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America Online

AOL's new Linux PC 549

minus_273 writes " MSNBC (of all places ) has an intersting article about AOLs new PC. We have already heard of Lindows , WALMART PC and there was speculation of AOL Red Hat. Well, it looks like this is what AOL decided to do. All 3 are mixed into one. AOL now has a beta 7.0 client that is distributed with Lindows along with AIM and Netscape. I wonder if this stuff will work on normal Linux without WINE."
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AOL's new Linux PC

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  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gorm the DBA ( 581373 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:11PM (#4345130) Journal
    Just what we need...the number one leader in dumbing down the Internet coming out with a PC...

    It's going to be like that Dilbert Cartoon

    "All it has is one button, and we press it for you before it leaves the factory."

    "But what's the button do?"

    "Don't ask me all these techie questions"

    Except in this case, the punch line is likely "Submit your credit card numbers to the central server so that we can deduct money from you at will".

    So where do I sign?

  • I'm a bit interested in this Via 800Mhz CPU. It seems very strange to see a new player in the x86 CPU field, and I wonder if this chip is based on a licensed AMD or Intel design? Or is the reason they can make it because it is only 800Mhz and therefore easier to produce than a whole line including bleeding edge chips?


    First generation silicon are known to be less reliable than later designs. Can a chip made by Via be trusted in terms of reliability? (I realize they make lots of chips, but generally not this kind)


    Oh well, just general questions...

    • No, it's based on Cyrix. VIA bought cyrix some time ago.
    • Re:CPU (Score:2, Informative)

      by SonicBurst ( 546373 )
      IIRC, this isn't really a new player. I believe VIA bought this architecture from Cyrix. I think it used to be called the C3 (or could be M3).
    • by qurob ( 543434 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:23PM (#4345236) Homepage

      It hit 1GHz back in June

      Tom's Hardware [tomshardware.com]
    • Like others say, it's not new.
      I think the Cyrix C3 started out at 500Mhz --like a year and half a ago or so. Maybe 2 years now...
      The neat thing about C3s is the temperature: an X86 compatible chip that costs peanuts, runs in common inexpensive socket 370 boards and the little f*ers run so cool they can actually dispense with FANS. (especially when mildly underclocked)

      They are the perfect thinclient CPU, given the need for X86 compatibility out there in the world.
  • HOORAY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RailGunner ( 554645 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:14PM (#4345157) Journal
    As I've said before on numerous occasions, for Linux to truly give MS a run for the money on Home user desktops, two things need to happen:

    1. AOL client for Linux
    2. Native game support

    Now, as much as I tend to mock AOL users, being that AOL is not a convicted monopolist, they're the lesser of two evils by far. But now that #1 on my list looks like it's happening, MS better be very nervous. There's millions of AOL users who own a computer and do nothing but connect to AOL on it. There's now NO compelling reason for them to use Microsoft software.

    This news has made my day. I'm being optimistic and hopeful here, but could this day signal the beginning of the end of Microsoft? (Especially since some games are coming out with native Linux support.. like Unreal Tournament 2003)

    • Re:HOORAY! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by daeley ( 126313 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:35PM (#4345355) Homepage
      While I'm normally gung-ho for anything challenging the behmoth (see sig for ref), and while I'm in agreement with you, I am still leery of trading one enormous, controlling software giant for a enormous, controlling media conglomerate. I don't want to be a naysayer, but extrapolating into the future produces a need to keep one eye on this bunch, too.
      • ... I am still leery of trading one enormous, controlling software giant for a enormous, controlling media conglomerate. I don't want to be a naysayer, but extrapolating into the future produces a need to keep one eye on this bunch, too.

        Because AOL would not own the OS, and hence would be in no position to jockey into other markets at will. AOL being popular on Linux is not nearly as dangerous as MS is now - and as other posters have mentioned, might go a long way towards convincing users that they dont *need* Windows.
    • I agree.

      If the 200$ PC takes off (and I don't see a reason it shouldn't - it *IS* the cheapest PC available by a large margin), this could even pressure game companies to do Linux-ports.

  • The proper name for this system is GNU/AOL.

    Please change it before the Hurd tramples you.
  • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:15PM (#4345167)
    So how long before we see AOL make their own distribution with all the "harmful" features (i.e. any type of user system control, the ability to not boot into a GUI, etc) stripped?

    I'm surprised they didn't buy Corel a few years ago and try this already. "Here's a free OS on our free 1000 hour CDs! Oh, your office apps won't run now? Buy ours for only $49.95 each!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:16PM (#4345170)
    Just wait until it becomes cheap enough for AOL to ship you free computers. Imagine all the junk you'll have then!
  • On MSNBC? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:16PM (#4345173) Homepage
    When MSNBC publishes a glowing article like this, you have to start thinking it's going to take off. It still doesn't sound like a computer that I'd be interested in buying, but I know a LOT of non-technical people for whom this would be a perfectly acceptable solution.

    I know now what I'm going to start suggesting to people who are looking for a "simple" setup. Sure, I'll probably end up giving them free support and doing a lot of hand-holding when things break, but I guess that's the price of being on the front lines, fighting for what you believe in.

    • Re:On MSNBC? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GregWebb ( 26123 )
      And people don't do that with Windows already?

      Before I moved, I was Windows support for a _lot_ of people. Part of what helps Windows is that there's already the network of friendly computer literate people that know it.

      Now, I'm not saying that Linux is just as easy as Windows. Not looked in for a little while but it certainly wasn't then and information I've heard since hasn't suggested that's changed. But, it remains that Windows is already beyond many users, so Linux being so isn't as much of a problem as some people think.
    • Sure, I'll probably end up giving them free support and doing a lot of hand-holding when things break

      Yeah, but I'd rather support Linux systems than Windows systems! What I wouldn't give for a /var/log/messages to look at when my mother's computer crashes... and no, C:\BOOTLOG.TXT isn't even close.
  • by danger42 ( 302987 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:17PM (#4345188) Homepage
    The KDE desktop looks and feels like Windows, with a few exceptions. You have to double-click an icon on the desktop to get it to open...

    Last time I checked, I had to double-click on the icons, too, and I am running Win2k.
    • Eevn more ironic is the fact that the default KDE behavior is to single-click on desktop icons...so this is a feature they've changed to be more like Windows, yet it gets cited as a difference :)
    • although if you turn on active desktop and change some settings you can make windows more kde like and have it be single click to launch programs.
  • AOL and Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobFrontier ( 550029 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:17PM (#4345190)
    Why would a Linux user want to use AOL? Most if not all desktop linux users are way more proficient than that. I shudder to think of the help desk they would have to set up for Linus/AOL PC users.
    • How would a Linux/AOL helpdesk be any worse than a Windows/AOL helpdesk ? Besides, this is presumably not aimed at current Linux users, but rather current AOL users who want to buy a new PC.

      Really, I think AOL had no choice, they could either continue to use MS software, and likely go bankrupt in 2 or 3 years when they lose all their customers to MSN, or strike out and try and distance themselves from MS.

    • Re:AOL and Linux? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Drakonite ( 523948 )
      1. AOL is the cheapest dialup connection available in my town (tied with two others)
      2. When not root, linux is more difficult to accidentally break than windows. And from my experience, teaching someone who had never used a computer to use Linux/KDE to check email and surf the web is as easy (if not easier in some cases) than teaching to do the same on windows. YMMV.
      3. The average Linux user likes Linux and wants it to become more mainstream. Having a corporation the size of AOL/TW supporting Linux is a very good thing, and will definatly serve to make it more mainstream.
      4. If AOL/TW supports AOL on Linux, then they will be more likely to support other products in terms of Linux.

      And what if it gets to the point AOL/TW makes it company policy to use Linux boxes whereever possibly and to no longer buy Microsoft products? You now have millions and millions of employees who are going to buy linux boxes instead of windows boxes, just so they dont' have to try to use something different at home and at work.

    • It's the other way around: getting AOL users to use Linux.

      Forget about mainstreaming Linux by convincing everyone to learn Unix. Hasn't happened in 30 years; ain't gonna happen. If/when Linux becomes a mainstream desktop OS, it will be as WIMP-ish as all the rest. OSX is a good precursor of what it will take.
    • Why would a Linux user want to use AOL?

      Wrong question. The right one is....

      Why would someone finally decide to buy a computer??

    • Many linux users would refuse to use AOL. But an AOL user WOULDN'T refuse to use linux(if correctly packaged). Why? Because a typical AOL user doesn't want to know what OS they're using. They want to check their mail, look at web pages and maybe use a word processor. Any OS that can allow them to do those things easily will satisfy them. So if Lindows makes it easy to setup and get online, and easy to start the aol interface the users already know and (somehow manage to) love, and easy to do simple word processing, and significantly cheaper than a windows pc, maybe it'll take off.
      So I say more power to them. If 10% of aol users (that's 3.5 million people by the article's numbers) got set up with one of these, it would be a very good thing for the internet and standards. It will make that much more disincentive for sites and services to go microsoft only. Rip on AOL all you like, but they've got enough users to make some noise. What business wants to alienate that many people? I'd like to see a few million additional linux users, especially from a hard-to-reach demographic like that.
      It's hard to convince non-technical people to do the right thing on technical issues. This way they'll be doing the right thing without really knowing it.
      I just wish aol would give the pc away with the service, for maybe $10 per month more for 20 months or something.
    • And why should an AOL-user who is not into games *NOT* save over 100$ when buying a computer next time?

  • This goes a long way towards bringing Linux desktop to the masses. Once grandma can check her AOL mail with the "you've got mail" sound and can read the Steve Case community updates, she'll be happy with her PC since it does everything that she expects.
  • Sick and tired (Score:3, Offtopic)

    by rw2 ( 17419 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:17PM (#4345195) Homepage
    I am so sick and tired of people making snide comments like "of all places" when MSNBC reports on a non-windows happening in the world.

    People, it's becoming cliche so many of you are making comments like that. For crying out loud, doesn't that mean that maybe your assumptions should be questioned!
  • $199 + monitor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by homer_ca ( 144738 )
    Maybe it'll sell at this pricepoint. If nothing else, it's a full-fledged computer and people can wipe the drive and install another OS if they're tired of Lindows. Gateway and AOL already tried a web appliance 2 years ago. At $500 it flopped.
  • Walmart.com page (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:20PM (#4345216) Homepage
    Just FYI, here's Walmart's page on Lindows OS PCs [walmart.com].
  • The KDE desktop looks and feels like Windows, with a few exceptions. You have to double-click an icon on the desktop to get it to open, but only single-click an icon in the toolbar to get the same result.
    Umm.. has he used Windows? Lemme check real quick... yup, double-click an icon on the desktop, but only single-click an icon in the toolbar to get the same result. Does anyone double-click the Start menu? Quicklaunch bar? How about the Save button in the toolbar of any application?

    What in the world was he expecting?

    More generally, this is very neat news. I know many people's parents and grandparents who would love a new machine for $200, as long as they can run AOL.

    sheephead

  • by tshoppa ( 513863 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:28PM (#4345281)
    Here in the DC area AOL has been looking for a large number of Linux software engineers as of late. I always thought that these were for "back-office" applications (account management etc., heavy desire for Perl and database experience) maybe some other positions seem to be oriented towards end-user applications.
  • MSNBC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starling ( 26204 ) <strayling20@gmail.com> on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:28PM (#4345285)
    It's time to lose the "MSNBC (of all places)" type comments. They consistently put out interesting tech stories with no bias towards or against Microsoft, and I they seem take their journalistic impartiality seriously.

    No, I don't work for them.

    • Re:MSNBC (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:45PM (#4345438) Homepage Journal
      They consistently put out interesting tech stories with no bias towards or against Microsoft, and I they seem take their journalistic impartiality seriously

      The issue, though, is Slashdot IS biased, and always writes against MS (even if its something good MS does, its written with a slander tone).

      What do I think of /.'s bias? I think its immature.
      • What do I think of /.'s bias?

        I think if /. was *not* biased, they would be a much less fun and much less popular web site. /.'s anti-MS, pro-Linux stance is what makes it.

        If you want un-biased reporting, go to MSNBC (apparently). I'll stay here where the fun is.

      • by jerryasher ( 151512 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @02:40PM (#4345947)
        I don't like bias either. Unfortunately there is no such thing as objectivity. I think that's the post modern lesson.

        I would rather listen to someone (anyone) whose bias is upfront and identifiable, then listen to someone that claims to be objective.

        Objectivity, is that like where unknown to most listeners, Disney owns SFBay hatespeech radio station KGO and that makes Disney's pretty right wing KSFO seem to be the moderate alternative?
  • Another source.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bziman ( 223162 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:29PM (#4345297) Homepage Journal
    MSNBC seems to be responding somewhat slowly, so here's an article [zdnet.co.uk] on the same topic from ZDNet UK.

    Enjoy...

    -brian

    • The ZDNet article is simply talking about Netscape 7 being included with Lindows. The MSNBC article goes into far greater detail about Lindows and is talking about the AOL client rather than just Netscape.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:36PM (#4345366) Homepage Journal
    This thought just crossed my mind. AOL brought Internet to the masses. This results in gazillions of lusers eating up the Net's bandwidth, but it also means that now gazillions of people care about Internet. This is precisely what we need to increase Internet coverage all over the world: a large corporation with millions of users behind it (read: hard cash). AOL's success will encourage others in other places to attempt the same thing.

    Then there is AOL Instant Messenger, AKA AIM. A reliable source of "Me too" conversations, but also a way for people to communicate with each other without paying huge costs for telephone calls. It arguably sucks less than ICQ (what's that UIN again?) or MSN (Passport), and third parties are offered access to the network via TOC. True enough, AOL blocks people who try to access their network with reverse-engineered Oscar clients, and TOC doesn't offer all the features we've come to expect from instant messaging, but that can be seen as a reaction to others downright ignoring TOC and using Oscar instead, which obviously goes against the rules laid out by AOL.

    Another Good Thing of AOL is that they're still sponsoring Netscape and Mozilla. This means that we owe thanks to them for what may be the best browser around at the moment. They are also using Gecko in their new software, which means that a significant number of people will be using it, which makes cross-browser compatibility of websites an issue and promotes open standards, to the benefit of all who don't use M$IE for Windows.

    AOL offers people freedom of choice in that their software works on Windows, Mac OS, and, apparently, Linux. This sets an example for other companies, and possibly even the OSS movement (after all, many OSS is tied to UNIX-like systems).

    Not all about AOL is good, but I do think that, on the whole, they are doing a lot that makes the world a better place, or at least insofar as computers are concerned.
    • They're not bad in all respects. However, they cooperate with the PRC in censoring their own citizens. [slashdot.org] Information on this topic is readily available from Google.

      I'm not saying Microsoft wouldn't do the same if they had the chance (may have the chance and may be doing the same), and I acknowledge that AOL/TW has as many employees as the entire human race 1,000 years ago, so they're going to be doing something I'm not happy with, and that there is something to be said for "engaging" China under whatever terms are possible - which seems to mean at least some censorship.

      But to say that AOL is making the world a better place, at least insofar as computers are concerned, I'm not so sure about that. Censorship is the #1 threat to the vitality of the net, and since AOL promotes that in various ways, there's not many ways I could think of them as a net good.

      Also - AOL supplied the internet to the masses, but the masses really wanted it. Without AOL, I think we'd have seen more or less the same landscape with more business for compuserve.
  • specs (Score:4, Informative)

    by danger42 ( 302987 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:36PM (#4345370) Homepage
    - VIA C3 800 MHz processor offers comparable performance to the 800 MHz Celeron processor
    - 133 MHz frontside bus
    - 128 MB SDRAM, expandable to 1 GB
    - 133 MHz memory speed
    - 10 GB Ultra-ATA 100 hard drive, 5400 rpm (total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment)
    - 52x CD-ROM drive
    - Integrated Trident Blade 3D/Pro Media AGP 4x graphics
    - Up to 8 MB shared video memory
    - Integrated AC '97 Audio with 3D enhanced sound
    - Integrated 10/100 Ethernet connection
    - Micro ATX tower case (14"D x 7"W x 14"H)
    - Available drive bays: one 5.25-inch external, one 3.5-inch external, one 3.5-inch internal
    - 2 PCI slots
    - 1 ISA slot
    - High-speed serial port
    - Parallel port
    - 2 front and 2 rear USB ports
    - Game port
    - 104-key keyboard
    - 2-button mouse with wheel
    - Audio port (line-in, line-out, mic-in)
    - Stereo speakers
    - LindowsOS operating system (pre-installed)
    - Software includes mail, word processor, Web browser/file manager, address book, calculator, CD player, MP3 Player, PowerPoint viewer, Word viewer, Excel viewer and Image viewer
    Games include Tron, Battleship, Poker, Minesweeper, Potato Guy
    - Special Offer - Select up to 10 software applications at no charge from the Lindows.com Click-N-Run Warehouse
    - 1-year warranty, return to Microtel
    • Games include Tron, Battleship, Poker, Minesweeper, Potato Guy

      This may sound dumb, but hear me out... why isn't Solitaire included?

      My mom plays Solitaire on Windows. So do most users that don't do much more than browse the web and check email. Half the people here at where I work do. Why not include solitaire?!?!

      It's just one more thing that a Windows user could ask. "I really like playing solitaire. Does this computer have it?" "No."

      Maybe a dumb point, but it just seems like it would have made sense to incude it. It's not like Microsoft has a monopoly on solitaire.

      Mark
      • how about:
        "no, but I can download any number of solataire games for free. How many do you want?"

        It is a good point, but it also gives a glimmer on how Linux's marketing people(us) need to improve are skills at conviencing the majority of computer users why they should choose Linux.

  • by WarpedMind ( 151632 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:37PM (#4345371)
    It only got one line of play in the article but that fact that Wal-Mart is selling the same computer for a $100 more that includes windows is significant.

    Never before has the public been offered such clear presentation of the real cost of Windows. (At least not in such a large forum.)

    Always before MS has been able to hide the cost the consumer is paying. Now that Wal-Mart draws it out in black and white, users will finally have a REAL choice about what OS they want to use on their PC.
    • ... that fact that Wal-Mart is selling the same computer for a $100 more that includes windows is significant.

      Don't forget that the REAL cost of Lindows is $99/year OR learning to download and install software the "linux way" (or perhaps Debian or Redhat way would be more accurate). It can only be good for the free software community if people who opted for a cheap $199 computer also opt for the cheaper way of obtaining free software.

      And the $100 extra includes the $30 modem not present in the $199 computer, so in truth you're paying $70 for 'doze. Still, that's 35% of the cost of the basic machine.

  • I was just wondering if anyone has actually experienced Lindows? Can anyone comment about stability, useability, installation, boot-up time, configurability and system management?
  • why AOL didn't do this much sooner. I figured once they bought Netscape, the first thing they would do is start offering their "AOL" PCs. Imagine a PC where if the user has problems, you can debug their machine remotely, via a recovery CD that lets the machine dial in to AOL and a tech logs in and checks out the problem. If only I could find my post from ages ago about this... :-)
  • by neowintermute ( 81982 ) <poet&hyperpoem,net> on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:42PM (#4345409) Homepage
    I send all my patches back to the public wine tree, and in fact, our wine is just the public tree, with any obvious bugs fixed (which we also send back).

    So, if you pick up wine from cvs, it will run AOL7.

    See wine-patches and wine-devel for discussion.
  • Boycott Lindows (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:44PM (#4345425)
    Lindows is dangerous and should be boycotted by all security-conscious users. The reason is simple: Users run as "root" by default, with all rights -- a single wrong click or command and the whole system is made unusable. Or turned into a full-powered skript kiddie battle station.

    This kind of philosophy has been the main cause of many destructive worms and viruses on the Windows platform. To repeat this error endangers the Internet ecosystem as a whole and gives Linux a bad name. Furthermore, it gives people a justification to run as root -- this practice should be discouraged. Any operating system that is insecure by default should be boycotted.

    Lindows.com is currently stating [lindows.com] that they are doing this in the name of convenience, a stupid argument (how hard can it be to ask for an administration password?). As long as they do not reverse their stance in this matter, Lindows should be boycotted by all technically competent users. I'm getting enough e-mail worms per day as it is.

    • That's really funny. I like it.

      Just to be devil's advocate here, Root by default is simply a page from Microsoft's very successful history.

    • Re:Boycott Lindows (Score:4, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @02:15PM (#4345726)
      I disagree. I think people use accounts on single-user linux systems mostly just because they're there.

      On a system with many users, limiting the damage caused to a single user to himself is a necessity. On a system with one user/administrator, it's meaningless.

      Besides, can you really think of any single click that can render the system unusable? In any case, if the user is persuaded to enter a command or install a trojan, forcing them to type the root password first makes no difference.

      Having users and accounts also doesn't help Internet security much. Email worms aren't affected at all, and many important servers (like sshd) have to run as root anyways. And a server running as a lesser user can still cause just as much harm to the Internet, for instance by participating in a denial of service attack, or relaying spam.

      • Besides, can you really think of any single click that can render the system unusable?

        Oh c'mon... happens all the time... drop your coke on the keyboard, hitting the following keys: "rm -rf / [enter]"

        Whew, thank god I wasn't running as root! ;)
    • Re:Boycott Lindows (Score:5, Interesting)

      by atrus ( 73476 ) <`gro.eilavirtsurta' `ta' `surta'> on Friday September 27, 2002 @02:38PM (#4345938) Homepage
      If you want a good example of what you're suggesting (ask for admin password), look at Mac OS X. Need to make system changes? Click the lock, enter your password, and the control panel app now runs as root.
    • Re:Boycott Lindows (Score:4, Interesting)

      by iceT ( 68610 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @03:19PM (#4346246)
      Users run as "root" by default, with all rights

      My first thought is: Just like Windows.

      Even XP Home, by default, let's you run as administrator...

      Granted, a SUID wrapper around key functions would probably be better than running as root.. Maybe in V3.0....
  • Now when I say 'you should try Linux' to my non-technical friends and family that can't argue 'it doesn't run AOL arguement'
    I know several people, and everything they do online is through AOL, like it or not, thats true for millions of people.
    Next time they're looking at a forced MS upgrade, I will probably get them to try it Linux, since it will save them 100 bucks.

    I can probablt get 4 people to switch as soon as they get a stable release.
    • My mother-in-law and two brother-in-laws all have computers. Here is a list of the software they use:
      • Word Perfect 8
      • AOL
      • Photoshop

      If AOL goes stable on Linux, I can get their P-233s off Win98 and save myself a lot of support headaches.
  • Red Hat? (Score:2, Informative)

    What's this talk about AOL Red Hat? I heard something about this awhile ago, but as far as I know, this new Wal Mart PC running Lindows doesn't contain any Red Hat Linux at all... Lindows itself is based, according to their FAQ (at lindows.com) on Debian Linux... so what's the deal?
  • Good all around... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Omega ( 1602 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @01:55PM (#4345525) Homepage
    This is the sort of thing that's Good For Everyone(TM).

    It's good for AOL because they don't have to kowtow to Microsoft for placement on the desktop (though they shouldn't anyway, but MS frequently abuses it's monopoly power to prevent OEMs from making custom changes to the desktop). AOL can advance subscribership by promoting an easy to use Internet/Bulletin Board service on a low cost, easy to use computer. If they want custom modifications to better support their online service, they don't have to "ask permission," they can just make them on their own.

    It's good for consumers because now they have a real choice for low cost computer systems. I'm not saying that Lindows is the high holy of operating systems, but it's geared toward ease of use for non-technical desktop users (people who don't want to recompile a kernel). Before, there never really was a choice for low cost systems -- you had to go with Windows. Sure you could buy a Mac, but you had to shell out an extra thousand bucks. While many people like how user friendly Macs are, they can't justify that much a price difference. Lindows gives consumers a low cost alternative.

    It's good for Linux because it increases the Linux user base. Obviously, the people using these systems aren't going to go out and start coding custom kernel modules, but the software manufacturers are going to start noticing the increasing presence of Linux in the marketplace. This means there will start to be more consumer applications available for Linux as an untapped consumer market like this cannot be ignored. This means more games, more office software, more of the general desktop software that many people say is missing from Linux.

    And lastly, this is good for technology (obviously). For the same reasons that Eric S. Raymond penned (or typed I guess ;) in his editorial on "Total World Domination [linuxjournal.com]." Total world domination by Linux means no domination by anyone. Linux can be modified by anyone, it can be modified to suit your purposes (whatever they may be) and you will always have the freedom to make those changes because no one can own Linux. No one can lock it up and keep you from looking inside. Coders will still be able to code and make custom changes to their system, and consumers can still click away not knowing what's going on behind the scenes. It's good for technology because by giving consumers a choice, it promotes consumer freedom.

  • What I think would really help Linux is an AOL version of something like Lindows. This would be an easy to install CD that would be given away with computer magazines and mailed out for free, and, unlike Lindows, it is all free. AOL gets to benefit because it boots up ready to log on to AOL...but it is not a requirement to use the system, so everyone benefits.

    Imagine how easy it would be to get people to at least try Linux if they already had a CD-ROM of it attached to some magazine they just bought. Heck, if it goes out like AOL's current junk...everyone would be able to dig up at least five of these disks in a matter of minutes.

    Usurper_ii
    • Well, thinking about it for a minute more, the one thing that is going to hold AOL back from doing this is DRM. At some point someone up top at Time-Warner is not going to like that their AOL Linux distro lets people bypass all the new DRM software being built into Windows. AOL Linux would then become a "circumvention device," and the jack-booted thugs would have to start spending a lot of time stomping on all those free disks.

      Usurper_ii
  • I said this a long time ago to some friends ...

    AOL needs to make a bootable Linux CD. It wouldn't do anything to the hard drive except mount it and maybe create a settings file.

    All the user information would be on a server like it already is, and the CD would include all the software they would need. A browser, mp3 player, AIM, and OpenOffice or something.

    That way the user doesn't even have to do an "install" ... Heaven forbid ... all they have to do is turn on the computer and throw in a CD.

    ~LoudMusic
  • I Love it! (tm) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dr_Marvin_Monroe ( 550052 ) on Friday September 27, 2002 @02:03PM (#4345587)
    This is a great development. I've recently run across a few people who are ONLY interested in AOL. I know that this seems wrong headed, but listen to my story........

    I was recently selling old PC's at two recent garage sales, and guess who the customers were? That's right, they were folks who were shopping at the bottom of the PC market....you know the type, PC's for $40..."I want to move up from by 486-66 into something a little faster....I'm using AOL version 3.0 now...yeah, this machine with a Pentium1 & 32meg is quite a step up for me!"...

    I was intrigued by one particular customer and even helped him get setup back at his hovel, I was struck by the number of people there must be at this level of the "PC Ecosphere."......the next thing that struck me is that this guy doesn't have any install disks.....there we sat, hoping that AOL would heal Win98's ills. He's stuck with whatever I could scramble up from the leftover table at the sale, which doesn't help if some DLL is missing....(purging MSN and installing AOL without the install disk was a nightmare).

    Having freely available OS disks with the built in AOL feature is going to take away Bill G's oxygen supply....

    This is the smartest thing AOL could do, start taking little slices off of the MS empire. Linux already shines on the server side, that's pretty well known. The high end desktop market (like the machine I'm typing on here at work) has enough cash support from business to keep paying for the "best" desktop applications. But on the bottom end, where the garage sale shoppers are, there is a lot of room for a "free as in beer" operating system.

    Next target is applications!....WINE is awsome, but nothing beats native applications...

  • Usually with cheap-o boxes like this, the power-supplies suck. Perhaps with the low power Via C3 processor, the poor power-supply won't be stressed as much, and the computer might actually be reliable.

  • oh yeah... http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/09/25/014231 &mode=thread&tid=163

    maybe people wouldnt "grouse about rejected submissions" if Slashdot would make an honest effort not to continually repeat stories....
  • til they start mailing these to everyone on the planet..


    Oh, crap, 3 more computers from AOL this week!


    --
  • If you look deep into the installation of Lindows (striped down version of any major Linux distribution, running as root, etc.) you will see that it compares to Windows 3.1

    Most consumers will think twice before buying one. I can see Joe consmer thinking: "Why is it so cheap? It must be junk. I am getting a Dell". Think about it, a decent Dell with Windows XP (which has a lot more functionality then Lindows does, multimedia, et. al.) is only few hundred $$ more then a Lindows box.
  • I was just looking at the Gentoo Linux [gentoo.org] page when this thought hit me:

    What about AOL sending out a bootable CD that runs a basic Linux distro and AOL on top. It might be a bit slow and have trouble recognizing all the different modems, but it be cool when it worked.
  • Screw this installed on a $200 WalMart box crap. What would be the killer situ is if AOL started to put their Lindows distro thing on those stupid CDs and DVDs they clutter your mail with. Imagine millions of users who get these CDs being able to install Lindows on their boxes. That's Microsoft's terror and no mistake.

    It is how AOL got market penetration. It's how they became worthy to buy into Time Warner (more, it was a merger); why not piggy-back Linux onto the AOL distribution process? And when Linux is as catholic as Windows is now, imagine the glory! Whoo-hoo.

    Granted, I wouldn't touch the support desk for that with a ten-hundred foot pole. "Um, where did Windows go?"

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

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