Linux

Wal-Mart's gPC romance ends: What does it mean for Linux?


Wal-Mart announced that the gPC (made by Everex) will no longer grace the shelves of the retail giant, saying that it wasn't what their customers were looking for (though it's worth noting that Wal-Mart.com will continue to sell the gPC and Everex Cloudbook online). ZDNet blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes suggests that the retail failure could be as simple as not selling the system with a monitor, or:

Maybe the bottom line here is that despite what the claims of some in the Linux community, this just goes to show that customers would rather pay for Windows than have Linux for free. Maybe people are happy to pay a $100 for an OS that they’ve seen or use at work and that their friends who have PCs also use. Maybe this is why piracy rates for Windows are so high despite there being a free alternative. Maybe the results of this experiment actually do prove that Linux just isn’t ready to conquer the desktop.

In addressing ThinkgOS founder David Lui's remark that the Wal-Mart loss wasn't a "big deal," Kingsley-Hughes is skeptical:

This experiment gone bad won’t be remembered as “Linux-based Everex PCs didn’t sell in Wal-Mart stores” or “it was a soft launch and that’s why Wal-Mart pulled the plug on it.” No, it’ll be remembered as a Linux failure, and that’s a shame.

Do you agree with Kingsley-Hughes' pessimistic outlook, or do you lean more to Lui's sunnier version -- that it was just an experiment -- and that the extra publicity is a good thing for Linux, no matter what happened?

Do you think it would be a better strategy to offer a slicker, pricier Linux setup -- not aimed at the discount crowd -- to get Linux systems the respect they deserve? Is the "cheap! free! cheap!" mantra actually de-valuing Linux in the eyes of consumers? After all, there are a lot of people who equate "cheap" with "it must be a piece of junk."

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

153 comments
desolation0
desolation0

Part of the problem with Linux, every company's IT department their mother has a version of it even if they don't use anything but Windows. Even just for the commercial PC market, there is a flood of options. If there's one thing that is almost neccessary to get a cultural change to the masses, it's a dogmatic undiluted message. It's the difference between the rapid spread of Catholic dogma vs. how slow the spread was before the 'one and only' version developed. If you prefer keeping it tech, how about the IBM PC. It wasn't anything special on the face of it, just a packaging of readily interchangable parts into a single system. Your computer works well because it followed the basic pattern, with varying performance based on what parts you use. Linux now has so many patterns, chosing the correct or best possible pattern is almost a crap shoot. Meanwhile, all the competing varieties are eating up advertising space and public awareness, while the single unified juggernauts Windows and MacOSX dominate the market.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Think about the average wal-mart buyer. Bare feet, farting, mouth breathing, inbreed, etc. for the most part low end humanity. Do, you really think they are capable of using Linux? Get real they can't even make a PC with Windows work. I see it everyday as they poke at the mouse in Sam's clubs. The classic OS with training wheels. Not an image most people would want to associate with, I am sure. The Linux community shouldn't be sorry and maybe this is an indication of some kind of inferiority complex. Really folks, we should be touting the business community and people who can at least write their name.

Veenstra
Veenstra

I went to my local WalMart - gPc's were not in stock, the sales person did not know anything about it and told me how 'much better' I would be buying Vista...how was this an honest effort to sell a product. Did others have this experience.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Computers from the 70's not meant for resale.

LazLong
LazLong

.. The hyperbolic & negative titles and the general negative spin many/most of these stories have. When it was never given a chance! Do any of these "journalists" do any research or just regurgitate press releases? Walmart Purchased 10,000 & @1100 went to @600 brick & mortar stores, usually the smaller ones. 3 stores in my general area had 6 and at none of those were any on display or even on the store floor boxed. No one knew what they were, one department manager indicated they would only put them out after black Friday/Monday if they needed to fill shelf space. The two I bought had to be un-buried from the stock room. I got one as a utility box for myself, which does multi-duty file/print/media server as well as router/firewall using Debian. The other I gave as a gift for relatives and they are very happy with it and it serves them well with minor personalization of the gOS Desktop, add/remove/resize/arrange icons. They even still use an older Lotus SmartSuite under Wine. But getting back to Walmart, it seems they did not promote let alone present that product, even online it is not presented with parity....... I would hazard a guess this may have been a maneuver to acquire or lead to a better arrangement with HP, Dell, MS etc for stock & display space?

desolation0
desolation0

Quite a few people mentioned having a separate boot for Windows for their gaming. Part of the architecture that allows so much gaming to be made specifically for Windows compatibility is DirectX. Is there any open equivalent of the DirectX package that companies can use for developing games compatible with just about any Linux system? Part of the reason I'm interested in gaming on Linux still is that gaming is one of the earliest ways children get into Computers today. It's between that and writing papers for class for the top spot. Of course, if their parents aren't even aware of Linux, getting it onto the kids' computers would be tough.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The complaint of "too much choice" is an old one. Somehow, people manage through it when buying a car. Most people have already baught many Linux based OS powered devices without knowing or needing to know it.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

that "mouth breather" is the average. Get off your high horse. If it bothers you, maybe attempt to make a positive change in the education systems and financial markets that have let the "average" slip so far down that you can only look on in disgust. You call them inbreeds, well, you sir are an arrogant, self-involved, infantile, bigot of the lowest sort. Please attempt to educate your self about the real world, and there is this thing in your head, we call them brains, it would be good to learn how to use it in conjunction with your eyes and ears. "The Linux community shouldn't be sorry and maybe this is an indication of some kind of inferiority complex." Or perhaps a recognition of the fact that this is a huge portion of the market? Or maybe the inferiority complex is yours? Classic displacement? Tell me about you family as a child....(really, this part was a joke I do not care about your childhood and what Uncle Jim did to you.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

First, you're wrong about Wal-mart's customer base. You may not have noticed, but Bonwit-Teller and L.L. Bean don't carry a lot of day-to-day needs, and people have to get motor oil and underwear someplace. Second, I don't care who else buys what I'm buying; I'm capable of establishing my identity separate from what I or others purchase. Putting that aside, at least Wal-mart was willing to give Linux a try, although it apparently wasn't well implemented. Who do you think should be selling Linux systems at the retail brick-and-mortar level? The business community is already well aware of Linux, at least within the IT departments. Are you saying there's no place for Linux outside the business world? Somebody tell me why I'm feeding this troll. Who offered me a free helmet?

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I mean honest, who really thinks this way?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Based on your discription and aperent distain for those below your "class", are these not the very people who check email, browse a few websites, maybe write a document and listen to a bit of music? If that is the case, are they not the very people who benefit from a preinstalled OS that does what it came installed to do and runs solid doing it? It's not like Walmart was selling the gPC hardware with a blank hard drive and install DVD. Besides, being exclusionary based on income is patented by other OS providers. FOSS is an exclusionary community. It's that elitist arrogance you display which harms acceptance most not technical limitations.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I just went to Walmat, bought a case of tide, some handgun ammunition, dental floss and a case of synthetic oil....not to mention the fact I just started. I am an IT Professional rumor has it, but I guess I'm not part of the Linux target audience. "Not an image most people would want to associate with, I am sure. The Linux community shouldn't be sorry and maybe this is an indication of some kind of inferiority complex." Walmart is the largest retail chain in the US. I guess it would be a mistake for anyone to want their product to sale well at a nationwide chain that puts products in front of mor people than any other chain. "Really folks, we should be touting the business community and people who can at least write their name. " That's been going on practically since inception and there's still a very low number (comparitavely speaking) of businesses running Linux variations front to back. Give us "OS with training wheel" guys better ADUC support and domain support, not to mention the ability to work in group policy...and we'll push out more Linux sooner than you'd think. The whole point of the Walmart experiment was to push it to home users. There is no better place than Walmart, but apparently there needs to be more of an effort on someone's part other than the reseller.

normhaga
normhaga

That underclass you so vividly describe is the basis of your business class. They are one of the largest buying segments. Linux needs to bend to the needs of all not just the technically superior.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

It's Walmart dude, not a specialized shop. They pay some kid barely over minimum wage and keep his working hours just under the limit to require Walmart to provide him with insuarance and benefits. That "sales" person is just an associate and is not going to give 2 cents what you buy, or how he is instructed to market a product. He's going to give you his opinion at most, and try to get you out of his hair and move on to his next required task. You really can't expect more from that person, because at that pay rate I would tell you the same thing since there were probaly Vista pc's on the shelf nearby. When Walmart places a product on their shelf, that's about as much of an honest effort as possible. It sells, or it doesn't. If it's out of stock they don't care locally because there is plenty more junk in the back to occupy shelf space. It's not a failure for Linux or Walmart IMO. It just didn't generate alot of interest. If the item doesn't sell enough or at a fast enough rate, Walmart will simply occupy that space with something more apealling. And for Walmart that may mean a giant pallet of pinky bunny slippers, lol. Unless Walmart were to sell gPC's next to a stack of software titles, $10 junk games and tax software that will run on the gPC...I just don't see it as a long term item in their store.

jlwallen
jlwallen

and i would like to see the numbers from walmart - where did they all go and did they all actually sell. i wonder (and this is the conspiracy theorist in me) if the "sold out" is coming from Everex and not Walmart. the reason i ask is based on your report of the employees having to dig for an actual product. and we all know how easily it is for "tracking systems" to get off on their numbers.

Selena Frye
Selena Frye

The bias is defintely pessimistic or skeptical toward Linux -- they are the underdog, trying to make their way into the mainstream against the Microsoft/Apple current. The products don't come in shiny packages (as Jack has pointed out!); they don't have cool accessories (I'm still steamed about my $35 Nano clip/jacket -- but what a job of marketing); and you don't go to conferences where they hand out cool swag. In short, our consumer culture isn't kind to Linux. And as far as Wal-Mart goes, I don't think they were trying any harder to sell those gPCs than, say, toaster ovens or those really big jars of pickles!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It was big on Windows platforms before DirectX stomped on most of it's competition. I hear OpenGL has actually evolved very well though DX is still the game developer's preference for whatever reason. Games written for OpenGL will port between platforms easily though I expect. Really, that is just the block buster games though. There is a huge selection of native games for Linux or BSD based OS that do not use DX. Some of them make use of the 3D GPU while some don't. If it's education and early interest your after then there are some great games you can look into. If it's being able to run Crysis because that's what all the cool kids at school run; Windows boot since you need DX10. One of the biggest challenges remains driver support for those high end gaming GPU though. That's changing so we'll see if the game developers follow the consumer demand since the hardware vendors seem to slowly show signs of change.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct3D_vs._OpenGL OpenGL is what you're looking for and more than likely you've used it without knowing it as alot of game consoles utilize it. There have even been a few popular pc titles to use it, though not very many. There are tons of side scrolling arcade type games and kid games available for download at sourceforge.net available for free. Lots of learning games for kids. Tons of stuff like tux racer and other games that have puffins running around. The major pc releases usually don't use it as their is more money in it (courtesy of nvidia and microsoft) if they go the directX route. Not that I'm complaining mind you...I've yet to see any openGL stuff that rivals the graphics in cutting edge games Like Crysis, COD4 and Bioshock. Just showing you the alternative...

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

There are tons of decent games native to Linux, especially for the very young, and "learning" games involving math, spelling, chemistry, etc. Not talking about WOW or other popular stuff. But a few companies do port a some of those. (on line multi player...) Not being a gamer myself I don't know exactly what. I have seen "second life" available in my Mandriva repositories. I understand that's quite popular. And though I've never had much luck with it, I have a lot of people tell me they run XP in a VM and it runs like you'd expect. You can run anything like that. I do encourage folks to give the young-uns a Linux box for starters. They don't know anything, so whatever you give them becomes "the standard." Bonus in that they're unable to load spamware, spyware, crapware, viruses, etc. A couple of very low income children up the street were given a laptop that wouldn't run, it had win2K on it but overheated in about 5 minutes and knocked itself out cold. On a hunch I ran a thin Linux live CD (Slax) and it ran cool enough to stay alive. So I installed it, at least they can do homework, browse etc. (more than with any windows, actually, without spending more $$$) One day they bumped into me and asked why their friends could install/run whatever, but they couldn't. (some clientware to play card games on line) I showed them they had tons of card games on board, showed them on line games they COULD play, but most important explained the dangers of those scripts running on a windows machine, and that Linux was actually doing them a favor by not exposing them to the potential to fall victim to cross site scripting and other mayhem. To be honest... they didn't seem too appreciative. Hopefully some day they will be. Like when their Linux is still running like new two years from now, and all their friends' Vista has gotten so horrifically crapped up they gave up and bought a new system with win7. (another 4 minutes of fuel for Billy's yacht)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

People have been exposed to decades of advertising about the "differences" between various makes of automobile. They know what Dad drove, and what their first car was. Linux doesn't have anyone "educating" the public on the same scale of the automobile industry, and it isn't anywhere near as old a product as the car. Everybody knows what a car is for; few have heard of Linux or what it does. Heck, most don't know what Windows does. I'd be rich if I had a dime for every time I've heard the words 'Microsoft', 'Windows', and 'Office' used interchangeably.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I would really, really love to try some version of Linux on my main gaming rig. SuSE ans samba work fine for my file server, but I want my gaming rig/main rig to have a little flair....not to mention I want it to just work without spending more than 30 minutes googleing the answer to whatever problem confronts me. I get paid to fix problems at work, at home I'd rather scratch my butt watching a movie or go on a date (or both!)than spend 3 hours on a pc issue. Not only that, I looked at Mandriva, Ubuntu and many of the countless others and just said forget it...broke out the MSDN dvd and installed Vista Business x64. I really wish they would follow the (successful) microsoft model and offer different versions...no more than 3-5. Server class, a no frills home version, a frilly home version and frilly home version geard towards gaming/multimedia. I'm not willing to spend countless hours installing different versions of Linux, then trying to get my SLI'd graphics cards, wireless, nic or sound card to work on each version "just to see which one suits me." I'm sorry, but many like myself had rather install some Microsoft product that does alot of jobs in general well, but not neccessarily the best for the simple sake of saving my precious down time. Still others had rather just go to the store, and grab a Mac which "just works" as well. I've yet to see a version of Linux tthat "just works" after install...maybe there is one but why do I want waste time looking for it when there is other stuff that works? I'm not saying I don't like Linux or they should totally ditch all those distros...but they should make 3-5 different versions that "just work" most of the time Like Microsoft/Apple and market them towards the general public.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Walmart doesn't care anout Linux, or Microsoft. If they sell it they like it. Hence the fact you will be more likely to find a motion activated talking fish than aa gPC down the road. I always attend a spring conference on the beach, presented by a Microsoft partner featuring Cisco, Nortel and all sorts of other big name vendors with way cool end to end products. There is the occasional Red Hat guy there, but he usually seems aggravated, frustrated and generally in a foul mood. To his credit, he does give out "Linux geek" pins. His seminar is always on a Thursday morning each year bright and early at 8 a.m. Lol, unfortunately for him Microsoft takes us out on Thursday night for dinner and bar hopping. Next thing you know the people who would in invest in his offerings are hung over in bed during his presentation. Poor guy can't catch a break...which can be said for the entire Linux community. I personally like Linux, and have a fileserver and a backup server at home running SuSE/Samba on my Xp/Vista 64 network. Unfortunatly, in my line of work I haven't seen where it's beneficial for me to use Linux products on a broad scale. Too many 3rd party apps I am required by law to run don't have Linux capability, so why worry myself with one more OS platform "just because". On a side note, my dad is happy with Ubuntu/open office on his old p4 I hooked him up with, so for me Linux is still having trouble rising out of my server room or my parent's basement.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i think we have such a different perspective than that average user to the point where we can't even see what they see or think the way they think. i can't even imagine not caring about what OS is on the machine. i can't imagine not caring about how secure my machine is. that list could go on and on.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm told VMware workstation now supports 3D GPU virtualization and can run most 3D intensive games with varying degrees of success. I'll be looking into that further when I'm back home to my own workstation.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When you buy a car, you know what dad drove, you ask your friends who are gearhead types, you ask your dealer and you do your research. Buying a computer needs much of the same research but the lack of research is not caused by the software platform. Advertising is a limitation since Linux based OS tent do just go in stuff and work rather than be the selling point. I think that's a big reason there is such honest grass roots support from loudmouths like myself. ;)

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I agree, Open Office does everything I'll ever need it to do. A few of my clients are law firms. Those guys are like neighbors...one guy gets something the other guy has to one up him so it's good for me. My problem is they pass an 07 word document back and forth editing, commenting and the like. Every single change has to be monitored. So if the orignal document is Office 07, they stick with that...if it's WordPerfect (or wordimperfect to some) it stays in that format. I tried showing hem translators but they don't like them. Personally I don't either if I need to edit the doc and send it back to someone who's using 07. I find it amazing office 07 is taking off. The feel is so much different and looks nothing like old versions...yet people buy it in droves. Personally I'd see that as the perfect time to switch to another cheaper (or better yet free!) office suite...especially with the incompatibility issues with older office versions. How the h3ll do they sell it?! In the end I could really care less, lol...I just give the customer what they want so they all thier monies belong to me.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

Amen on the Office on Mac, its pure junk. OOo will be 1000% more stable. Enterage...ick... I think your right about MS not doing the same level of work on the Mac version as opposed to the PC version, but then Im prone to tinfoil hat moments. OOo should have full MS open document support soon though... currently is available in the form of several translator plugins, and the Novell OOo has it built in of course... But, many people know and like Office. There is a reason its almost 1/2 of MS's revenue. Me, Im lucky in that OOo does it for me just fine =)

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

LinuxMCE is definitely worth looking into :) LinuxMint is a Ubuntu derivitive, and comes with full MP3 and dvd playback out of the box in the full version. These codecs are not "legal" in the US to the best of my knowledge unless you pay for them =\ Lindvd is available from some german group, and Fluendo will sell you a linux dvd decoder as well. Worth it to support the media development on linux imo. Neon, thanks for links to the driver site. Its good to know about. ATM I have everything working either native or with ndiswrapper.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

I forgot to mention Linux Mint: http://linuxmint.com/ I got as far as the live install before the pterodactyl crowed at quitting time Monday. The promise is the codecs are all in place and properly configured. We'll see... Not sure about licensing with this one, though. I noticed the US mirrors said "partial" whereas all the others around the globe said "full." I'll be reading the license tomorrow.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

Have you seen this? http://www.linuxmce.org/ It even provides a network boot image so your windows machine can boot to an mce client when you want to relax. I'm setting one of these up in the lab tomorrow for testing. Thank goodness I'm my own boss, I can justify this sort of thing. I have been trending toward more individual, personal computer work, and away from the small business LANs I've set up/maintained. The latter just click away flawlessly, not generating much work. That's what happens when you put Linux in charge of everything. And with the economy as it is I'm not seeing too much "investment" in infrastructure. There are a few private individuals that I've set up with rather advanced systems, but more often I'm reinstalling their gunked up windows. So if I can get down with MCE it'll actually be a profitable venture, another product to offer, and one I'm sure a lot of people would be excited about. How's that for rationalizing playing with a multimedia system?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Funny you should mention office. It's my biggest concern regarding my side job supporting small businesses. They all want to be able to work with office xp/03/07 documents, corel and occasionally oo. Again, that limits the choice I can give them because of office 07. I've seen office on a mac in action, and it isn't pretty. You'd almost think Microsoft made sure it wouldn't be stable on a Mac when it comes to advanded document editing. So I pretty much sell them office 07 and install oo configured to work primarily as a correl translator. If that doesn't work to their liking they usually buy corel from me, too. I could spend some time instructing them on how to use some translators and advanced features of oo but that's time consuming. I'd rather charge them more money so they can do it their way! Plus I tried "gently forcing" oo ince on a customer by going back and explaining features here and there. Over time I got less and less business from that guy, and I noticed on one trip oo was uninstalled and corel was there. Lesson learned! You may think you're doing them a favor and saving them money, but it's their decision! And yes, Apple has and is blowing their chance. Alltough they seem to be perfectly content being a niche company. They have products that are visually more attractive to the average person (and I can't honestly say the air and iphone aren't sexy as h3ll!). Combine that with their wonderful os and you have a great product. But, the prices drive most away and the inability to install whatever I want on the iphone keeps me away.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

I can see where your coming from and why. One idea to consider is that software on the shelves will be going the way of the DoDo over time (I give it 5 years), so any serious competitor needs to be able to provide software installs over the internet, much like Steam does for games. This will be an extension of the "web" desktop and software as a service. But, you are right, MS does need viable, retail competition from someone. Anyone... Imagine life if only RC Cola sodas were available... For me the big kicker is not games, or office apps (I actually prefer OOo, and Gimp does 1000% more then I personally need) but multimedia playback. Even the venerable Mplayer and Xine, they just do not cut it from the UI perspective. they work, work well, but they have clunky controls. I COULD use them if i had to, but a fully remote controlled ZoomPlayer works just as well, if not better at times, and is smooth as silk for daily use (not including custom filter chains here...also not including configuration of codecs to allow playback, just the method of choosing, selecting, fast forwarding etc).

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I do want an alternative to Windows. The licenseing stuff at work drives me crazy. And alternatives only help to make each product better if nothing else. I just don't consider Linux an alternative until I can go to the local retail store and pick up a copy of some specific software to suit whatever need may arise...or linux drivers are included on the latest/greatest product's included driver cd. I think the online community aspect of Linux is absolutely wonderful, but they simply need to back ONE to get into the marketplace competitively. No need to dump the other products...just back one unified version commercially. Look at Vista...it's reception is less than favorable yet it will still be more dominant than another OS that is more stable and secure for some time to come. It's infuriating since Microsoft is practically opening the door for someone to step up and de-throne them. You can almost hear the greedy execs saying that "No one is going to buy something different because all your manufacturers are belong to us noobs." I thought maybe Apple was going in the right direction with the move to Intel, but no...OSx still isn't supported on anything other than a mac. I may never move away from Windows. Not because I'm a huge fan or I think it's the best out there, but because I depend on the Microsoft platform at work on the enterprise level and in my off hours networking small businesses. I need to be able to remote into these sites and fix them quickly if need to be, without as little hassle as neccessary. I try to keep all these small business as identical as possible...windows server for back end, xp on the front, tardis to keep everyone time sync'ed, the same time clock programs and reporting programs...blah blah blah. My customers won't buy Mac because of the price (can't say I blame them) and they think there's some mysterious learning curve with Linux regardless of what I tell them. They all ask for windows platforms so I give it to them...enough said, another happy customer throwing money at me. I just want someone to step up and play on Microsoft's level so we have some marketplace competitveness where Microsoft maybe only has 40-60% of the US market. If that happens everyone would benefit tremendously and just MAYBE drive down prices overall. I agree, Linux would support 95% of my needs and I actually love using openSuSE 10.3, but I want it all on one box because I'm lazy and that's the way most of the non-technical public wants it. If the box can't do it all, trivial 5% included then I need to look at something else...most of the people giving me their hard earned dollars feel the same. Maybe then big money making software manufaturer's (ESRI, MapInfo, AutoDesk, Adobe and the like) will make their products Linux friendly...further opening my options for enterprise use.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

The only aspect that Linux asks you to cater to linux is maybe in terms of games. Most popular games now days do not yet run natively on Linux (exceptions are the Games from ID), but the ones that do, run better. After reading your posts, I really do not see why you are complaining about Windows. You do not seem to want a Windows Alternative, but a Windows Clone. An alternative is juts that, a different choice. An alternative to driving to work is riding my bike. a clone of driving my car is driving my wife's car. See the difference? Though I have to admit, my analogies suck... Like you, I keep a Windows machine for gaming, but I use a Linux box for web tasks. And if the streamZap remote has the correct features and usability, I will be moving all my media playback to that machine as well (currently running BeyondTV BeyondMedia and firefly RF remote on XP). Sigh, I would love to move the tv card back to a myth system, but Myth is so clunky and non-responsive compared to Beyind TV =( But, I do try it every year or so to see if its "finally time to switch" for me. So to counter my own arguments..... Yeah linux can do everything I want, it just may not do them well enough for me yet. (hello Inimatrix...port Zoom Player to linux please.) But We keep hoping and trying. Release by release, year by year, it all gets better.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I love the latest version of SuSE, complete with limited ADUC interoperability. Runs beutifully on my older pc. But I do game SOME, maybe 2-5 hours a week total. But I do like the newer games like Crysis or Bioshock that are hardware intensive and bursting with eye candy/mindless violence. :) That means that the equipment to run this is a little expensive, so naturally I want my money's worth. That means my gaming rig will be my most used pc. I use it to VPN back to the office, surfing the web and streaming media. I need an OS that will do it all for this purpose...support the latest gen games (without dual booting), handle multiple types of audio/video formats and codecs, somewhat stable, handl rdp for use at my customer's sites and through vpn back to my office. Until something better comes along I'll stick with Vista for this. I don't want the hassle and wasted hard drive space of dual boot and i don't want the extra system resources being occupied by running linux and some sort of virtual windows on it. The gaming selection for Mac falls behind the Windows selection and I need to be able to use remote desktop and active directory management tools. That leaves ME personally stuck with Windows and SuSE relegated to my fileserver which is essentially nothing more than a glorified network storage device I use for backups. Lol, basically I want an alternative. Microsoft knows how to play ball in this arena and cater to me, the customer. They work with vendors/hardware manufaturers to provide ME with stuff to buy. Linux expects ME to cater Linux. I need to research what version I want, toy around with it and explore the community to find exactly what I want. Anyway...doesn't matter. I basically agree with you and I'm rambling on about the same old argument that has been said before. It just kills me that with some of the innovations I've seen with this latest version of SuSE that Linux has some real, tangible benefits and opportunity to have a marketable product that is going to be a very minor player in the end. The whole community needs to back SOMETHING, ANYTHING standard. ADUC is key so it can maybe, just maybe creep into some enterprise organizations on a small scale and get noticed by John Q Public at work. /end pointless rant/ Short version: Microsoft Licenses me to death, Mac is just as strict because I don't want a MacBook or a g5 so I can't have OSx (because I'm not cool enough) and the Linux community gives me so many choices between versions and apps that it actually makes me dizzy. Lol...they all suck equally just in different areas!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

But hardware manufacturers don't even need to waste the resources. As it is now, they have to get API specs from MS and Apple. They write there own hardware drivers gainst those API specs. In terms of drivers, it's all the hardware manufacturuers once the OS driver interface specs are provided by MS and Apple. Here's the kicker though; they don't need to waste resources supporting, yet, a third major OS destinction. If they release driver specs; drivers will apear. The Linux kernel has the widest range of hardware support out of the three. Apple suports it's closed selection very well. MS get's drivers for new hardware. Linux retains support for everything it can get included. The hardware manufacturer get's drivers produced for them. They get more budget to return to there own hardware development. They get a larger consumer base and more hardware unit sales. The usual excuse is "but we use IP in the driver interface which we can't reveal".. great, but why not use a generic driver interface chip that sits infront of that IP BS and opens your hardware up to a much larger market. They also get drivers developed to a higher quality and supported with patches faster than they could response; still, without the bugget issues that this would cause under a closed development model. There was a hardware maker a while back. I believe it was a plotting printer they released the driver source for. It was either a plotting printer or some CAM item used in a lumber mill. The point that releaseing the driver source did improve the code quality, result in faster patches. Other people added there own customization into the driver and suddently the bit of hardware was being used outside it's intended market and for things the manufacturer never imagined. Everybody comes out happy. (edit, missed a bit) I missed this bit the first time though. In terms of developing a hardware driver that works across all those many different distributions with Linux chosen for there core; you only need talk to Linux and X.org. The Linux project is the actual OS core so hardware manufacturers need to provide interface specs and the kernel hackers will glue it all in place. If it's in the kernel modules, any Linux based OS will know it. The X.org project is the core of the GUI system. Link the kernel, if X.org has interface specs for the hardware then X and any window manager on top of it will be able to use the hardware. There are other hardware support related projects but those are the two most desktop hardware vendors would want to aproach. You only need to get your hardware supported in the kernel and/or if meant for GUI use then the X kernel. Here the larger FOSS market has the advantage since two stops get's you support for many different distributions rather than just two brands.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Hardware, more than software, has always been my limitation. Figuring out how to make the same hardware do twenty different things well is an old and ongoing puzzle; hence, why the win32 boot for video games and the nonwin32 boot for the rest of my needs. My gaming PC is my workstation, auditing toolbox, groupware and storage server, VM server and training centre and development lab (and the ATI 9600 GPU negates modern gaming until a pending hardware upgrade). Your ratio may be different depending on what software you need to run of course. If you really want to explore Linux based OS then stick with the liveCD. You don't need to run every one of them, just the major distros until you find a comfort zone. Build a dual boot with your Windows as the default boot. Then you can muck with your Linux based OS boot as time permits. Heck, I've kept a Mandriva and previously a Red Hat bootable secondary OS partitions on my machine for almost ten years. Above all, don't let the lack of one or two standard brand names be overwhelming. It's not the Windows market where you have one or two different OS easily associated with each other. There are lots of distributions too choose from but most have the same parts available even if they are not included as the same defaults. Don't get hung up on finding the perfect one; just pick an Ubuntu, Debian, Mandriva or PCLinuxOS and get to exploring. If you really have no interest in something other than Windows which can support your gaming needs then that's great too. We both share the gaming limitation. I'm not about to say that what supports 95% of my needs is of no use because it can't support that last fairly shallow need (shallow for me, more important for others).

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

"I agree there should be something of a core upon which all Linux operates, in order that manufacturers may effectively work with all distributions simultaneously. Some are trying to do just this, such as the Linux Standard Base (LSB) project. But the way that "community" behaves such things are mostly doomed from the start." That's my point...Linux needs to folow corporate business models to be more successful. Most people go on and on about the business models and companies being unfair and not catering to Linux. Since when does a someone wanting to market a product complain about how the potential cash cow (hardware vendors/3rd party software vendors)is not being ethical or fair? If you have something to market you need to work it into their business model, not demand that the business model be changed. For now the community won't let that stand, as you stated. There has to be some sort of unification across the board if Linux is to get out of the 5-10% window. Personally I'd like to see some form of Linux become a tremendous success as I don't particularly care for Microsoft or Apple's tactics. I can't install anything on my iPhone, I can't buy OSx that runs on anything other than a Mac legally, Microsooft products at home will break the bank if you want Vista and Office 07 and for the love of pete managing Microsoft enterprise level licensing (1000+ users, sql, sharepoint, dpm...way too much to list) in my workplace is nothing short of a full time job. Oh yeah, by tremendous success I mean that I want to walk into Walmart and find Turbo Tax, Deer Avenger and a video card designed for Windows, Mac and whatever the new wonder-linux may be. No going to the website or googleing for the latest drivers or patches...just a generic cd with drivers that work included in the package. I personaly check for newer versions than the cd in the package...but John Q Public doesn't.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

That was a generic reference to everything that has changed. Cell phones, the nature of television, the rise of the internet, automotive advances, etc. Just to illustrate that anything can take a sudden, unexpected turn. I agree there should be something of a core upon which all Linux operates, in order that manufacturers may effectively work with all distributions simultaneously. Some are trying to do just this, such as the Linux Standard Base (LSB) project. But the way that "community" behaves such things are mostly doomed from the start. The point about lin-win arguments was entirely a mental exercise to illustrate the point that it is NOT the quality or lack thereof of either system. It's that manufacturers work with Microsoft (and now Mac) not Linux. If it were the other way around the opinions of various fans would be 180 about from where they are now. And for that argument I assume both systems to be what they actually are at the moment. (of course impossible, but...) In that scenario everyone would be using and making money with Linux and windows users would be arguing that it's not "junk," it's just that manufacturers won't provide them drivers, etc. It's the business model, NOT the quality of either OS that sets the stage for any debate, so it should the debate should be about the business model. But people insist on making it a fight over the relative merits of the two OSs. Human nature. Not that a good spleen-venting isn't a healthful undertaking every now and then. =) That's all I was trying to say. Of course the last 5 years has been a watershed for Linux. Who knows what the next 5 may bring? There may be no internet as we know it, big clunky PCs may be rendered extinct by dedicated appliances, who knows? I will say this, though; there will come a time when people ask "do you remember Microsoft?" Surely no stone will be left upon another...

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

More like 5 dude, where have you been? If the linux community picked just a handful (less than 5) of versions to push out and support...and heavan forbid actually sell...then maybe the manufacturers would work with them. The manufacturer's have a relationship with Mac and Microsoft based on the revenues they will generate. That is NOT a bad thing, that's just business. It's a waste of their time and money to have developers work with 1 out of 100's of versions of Linux just to try and make it work...knowing things will not be the same on other versions. You can't blame nvidia or ati or any other company for wanting to work with other companies that will make them money. These guys are in the business to make money, we can't point fingers at them for that.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

You just hit the real nail there. Manufacturers don't design their 'latest and greatest' hardware with Linux in mind. They develop everything to work "out of the box" with windows. If manufacturers hid their design specs from Microsoft the way they do Linux developers, the situation would be exactly the opposite. People would complain windows is just too dang difficult to get running, Linux just plain works, no reason to change, crawl back under your windows rock and suck your thumb etc etc... The real win-lin fan boy argument is entirely the creation of the hardware manufacturers. It has NOTHING to do with either OS, it as to do with who gets all the design specs and gets the hardware built exclusively for them. In today's world that would be microsoft. Bearing that in mind, what is often lost on the windows fans is just what an incredible achievement todays Linux is. The epitome of "reverse engineering." I've used Linux exclusively for almost a decade now and there has never been anything I couldn't do when I needed to. I don't play games. All the Linux users I know only keep windows around to play games. But getting back to hardware manufacturers, don't rule out drastic change sometime in the future. Things have changed an awful lot over the last 20-30 years in case you haven't noticed. You just can't predict what might turn the tables on the win-lin debate.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

My gaming pc IS my regular pc. I have a file server outside of that, a laptop and a pc in the garage for googling stugg I break. I's like to explore Linux, but I've seen too many horror stories getting it to work with the latest and greatest hardware. If just a handful of releases were standardized that might not be a problem anymore. I'd even be willing to pay actual money for it. Until then, it just seems like more of a toy. If I want something guaranteed to more or less work pretty well and at least have drivers for the next brand new card released, I'll have to stick with buying a pc with windows or a mac.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It also means I can tune Windows purely for gaming and slim it down nice. I'd love to run the blockbuster games on Linux too and I'll see about that more once I'm out from behind this ATI board. Gaming is a specialty need though like AutoCAD. If you need a specific program that only supports one platform then you'll need that platform bootable. If you need your games on your main gaming rig then obviously, you'll need a bootable partition for the OS you require to run them. For non-specialty needs, most distributions are up to the task these days. The major ones are anyhow. Of course, your free to not run any OS that doesn't do what you need too. I'd recommend picking one of the major three distros and sticking with it to just muck around. It sounds like you may be looking for reasons to fail rather than things to accept. If you want something more uniform, consider one of the BSDs. PCBSD seems to be the one I hear recommended often. If you have no interest and just need your gaming puter to blinky blinky they more power too you, mod the hell out of the case and get to gaming.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Sure there are tons of projects by developers and loved by users who care about software and OS platforms. For the preinstalled OS/hardware product unit; the vendor has already provided hardware with a nearly embedded OS and it is very capable for most user's needs. For the workstation in businesses; IT makes the workstation image with required tools and config for the job and the staff that uses it doesn't care. Special needs will always be a deciding factor for geeks but the users who just want a com'pu'tor thingy with the functions preinstalled and listed on the box; it's very easy for a vendor to setup. I agree with the other post that points out that there is no technical reason why a preinstall could not suite most users. The primary reasons now are politics and marketing related.

john3347
john3347

jlwallen, you hit the Linux problem straight on the head with your statement that "You can't imagine not caring about...". (not only Linux; but ALL software - - OS and applications) When the development community realizes that the masses DON'T know - or care - about these things, then some suitable programs for the "average user" will start being produced. Just as the "average driver" doesn't know or care (or be required to know or care) about the inner workings of the engine or transmission to utilize their automobile, so it must be with computers and the software installed on them.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"Linux" is not even a viable operating environment on it's own. It's just the kernel, the base OS between hardware and the rest of the system. If one expands out to distributions, they are not all "Linux" they are different and destinct OS + userspace distributions that happen to be made from the same lego pieces. Here here.. the mass media will always choose there abuse of words by what will drive fear or sex for sales and viewers; look no further than "Hacker" for that evidence. The fanboys like "Linux" to mean the whole greater market place because it's easier for them to complain. The elitist snobs like "Linux" to mean the whole greater FOSS marketplace so they can see the fear of choice on the noob's faces and keep feeling superior about themselves. Apple/MS love "Linux" meaning the whole market place for there own anti-marketing persutes. And again, they get to scare consumers by saying "Linux" is hundreds of choices where Mandriva is thee choices, Red Hat is two or three choices including Fedora and so on. Chevy would love to have "Chevy" mean cars and trucks while ignoring every other brand and refering too them all as "engine blocks".. what car company wouldn't love causing that kind of confusion for anything but there brand. The time for at least the tech media to give up "Linux" and start refering to different distribution brands is long overdue. Tech media at least should recognize that one bad distribution does not mean the kernel and everything that uses it is horrid.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"There are already some/many SMB retailers, System Integrator's, ISV's who cater to those interested,..." There are always stores who cater to the deeply interested individual looking for informed service and options the general public is unaware of. There are Mom-and-Pop running shoe stores that cater to the long-distance runner and would never stock a pair of Sketchers. There a bike shops for serious cyclists with brands you and I have never heard of. Their inventories don't overlap with Wal-mart or any other mainstream retailer. This doesn't make it Wally's fault if he doesn't stock those products, and it doesn't make those products failures if they aren't on the Big Box shelves. It may indicate that the products are only of interest to the best informed, most interested consumers, and that most consumers find the better known but less advanced brands to be good enough for their needs. Usually these type of products cost more than the popular ones, although some of that cost is to cover the superior customer service. Someone suggested the low price and unknown manufacturer may have worked against Linux, implying the system was inferior to the better known manufacturers and operating systems. Me, I agree with whichever of the original articles wondered if users didn't like not being able to run the Windows software hanging on the racks across the aisle from the hardware.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Those of us who are professional geeks need to be frequently reminded we may have difficulty relating to the concerns of Joe HomeUser (and sometimes even Jane CorporateUser).

LazLong
LazLong

In a week or two...both online & in the stores? But it is being billed as a failure of Linux & not Walmarts? Linux is not a single product or company. I think it is time the tech press stop treating as such, and do a better job of doing there job. There are already some/many SMB retailers, System Integrator's, ISV's who cater to those interested, Outside of the better known Dell, HPaq, Leveno, Acer etc... System76 http://system76.com/ Linux Certified http://linuxcertified.com/ Los Alamos Computers http://laclinux.com/en/Start a Generic listing http://www.linux.org/vendor/system/index.html Still, I think/feel it is lack of good info & insight from the mainstream tech press, which may slow some/most interest/adoption.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd have to know more of the information from the earlier post? How many units was the original order? How many stores had units allocated? How many store units where stocked on shelves? What sining was place at the displays? With many of those questions answered already; yeah.. basically, each store got a unit to hide in the stock room, no sining, no shelf display; hm.. why on earth didn't they go like hot cakes? - usually such a bunked order and allocation would mean uncomfortable meetings with managers for the buyer and merchandisers. Walmart continues token awareness as they did with the last go at selling systems with Linux based OS preinstalled. Dell's not doing much better as there experiment continues on. I like the idea of a "professional software and systems only" store that was mentioned. :)

LazLong
LazLong

Given an infinite amount of time & parity, monkeys might rewrite Shakespear????? They were not presented in any sort of way, to give the opportunity for those who could get the most benefit & value. You have to be aware & Interested, just like the $10/month DSL when AT&T took over BellSouth/Cingular... Just like that, this & things like the EeePC were tremendous opportunities..... Still Large concerns have different considerations, play in a different fields and trade amongst themselves. I get the feeling, for them it was a sort of brinkmanship. They could not really lose either way and get what they really wanted. Consider How many times large concerns test/threaten using Linux/etc to get a more favorable licensing agreement. (Why MS also sells SLED) I understand now with the popularity of the EeePC, MS has a different arrangement/licenses with Asus. Probably as well with Everex, Dell, etc.... I also do not really think/feel one can pigeon hole "average"... those are marketing demographics, which tend to ignore the very long & wide tail

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