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Enlightenment Linux Business

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

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 ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:44AM (#21470647) Journal
    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 [].

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

  • by Alcoholic Synonymous ( 990318 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:47AM (#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!)
  • by philicorda ( 544449 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:48AM (#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.
  • Re:512M of ram? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:13AM (#21470805)
    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 more responsive for me with the extra memory is likely the video editing and my WinXP virtual machine (which I rarely use anyway). I'd rather use the extra money to buy my daughter a child-friendly mouse or trackball.
  • by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:10PM (#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, 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!

  • Re:Hardcore gamer? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PReDiToR ( 687141 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:40PM (#21472581) Homepage Journal
    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 from scratch when they outgrew PSP.

    This happened regularly. For people that read all the tutorials and want to use alpha transparencies, channels, layers and all the whistles and bells, then animate them, you really do need to use PS.

    I suspect that things haven't changed that much, and there are still hundreds of thousands of middle-white American women sitting around all day at home making pretty pictures that sparkle and twinkle and look all "ooh! Shiney" to take up bandwidth on their posts to a forum about a virtual world.

    This to me is the definition of a home user, ymmv.

  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:57PM (#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.
  • by bagoas ( 849560 ) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:45PM (#21475075)
    Hate to beat a dead horse (Windows), or a promising pony (Ubuntu), but the solution to your problems is to install and enjoy MacOS - a quality assemblage of software, created by professional Linux fans (ie they get paid to fix bugs), and it has two of the nicest text/code editors ever seen:

    TextWrangler and Coda (from panic sw)

    TextWrangler is incredibly powerful, and free. Coda is incredibly gorgeous and useful (integrated file transfer/sync, terminal, pdf/reference book viewing).

    I cannot believe that between Windows and Linux you had to boot up the Word empire to remove hard wraps. Them's hard knocks. Anyone experiencing similar frustration, please give Apple a try, I don't think you'd be disappointed after an initial acclimatization period, period.

    For power users/linux users, I highly recommend checking out for all your Mac-specific application/sourcecode needs.

    Be well,

  • by Samarian Hillbilly ( 201884 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:00AM (#21475665)
    that give linux a bad name. Even if there were a "perfect" distro for naive users. A normal user (unaware that there are many "distros" of linux), would see this as the "Linux" he'd been reading about and reject it out-of-hand. Perhaps another reason why linux is so slow taking desktop market-share.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.