sixpack, "what's a right-click?" kind of person. The kind of people scorned by many of the elitists in the OS and PC fields. The people looked down upon by many many many here at Slashdot as backward, ignorant rubes living in "flyover country". The kind of people that voted for GW Bush, that fly American flags from their porches, that have communities with 4th of July parties that everyone in town attends. Small-town middle American traditional people.

    THEY are the ones that will start the Linux revolution. Not because they "did the research" or "grok FOSS" or any of that elitist crap. But because it makes financial sense to buy a $200 US PC that can do everything they need it to do. They will get introduced to Linux for the first time, perhaps as their first PC EVER, and will love it. They will stick with this machine for at least 5 years, as it will be able to handle all the basic tasks they need it for, and when it dies or they need another, they will look for another LINUX PC to replace it with.

    The Linux revolution begins... In Iowa, at Walmart.

  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @10:09AM (#21335407) Journal
    Remember, these are typical Walmart customers here.

    I resent that incredibly racist and elitist statement. I may not be the "typical" WalMart customer, but I do shop there. I would be a fool to spend fifty dollars for a pair of jeans elsewhere when I can get a pair of Wranglers at Wal Mart for $12. I would be a fool to pay $8 for a big bottle of Listerine at Osco's ehen I can get the same bottle for half the price at Wal Mart.

    Is Wal Mart evil? Sure they are. ALL big corporations are evil. I'd rather spend ten bucks on a pair of sneakers made by child labor at WalMart than a pair of Nikes made by child labor at some high priced mall store.

    BTW, your ignorance is showing. They're not going to need that AOL CD; the internet works out of the box on a Linux computer, unlike Windows.

  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:23PM (#21337145) Journal
    That's the thing, seee, if Walmart was the only one then I probably wouldn't shop there. But the stuff I see in WalMart is the same stuff I see everywhere else; same brands, etc. When I call my mortgage company I talk to someone with an accent so think I can't even understand him.

    I do refuse to use the self-checkout in th egrocery store. Not like it's going to do any good, I used to refuse to use self-service at the gas station untill there was no such thing as full service.

    If there was an alternative I'd use it. But it's buy a Matushushi at WalMart or buy the same brand somewhere else. Maytag is no longer made in the US; Zenith sold out to France years ago and no longer is made in the US. Fords are made in Canada. Everything is outsourced; I don't understand why the US hasn't gone broke already, as we don't make anything any more!

    I'm not going to knock the wall down by butting my head against it.
  • Re:Aargh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:29PM (#21338251)
    Give me a minute here to figure out ... what this implies ... about newer MS operating systems... urrrrmmmmm.... DAMN. I thought I had it there for a second, but your comment's significance has eluded me...

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!