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$199 Computers(The rise of Linux)....


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$199 Computers(The rise of Linux)....
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morningstarrising
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2008-01-28, 18:49

It seems like 2008 is the year of two hundred dollar computers.....And Microsoft is no where to be seen near them:

Five reasons not to fear a $200 Linux PC


Quote:
In quick succession, the number of mass-market, sub-$200 desktops has tripled--from one to three--in less than three months. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, small form-factor PC maker Shuttle debuted its $199 KPC. The catch? It's not preloaded with Windows, but an operating system based on Linux. Then last week, Mirus and Linspire collaborated on the Mirus Linux PC, which is now for sale at Sears.com. It's $299 (although an included $100 rebate brings it to $199), and is preloaded with Freespire 2.0, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution.

But the beginning of the low-cost computer trend actually started last fall. The Everex gPC showed up on the shelves of Wal-Mart for $198, a low price even for a desktop PC. It's bundled with speakers, a mouse, and a keyboard, and it comes with 24-hour tech support. The operating system is called gOS, a version of Ubuntu 7.10. Sure, that may be almost unpronounceable for most average consumers, but despite that, Wal-Mart is having trouble keeping the gPC in stock.


Linux is getting more mainstream exposure than just appearing in inexpensive computers. It's now being offered by two of the world's largest PC manufacturers, Dell and Lenovo, and is making its way into tiny--not to mention trendy--inexpensive laptops, like One Laptop Per Child's XO, Everex's CloudBook, and Asus' Eee PC, all of which come with Linux preinstalled.

The success of devices like the gPC and Mirus Freespire--both are sold out at Wal-Mart and Sears.com, respectively--and even the more expensive and portable Eee PC, is a surprise to most.

"The success is, in part, driven by the fact that for people doing an increasing percentage of day-to-day tasks like e-mail in the context of software as a service, at that point it soon doesn't matter what operating system you have," said Redmonk's O'Grady. "If a majority of (computer) usage is browsing the Internet and doing things like that, (Linux) is perfectly credible, perfectly usable."

I bought two gPC for my company for Christmas, and they are humming along, which we really needed for our participants because running XP on old Pentium 3 computers was causing problems, not to even get into the problems of making sure people don't download things they shouldn't on a website by mistake.

I'm now thinking of buying several more...So what do you guys think?

Jebus Google, just buy Apple already...
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
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2008-01-28, 18:56

Wow. Those are actually pretty cool.

Great for libraries and internet terminals.

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kieran
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2008-01-28, 19:10

I wonder how many of those people who buy these computers at Wal-Mart actually know that they're not getting Windows on there.

I would imagine it's a pretty decent percentage. I mean, come on, how educated could someone who is buying a computer at Wal-Mart be? I'm sure they just see the low price on the tag and grab it based on that alone.

"OMG!!!??!! $199 computer??!!! I want 3!@!!"

Then, when they get home and realize it doesn't have Windows, they're just too lazy/busy/etc.. to return it.
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PB PM
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2008-01-28, 19:18

Or they buy them for their kids, which they don't want on their main machines.
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DMBand0026
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2008-01-28, 19:40

I'm looking at making my own DVR and there are a few DVR programs out there for Linux systems that have gotten great reviews. A $200 DVR seems like a great deal to me. However, I don't know that one of these computers would have a PCI slot.

Come waste your time with me
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Yonzie
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2008-01-28, 19:51

They will. In any case, someone is going to take them apart and show the contents on the web somewhere.
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DMBand0026
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2008-01-28, 19:58

The stripped down version they talk about in the article sounds even better. Option to have a Core 2 Duo processor and up to a gig of RAM built in and starting at $99. The C2D would allow me to do HD content on the DVR, sounds great to me.

Come waste your time with me
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morningstarrising
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2008-01-29, 00:13

Yeah Shuttle KPC, barebones is really interesting.





Quote:
The kPC design isn't quite finalized, and Shuttle is currently grappling with whether it will include an external 5.25" optical bay. A PCI Express expansion slot should make it into the final revision, though.
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Eugene
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2008-01-29, 03:04

XPC style cases are way too big to be worthwhile IMO. The reason I like the mini is it actually saves space rather than putting minitower footprint on your desk anyway...
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Koodari
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2008-01-29, 07:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
XPC style cases are way too big to be worthwhile IMO. The reason I like the mini is it actually saves space rather than putting minitower footprint on your desk anyway...
I think in typical desk conditions it doesn't make any practical difference to have an actual tower case on the floor versus a mini on the desk, but it sure does change the visual impact on the room. And so does going from tower on desk to XPC on desk.
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Eugene
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2008-01-29, 08:55

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koodari View Post
I think in typical desk conditions it doesn't make any practical difference to have an actual tower case on the floor versus a mini on the desk, but it sure does change the visual impact on the room. And so does going from tower on desk to XPC on desk.
It's a huge jump from mini to XPC/KPC. Whereas the mini is not as practical as a tower sitting on the floor, it's still fairly unobtrusive...it looks like something that belongs on a desk. The XPC looks like something you'd find on a kitchen counter with two halves of garlic bread toasting away inside.

The mini barely makes a visual impact at all.
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Stallion
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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2008-01-29, 09:01

Linux is getting to the point where is it extremely user friendly.

I can plug in an iPod or a camera and Ubuntu immediately knows what to do! You can't say that about Windows even!!

With programs like Automatix2, it makes it very easy to install applications, drivers, codecs, etc as well.

Right now I have an Ubuntu install with compiz fusion as my main system. It works perfectly for just about everything I need to do.

...and calling/e-mailing/texting ex-girlfriends on the off-chance they'll invite you over for some "old time's sake" no-strings couch gymnastics...
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dfiler
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2008-01-29, 09:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by tensdanny38 View Post
Linux is getting to the point where is it extremely user friendly.
Sorry, but that line really did elicit an audible laugh.

Tell that to my dad when he goes to use turbo tax or plugs in a camcorder. Or even just tries to open MS Office documents from his grad students. A few hundred extra bucks ensures that his tools work as expected.

Linux has been almost good enough for the desktop every year of it's existence.

With that said, I use it at work on our servers and the thin-clients on our production floor. Works great for those applications. No taxes, home-movies, or MS office documents (etc) involved.
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Taskiss
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2008-01-29, 10:06

There are distros that make all those issues "extremely user friendly".

I'd say that there are Linux distros that make working in a MS world easier than using a Mac, for that matter.

That just begs the question - why work in a MS world?

real hackers don't use sigs
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PB PM
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2008-01-29, 10:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by tensdanny38 View Post
Linux is getting to the point where is it extremely user friendly.

I can plug in an iPod or a camera and Ubuntu immediately knows what to do! You can't say that about Windows even!!

With programs like Automatix2, it makes it very easy to install applications, drivers, codecs, etc as well.

Right now I have an Ubuntu install with compiz fusion as my main system. It works perfectly for just about everything I need to do.
Thats true. I experimented with my MBP about a month ago, Ubuntu even ran the keyboard backlight! Although I wouldn't use it as my main OS, I could see myself using it from time to time or for a server.
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dfiler
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2008-01-29, 10:13

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taskiss View Post
There are distros that make all those issues "extremely user friendly".

I'd say that there are Linux distros that make working in a MS world easier than using a Mac, for that matter.

That just begs the question - why work in a MS world?
"extremely". That's where you lose all credibility.

Why work in an MS world? Pragmatism.

I'd be fired in no time flat if I were to switch our users to linux desktops. Our employees need to get their work done, and not be constantly wondering why open office or wine isn't working properly with a document from an overseas office.

Linux is certainly getting better. And I use it constantly everyday at work. However it does no good to overstate the case and portray linux as "extremely user friendly". Once that is done, people tend to blow off all the other, legitimate praises.

Edit:

I don't want to get us too far off-track as the $200 topic is more interesting than re-hasing linux on the desktop arguments. So let me assure people that the above posts weren't ment as an attack on linux. I am personally responsible for choosing linux as the OS for many of our server. I also chose linux over windows based thin-clients for use by our manufacturing personnel. (offered as evidence that I'm not a linux basher)

Rather, the above posts were only meant to counter the argument that linux desktops are extremely user friendly. The $200 linux computers are selling mostly because of their $200 price tag, not for their user friendliness. Which isn't to say they haven't gotten friendlier.

Last edited by dfiler : 2008-01-29 at 10:26.
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Eugene
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2008-01-29, 10:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post
"extremely". That's where you lose all credibility.

Why work in an MS world? Pragmatism.

I'd be fired in no time flat if I were to switch our users to linux desktops. Our employees need to get their work done, and not be constantly wondering why open office or wine isn't working properly with a document from an overseas office.

Linux is certainly getting better. And I use it constantly everyday at work. However it does no good to overstate the case and portray linux as "extremely user friendly". Once that is done, people tend to blow off all the other, legitimate praises.
???

Gotta say Ubuntu is pretty damned near complete as a Linux client OS. There is nothing pragmatic about Vista for the average XP user, yet we're encouraged to *upgrade* to it anyway.

Ubuntu is definitely "extremely user friendly." And really...if I wanted to be practical, I wouldn't be using Mac OS X either...
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dfiler
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2008-01-29, 10:44

If most businesses were to install Ubuntu on their desktops, disaster would ensue. Users would constantly experience problems with things that had previously worked.

Off the top of my head here are the issues we ran into when evaluating recent distros at our company... Printing to a plotter, sending faxes directly from the desktop, batch processing from handheld scanner data, printing to desktop label printers, interfacing with usb scales, active directory issues, CAD cards, interfacing with microscopes, obscure legacy database binaries, and most importantly... complicated ms office documents. These things can mostly be made to work on linux, but there is a lot of time and money that have gone into making current setups as snag free as possible.

And that is why most businesses don't use Vista, OS X, or linux on their desktops. I'll grant that at home the situation is much simpler. And you're right that "Ubuntu is pretty damned near complete as a linux client OS". But that phrase is far different than "extremely user friendly".
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Taskiss
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2008-01-29, 10:50

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post
"extremely". That's where you lose all credibility.

Why work in an MS world? Pragmatism.
A true pragmatist would switch to Linux in a heartbeat.

Why did Windows beat the Macintosh for marketshare? Apply your answer to this issue and tell me what you come up with.

I believe it's just a matter of time. "Free as in beer" is a hard price point to beat. IBM supports Linux, it's taken over Wall Street brokerage houses, and when times get tough and rising costs take away from the bottom line (ring a bell?) industry will look for ways to save those millions Microsoft charges for it's software.

Edward Jones was running X Terminals when I worked there, so UNIX as a desktop OS isn't unheard of. Add it all up and Linux looks like a winner.

real hackers don't use sigs
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
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2008-01-29, 11:45

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taskiss View Post
There are distros that make all those issues "extremely user friendly".

I'd say that there are Linux distros that make working in a MS world easier than using a Mac, for that matter.

That just begs the question - why work in a MS world?
We are simply rodents awaiting the meteor.

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beardedmacuser
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2008-01-29, 11:47

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post
I'd be fired in no time flat if I were to switch our users to linux desktops.
Sad, but true. Windows is "teh computa" for your average office worker.
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Taskiss
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2008-01-29, 12:01

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mugge View Post
We are simply rodents awaiting the meteor.

I'd love to think of myself as a notch above rodent.. SOME kind of carnivore, at least.

Perhaps a ferret. Yeah, I'd be OK with that.
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PB PM
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2008-01-29, 12:04

The main issue really is the programs. Almost every business app is Windows only, meaning people are stuck with it. Even if they wanted to switch the apps just aren't available. One could say that a company could hire programers to do so, but they would rather stick with the "status quo" that is MS.
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beardedmacuser
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2008-01-29, 12:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
One could say that a company could hire programers to do so,
Sadly it's financially less risky to outsource and buy a known product than hire staff. Likewise it's easier to purchase Exchange and a support contract than to hire staff who know what they're doing to build infrastructure tailored to the organisation.
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dfiler
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2008-01-29, 13:50

$200 is even more astounding after further thought. We've paid as much as $600 for our linux thin-clients (wyse winterms).

I guess that extra money went to the small form factor and some of the bundled but proprietary software. The end result is pretty sweet though. A linux box with no moving parts or custom settings. They boot off of firmware files pointed to by our dhcp server. (also a linux box) Our workers, when something goes wrong, have been instructed to pull the power cord, wait 5 minutes, and plug the thin-client back in. Only time that hasn't worked has been when a switch port fails randomly/permanently in our network stack.

This is where cheap linux boxes have actually started making inroads. Limited use workstations for retail and manufacturing. Free-form office work? Not so much yet.

While the thin-clients have come down in price, they certainly don't match this $200 milestone. Example pricing: wyse.vecmar.com/winterm/default.htm

Comparing the prices across the OSes is a bit baffling in that link...
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Eugene
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2008-01-29, 21:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post
And that is why most businesses don't use Vista, OS X, or linux on their desktops. I'll grant that at home the situation is much simpler. And you're right that "Ubuntu is pretty damned near complete as a linux client OS". But that phrase is far different than "extremely user friendly".
Would you call OS X "extremely user friendly?" I consider the claim that Ubuntu isn't user friendly because Microsoft is dominant to be a bit misleading. I could say Windows is extremely hard to use despite its mass acceptance and third-party support.
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Anthem
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2008-02-09, 13:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post
Tell that to my dad when he goes to use turbo tax or plugs in a camcorder. Or even just tries to open MS Office documents from his grad students. A few hundred extra bucks ensures that his tools work as expected.
My wife is a grad student, and has been for the past two years. She's used OOo/Linux or NeoOffice/Mac for every paper she's done during that time, and never had a problem with being unable to open other people's documents or them being unable to open hers. So the MS-Office thing is a red herring.

TurboTax/Quicken/etc don't work on my Mac, either, so I don't see how that's a strike against Linux unless you're also willing to say that the iMac isn't consumer-ready.

The camcorder thing is legit. Linux doesn't have a good consumer video editing program. For stills, though, I'll take digiKam over iPhoto any day.

Linux is improving and continues to improve, at a rate that can hardly be believed. It hasn't caught up yet, but it's getting closer.
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cosus
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2008-02-10, 07:34

Anyone remember the Corel Linux? I sure as hell jumped on that bandwagon. But then again, it did have screen switching. :P

I think I gave up on PCs and Linux that day. I gave Mac another try.

Retired 8 years ahead of schedule.
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chucker
 
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2008-02-10, 07:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosus View Post
Anyone remember the Corel Linux?
Ironically, that (or rather, its successor, Xandros) is the distro Eee PCs ship with.
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dfiler
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2008-02-11, 12:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthem View Post
... never had a problem with being unable to open other people's documents or them being unable to open hers. So the MS-Office thing is a red herring.
It's great that it works for some people. However, that anecdote doesn't apply to everyone.

It is easy to make compatible alternatives work some of the time, or even most of the time. The hard part is making it always work. It only takes a few glitches to waste enough hours to have justified buying the commercial software package.

Not that Neo-office and the like are the wrong choice for everyone. Just pointing out that compatibility concerns are far from a red herring.
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