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The Almighty Buck Hardware Technology

How Cheap Can A PC Be? 1152

geoff lane writes "Ballmer wants a $100 computer. OK, can we build a reasonable PC for just $100 and a copy of Linux? The rules are: It's assumed that a monitor, keyboard and mouse are already available. Ethernet connectivity must be provided. All components must already have Linux support. All components must be new and currently available. The result must be electrically safe for the home. Is it possible?"
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How Cheap Can A PC Be?

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  • the Xbox (Score:5, Funny)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:18PM (#10626829)
    is at 149$... no dice with that suggestion I guess.
    • Re:the Xbox (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MadBiologist ( 657155 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:20PM (#10626850)
      Didn't somebody hack a Gamecube to run Linux? I forget who hacked what to whom... I do remember that the Dreamcast could run Apache on Linux, and that's probably the cheapest console to get to run something like that.... if you can find one.
    • Re:the Xbox (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yolegoman ( 762615 )
      Yes, but recently they have had brand new Xboxes on [], Ebay's child company, for $105 with shipping. I'm currently saving my meager allowance up to turn one of those thing's into a Linux Server; I don't even need a monitor / keyboard / mouse, as I'm going to SSH into the thing with my Windows Laptop.

      - Yolego
  • by fmorgan ( 235244 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:19PM (#10626844)
    he wants something windows only and to sell windows-lite for $40 for it.
  • by skoda ( 211470 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:20PM (#10626849) Homepage
    Why should the hardware profits be sacrificed to support high software prices?

    Perhaps Windows should be cheaper to support high hardware prices. Cheaper software might also reduce piracy since the it would be more affordable.
    • by Naffer ( 720686 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:39PM (#10627050) Journal
      I for one would much rather spend my money on hardware then software. $100-200 for a piece of software is rather pricey. When I'm looking at pieces of software and seeing prices over $60, I get a bit suspicious. A boxed copy of Nero Burning rom cost $100, Intervideo's WinDVR is $80, and ever tried pricing a piece of data recovery software? The prices are so absurd you'd think they were just joking.
      It's really weird. My secondary computer is a gentoo box, and installing software is as simple as "emerge _______." I don't even have to pay anybody.
      • by Ummagumma ( 137757 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:47PM (#10627143) Journal

        Have you priced Office 2003 lately? Absolutely REDICULOUS pricing model MS has.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:16PM (#10627388)
      Why should the hardware profits be sacrificed to support high software prices?

      You clearly don't understand economics. Hardware is like a public good -- you have to pay a certain amount upfront to design and build the hardware, but then the cost for helping each user becomes trivial. The marginal cost of hardware marketing is so low that the hardware makers are really price-gouging by charging us $1000 for a PC.

      By contrast, software (like MS Windows) has to be carefully customized for your hardware. Adding a 128mb DIMM? Well, then Bill Gates is gonna have to recompile the user interface. Want to move the mouse across the screen? Bill will have to manually edit the binary codes in your kernel. Of course, no two users have the same amount of memory. And all these things like moving the mouse or typing or sending an IP packet... this is what makes the user experience unique. So Bill's work for one user doesn't help any of the other users. That's a lot of stress for Bill, and it naturally keeps the marginal cost of software very high.

      So, I ask: why are PC's so expensive? How can we reduce the cost and get PC's to poor people? The software cost reflects a labor-intensive process, and it can't be reduced. Hardware is a public good, so the expense must come from price-gouging by the hardware makers. Therefore, to enable the poor people of the world to catch up with current technolgy, we must tell those over-priced Taiwanese hardware makers to stop ripping us off. (Why, I even heard that FIC makes more than $1 profit off each motherboard. That's outrageous!)

      Maybe you should read an economics textbook.
  • Reasonable Computer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r2q2 ( 50527 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .gnugewebrettiz.> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:20PM (#10626853) Homepage
    Sure with a free operating system you could probally pull of a computer with reasonable specs. I bought a 35 dollar computer that is a pentum 2 at 333 mhz. Then I upgraded the memory for about another 35. Then you upgrade the processor to a 733 for about 10-20 bucks. Well under a hundred dollars and still reasonable.
  • I bought one (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:20PM (#10626855)
    When a Fry's Electronics store opened up out near Chicago, I picked up and AMD Athlon 1.3GHz, 512 meg of ram, 60 gig HDD and paid $99 for it. Of course it had Lindows installed on it, but after a quick reformat and poping in a redhat distro it was up and running in no time.
  • Dump... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PaintyThePirate ( 682047 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:20PM (#10626858) Homepage
    You can go to the average garbage dump and find at least one computer that will run something like Debian without a GUI. If you're lucky, you might find a Pentium II or faster, and be able to run something like DamnSmallLinux. Chances are, you'll be able to find a monitor, keyboard, and mouse there too. That accomplishes the task for $00.00.
    • Re:Dump... (Score:5, Funny)

      by avalys ( 221114 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:26PM (#10626921)
      Yes, and the rat you find living inside the case can become a new family pet!
    • Re:Dump... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:41PM (#10627077) Journal
      My friend and I actually do this. You would be amazed by the hardware we find. Usually we will grab things (clean things, they are sorted so all computer things are together, in a neat area) and bring them back to test and examine what we want to keep. Generally we find P2's and many floppy drives as well as some great CD drives and the occasional great find like a P3 that was dumped for some reason. We've gotten a few decent hardrives larger than 10 gigs. Not to mention many good cases and monitors and SD-RAM chips.

      With this you can throw together a linux router on the cheap, like you said: $0.00. With the free software and hardware we put together Cisco 2600 comparable routers for free, MP3 servers and have created various other uses.

      We even got a Mac G3 once.

      We plan on moving our operation over to a ricer part of towns dumps to see what we can find.
    • Re:Dump... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:46PM (#10627128) Homepage
      That assumes that your time is worth nothing.
  • i doubt it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gyratedotorg ( 545872 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:20PM (#10626859) Homepage
    i think if it were possible, walmart would already be doing it.
    • Re:i doubt it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy ( 611105 )
      Purely from looking on I've just priced up an Athlon 1.3, 128MB, 40GB machine for ~$150. I only chose those components because they were the cheapest in stock; a Duron 800 and a 20GB drive would be quite adequate - do a bit of shopping around and work in bulk discounts and I'm sure it's possible.
  • Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shoemakc ( 448730 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:21PM (#10626866) Homepage

    Absolutely; They're sold by a company named "used".

    Seriously though, do we really need a $100 disposible pc when there are so many functional used machines stacking up in corporate closets?


    • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:52PM (#10627181) Homepage
      Seriously though, do we really need a $100 disposible pc when there are so many functional used machines stacking up in corporate closets?
      1) All PCs are disposable. Even your $4000 server. After all, a 10 year old $4000 server often isn't even worth $100 now.

      2) To answer your question, it's a matter of labor costs. To make those corporate used machines usable, they need to be checked (half probably have at least one part broken), disks erased and a new OS installed. Once you consider the laber involved in doing this, it's not quite so cheap. To make matters worse, even if all the computers came from the same office, odds are good that each one is different from the others. Yes, a company may get the same box for every employee, but over time the favored boxes change, and so the back room is full of all kinds of old boxes. And let's hope these old boxes have enough RAM -- because buying old RAM for old boxes will cost more than an entire new box, including new RAM.

      I've generally upgraded my PCs as time went on, part by part, and the old parts would accumulate in the garage. Occasionally, I'd take the old parts, and put together a PC for the relatives or friends who needed one. This worked, but I spent many many hours on it, often rememebering after many hours of frustration why I replaced that piece of hardware out -- because it was flakey! (yes, I do try to label things, but it does slip through the cracks.) And then once I gave it out, I had to support it. I may not do Windows very often, and maybe I didn't even put Windows on the machine at all, but often they end up with Windows, and so I end up supporting that.

      Ultimately, it turned out to be not worth it. Now I just give stuff to Goodwill -- somebody else can deal with it. If I want my relative to have a computer, I'll give them $200 and let them buy one from Frys, already built. They even come with some tech support :) (Now, maybe if they're my favorite uncle or something, I might set them up with a computer. But I'll probably buy many of the parts news, just because it's easier than dealing with my old stuff.)

      • Re:Absolutely (Score:3, Informative)

        by shoemakc ( 448730 )

        1) All PCs are disposable. Even your $4000 server. After all, a 10 year old $4000 server often isn't even worth $100 now.

        non "disposable" doesn't mean that it lasts forever. "disposable" means that if it breaks you throw it away and buy another one. If my $4000 server breaks in a can bet I'm not going to throw it away. If my $100 computer breaks in a year.....then it may not be worth the hastle of having it fixed.

        2) To answer your question, it's a matter of labor costs. To make those c

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:24PM (#10626889) Homepage Journal
    My IBM PC300PL is worth about 100 bucks. It's got 288MB, a 40GB drive, a 40XCDRW, an Intel P3-450 and a free Ethernet card even though it's already built in to the MoBo. The problem is NOT NOT NOT NOT the hardware it's that Steve Balmer wants to sell you a PC that needs at least twice the hardware as that. If MS just gave us a secure efficient version of W2K we could all have 100 dollar PCs.
  • Let's try here... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhtooefr ( 649901 ) <bhtooefr@bhtooefr. o r g> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:26PM (#10626915) Homepage Journal
    There might be outdated components, $20 case WITH 300W PSU combos, and some PC Chips crap, but it still falls under electrically safe... We're going to use NewEgg numbers, and not include shipping.

    Case: MGE ATX case w/350W PSU $10 (one day special) ( cription=11-171-037&depa=1)
    Mobo: PC Chips Socket A mobo $26 ( cription=13-185-010&depa=1)
    CPU: Athlon 1.33GHz $41 ( cription=19-103-156&depa=1)
    RAM: Rosewill 128MB DDR $21 ( cription=20-223-007&depa=1)
    HDD: Maxtor 40GB $45.50 (one day special) ( cription=22-140-133&depa=1)

    We'll stop it here. We're using SHIT components, and we've got $143.50, without shipping, IDE cables, CD-ROM drive, etc., etc., and using one day specials.

    It's possible, but not DIY.
  • Newegg shopping (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rincebrain ( 776480 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:26PM (#10626919) Homepage
    $26 - PCChips "M811LU" KT266A Chipset Motherboard for AMD Socket A
    $41 - AMD Athlon 1.33 GHz, 266MHz FSB, 256K Cache Processor - OEM
    $10.75 - POWMAX 320W Power Supply for Intel and AMD systems Model "VP-320ATX"
    $14.50 - Artec Black 56X CDROM, Model CHM-56, Retail

    = $102.25, ignoring hard drive or anything else.

    So no, probably not.
  • cheap harddrive (Score:3, Informative)

    by hedley ( 8715 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:27PM (#10626934) Homepage Journal
    Watch out, we bought some "Great Quality" GQ computer systems (~$150) and two of them had early HD failure. Somthing will give as these prices crater.

    How valuable is your data and your time to keep good timely backups?

  • by headbulb ( 534102 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:31PM (#10626979)
    "PCs are not selling to the lower end of the population in China and India. People buying machines there are relatively affluent. So...should the prices be lower? Not really. Until government and situational factors reduce piracy...those people...don't pay," Ballmer said. (article clipping)

    Now an open letter to Ballmer

    Shouldn't people in the lower end of the population spend their money on something a little more worthwhile then a computer.
    Maybe just maybe they could spend that money on their family Before purchasing such a luxury item as a computer. Of course I am not going to be naive and say they don't need a computer for some reason. But to say that I want money from the lower end of the China/India population is selfish, Specially when they have better things to spend it on..

    I don't do business with your company on those rash comments. I get by without using your software. Sorry if you feel that I am not being fare.

    Not saying I haven't pirated your software before, instead of attacking me you're attacking someone who couldn't even pay you if they wanted to is just harsh. Oh and by the way I used your software to learn about and then go into computers so in a indirect way your company benefitted from it.. So the very thing that you are against has kept your company afloat, by customer awareness.

    I no longer use any pirated software from your company. I get by with alternate platforms (Mac, Linux)

  • Not for under $200 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lothar97 ( 768215 ) * <owen@smi[ ] ['gel' in gap]> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:33PM (#10626991) Homepage Journal
    I'm going to be really bold, and say that right now, no this cannot be done for under $200. You specified that all components must be new. That means you'll need:

    power supply motherboard
    CPU fan
    CD drive
    hard drive

    You can get cheap motherboards with attached video/sound/LAN. You can technically build the PC without a floppy drive or CD/DVD burner to save more money. Looking for the lowest prices around (via Froogle), for new parts, you'll find:

    motherboard-- Asus A7V8X-X, $48
    CPU-- AMD Sempron 2200, $45
    CPU fan-- Anything, $5
    CD drive-- $15
    RAM-- DDR-266 256 MB PC-2100, $40
    hard drive-- Samsung 40GB HDD, $45
    case-- $29, includes 300W power supply

    Grand total: $227 (not including tax/shipping/hassle of ordering from a bunch of places)

    Some stores, depending upon where you live, have some really decent deals on packaged systems. I'm in San Diego, and my favorite Chips and Memory [] (yes, I hate their frames too), has a nice package for $239. []

    AMD Sempron 2200
    256MB RAM
    80GB Hard Drive(7200RPM)
    52X CD-RW
    Onboard AGP (Up to 32 MB) and Sound & Game Adapter
    Built-in LAN and Fax/Modem Module
    52X CDRW (Yes CDRW Included)
    1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive
    Med Tower ATX Case, 300W UL/CE approved ATX power supply
    1 Year Parts and Labor Warranty

    To get the price lower, you'll need a used hard drive, CPU, memory, or motherboard. Then you might squeeze in closer to $150.

  • Re: No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:34PM (#10627005) Homepage

    No, it cannot be done at todays day in age, unless you want a really bad computer. I mean, what do you want to do with the computer, just be able to turn it on? Cause thats all you will be able to do with 100 dollars. Even for word processing, you will need a decent size ram, hard drive, motherboard, ethernet port, case. That alone is already at 200 dollars.

    You don't need decent size ram, a super large hard drive or an ethernet port for word processing.... unless by word processing you mean Microsoft Office. I remember a great word processor called MultiScribe from BeagleWorks for the Apple IIc that did everything that 95% of the public use Word for. Sure.... it was on a 5 1/4 disk that you had to flip over whenever you wanted to spell-check but it was fast and didn't have Clippy.

  • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:36PM (#10627024) Journal
    And that's a whole hell of a lot harder.
  • by geg81 ( 816215 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:37PM (#10627036)
    You can get a Linksys wireless router for about $70. It's a machine with 16M of memory, 4M of flash, and a 125 or 200MHz chip. It also comes with a hub, a wired Ethernet, WiFi, and a power supply. So, that shows you can ship a lot of hardware for fairly little money.

    Replace WiFi with a simple VGA controller and give it a couple of USB ports and a little more flash instead of the hub and you would end up, at roughly the same price, with a usable personal computer that could run a light X11 desktop and some useful apps (browser, word processor, etc.). If you add a CF slot, people even have removable storage.

    Another choice is the standalone file server appliance, also for under $100 AFAIK; it already has the USB port and also runs Linux.

    And some of the game consoles also show it can be done, if you get the volume high enough.
  • by t1nman33 ( 248342 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:40PM (#10627064) Homepage
    ...unless a computer manufacturer is willing to market a $99 PC as a loss-leader. "Buy this PC for $99 if you sign up for $20 a month internet access, or tech support, or the Foo Computer Corp. fan newsletter, or whatever."

    DIY computers got more expensive than bargain-basement Dell boxen about 2 years ago...I bought the Dell that I'm typing this on for about $300 shipped with a monitor and a copy of XP. I did it through a deal on Ben's Bargains [] when I realized I couldn't build my own system for less than the price of the Dell. Now, my gaming system is homebrew, and I have plenty of homebrew systems around, but those are mostly application-specific (a music jukebox machine, a server, a game emulation machine) and a labor of love rather than practical "do-it-all" cheapie boxen.

    If you want a PC for less than $100, your only option right now is really to head on over to Craig's List [] and find somebody who needs to get rid of their old Compaq for $50. In that sense, the sub-100-dollar PC is possible, but it's still a loss-leader for the guy who's selling his $2000 system for a fraction of the cost when new.

    Now, could it BE done? Is it POSSIBLE? Of course. But, again, only by a company like Dell or IBM or whoever can afford to buy old Duron chips by the truckload and stick 'em into bargain-basement mobos for inclusion into home computing applicances. It will happen at some point. It just hasn't happened quite yet.
  • Balmer (Score:5, Funny)

    by Traa ( 158207 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:41PM (#10627074) Homepage Journal
    Balmer wants a $100 computer.
    You would think he would be able to afford something better then that...Microsoft having problems?


  • Hmm, not really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lakeland ( 218447 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:44PM (#10627099) Homepage
    You'll find special deals to achieve this, but nothing else will come close. And you can bet those special deals have all sorts of terms and conditions that you don't want.

    Just to prove the point, how many MBs do you know that are under $50? How many CPUs? I managed to find a new athlon 2000+ combo for $80, but even there I was having to get special deals (

    A search on pricewatch returned a duron 950 for under $100, but actually going to the website showed that '' was out of the 950 and had replaced it with a duron 1200, raising the price to $107. Not only that, but the system had no ram and no HDD. Ram starts at $18, a HDD is $40. So I can barely get a machine for $17. And if you've ever tried installing linux with no floppy and no CD, you know how 'desirable' a CD reader is. That would bring the machine to $190. Throw in a keyboard and mouse and you should just avoid breaking $200. Oh, plus shipping and sales tax.

    I accept that a huge OEM would be able to get better prices. But twice as good and I start smelling fish...
  • by rewt66 ( 738525 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:45PM (#10627114)
    Most of the answers are along the lines of, "I can't find the parts at that price in this catalog or that store". I don't think that was the question.

    Some other comments have focused on whether what Balmer said was reasonable. Interesting topic, but that isn't the question either.

    Some other comments have said, "Yes, get a used one." That still isn't the question.

    The question is: Could we spec out a PC that, in volume, could sell for $100 and run Linux?

    An interesting twist on the question: Can we consider it "a PC" (for purposes of this question) if it doesn't have an Intel-compatible processor? Say, a StrongARM CPU? (Note that the criterion was that it run Linux; well, Linux runs on a wide variety of CPUs.)
  • by vicnot ( 513672 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @08:54PM (#10627198)
    Look, a sub $101 computer isn't rocket science. There are landfills full of say 500Mhz and below machines...

    A 400Mhz machine, even a 166Mhz machine is suffice to run lots of stuff...

    Face it, we all use to use them...

    A 400 Mhz machine with 128mb RAM is quite a lot of machine for what the average person wants it for:

    1. Word processing
    2. Calculator
    3. Web browser
    4. Lousy paint program

    A majority of cycles are wasted with the user sitting there..

    Here's an old Dell that meets your lofty needs :) $99 &cate gory=51110&item=5133297107&rd=1

    For $200 you could get the keyboard, mouse and LCD monitor all in the nice form of a portable computer. Be it 500Mhz or so, Linux will run just fine.

    What the hell does everyone need a 1Ghz or 2Ghz spec'd machine for? It produces tons of heat, typically noise too and eats up tons of electric with that huge power supply you all want...
  • flawed question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barchibald ( 207846 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:00PM (#10627248)

    Its great to ask this question, and I'm all for cheap hardware. But...given that hardware must be manufactured, consume raw materials etc. I would expect that the floor cost for hardware should _never_ go as low as the floor cost of software - especially after you get past some R&D point for both.

    Can you say "monopoly"? It seems much clearer to me that software ought to have some fully commodified components and that the OS ought to be that component. Given that the world of software has (intelligently) landed on layered architectures, we'd expect to be spending money at the higher layers and have ever increasing commodification at the lower layers. Again...can you say monopoly?

    Now...I"m not arguing that hardware should NOT fall under this rule, but....well....some costs associated with hardware are a given, and those costs will forever be higher than the "given" costs of software.

    Just my 2cents.
  • by deathcloset ( 626704 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:03PM (#10627285) Journal
    Ok right off the bat: does he actually mean, "soon there will be a $100 PC?" what with the trending down of file size due to compression and the deflation of adequate internet-usable pc hadware how could they not become $100?.. I mean....oh god it's all just FUD isn't it!?

    let me acutally RTFriggin'A

    There has to be...a $100 computer to go down-market in some of these countries. We have to engineer (PCs) to be lighter and cheaper,

    sounds like the auto industry's way of stifling inovation to squeeze profits.

    Ballmer said piracy of Microsoft's Windows and Office software in emerging markets has become a major concern for the software giant, especially among business users who can afford to pay for software.

    i've always wondered. why would you want to pay for software over a programmer? Because It's cheaper, it's easier. But is it better?
    Cheaper and Easier isn't always Better. (cheapest and really hard can be very good, I think you'll agree :)

    "PCs are not selling to the lower end of the population in China and India. People buying machines there are relatively affluent. So...should the prices be lower? Not really. Until government and situational factors reduce piracy...those people...don't pay," Ballmer said.

    Oh, they'll pay alright. one day, I'll make THEM PAY!!!! ahahahaha!!

    Balmer didn't say that, I did.

    But lower prices have become part of Microsoft's strategy for gaining market share in developing nations. In recent months, the software maker has announced plans to introduce low-cost "starter editions" of Windows XP into countries including India, Russia and Thailand. These versions will be bundled only with entry-level PCs and will not be available for retail sale.

    are these guys friggin wizards of FUD or what!? Starter editions? What is redmond up to? I'm sure at the end thier intents are purely alrtuistic. But don't be suprised if the new office assitant is the Hypnotoad!

    The Microsoft CEO bristled at the suggestion that Linux is gaining in popularity as a client operating system at the expense of Windows. "There's no appreciable amount of Linux on client systems anywhere in the world," he said.

    how do you refute that? Maybe with that classic example of car companies looking out thier windows and seeing only american cars. Thus they think that there will only be american cars.

    Just out of curiosity, do you think that microsoft actively pokes and prods linux for security holes? It would make sense wouldn't it?

    Ballmer said that some governments have decided against using Linux after studying the costs involved. "You can sit here and read the drama stories and assume they are true. Paris said Linux was dramatically more expensive than Windows. In...Brazil, it's the same thing."

    so france surrendered to microsoft, so what's new?

    P.S. JK! I like the french! Thank you Fermat!

    One exception is the city of Munich, Germany, which is planning a widespread Linux installation, Ballmer admitted. "Yes, we lost the city of Munich. But the fact that the same story gets told 65,000 times, and they are still diddling around to some degree...come on, where's the evidence?" ...ok i'm done reading the article.

  • sure its possible... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:18PM (#10627396) Homepage Journal
    plenty of tossed out systems running plenty fast enough to run something like AROS - Amiga Research Operating System []

    Its all about a small and efficient OS to bring life back to old hardware. Neither of which linux or windows is.

    And it even has standardized user friendly level IPC, of which neither windows or linux yet has.

    But AROS is currently lacking developers contributing to it.... and it is FOSS...
  • $112 Or bust. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:02PM (#10627673) Homepage Journal
    The Modded Xbox is almost a viable solution, but for a more ground up design:

    $18 - Celeron 700MHz 66MHz 128K FCPGA CPU OEM (socket 370)
    $25 - ASUS MEW-AM Mainboard Socket 370 supporting Intel Celeron 300~533+ Onboard sound/video
    $40 - 1 512mb Stick of PC100 Ram $58 if 2 256mb sticks are required.
    $3 - Encore - 10/100 VIA Chipset NIC
    $24 - COMP-USA ATX Case w 250W Power Supply.
    $2 - Generic heatsink

    Total = $112

    I thought it important to load up on the RAM as compensation for the trailing edge CPU. Granted, you won't be playing Doom 3 on this machine, but it'll do most anything you want in terms of office support, though I'm not entirely sure how linux compatible the hardware is. Still, a decent machine. Prices include shipping, unless I missed something.

    All prices courtesy of
  • by CrazyWingman ( 683127 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @08:24AM (#10629771) Journal

    It's interesting the way a lot of these threads are going here. A lot of what I'm seeing is, "Well, if you just need a word processor, then..." This makes me wonder if we should be focusing some effort in a slightly different place.

    Maybe what we need is an operating system that "just does" word processing, web surfing, and e-mail. It would be a bit of a throwback to the old days of typewriters and workstations, but was that era really wrong?

    Sun seems to be trying to encourage one mode of doing this - the blade terminal. But, I think there are a lot of companies who are very worried about taking such a big step toward this setup. Not only do you have to spend a bit of time getting the networking for that system right, but if you don't like it later, you suddenly have all of this hardware that is completely useless to you.

    I think that if you could get the same setup running on the x86 machines that are already in place in most companies, and also show them how they could buy cheaper versions, that would still work perfectly if they ever chose to go back to their Windoze platform, then you would really have something killer.

    I'm sure that there are now a few zealots screaming, "This is exactly what XYZ linux does!" I'd argue, though, that even linux in its current state is a bit more than what is needed. I'm really talking about a very non-general purpose machine that literally only does word-processing, web browsing, and e-mail. And, of course, the qualifier here is that it does these three exceptionally well and extremely intuitively. I think there are ways to start with a linux distro and write some extra application code to make this system happen, but it's not there yet.

    Sigh, back to my current Windoze business life. Counting the hours until I can get home to my nice, debian-loaded UltraSPARC. :)

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.