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11/1/2007
03:51 PM
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Linux PC Hits Shelves At Wal-Mart For $199

The gPC comes preloaded with the gOS operating system -- a Linux variant -- and a 1.5-GHz processor manufactured by Intel clone maker Via Technologies.

It probably won't run Crysis or other state-of-the-art games, but a Linux-based PC that Wal-Mart began offering this week for $199 should get the job done for e-mail, Web browsing, and other everyday computing tasks.

The Everex TC2502 Green gPC is one of the first Linux-based desktop machines to be offered for sale by a major retailer. As such, it could become a barometer of open source software's potential for success in the consumer market.

The gPC comes preloaded with the gOS operating system -- a Linux variant -- and a 1.5-GHz processor manufactured by Intel clone maker Via Technologies. The rest of the specs include an 80-Gbyte hard drive and 512 Mbytes of DDR 2 memory.

There's no monitor included, but buyers get stereo speakers and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive.

As for software, the gPC comes with the free OpenOffice.org 2.2 productivity suite. The suite, which includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications, recently won backing from IBM.

Everex is a Taiwanese-based PC maker that's looking to carve a niche for itself in the computer industry's economy section. A version of Everex's gPC that runs the basic edition of Microsoft's Windows Vista is on sale at Wal-Mart for $298.

The retailer is making the gPC available at selected stores and through its Web site.

The price difference between the Linux and Windows version of the computer reflects what some in the tech industry derisively call "the Microsoft tax" -- a Windows licensing fee that PC makers must pay to the Redmond, Wash., software maker for each computer sold.

It's unlikely that Linux-based PCs will displace Windows-powered computers anytime soon. For one thing, there's only a limited number of applications that will run on Linux.

Linux advocates argue, however, that until they become more mainstream, open source systems could fill some important niches -- such as the market for cheap PCs aimed at students in low-income areas.

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