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Free PC With French Broadband Connection 245

Posted by timothy
from the someone-mention-this-to-aol-please dept.
robson writes "Neuf Cegetel announced the purchase of AOL France, an ISP that counts 500,000 broadband subscribers and the arrival of 'the box,' an Internet access terminal. Code-name: Easy Gate. It's a computer, working under the Linux OS. It's a router. It's a DSL modem. It's also a telephone. All in one. Easy Gate will be available from November, the actual 'box' consists of: an Intel 852 GM, 6 ports USB 2.0, 512 Mb of RAM and 512 Mb of Flash memory."
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Free PC With French Broadband Connection

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  • Bread? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:17PM (#16191503)
    I read the topic as Free PC with French Bread Connection
  • Dellised? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:18PM (#16191535) Journal
    So it's basicly a company giving away a free low quality Dell PC.. not a bad deal but I expect they'll wan tyou ro return it when you end the service as is the deal with my "free" router.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``So it's basicly a company giving away a free low quality Dell PC''

      Dell wishes their machines looked this good.
  • I Hope... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:19PM (#16191549) Homepage Journal

    It's a computer, working under the Linux OS. It's a router. It's a DSL modem. It's also a telephone. All in one. Easy Gate will be available from November, the actual 'box' consists of: an Intel 852 GM, 6 ports USB 2.0, 512 Mb of RAM and 512 Mb of Flash memory."

    I hope it's secure. I don't need SPAM from 500K new sources.

    A win for Linux? Maybe encourage more mainstream plugin and webapp development? It's France and EU turf so it looks like a good thing on the surface.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      It's a minor win for Linux. Despite the headline, this is not a PC, it's a "thin client". (In the original sense of the word, where the client did actual client-side work, as opposed to the graphic terminals that masquerade [sun.com] as "thin clients.) So this is just one of many systems that use Linux as an embedded OS. Nothing to sneer at, but not a major win either.

      What would be a major win is if this were a "real" PC, with a word processor, spreadsheet, etc., all running under Linux. Not going to happen any tim

      • Re:I Hope... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by boule75 (649166) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:14PM (#16193039) Homepage
        Errr... This is apparently a "real" PC as you say, with AbiWord, Gimp, a spreadsheet, and some other apps. And a browser & mailer certainly!

        Nice or original features:
        - the hot line apparently plan to seize control of the PC whenever one has an issue. Just like in any company indeed, just with much more logs.
        - they will not accept whatever hardware : they sell or rent some. I hope they will contribute to the drivers.

        Licensing & privacy issues are to be looked after.

        Some more information in French:
        http://www.easyneuf.fr/flash/ (the official launch date is October the 15th)
        http://www.silicon.fr/articles/16846/Neuf-Cegetel- lance-EasyGate-un-croisement-entre-une-box-ADSL-et -un-PC.html
        https://linuxfr.org/2006/09/22/21362.html

        By the way, have you heard recently that Free.fr was to invest 1.0 Bn Euro in the next years to provide ultra-high bandwidth access in big French cities (i.e. 50 Mbit/s by optical fibers, possibly with symetric data-rates, for 30 Euros a month with triple pay)?

        Maybe will I finaly lend a core to the CERN for free...

        Beyond HD-TV, I wonder if very high speed Internet access, multi-core personnal PCs and virtualisation technologies (not sure for this one) will allow us to share our CPUs and our disks. What would you think?

        And since this is now a many-stupid thoughts in one late post, let me put some more in it:
        - this reminds me of a ThinkGeek T-Shirt claiming "will work for bandwith": all you now need is 30 € a month...
        - I will be happy when Linus comes back to Europe. I do not even believe he thinks about it, but let's dream. Linus? 50 Mb/s nearly for free, both ways, with free phone to the US and half of the Free World? We've got good Belgian or Irish or German beers too, come on, come back!!!!
        • by Alarash (746254)

          "Beyond HD-TV, I wonder if very high speed Internet access, multi-core personnal PCs and virtualisation technologies (not sure for this one) will allow us to share our CPUs and our disks. What would you think?"

          Well, if you consider that having a FTP is a share of CPU and disks, I'm pretty sure that a lot of people will "share" their 50Mb upstream line with people like RAZOR1911, L0L, XOR, RELOADED... Who needs P2P when you have an IPSEC FTP ? Not that I'd do that, of course.

    • Since it is using 512Mb flash for storage, though you could add on more via USB perhaps, it sounds like this is more likely to be a "thinnnish client" than a full-blown PC. By thinnish client, I mean a device somewhere between a full PC and a thin client Xterm. In other words, something that you can also use to interact with local peripherals, but primarily uses back-end servers for its main function.

      Linux is pretty well suited to this model of operation. It can be stripped to a reduced configuration. Since

  • by crazyvas (853396) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:19PM (#16191553)
    ..Using the French Connection....
  • Hmm... considering AOL is not the cheapest, certainly not the best and by far not the most reliable service, and that box costs about a box of ciggies on the 2nd hand market, my guess would be that the TCOO is by far lower with another provider and a bought box after less than a year.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by beckerist (985855)
      Good point, and on top of that, I wonder HOW AOL will actually suppot Linux? A quick search [aol.com] of their website for "Linux" (anyone notice the bad coding?) only turns up AIM for Linux. Even Google [google.com] has nothing to do with broadband connectitivity, only connecting via dialup...
  • Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:24PM (#16191631)
    It's a computer, working under the OS, Linux. It's a router. It's a DSL modem. It's also a telephone. All in one.
    Where can I get my mom one of these? So she can call Bangalore instead of me? Seriously, if low-end machines like this were as ubiquitous as phones, it would save a lot of us a lot of spare time.
    • by texaport (600120)
      if low-end machines like this were as ubiquitous as phones

      20 years ago, Southwestern Bell had tens of thousands of people connecting little boxes with chicklet keyboards to phones lines to chat with each other -- based on the success of a previous French project to link people with similar hardware.

      A few years earlier the French also proved their trendsetting knack for technology with the red ALICE [wikipedia.org] units that were 300 baud (300bps for rude Americans who cannot properly pronouce Emile Baudot's namesake)

      • by Nutria (679911)
        20 years ago, Southwestern Bell had tens of thousands of people connecting little boxes with chicklet keyboards to phones lines to chat with each other -- based on the success of a previous French project to link people with similar hardware.

        Compared to "millions of phone customers", "tens of thousands" of Minitel users isn't that impressive. And if it was all that popular (compared to French Minitel, which was popular), it would have been all over the tech press, and the other RBOCs would have emulated SW
  • by iPodUser (879598) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:24PM (#16191633) Journal
    The fact that it's linux means the slashdoters will love it, the fact that it's AOL they will hate it. The sheer conflict in the minds of the slashdot readers will cause more than one head to pop.
    Also, what kind of a name is "America OnLine France"? Shouldn't it be "France OnLine"? FOL? Hmmm....
    • Re:My head asplode (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:47PM (#16191981) Journal
      It's not AOL, it's the company that just bought AOL's French division. No word on the processor. Some kind of Celeron, from the chipset, but I don't know whether it's the low power version. If it is, I'd be interested in one of these machines; quiet, low-power, and almost certainly cheap.

      It's worth noting that this business model is not that novel in France. Before the Internet, the French had a network called Minitel [wikipedia.org]. A load of dumb terminals were handed out for free to French businesses and households, as a replacement for a printed telephone directory. This gave access to telephone directory listings and a number of commercial services. The 'phone company took a connection fee, and other, premium services could also be charged directly to the bill. This machine is a logical successor to the Minitel; it's a machine which (should) require no more maintenance than a dumb terminal, and can be used to access the network that many regard as the successor to the Minitel network. Presumably with only 512MB of local storage, the user is expected to keep most of their data (email history, etc) on the server.

      • by boule75 (649166)
        I am not so sure they will keep many things on the server : they will attach USB-2 hard drives instead, since USB ports are happily provided.
  • Anybody know what distro this beasty runs?
  • "PC"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:28PM (#16191705) Homepage
    Code-name: Easy Gate. It's a computer, working under the Linux OS. It's a router. It's a DSL modem. It's also a telephone. All in one.

    Well, so then it's not a "free PC", it's a "free internet access terminal". I doubt anyone's going to be running half-life or photoshop on that thing.
    • by mspohr (589790)
      Actually, it comes with GIMP, Photoshop won't run on Linux.
    • by dslauson (914147)

      "I doubt anyone's going to be running half-life or photoshop on that thing."

      That's right, they'll be running Gimp instead.

      The specs on this thing may seem a little light by modern standards, but I'm running XP/Ubuntu dual boot on my laptop, with plenty of apps under each OS (yes, including both Photoshop and Gimp), and I've only got 256 MB memory and a ~1.5 Ghz processor. It's not lightning fast, and it's certainly no gaming rig, but it still gets the job done.

    • by Fordiman (689627)
      Nawww, really?

      Besides, you'd be hard pressed to get PS working acceptably under linux anyway. But I'll bet the Gimp works.

      And no, it won't run counterstrike. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid not everyone's a gamer, and those who are, aren't necessarily into multiplayer.
    • by markdavis (642305)
      >Well, so then it's not a "free PC", it's a "free internet access terminal".

      OK, then define "PC".
      That thing they are showing is a Personal Computer, in every way... only without a hard drive (it uses solid-state storage). And, it is also X86, making it at least mostly IBM-PC compatible.

      > I doubt anyone's going to be running half-life or photoshop on that thing.

      Neither is available for Linux, so that is moot. However, you could probably run many smaller games, and GIMP. The main obsticle with that t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:34PM (#16191789)
    The French had something like this long before the Internet became commercially available: Minitel. It was wildly popular because the device was given to subscribers for free.
  • Shouldn't that be FOL then?
  • by ewl1217 (922107)
    You can't even compare this to an entry-level PC! It's worthless and hardly a wonder tht it's free. Just look at the specs:
    • Intel 852 GM
    • 6 USB 2.0 Ports
    • 512 MB RAM
    • 512 MB Flash Memory

    That Intel card is a decent graphics card, good enough for web browsing, and 6 USB ports are great. 512 MB of RAM is pretty good, but only 512 MB of storage space (with the flash memory)? I'm assuming this won't have a hard drive, considering that it's free and there's no mention of one. You can't even install Ubuntu (or si

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``You can't even compare this to an entry-level PC!''

      Right. Entry-level PCs look a lot uglier and make a lot more noise!
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``All you'll get is a stripped down KDE or GNOME environment with Firefox/Konqueror and Kopete/Gaim (I'm assuming so much at least).''

      Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric, MPlayer, some mail client, spam filter, Ekiga softphone, and some unspecified, custom-built MSN client.

      ``You couldn't even have space for documents.''

      You can get all of the above in well under 512 MB, leaving plenty of space for documents. Multimedia would be a different story, of course, but you should be able to get a nice collection of songs on
    • Typical Slashdot response. This computer is not meant for the average Slashdot reader. It's meant for old women who would like to browse the web or send their relatives email, but who don't want to deal with the nuisances of PC's and Windows. These people don't need a 120GB hard drive or the ability to install Ubuntu.

      And no, these people will not blame Linux if things don't work right, because they probably won't even know that their computer is running Linux.
    • by Fordiman (689627)
      I dunno. Slax does pretty well in 200M of space. And its KDE isn't even stripped (aside from the obligatory 'strip' command. I believe a lot of it is also UPX compressed, many config and static files are run through zlib, etc.)
  • The New Minitel (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:43PM (#16191919)

    If all of you Francophobes could untwist your shorts for a minute, you might realize that this is pretty much an updated version of the Minitel [wikipedia.org], which most geeks thought was pretty damn cool back in the days of expensive 300 baud dialup.

    Besides, it runs Linux.

    • by andyr (78903)
      you might realize that this is pretty much an updated version of the Minitel

      Minitel was introduced in 1982, to replace dead-tree phone books. Pre-internet, France had already converted their population to online lookups, chat rooms, soft pron, pay-as-you-use. The walled gardens of AOL, Compuserve [wikipedia.org], Prodigy [wikipedia.org] left Minitel in the dust, and a year later there was Internet.

  • When did this happen? I would love to convert a few people over to linux/bsd/etc but they are tied to AOL so they are pretty much stuck with windows.

    Can this be done here in the US somehow?
  • by monopole (44023) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:57PM (#16192119)
    Another instance of bubblepack computing(like the gumstix, socket pc, OLPC etc.). So cheap it's a giveaway/impulse buy, Linux based with zero maintainence/zero service. Sure, not a gaming rig, but sufficent to do the primary functions of a PC these days websurfing and light office functions. Not likely to be a primary machine, but an excellent kitchen/bedroom terminal, perfect for hotel/public terminal axcess. While they won't replace the present PC they will crowd them out just as PCs did to mini's.
    What will be interesting will be when the /. crowd starts modding bubblepack computing for specialized apps (wardriving, geolocation, picture frames)
  • Yummy (Score:2, Funny)

    by CODiNE (27417)
    I'm gonna pop that lid top and steam me some rice in that baby. Yeaaaahhhhh... at last Linux has gone BEYOND TOASTERS.
  • Photos + details (Score:2, Informative)

    by Daas (620469)
    For those of you who can read french, here is the official annoucement :

    http://www.groupeneufcegetel.fr/html/Presse/Neuf_C egetel_lance_Easy_Neuf_et_invente_l_Easy_Gate_la_p remiere__box__associant_l_acces_a_l_Internet_haut_ debit_et_les_principales_fonctionnalites_d_un_ordi nateur.html [groupeneufcegetel.fr]

    They say it is an all-in-one service that will include the PC, the LCD screen, mouse, keyboard and webcam. Internet service (up to 8Mbits). Applications including web browser, e-mail reader/writer, instant messaging, an
  • by A.K.A_Magnet (860822) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:07PM (#16192955) Homepage
    ... which was rejected; Posted here for details. (too many details?)
    Neuf [www.neuf.fr], the third French ISP (in terms of subscribers), has announced [groupeneufcegetel.fr] (in French) today a new offer, "EasyNeuf [easyneuf.fr]" (still in French), aiming at reaching people who don't have a PC: a small PC-style "plug-and-play" appliance called NeufGate running GNU/Linux. It will include (optionnally) a monitor (different sizes available), a mice and a webcam for 99euros (with the 14" monitor) and cover most common usages: e-mail, instant messaging (MSN), web browsing (Firefox), videoconferencing (Ekiga), a spreedsheet application (Gnumeric), a word processor (Abiword), an image editor (the GIMP), a movie player (Mplayer), a PDF viewer, ... The OS is built from Linux (from scratch), runs kernel 2.6.17.11 and takes less than 100 MB (less than 168 with applications). It will feature 3 different GUIs: for novices ("Easy"), for medium users ("Ergo") and for advanced users (GTK-based with an OS X-style dock, so-called "Expert" mode). A parental control mode will be available, as well as different security features (firewall, antispam, etc). Usage will be restricted by Neuf so that people won't be able to install applications (or viruses!). On the hardware side, it will feature an Intel Celeron M 600Mhz, 512MB of RAM, 512MB of Flash memory and no hard drive. There will be 6 USB and 5 ethernet ports, and acting as a NAT router, it will share the connection with WiFi-enabled devices too. The modular design of the NeufGate will allow future hardware extensions (harddrives? DVR features?). The box will be rented (cost included in the monthly fees): the operating system will be automatically updated and most problems will be remotely fixed (some of them without having to call the hotline, as the box will report errors; it will be remotely controlled by Neuf technicians on demand [you will have to accept, as they won't be able to access anything other than your NAT/router settings otherwise]; and no, you won't be root ;)); in case of hardware problems, the box will be replaced within 48 hours (hotline will be free). A 2-hours online tutorial will help new users understand the basics. Of course, it comes with the current Neuf "triple play" offer: 8 Mb/s ADSL (down, 1Mb/s up), Telephony (mostly free, at least to landlines in most Western countries) and IPTV (to be available early 2007). All the software used in the NeufGate will be available as F/OSS on their community website [easyneuf.org] soon. Oh, and the price? 39.90euros/mo, everything included (except the peripherals, ie monitor/mice/webcam which will be sold separately; you can use your own). More pretty pictures here [pcinpact.com] (still, still in French). Now, isn't that what we can call Linux Desktop for Aunt Tillie? :)
    Btw, it will be sold through retail stores.
  • by Quent (981778) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:51PM (#16195199)

    Yes this box looks like a big breakthrough for not so computer literate people looking for getting in touch with friends and relatives using today's technology.

    However, this almost comes like shadow over the Free Telecom's new Freebox [broadcastbuyer.tv] which comes with router, Wifi-MIMO connection, HD TV tuner and something like 50 free channels and a total of 200, including all the international ones like CNN, BBC and many others, a VoIP phone system with free calls to landlines all over Europe [adsl.free.fr] (free calls to Australia, the US and Canada for instance!)

    I keep going: Possibility to watch TV on your computer using VLC or use it as a multimedia player [adsl.free.fr] to send video and audio stream to the box that then displays it on your TV and sends the sound to your HiFi system through the Optical connection. Ah yes also video on demand with films that you can replay and fast forward for 24hours just as a DVD.

    Of course it can provide very fast Internet connection (28Mb/s), obviously runs Linux and all that comes for the ridiculous price of 30 per month (they just lend the box to you!!!)

    All that to say, with such as competition on the ADSL market in France, no wonder why Neuf Cegetel is trying to catch with such an offer...

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