Open Source

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...

Editor's Picks