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GNU is Not Unix Hardware Linux

100% Free Software Compatible PC Launches 458

Posted by kdawson
from the of-by-and-for dept.
crimperman writes "The Open-PC project has announced that its first PC will be available at the end of February for €359. They claim the mini-ITX desktop machine is energy efficient, consumer ready, easy to upgrade, and — significantly — uses only hardware that has free software drivers available. As you'd expect, it comes with GNU/Linux which is running KDE (a €10 donation to the KDE project in included in the price). Interestingly all the key decisions on design, pricing etc. have been made by the community via online polls. The spec of the machine is pretty reasonable for the price: Atom 1.6GHz dual-core processor, 3GB RAM, 160GB HDD, Intel 950 graphics."
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100% Free Software Compatible PC Launches

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  • Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:18AM (#30828300)

    That's about $500 dollars, which is $50 more than I paid for a 16" Asus laptop for my wife for Christmas. Pretty much the same hardware too, other than her laptop came 1 gb more ram, a core2duo processor and a screen. It even uses the same chipset... The laptop came with windows 7 also so you can dualboot whatever flavor of linux you want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:20AM (#30828314)

    kdawson

  • Re:BIOS (Score:4, Informative)

    by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:25AM (#30828352) Homepage
    Sure it is. There's even projects to do it. For example, OpenBIOS [openfirmware.info].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:31AM (#30828390)

    You care to provide a link? I get:
    We're sorry we found 0 matches on Walmart.com for "mini-ITX".

  • by Siridar (85255) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:36AM (#30828414)

    the nvidia ion? the one with closed-source drivers? ...hmm...

  • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:45AM (#30828468)

    Not their fault... the online poll [open-pc.com] set the price at $300 - $400

    The under-spec'ed processor and GPU for that price, however IS their fault. And "easily upgradable" doesn't excuse it much. What may excuse it is low volume, requiring them to use lower spec'ed components than Apple to meet their price goal.

    The online poll results put them in a tough place: "A Netbook form factor PC, in $300 - $400 range". A tower form factor would have allowed less-expensive options (though at higher power consumption, most likely).

    Anyways, more is important than just the specs... it's the fact they only use open, documented hardware.

    And this [open-pc.com] is redeeming:

    The project was initiated in response to the lack of quality in the Free Software-based hardware solutions currently on the market. As many reviewers and end-users have stated, the pre-installed software used by hardware vendors generated a bad image for Free Software with potentially interested end-users. Much of the software was buggy and not widely tested and device drivers were often unstable, non-free or not available at all.

    In other words... a high-quality component choice for non-technically savvy users who want Linux pre-installed?

    I suppose high-quality is relative. They would seem to be claiming the point of the project is to provide a higher quality experience than other pre-installed Linux solutions.

  • by osu-neko (2604) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:58AM (#30828556)
    No, the extra $300 is what you pay for ordering all those parts and preparing an assembly line to make computers but in quantities of less than millions. Certain costs are largely the same whether you're making five hundred computers or five million computers, so they cost more on a per unit basis when you're in the former category rather than the latter. Other costs scale, but not linearly. You can't make a computer with all the same parts as that Acer for the same price unless you're making and selling as many computers as Acer.
  • by myz24 (256948) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:11AM (#30828624) Journal

    He said iMac, not Macbook. AFAIK, you can get the trackpad to work under Ubuntu but it takes additional work after install.

  • by bfree (113420) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:26AM (#30828704)

    No wireless chipset, of course. Because after 15 years of WiFi being in common usage worldwide, there still isn't a single chipset available with full support for 100% free software.

    Except for all the atheros cards supported by ath5k and ath9k in the Linux kernel, or the bcm cards supported by openfwwf (though I prefer the atheros stuff as it's manufacturer not only helps out but even released their own code for reference). There may be others.

  • by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:51AM (#30828796) Homepage
    I agreed with you until I saw what the PC actually was. That is, built entirely from off the shelf components. You can buy the Mini-ITX motherboard they use that with comes with a 1.6Ghz Atom for £64.60 on Amazon.co.uk. The case, power supply, and RAM are all quite ordinary. You can in fact build this exact computer for at least £100 less on your own.

    I would have been more impressed if they pulled an OLPC and used a FOSS BIOS and designed a motherboard.
  • Re:Mac (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymusing (1450747) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:01AM (#30828830)

    How can you say the Open PC has more power than the Mac Mini? That Mac's 2.26ghz Core Duo runs rings around the Open PC's 1.6ghz Atom, and its graphics card beats it out too.

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:10AM (#30828860)

    I know it's not something that you point-and-drool Mac fanatics would usually do, but try reading the technical documentation [open-pc.com].

    From the specs chart, it says:

    1 x PS/2 mouse port
    1 x PS/2 keyboard port
    1 x parallel port (ECP/EPP support)
    1 x serial port
    1 x VGA port
    4 x Ready-to-Use(sic) USB 2.0 ports
    1 x RJ-45 LAN port
    HD Audio Jack (line in/front speaker/microphone)

    After looking over all of the specs for this thing, it's definitely overpriced because it has a weak CPU, too little memory, lacks expansion capability (only a single PCI slot), has Intel integrated graphics and it's ugly as hell. For the same cost as that thing, I could build a pretty high powered gaming-class PC that would still work with Linux.

  • Better option. (Score:5, Informative)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:19AM (#30828892)

    Motherboard Intel D945GCLF2 with integrated Atom 330 (2 cores, 4 threads) = U$S 103
    HD 160 SATA = U$S 53
    3 GB of RAM (1 x 2 GB, 1 x 1 GB) = U$S 81
    MiniITX Case with 500W PSU = U$S 75
    Sub Total: u$s 312
    - 10% VAT applied in Argentina already in those prices= -32

    Total: u$s 280
    OpenPC: u$s 512

    Even if you add the price of building it, and a reasonable profit, it's still insanely expensive.
    And my hardware choice is actually better, because the motherboard is 100% Intel and not a cheap-ass Asrock.

    By chance, I happen to be running that same hardware configuration I just posted. Here's lspci's output:

    00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 82945G/GZ/P/PL Memory Controller Hub (rev 02)
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 82945G/GZ Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 02)
    00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 01)
    00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 01)
    00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 3 (rev 01)
    00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 4 (rev 01)
    00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 01)
    00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 01)
    00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 01)
    00:1d.3 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 01)
    00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 01)
    00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 PCI Bridge (rev e1)
    00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801GB/GR (ICH7 Family) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 01)
    00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) IDE Controller (rev 01)
    00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801GB/GR/GH (ICH7 Family) SATA IDE Controller (rev 01)
    00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 01)
    01:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 02)
    04:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8185 IEEE 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 20)

    And extract from cpuinfo (There are actually 2 cores with 2 threads each, which shows up as 4 processors on GNU/Linux)

      vendor_id : GenuineIntel
    cpu family : 6
    model : 28
    model name : Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU 330 @ 1.60GHz
    stepping : 2
    cpu MHz : 1596.098
    cache size : 512 K

    BTW: This hardware is 100% Hackintosh friendly. I am dual booting Ubuntu and OSX on it.

    * Those are prices in Argentina (Yes, electronics here are way more expensive than elsewhere), and they include a 10.5% VAT, so that price would actually be ~280U$S. And the components are better, and still 100% Free. Except off course both this system and their system contains privative hardware design, privative BIOS and firmware, etc. So, not really 100% open.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:28AM (#30828928)

    Do not equate US pricing to European pricing - computers cost more in Europe.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:45AM (#30828986) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. Intel graphics are useless for nearly every use. Even if you don't do 3d - 2d window drawing and other operations seem to cause X to use a lot of CPU for some reason. This only happens with intel.

  • by koiransuklaa (1502579) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @03:46AM (#30829238)

    ah, I see you haven't followed how gadget prices work in EU vs US... otherwise you would have known 175 euros is not the equivalent of $250 -- prices I've seen elsewhere in Europe indicate the Zino costs more than 300 euros here (it's not available in my country yet for some reason).

    Any better examples, preferably with prices from a EU store?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @04:13AM (#30829340)

    Indeed. Intel graphics are useless for nearly every use.

    Only if you define "useless == not the best".

    They're mostly completely acceptable for all "normal" desktop use, including non-gaming non-professional 3D. Stuff like compiz works just fine with Intel graphics, even if processor is just Atom.

    And in the context of Linux and Free Open Source drivers, they're simply the best.

  • Re:Mac (Score:2, Informative)

    by yacc143 (975862) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @04:14AM (#30829342) Homepage

    Well, nobody has explained if and how much VAT is included in the 359.

    This would be a critical price factor.

    Because I can find Mac Minis from 444 including 20% VAT, and 359 + 20% VAT would be 430, pretty near, wouldn't you say.

    Furthermore, even if the 359 are including VAT, you can get at this price point a name branded PC with more CPU, more RAM and more HDD easily.

    E.g.: http://geizhals.at/eu/a401398.html [geizhals.at] (339, reasonable quad core CPU, 3GB RAM too, 320GB hdd, optical drive and Windows license)

  • by Gekke Eekhoorn (27027) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @04:27AM (#30829380)

    Please don't confuse American prices with European prices. €359 is very reasonable over here - you won't find a laptop for that price over here either. The laptop you describe would be €600 if you're willing to stand in line at 8AM.

    Remember, we pay around 20% in sales tax.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:28AM (#30829678) Homepage

    The problem with suspend has to do with MS corrupting the ACPI spec...
    Find a machine where the ACPI support actually complies with the ACPI specs, and the DSDT has been compiled by Intel's compiler etc, and suspend will work perfectly out of the box on Ubuntu (i have several such machines).
    On a machine where ACPI is in some way broken, and the DSDT is compiled by the MS compiler (grep for MSFT in your dmesg) then it's pot luck wether linux has implemented the necessary workarounds to handle the intentionally broken ACPI...

    This seems to be part of MS's embrace and extend (of ACPI) attempts to stifle competition.

  • Re:Linux Gripes (Score:5, Informative)

    by kikito (971480) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:36AM (#30829728) Homepage

    I've tried hard for two years to like Linux (I installed Ubuntu on two computers during that time and used it reasonably frequently), and it just never happened.

    I think you should try installing windows more often then. It is not exactly "click-click-done" either. After you install the "Operative System", you have to install all the drivers (IF they exist at all; I remind you that lots of 5-year old hardware actually don't have drivers for Vista). And then compressors. Oh, video decoders. And Office. And an antivirus. And then you have something more or less functional (I'd install a bunch more stuff, like firefox+plugins, CCleaner, decent unfragmenter, im-client, DVD-burning tool, etc).

    Not to mention the update process. Ubuntu wins hands-on on that one to windows.

    Give it to grandma, and in one year and a half, reformat and reinstall.

    (OpenOffice versus Microsoft Office, for example)

    I'll take OpenOffice writer over MS Office Word any day. I'm not a linux fanboy, I use OpenOffice on windows. 35 MB for a 30-pages word document is just not cutting it for me. Excel is better in some parts, and worse in others, than OO's Calc - it's a tie for me. I preffer Powerpoint to its OpenOffice equivalent. And then, drawing tool and equation editors are just plain better in OpenOffice. So it's 1.5 points to MS, versus ~3 points for OO (I'm giving .5 to each the drawing tool and equation editor). I'm talking about MS office 2003 - 2007 interface's just wrong.

    I can't say much about Apple, except that windows at least can run my games.

  • Re:Mac (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:10AM (#30830182)

    Most motherboards have a few extra USB headers that need an expansion bracket like these [hardwarezone.com] to be used. Those would be "Unready-to-Use".

  • Re:Linux Gripes (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:37AM (#30830334)

    Now having the OS save the pre-caches for RAM is another thing entirely. It would be nice to have that all pre-loadable after first run to significantly speed up the process of loading,

    If I understand correctly what you need is to install the 'preload' utility, available in most distros' repos. I installed it and used the defaults, it seems to work pretty well.

    See http://www.techthrob.com/2009/03/02/drastically-speed-up-your-linux-system-with-preload/ [techthrob.com]
    for a good overview.

  • Re:Mac (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzix (700457) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:03AM (#30830470) Journal

    The prices approach the price of Apple hardware. I'd rather get a Mac and run Linux on an open source VM.

    I'd rather get an ASRock Ion 330 [asrock.com] for over 100 quid less.

    Oh wait... I did!

  • Re:Linux Gripes (Score:3, Informative)

    by bronney (638318) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:17AM (#30830528) Homepage

    Sorry it wasn't shift F10 then, it's a key combo I needed to push after the first boot of the installation to bring up the command prompt to run something else. It's related to installing the correct Nvidia driver that Win 7 installation fails to load properly in device manager.

    The APIC dance was after installation :P For some reason, my Win 7 only installs when the BIOS is in PIC mode. It was always in APIC mode in XP. So after installation, I had to google again how to make it APIC in order for the OS to see 2 cores. Clean installs on a fresh physical HDD btw.

    It was nightmare.

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Informative)

    by Erikderzweite (1146485) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:42AM (#30831724)

    Basically, you can't go by US prices in Europe. German Apple store sells Mac Mini for 549,00 € or for 749,00 € depending on configuration. So that is the number you should compare 359,00 € for Open PC with.
    So, it is not additional 90$, but 190€. Whether it is reasonable or not is a matter of discussion.

  • Re:Pricey (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @11:14AM (#30832138)

    You don't, but if you don't accept the license, you can still use the software.

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