Here are two stories that show the good news / bad news side of Linux sales for the desktop. First, Wal-Mart will no longer stock Linux PCs on their store shelves, according to this story in LinuxWorld. I don’t consider that terrible news for two reasons. First, I don’t like Wal-Mart anyway, and second, I don’t think Wal-Mart customers are intellectually curious enough to use and appreciate Linux on the desktop. I also don’t think Wal-Mart really made anyone aware of these desktop Linux PCs. They will continue to sell them online.
Linux people may get upset, but I don’t really believe a Linux PC is the best fit for a typical one-computer household. Yes, they’ll be safer from viruses and spyware, and can do almost everything any of their neighbors does on their Windows box. But if you only have one PC, and especially if you’re not too computer savvy, stick with Windows unless you have personal help nearby. That way, you have more options for support and can use the same programs your friends use, even if you pay the price on security.
I know many techies who give Linux PCs to their parents to help them surf more safely, but they’ll do the support and add programs and utilities as needed. A non-technical user on their own will struggle with Linux in some areas.
But for your second PC, or company PCs, Linux systems do a great job for the majority of users. And a new product from Shuttle Computers appears to be a great new addition to the world of Linux desktops. Called the “kpc,” this shoebox sized system comes with everything a standard business user needs for the great price of $199 (excluding monitor, of course). At least that will be the price this week for the base unit through NewEgg. The base unit from Shuttle directly has more memory and starts at $299
The box comes with Foresight Linux, a distribution I haven’t seen before. It seems pretty good, and includes OpenOffice 2.4, the latest and greatest, at least in the version I downloaded (for free) to test myself. I’m still having trouble getting the video resolution set to 1920×1200 for my LCD monitor, but I have that trouble with many Linux distributions.
I’ll try and get one of these systems from Shuttle and report back. But so far, it appears to be a great option for general business computers in a small form factor. And you can even decorate your own Shuttle case, which looks like fun.