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CherryPal's $99 "Odd Lots" Netbook 234

Robotech_Master writes "CherryPal, which Slashdot last covered back in 2008, has released a $99 netbook, the Africa, aimed at the developing world but (unlike the OLPC) available for sale to the consumer. But unlike most netbooks, the Africa is not actually made to a set design. Instead, it uses a hacker-like approach similar to the way home PC builders build their cheap beige boxes. CherryPal purchases odd lots of whatever components are available most inexpensively, builds netbooks out of them, and calls them Africas. The resulting machines will at least meet and may exceed the minimum specs given on CherryPal's website, and may be built around an ARM, MIPS, or X86-based CPU depending on what parts CherryPal has on hand at the time. The device ships with 'at least' Windows CE or CherryPal's custom 'Green Maraschino' Debian-based Linux distro."
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CherryPal's $99 "Odd Lots" Netbook

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  • Specs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:15AM (#30523854)

    they are:
    a 400 MHz processor
    256 MB RAM,
    2 GB flash memory,
    a 7 screen

    (from here [whiteafrican.com]) as the links are down

  • by spike2131 ( 468840 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:18AM (#30523892) Homepage

    Depends on how easy the crap is to swap out of the bag.

    $200 and no ability to fix things is way worse than $99 and an easy way to replace what breaks. Especially in Africa, where everything breaks, and jury-rigged fixes are the norm.

  • by MonsterTrimble ( 1205334 ) <monstertrimble@hotmail . c om> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:22AM (#30523936)

    How can you develop much of anything with such a shotgun approach to hardware...This would be good for the hacker kids of the 1970s/1980s - lots of time to play around, no mature apps (that cost less than $1000), and no real expectation that you could get real work done on a small computer.

    How do we develop programs for anything? We have OSes that run on LOTS of different sets of hardware, and there are lots of programs that run across lots of different OSes. We talk about these daily on Slashdot: Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, Pidgin... the list goes on and on. And there is no way you can call any of those apps NOT mature.

  • Re:In other words (Score:3, Informative)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:40AM (#30524138) Journal

    Yeah, I know. With two major exceptions, I've had fairly good luck with Dell desktops, laptops and servers.

    The first they fixed, after lots and lots of threats to pull my business. It only worked because I had a $20,000+ order pending that they made good on swapping out a defective system. I wasn't interested in yet another repair.

    The second is a laptop with the same issue (nVidia graphics chipset that had substrate issues and fried itself) that I just gave up on and purchased a replacement motherboard variant with the Intel chipset. Dell just insisted on sending out repair techs every month when it fried itself again. After the third time I told them never mind and purchased a motherboard from Ebay. I just won't but laptops or desktops from them ever again. Servers, okay. Other PCs, no way.

  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:44AM (#30524216) Homepage Journal

    Actually, according to their website, they'll ship anywhere in the world for $19 flat rate shipping. So it will cost whatever $119 comes out to in pounds whenever you order it.

  • Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @11:57AM (#30524372) Homepage Journal

    You specify which OS you want at time of order, in the "order instructions" box. If you say "give me all Linux, please" they'll do it for you.

    Windows might be more of a standardization issue. From reading between the lines in their blog post (where Max said you'd get "at least" Windows CE, but not Vista or 7), I got the feeling that you might get either Windows CE or Windows XP, depending on which OS the processor they had available that day would support.

  • Re:Specs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @12:13PM (#30524606) Homepage Journal

    They were when they started shipping them, according to Max's blog post.. They could be offering anything at this point. The only thing they guarantee is that you'll get at least those minimum specs. They don't guarantee that you'll get anything better, but they say you probably will.

    My gut feeling is that you'll almost always come out ahead of the minimum specs on at least one or two facets (like, you might get a better processor if nothing else, or more disk space if nothing else) just because given how prices fluctuate on parts it would be impossible for them to exactly meet the minimum without specifically trying. They would deliberately have set the minimum to be a fallback position that they knew for a fact they could always better at that price range.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:12PM (#30526106)
    whoosh! [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:In other words (Score:3, Informative)

    by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:17PM (#30528274)

    I also eventually got an Intel Overdrive chip for that extra socket and moved from the 486 SX 20Mhz to a 486 DX 75Mhz (strange that a 55Mhz increase in clock speed made such a difference - back then the machine was several times faster - these days 55Mhz isn't even noticeable :)).

    Yes, that would have made a huge difference. Something like going from a 1.2 GHz Core2Duo to a 3.6 GHz Core2Duo (this is a simplified example for all of you pedants out there). You have to think of the new clock speed as relative to the old (assuming similar processor family), so going from 20 MHz to 75 would have definitely been over 3 times faster not to mention the addition of faster bus speed and a functional math co-processor.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_