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11/13/2007
12:44 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Is Wal-Mart's gPC The Linux Version Of The Mac Mini?

Back when Everex's Linux-based "Green PC" hit stores courtesy of Wal-Mart, I wasn't all that excited about it -- I saw it as being an also-ran to a much more exciting product, the Asus Eee subnotebook (also Linux-based).  That said, the gPC is apparently selling like mad -- and now I think I see why: it's the Linux version of the Mac Mini, sort of.



Back when Everex's Linux-based "Green PC" hit stores courtesy of Wal-Mart, I wasn't all that excited about it -- I saw it as being an also-ran to a much more exciting product, the Asus Eee subnotebook (also Linux-based).  That said, the gPC is apparently selling like mad -- and now I think I see why: it's the Linux version of the Mac Mini, sort of.

The Mac Mini offers a way for existing PC users to get a taste of the Mac experience without completely breaking their wallets.  It doesn't come with a monitor, either -- but that's because Apple assumes you already have a monitor (and the mouse and keyboard to plug into it).  And once you're hooked, you can either upgrade your existing Mac Mini -- provided you didn't already buy it in a maxed-out configuration -- or get a bigger Mac.  The analogy to the gPC isn't absolute, but some of the basic flavor is the same.  Plus which, the images I've seen of the gOS desktop do seem to owe more than a few debts to Apple's UI design.

There were a few reasons I didn't think of this comparison sooner.  For one, I had trouble seeing who (apart from people who were already Linux enthusiasts) would want to spend $200 on a PC that didn't come with a monitor.  Then I started reading the comments on Wal-Mart's site about the gPC, and it clicked: many of them were existing Linux fans who were either buying the machine as a complement to an existing one or getting it as a gift for someone else.  They're not "Joe User" -- or at the very least, any Joe Users buying the machine are not speaking up there.

Another part of why I was balking was the sales channel.  Many folks who are pro-Linux are also anti-Wal-Mart -- they like what Everex is putting out, but hate the fact that they're putting money into Wal-Mart's pocket to get it, at least for now.  I think that also affected why I was tilting more towards the Asus Eee as being a hotter item than the gPC, since the Eee was available through many places including the ever-handy NewEgg.  I don't know what kind of deal Everex and Wal-Mart have going, although I'm assuming it's fairly exclusive, so I doubt this would change anytime soon.

The sales speak for themselves, though -- at least among those who know what they're getting.  I'm curious to see how many people who don't know Linux from Liberace also get on board -- but, again, if what we see so far is any hint, they may be a lot more than I ever anticipated.

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