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GNU is Not Unix Hardware Linux

100% Free Software Compatible PC Launches 458

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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  • Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:06AM (#30828212)

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

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:11AM (#30828238)

    950 video at that price why not ion or a real desktop cpu?

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:16AM (#30828284)

    I can go to Walmart and get a better machine with Windows already on it for half the price.

    For the second time I ask, who do I have to suck off to get my shitty product slashvertised?

  • BIOS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by enter to exit ( 1049190 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:19AM (#30828308)
    How about the BIOS? That's never considered software by the FOSS crowd for some reason.
  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:38AM (#30828426) Homepage

    Of course if you look at this from a strict price/performance standpoint, it's not going to win - the point is solid support of the hardware is possible with fully open source code. How does this play out? Hard to say. I'd like to see a review geared to evaluation of points such as stability, responsiveness, usability of major open source programs (Blender, anyone?) and how/whether a fully open driver stack impacts that experience.

    Apple wins in the market because they create a smooth, integrated experience that has view technical "gotchas" waiting to pounce on the consumer. The point of projects such as this (IMHO anyway) is to try to achieve something similar with open source - a hardware/software stack that can be tuned for a performance that, while perhaps not the fastest possible, is "smooth".

    Realistically, how much horsepower is actually needed for anything not involving heavy duty graphics or video editing? Wouldn't it perhaps be worth trading off a bit of the "latest and greatest" hardware performance for something that was quality components, solid support and would run reliably for a long time? I know I'd be interested.

    It'll be interesting to see if they can find a way to illustrate the benefits of such an experience, even if they can create it - and whether the open source audience will be sufficiently impressed to buy it or not. I know that if my machine were to croak tomorrow, I would at least be curious - a Walmart PC or Dell might have better specs for a cheaper price but I'd be scared of component quality and assembly QC - that's one reason folks still build their own boxes, after all. My current machine was assembled from parts years ago, and has been quite reliable (as well as fast enough) through years of building Gentoo updates and other fairly intense desktop tasks - that's what I want for my next machine, because this month's hardware will be slow next month anyway and I want my $$ to last. Is this it? Who knows, but I'd be curious to see what a real in-depth review has to say.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:40AM (#30828440)
    I really don't see the point of this. Perhaps back in 1998 when it took a lot of effort to get Linux up and running this might have a market, today, I can buy almost any laptop/desktop and install Ubuntu on it with little to no problems. Why should I have to pay $400+ more for a computer that gets me less? For $600 I can get a Core i7 gamer rig and not a crappy "nettop". For $150? I'd buy it in a heartbeat. For $250, I might consider it. For more than the price of a Mac Mini? No way.
  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:10AM (#30828622)

    Certified to run Linux? What the heck does that mean? Is there an "Official" Linux certifying body?

  • by RedBear ( 207369 ) <redbear@red b e a r n e> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:12AM (#30828630) Homepage

    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. That's just sad.

    Anybody who buys this instead of a Mac mini, which does include 802.11b/g/n, gigabit Ethernet, DVD burner and better graphics for virtually the same price, is a fool.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:31AM (#30828724) Journal
    It *is* pricey.

    I can get an AMD Athlon X2 Dual-core 2ghz laptop with 4 gigs of ram, a 250 gig hd, AND built-in display, mouse pad, keyboard, hdmi, 4 usb, 8x dvd, gigabit ethernet, b/g/n wireless, webcam, mic, speakers, UPS good for several hours (it IS a laptop), card reader, etc., for less.

    And that includes the Microsoft tax (Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit).

    Shouldn't a box that isn't a laptop, has lower specs, no battery, no display, less ram, smaller disk capacity on a cheaper hard drive, no webcam, no M$TAX, etc., be CHEAPER?

    Nobody's going to buy one of these.

  • by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:33AM (#30828730)

    It's funny how Walmart is equated to the devil and the destoryer of mom & pop stores yet whenever an open system or system with linux pre-installed comes out, everyone runs to point that Walmart has cheaper computers and parts. And And Dell is the computer equivelant of Wallmart (except they are better able to outsource their problems since it they are not a brick and mortar store

  • Re:Mac (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:51AM (#30828794)

    But it's an atom, it's horribly underpowered.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @01:57AM (#30828810)

    But does it have a Free BIOS? or use LinuxBios?

    The lock on the desktop market is the private little BIOS monopoly Microsoft keeps in business. That lets them tweak every individual computer model "just a little bit" so the standard APIs like power management don't quite work perfectly.

  • Re:Mac (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chgros ( 690878 ) <charles-henri... ...> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:11AM (#30828864) Homepage

    All this for a mere 50% more! A bargain!

  • Why support Atoms? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bradbury ( 33372 ) <> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:20AM (#30828894) Homepage

    Purchasing a non-Windows system on an Atom makes no sense at all. The only current use for an Atom is to run Windows. If you are going to run a non-Windows (free software, open source) system you should be looking at ARM based systems. Part of being an informed consumer is recognizing monopolies (both software and hardware) and making purchasing decisions that do not promote said monopolies. I'll bet any surveys did not include a choice of hardware (and one has to wonder how/why KDE got selected given that there are 3+ other window managers available under Linux -- most of which have a much smaller footprint).

  • Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by consonant ( 896763 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .n.tnakirhs.> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:24AM (#30828910) Homepage

    Interestingly all the key decisions on design, pricing etc. have been made by the community via online polls.

    So, design by committee is okay when open components are involved?

  • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:25AM (#30828918)

    Linux doesn't need a fast CPU or graphics acceleration to be awesome. That's the point they're making here.

    you know you can install linux on just about any x86 desktop right? even if it has windows pre-installed. any x86 desktop is a linux desktop, as is the one i quoted that has superior hardware, is smaller, and costs $200 less.

    any way you slice it, it's better to pay less and get better hardware. linux might not need the better hardware to be functional, but it sure can take advantage of it and give a better experience.

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:55AM (#30829006)

    So for 190 Euro more, you get OS X, a much faster, 64-bit, virtualisation-capable CPU, and a real GPU with dual display support, but lose 1GB RAM. I see no mention of I/O on the OpenPC, either - the Mac Mini has USB ports for days and FireWire 800.

    Great. But not everyone wants virtualisation, lots of USB connections, or Firewire on every computer they own. Some people want at least one computer just for surfing the web, email, and maybe reading the odd PDF.

    Apple hardware is great and all but why spend extra money for extras you don't want?

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wgoodman ( 1109297 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:56AM (#30829014)

    If you go by US prices, 359 Euro = ~$510. The Mac mini is $599. i'd rather pay the extra $90 for the better processor/GPU. A DIY RAM upgrade would only tack on another ~$20 or so.

  • Not the firmware (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @03:22AM (#30829122)

    The firmware for wireless cards is a proprietary binary blob for which the source code is not available.

    This shoots down the "100% Free Software" concept.

  • by Just Brew It! ( 636086 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @03:22AM (#30829124)

    While I applaud the decision to focus on hardware which is Open Source friendly, this isn't exactly rocket science. Linux has matured to the point where odds are pretty good that any given system will function "out of the box", without resorting to proprietary drivers.

    Full hardware acceleration on newer GPUs can still be problematic, of course. The Intel 950 -- while it is in fact relatively new -- isn't particularly current in terms of features or performance. So effectively we're still in a situation where we're settling for second-rate GPU performance, just to avoid the need for proprietary drivers. AMD/ATI's push to work more closely with the Open Source community is starting to bear fruit; I'm hopeful that we'll see better support for current GPUs going forward.

  • Linux Gripes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gamer_2k4 ( 1030634 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @03:49AM (#30829246)

    (I think maybe the webcam doesn't work, but I don't really care.)

    Sorry if this is a little off-topic, but THIS is my biggest problem with both Linux and Linux fanboys (I'm not necessary saying you're the latter; you just caused me to think of it). Core functionality is relatively easy to get, sure, even if it occasionally takes more work than a Windows user like myself is accustomed to. However, it's all the boundary cases that keep Linux from being mainstream: certain drivers not existing, certain hardware not being supported, poor excuses for replacements of legitimate products (OpenOffice versus Microsoft Office, for example), etc.

    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. But the absolute worst part of all of this is how Linux users often say that people should switch over to their OS because it's free, there aren't any viruses, and everything works just fine. However, they neglect to mention how much work and inside knowledge is required to make everything work, and when people point out things that just work better on a different OS (or work at all, period), they say "well I don't really care about that, so it doesn't matter." I've got news for all of you: we like our OSes because they're simple and functional, with no headaches involved. Maybe if the Linux community started caring when things didn't work, their OS might actually have a shot at competing with the other two.

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

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @03:56AM (#30829288)

    However, they neglect to mention how much work and inside knowledge is required to make everything work, and when people point out things that just work better on a different OS (or work at all, period), they say "well I don't really care about that, so it doesn't matter."

    So, Linux is exactly the same as Mac and Windows in that respect.

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

    by bronney ( 638318 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @04:08AM (#30829322) Homepage

    The installation of Windows 7 took me 3 night on 3 work days. The struggle to set the BIOS from APIC to PIC to install, and back to APIC once installed and boots properly. These Shift-F10 crap is "insider" knowledge. However, I didn't need this insider knowledge when installing Ubuntu. It just works. To rephrase, I don't need to dig deeper in Ubuntu than I needed to as Windows.

    Both Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) works just fine for soccer moms, it's the person installing and maintaining it that sees the crap in each. If you don't play games, I vote for Ubuntu. Even though I don't use it much and it serves as an HTPC for me, I can see the raw speed from the same hardware.

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:02AM (#30829558) Homepage

    If saving money is your goal, buy a bunch of obsolete components from ebay and build your own machine using only the parts you want... You could put together a reasonable machine based on tech from a couple of years ago for virtually nothing.

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @05:07AM (#30829574)

    Pardon? Since when is a 1.6Ghz Atom "a bit more power" than a 2.26Ghz Core2Duo – the CPU is about 1/2 the speed even before you take into account it's got half the cores on it.

    Second to that, it's got a GMA 950, not a GeForce 9400m...
    The GMA 950 scores 321 on 3D Mark 2005, and can't complete 3D mark 2006
    The GeForce 9400m scores 3151 on 3D Mark 2005, and 1768 on 3D mark 2006.

    Not forgetting of course that the GMA 950 has no shader support at all, while the GeForce 9400 is based on the G92, and hence has very good support *and* that because of that the GeForce supports OpenCL/CUDA while the GMA doesn't.

  • by Bazar ( 778572 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @06:31AM (#30829988)

    Its weird how so much support is going towards the mac, that no one appreciates the simplicity of the laptop for what it is.

    Its power efficient, and cheap.
    And let me go into a bit more detail. The intel atom is a cpu designed by intel to run on as little power as possible.
    The core 2 duo was not. It has power saving features, but its not designed with power being a primary factor.

    The same things can be said for the chipsets.
    I was unable to an exact comparison between the 2 chipsets since the details, but toms hardware did a match thats close enough.,2153-10.html []
    The result is that the 945GC is up to 35% more power efficient. I expect its the same case with the intel core 2 duo vs the atom, if not, even more in favour.

    The fact is that's a huge saving on power. Using the atom and 950gc you could get 3 hours batter life where the other only gets 2.

    And laptops are meant to be portable. Anyone whos takes a laptop around with them, is well aware of the power concerns. That 1 hour can be the difference between moving with the laptop freely, and having to bring a power adapter and sit with it rooted to a power socket.

    As i'm typing this post out, its on an atom netbook, its power consumption so low that its passively cooled. Try that with a core 2 duo and its matching gpu.

    A few other things i'll touch on.
    Its stupid to point out that for only 190 more euro you get a more powerful computer. But that's 50% more expensive then this laptop offering!

    More memory isn't necessarily a good thing. At least on windows i can enter or leave hibernation mode in 26 seconds because i use 1gig of memory. If i had 3 gigs, it'd jump to about 45 seconds both ways. as well as draining more power, and increasing the price needlessly.

    Its not a Mac. Seriously. Comparing Linux to mac, and talking about the mac favorably... I have to wonder where slashdot's culture is headed on threads like these.

    If you want a top of the line gaming laptop, so be it. Just don't snub laptops that are aimed at a cheaper/work environment because it doesn't suit you.

  • Re:Mac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:09AM (#30830180) Homepage Journal

    my firewire camera is still going strong.

  • Re:Linux Gripes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by olman ( 127310 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @07:26AM (#30830264)

    Uh, what?

    After quick googling, shift-f10 is used for booting Win7 from a virtual HDD image. That's hardly something you need to know for anything closely resembling a normal setup. I do assume your anecdote about APIC/PIC/APIC dance is somehow related for that too.

    So, yes, installing some kind of weird virtual machine windows 7is somewhat complicated. And this is relevant to the 99% of setups not using virtualization, how?

    Normal home desktop installation definitely does not need any of that crap, I've installed W7 on acer laptop, my desktop PC and a HTPC, each of which went with no hitches whatsoever despite not having cherry picked hardware as they started life as XP machines originally.

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

    by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @08:38AM (#30830626)

    Honestly, I agree with you.. I have been an Ubuntu user, completely wiping away my windows boot partition about 3 years ago. Love it.. Except, I just moved cross country.. Suddenly, I want to use my webcam, to stay in touch with my family. Now that I've had a baby, they REALLY want to use the webcam with me! My whole family uses MSN messenger. I have yet to find a good, reliable, working solution, other than grab my Wife's laptop running Vista and MSN Messenger (yes, i've tried AMSN, and koepete or whatever its called, and mercury, none of them really work for decent amounts of time).. I guess I could try to move my family and friends over to another tool, but what a pain...

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

    by Neoprofin ( 871029 ) <(neoprofin) (at) (> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:04AM (#30830738)
    When Battle for Wesnoth has 50% of the polish that any of the games in the Civ or Heroes of Might and Magic series has I'll start factoring in that your choice was free and mine cost me a couple of hours work. Unless you're emulating or using one the incredibly rare Linux ports, neither or which is free, it doesn't matter if you have 10,000 options of 50,000,000 the simple difference in quality is worth a little money to me. When the best in FOSS gaming isn't approximately 5 years behind proprietary, mass budget offerings I'll certainly consider a switch.
  • Re:Mac (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brezel ( 890656 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:37AM (#30830984) Homepage

    i have 4 and 2 are unused.

  • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:51AM (#30831086) Homepage

    From the "specifications" page at the link:

    Only components with complete technical specifications, as provided by the manufacturers, were used.

    So where are the schematics, PC board artwork, parts lists, mechanical drawings of the chassis and brackets, etc.?

    Not to mention the fact that the chip designs are copyrighted by Intel...

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @09:56AM (#30831142)

    My dad, in his sixties installed vista in under an hour without help.

    I went over just in case something went wrong, but nothing did. We talked for an hour or so and I made coffee.

    If windows 7 took you 3 days to install it has nothing to do with windows...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @10:45AM (#30831758)

    Comes exhibit 3020 (PDF) []:


    From: Bill Gates
    Sent: Sunday, January 24, 1999 8:41 AM
    To: Jeff Westorinon; Ben Fathi
    Cc: Carl Stork; Nathan Myhrvold; Eric Rudder
    Subject: ACPI extensions

    One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn't try and make the "ACPI" extensions somehow Windows specific.

    It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work.

    Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.

    Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open.

    Or maybe we could patent something related to this.

  • Re:Mac (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @11:36AM (#30832424)

    You don't know what you are talking about.,2153-10.html []

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @12:24PM (#30833290) Journal

    Is Ubuntu 9.04 new enough for you? Sound? Needed CLI. Wireless? Whole bunch of CLI. And I have been building and selling PCs since the days of Win3.x and can count the number of times I have had to go CLI on one hand with fingers left over. Do I use CLi on occasion? Sure, because especially networking it is more comfortable for me to use CLI.

    But You are making the same mistake that many Linux users make, because you are comfortable with CLI you think others will be too, or because you use CLI or Regedit in Windows, well others must do it too. They aren't and they don't. I'm sorry, but only what most would call a "power user" touches either of those in Windows, and they are a very small minority. I can tell you that if I offered my clients $100 to bring up a terminal or registry editor in Windows that I wouldn't lose a dime. Windows simply doesn't need either of those in day to day tasks.

    Lets try the same in Linux, and you can see if the same holds true. there is a way to disable bash, yes? I'm sure that there is a CHMOD command that will allow you to disable bash so you can't access it, yes? So do it, disable bash. Agree to run WITHOUT any CLI for 6 months. No bash, no Bourne, no shell access to you the user at all. I'm willing to bet the first major update and you'd be borked, because there would be something that needs CLI access to tweak or fix. Sound, networking, wireless, something.

    Which as I said makes sense, as Linux is based on a mainframe OS (Unix) and is developed largely by corporations using Linux as a server OS. On servers there are admins, who by and large prefer the speed and control afforded by CLI. But as I said that is a task friendly mindset, not a user friendly one. And I'm sorry to burst your bubble but I have plenty of Windows customers that don't even know Windows HAS CLI or regedit. They have never used them, never needed them, and wouldn't know where to even find them. That is a user friendly mindset, which is what OSX and Windows excels at. Doesn't make one better than the other, but it does make their users vastly different.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @02:45PM (#30835526) Homepage

    The fact that you found it necessary to use a terminal with Ubuntu doesn't necessarily indicate an Ubuntu failing.

    Plenty of old timers don't realize that Linux isn't perpetually stuck in 1998.

  • Re:Mac (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 20, 2010 @06:32PM (#30838992)

    Correction, I have an Ion based PC, multiple Intel GMA PCs and a review from a well known and respected tech web site that shows factual information. You have nothing.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"