Someone who can explain the philosophy of humor could probably tell me why I find this page so incredibly funny, and why I think that many non-nerds would find it funny too. It's not an in-joke, the punchline is in the title, and it goes on and on. But it is hilarious.
My review yesterday of the $200 WalMart PC was done before I had opened it up. Nothing terrible inside, but a surprise: there is only one PCI slot. Period. The case has slot covers for about five, but the motherboard only has one. This may be old news to some people, but I had never seen such an attenuated motherboard before.
The upshot is that if you need a modem (which doesn't come in the system), it will probably take up your one free slot, unless you can find a USB modem that has working drivers. If you need a modem and another board-based feature, this isn't the PC for you.
Other than that, the inside looked very tidy and the case seemed better than many clone cases you see at Fry's. Also, it's reasonably quiet.
Having said all that, one thing that is important is that the CPU is slow. This reminds me what a farce the speed tests are. The 800 MHz CPU in the WalMart box has less than half the compute speed of a 800 MHz Pentium III, based on the openssl speed results.
OK, I'm really impressed. The $200 Walmart PC you have been hearing about is a winner. I bought the box because I needed a cheap Unix host, so I figured I'd get this, spend 5 minutes in Lindows deciding it wasn't ready for prime time, then reformat the hard drive for the OS I need. Well, after 20 minutes of playing with Lindows, I'm impressed.
The hardware is pretty good, too. It looks like Any Minitower Clone, but doesn't feel flimsy. Speedwise, it felt peppy, better than 800 MHz machines. Even though WalMart was obviously trying to keep the cost down by using a 10 Gig hard drive (of which Lindows only took half a gig!), they included a Sup-R-Cheesy mouse, keyboard, and speakers. Hint to WalMart: if the buyer doesn't need a monitor, they don't need a crappy mouse, keyboard, or speakers. Save the $5.
Booting was nearly flawless. The out-of-box experience was in some ways better than a new Dell with WinXP because no one was making you agree to licenses and so on. The desktop felt just fine even though most X desktop systems feel clunky to me. A Win98 or later user could learn the interface basics in under 5 minutes: it was very familiar without being a rip-off. All programs worked. Help worked. The menus were aimed at users, not sysadmins. A slight glitch was that the box didn't recognize that my LCD monitor needed 70Hz refresh, but that was easily remedied. Until I shut it down and the normal Linux shutdown drivel appeared on the monitor, nothing screamed "designed by a Linux geek" at me. That's Good.
So, I'm happily impressed with the state of Lindows. Other Linux distros would do well to spend the small amount of cash and study this box intensely. Microsoft still has nothing to worry about with this, unless Dell or Gateway or HP/Compaq gets any funny ideas.
But, given the low cost for the whole package (heck, shipping and CA sales tax still only brought it to $230!), every no-name or nearly-no-name clone maker should be very, very worried.
The latest Apple ad in the scientific journals has a hilarious aside about transferring large files on crowded networks. Part of the ad says: "Now Dr. Gilbert is even using his iPod to transfer human genomic data from computer to computer in under a minute. 'The network was too slow and it only took 30 seconds using the iPod.'" So, yes, it appears that Apple is catching on.
BBC News has an article about how the British government has released a new document listing Iraq's horrible human rights problems. The report's timing is highly questionable, given that Britain is helping the US get ready for war. Of course, the British government denies that the timing is part of its war preparations. From the article:
Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan disagreed.
She said: "This selective attention to human rights is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists.
Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq before the Gulf War. They remained silent when thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians were killed in Halabja in 1988."