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Shuttle's $200 Linux PC Part of a Trend? 396

Posted by timothy
from the love-it-already dept.
eldavojohn writes "With $200 machines being all the rage these days, it's surprising that more coverage hasn't been given to Shuttle's KPC which is an Intel Celeron processor, a 945GC chipset, 512MB of memory and either a 60GB or 80GB HDD. With deals like these, will Linux become the dominant home operating system for the thrifty?"
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Shuttle's $200 Linux PC Part of a Trend?

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  • by tknd (979052) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:05PM (#21990226)

    I don't know about you but I am finding I use the optical drive less and less these days. It is much easier to just get a USB flash drive for portable storage and dump the remaining large files onto an external hard disk. New software tends to be downloaded rather than loaded from a disk. So CD/DVD media is only useful for movies and install disks for new OSes. If they start making faster bootable USB flash drives with downloadable image files then I probably will stop using optical drives all together.

  • Multiple Children (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pickapeppa (731249) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:13PM (#21990346)
    If you have six kids in school, this might be just the thing you need. I don't have any kids that I'm aware of, but friends do and their kids fight for PC time for papers and projects. I've donated old PCs from to to folks for just this reason. And your kid learns a Linux distro as well as Windows / Mac at school.
  • Qemu (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mpapet (761907) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:15PM (#21990382) Homepage
    I use wine to run an old version of quick-something at home and select kid-friendly games. It's not the impediment you think it is.

    Qemu is the silver bullet. Let's say the company has legit Dell-sourced windows licenses. They can switch over to linux and run the windows partition through qemu in a window/fullscreen on the Linux desktop. Qemu is plenty fast enough to run quickbooks especially on recent hardware. There. Problem solved.

    Except qemu has been around for a while and it's not the Linux killer app. Neither is wine. I'm not slagging qemu or wine, but merely pointing out that Linux will succeed on it's own merits. Smaller benefits include qemu and wine, but they aren't the killer app that drives adoption.
  • by damburger (981828) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:18PM (#21990432)
    Recently there was a 'buy one give one' scheme where you got an XO and one was given to some impoverished child somewhere, and I'd really like to see that in the UK. I'd get a near indestructible linux laptop that never needs plugging in, along with a vague sense of moral smugness :)
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:24PM (#21990542)
    It's possible to boot up from a USB storage device.

    An ISO image is just a filesystem which you can mount. All you need to do then is copy all the files and folder structure from a downloaded installation CD image onto a USB stick of 1GB or larger, and make the USB stick bootable using the bootloader configurator thoughtfully provided. You now have a rescue "disc", albeit a USB one.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:25PM (#21990548) Homepage
    The article linked to from the slashdot article was missing some info, such as what linux distro it will have preinstalled. This [techreport.com] one says it will be Ubuntu. All I could find on shuttle's own site was this [shuttle.com] press release.
  • by athloi (1075845) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:36PM (#21990716) Homepage Journal
    Because I'm the neighborhood geek, people ask me about their problems. One problem is what to do with the old machine when they upgrade.

    My advice for the past six months has been: buy it a new hard drive ($60) and install Ubuntu. The hard drive is what fails at 4-5 years, but the rest will keep on ticking and thanks to the thriftiness of Linux, doesn't slow them down.

    They don't care that it's not Windows XP or Mac OS X. All GUIs look about the same for the tasks most people do.

    With these newer cheap machines, I'm excited, but wary. Would I rather install $200 of junk or do a $60 upgrade to an older, but once more expensive machine with better hardware?

    The Shuttle boxes I've worked with so far have been high quality but have tended to overheat. However, they were a good deal more expensive than $200. I wonder what corners got cut, and whether a five year old Dell that cost $900 when it was new would have these problems?

    Either way, my compliments to the Ubuntu team. That's a convenient and reliable OS distro.
  • by slackergod (37906) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:41PM (#21990790) Homepage Journal
    It wasn't that they wouldn't spend $20 for a dvd drive.
    It's that they wouldn't spend the extra 5.25 drive bay space
    and cabling for something that's only needed once in a while for os-installation.
    And when you're trying to make a small low power device, that's at a premium.

    For that once-in-a-while need to reinstall the os,
    there's certainly no need to go to the extreme of sending to the factory.
    My company uses a lot of small linux appliances like these (esp for firewalls)
    and I keep a external usb-cdrom on hand... use it to (re)install the os,
    and thats the only time it's needed. Rest of the time it would be wasted space.
    And I only had to pay for 1 drive, to use on ALL the systems.

    So after 100 of these, that $20 would add up for me.
  • by Neil Hodges (960909) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:46PM (#21990900)

    I do realize I'm in the minority, but there's a lot of software on Linux that I can't get at Windows, especially what comes with the OS. That's why my main machines run Linux and the gaming machine I rarely boot up runs Windows.

    Some examples are basic shell utilities or their analogues, such as grep, tr, and dozens of others. Although possible to get on Windows, Perl, Python, and other interpreters don't run as smoothly and take more work to do on Windows. For my purposes, it's most efficient to use such tools in a shell prompt, which Windows somewhat lacks (don't get me started on their DOS emulator, which lacks decent tab completion, useful text selection support, and so on). I even have a friend who has SSHd running under Cygwin so he can SSH into his own computer and have a useful terminal emulator and shell (Bash in his case).

    The same goes for the graphical applications I use, such as parts of KDE, which haven't run on Windows well yet (KDE4 will fix that). Other examples are good shell replacements. It's like having to use CDE during the days of proprietary Unix, without any good options. Sure, BB4Win derivatives provide options, but they're nowhere nearly as good as XFce, KDE, or even RatPoison for my purposes (I'm not even sure why it's not possible to have two different wallpapers in dual-head mode under Windows).

    Sure, for the average consumer, Windows has what they want and the software they'll send their money in for, but for someone raised under GNU/Linux, Windows lacks the important software.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @05:00PM (#21991164) Journal
    Unless you can get IBM to kick out some cheap PowerPC PCs that you could sell with Linux. As we all know, XP/Vista won't install/run on anything but x86. Maybe if DEC/Alpha was still around and Windows still created HALs for these (I'm pretty sure they abandoned that support tree a while back).

    Either way, it would require some low end, non-x86 CPUs and maybe that's an oxymoron in itself.
  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @05:37PM (#21991812)
    So while the initial repsonce is going to be great but don't expect to see lots of these people as return customers in the next few years.

    same is true for children's clothing. Buy one pair of size 1 shoes and you will likely not be buying another. So if these guys can sell just one PC to each person when they turn 13 thell will sell enough and every year there is a new bacth of customers. The trick is to offer a line of PCs, one at every price point. Then as yur customers upgrade you can keep them. Adding a PC at the bottom of the line can only serve to expand the whole market for PCs as at will alow people to buy their first PC ealier than thy would have.
  • by blixel (158224) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @06:22PM (#21992440)
    Your average user will love this computer: it lets them spend $200, and they can just throw a pirated copy of Windows on it.

    Since the $200 Shuttle doesn't come with an optical drive, I don't think the average user will be technically savvy enough to install Windows on it.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday January 10, 2008 @07:26PM (#21993260) Journal
    Either way, it would require some low end, non-x86 CPUs and maybe that's an oxymoron in itself.

    I have a nice little Linux palmtop running on a 330 MHz OMAP2420 cpu. It cost about $300 new, including touchscreen, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, FM tuner and built-in camera.

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