Does the $200 Linux PC Matter?

A lot of people are sending me links to the $200 desktop running Ubuntu Linux that Wal-Mart is offering. While it's a fairly low-end box, it packs some decent power for short money. The Everex Green gPC TC2502 (how's that for an intuitive name) has 512MB of RAM, an 80GB drive and a CD burner (the DVD is unfortunately read-only).

What's most interesting is just how much usable software one can get for free, and gPC has it all -- Mozilla, OpenOffice and every Google app that ever came out of Mountain View.

The bad news is there's no built-in wireless, and reviewer Gary Krakow of MSNBC found it rough around the software edges. The worst news is that Wal-Mart may not be planning to carry it in all its stores (though my local Wal-Mart has plenty).

I'm hoping for broad distribution and a good, hard marketing push. We'll know if Linux is an alternative only by having loads of people (and not just Linux geeks) give it a whirl.

I'm very tempted to pick one up for my sons, who yearn to be Linux geeks. But before we all get too excited, keep in mind that for an extra $100, Everex will give you a machine with twice as much RAM and Vista pre-installed. And before you get too excited about that, keep in mind that neither come with a monitor or a wireless card.

Open Document Format Not So Open, Not So Great
The Open Document Format (ODF) is a terrific concept: a single file format that can be used by productivity apps and more, and allows for easy sharing -- even with Microsoft Office. That's the promise.

The reality ain't so hot. A leading advocate of ODF now says it isn't living up to its promises, isn't so great at interoperability, and thus not so great at application migration. All this is leading former ODF proponents to suggest a newer format, the Complex Document Format (CDF).

Hey, if that's what it takes to get a nice, common file format, I'm happy to wait for CDF to take hold.

Hacker Spotting 101
For parents, there's no shortage of articles on how to tell if your child is sniffing glue, drinking booze or even addicted to the Internet. For those worried about computer mischief, there's also a guide by T. Reginald Gibbons called "Is Your Child a Computer Hacker?"

I have no clue whether this is real or a put-on (if you know, tell Redmond Report readers by writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com), but Reginald claims he's a model parent, scrutinizing every aspects of his kids' lives and even tagging along when they go to parties to make sure there are no shenanigans (I'm pretty sure this is an Irish beer).

Reginald was unprepared for all this computer stuff, and suspected that his previously perfect son was a hacker. You may be facing a similar crisis, so here's what he says to look for:

  • If your son asks you to change from AOL to a "hacker-friendly ISP," he might be a hacker.
  • If your son plays "Quake," he might be a hacker.
  • If your son becomes a Lunix (that's how Reggie spells it) geek, he might be a hacker.
  • And if your son becomes "argumentative and surly," he might be a hacker.

Based on the last one, all my kids are hackers!

Mailbag: Keeping Out the Malware
Last week, Lafe asked readers what meaures they take to ensure their users are safe from malware. Here's what some of them had to say:

We have learned that technology, education and common sense have failed miserably for most of our users when it comes to protecting them from harmful spam. Most users don't keep up with technology, others don't heed IT's warnings and the rest simply don't use their heads. They simply cannot resist opening an e-mail and attachment or clicking on a link from someone they don't know. It's mind-boggling.

We use FrontBridge's spam-filtering service, but as you know, it's impossible to catch everything.
-Rich

No matter how paranoid you get, you just can't keep up! I tried to report a new phone phish to spam@uce.gov just today and that address no longer works. The new address for reporting spam is phishing-report@us-cert.gov (the federal agency for spam). Another good address is Anti-Phishing Working Group (reportphishing@antiphishing.org). I also copy and paste phishes into this Web site.
-Cynthia

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

Featured

comments powered by Disqus

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.