I love to shop. I don’t do it very often but I enjoy looking at stuff. It’s amazing what’s for sale when you are looking for things.
Today, Walmart.com sent me the usual spam (which I enjoy too), and I poked around on their site:
- It’s back to school season and there are great buys on notebook PCs. Unfortunately all of them have that other OS but the prices are rock-bottom. I think this means Wintel is having to give them away.. e.g. “Compaq 15.6″ Presario CQ57 Laptop PC with Windows 7 Home Premium bundled w/ case and USB Drive with Windows 8 Pro Upgrade Option” @$264. The Wintel ecosystem must be feeling the pain. M$ seems to be giving that other OS away with low prices until next year. What if sales drop off when they raise prices?
- Tablets are getting even more interesting. Walmart seems to make it difficult to get into “best-selling” mode until you poke around a bit. Until you do, you have to pick a price-range. When you do get to see all 122 tablets in “best-selling” mode you find lots of Android/Linux 4.0 and 4.1 tablets ranging as low as $50 and the best seller is Pandigital R7T40WWHF1 Novel with WiFi 7.0″ Touchscreen Tablet PC Featuring Android Operating System, White @$49.98. Nexus 7 with Android/Linux 4.1 Jelly Bean @$249.99 has sold out online. iPad 2 is in 10th spot in spite of the hype about global iPad sales being 60% of units… ?
- The one real GNU/Linux PC they seem to sell is a tiny box from Acer with Linpus Linux. “Acer Veriton N VN281G-UA4253L Small Form Factor Desktop PC with Intel Atom D425 Processor, 2GB Memory, 500GB Hard Drive and Linpus Linux (Monitor Not Included)” At $238 it’s a pretty good deal if you don’t need/want mobility.
I was puzzled by this Linpus thing, though. Why ship such an odd-ball distro? It turns out that Linpus is the Canonical/Ubuntu of China. They actually have 200 employees and they are tight with many big-name OEMs in China. “Strategic Advantage
Linpus is the only Linux vendor with research and development facilities in both Taipei and Shanghai, strategically positioned next to the main hardware manufacturers. As part of our service we promise to be on site to solve problems within two hours, 24/7, 365 days a year.
Linpus has more than 200 employees split between its headquarters in Nangang Software Park, Taipei, and its branch office in Shanghai. Of these more than eighty are employed in research and development.” That sounds like a pretty serious committment to OEMs. Distrowatch has very little on the distro but there is a $0 download so I tried it out…
There is actually an EULA. It contains this:”
Subject to the following terms, Linpus grants to the user (“User”) a license to this collective work pursuant to the GNU General Public License version 2. By downloading, installing or using the Software, User agrees to the terms of this agreement.
THE SOFTWARE. Linpus Linux Lite (the “Software”) is a modular Linux operating system consisting of hundreds of software components. The end user license agreement for each component is located in the component’s source code. With the exception of certain image files containing the Linpus trademark, the license terms for the components permit User to copy and redistribute the component. With the potential exception of certain firmware files (denoted in the License field of the RPM packaging), the license terms for the components permit User to copy, modify and redistribute the component, in both source code and binary code forms. This agreement
does not limit User’s rights under, or grant User rights that supersede, the license terms of any particular component.” So, it looks like the usual GPL stuff with some BSD-like licensed stuff. It’s pretty weird granting a GPL and then claiming the user agrees to terms by merely downloading… I don’t think that’s right. They can claim that about their own software but not GPLed software, IMHO. They should get people to agree to their terms before the download which then passes on the software licences. Subsequent users should be able to use th GPL stuff as usual. Puzzling. Do OEMs actually read this stuff?
- There’s an installer for that other OS! Yes! Linpus is ambitious and wants to pave over that other OS. I have no way to test that as I have none of that other OS left. I suppose I could try it on “8″ pre-release…
- It has pretty good hardware support except it only supports “popular” video chips:Intel, ATI, Nvidia but not Sis, Via, etc. Also, I could not install to a SCSI disk in KVM. I had to use SATA. Default 4gB storage was inadequate. Need 6gB says the guide, but 6gB is too small says the installer….
- The installer is very simple and gives choice of stats displayed in the process and full disk/partition/free space options. My elderly aunt could probably click through it if she could read the screen. The installer is also the recovery disc. Installation is a re-imaging process, so very fast, just a few minutes. First boot does the passwords and allows user to choose authentication or not, timezone, and sending Linpus an installation report or not.
- Right away, the installer calls the product, Linpus Linux, so not as obscure as Ubuntu…
- It actually runs although it did complain about KVM’s video card (just VGA). Online update was smooth and I can install LibreOffice in a couple of clicks. I like it. Perhaps the little woman would too.
So, it’s not Debian GNU/Linux. It is very usable. One can add the Fedora repository and get 10K more packages… That’s almost necessary because Linpus has just ~1400. Things like Google Chrome Browser cannot be installed without Fedora’s repository because of missing dependencies. Even the current Fedora repository doesn’t work…
So, we live in interesting times. Wintel is getting squeezed and choices are opening up.