Linked by David Adams on Fri 7th Aug 2009 19:59 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes A friend of OSNews asks: "You might have heard of our Open-PC project. The idea is to collaboratively build a completely open PC, with free software and free drivers. We prepare an operating system image, do online services and support and choose the hardware. Then we work together with hardware manufacturers who build and sell the PC. We already have one manufacturer in Germany who committed to work with us. We will sell the first version of the Open-PC this fall. The problem is that it is expensive to ship the PC from Germany to the United States, so we are looking for a second manufacturing partner in the US. Can you recommend a company? I think the ideal would be a mid-size PC manufacturer who has experience with assembling custom PCs, experience with Linux and is able to ship the PC economically within North America." This seems like a great candidate for crowdsourcing. So, OSNews readers, can you give our friend any leads?
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Quo?
by umccullough on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:04 UTC
umccullough
Member since:
2006-01-26

Probably not large-scale enough, but... http://quocomputer.com ?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Quo?
by oso2k on Fri 7th Aug 2009 21:15 UTC in reply to "Quo?"
oso2k Member since:
2009-07-09

I'd concur. However, it's not clear to me what Open-PC really needs: a builder or a manufacturer. I can say though that Quo does have a great network of hardware manufacturers that they're being supported by. I'd visit their site and give them a call.

Reply Score: 1

Asus?
by reldruh on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:15 UTC
reldruh
Member since:
2007-02-05

Maybe Asus isn't US enough (Taiwanese) or too big but they seem to meet most of your requirements. I'm sure they have the experience to do custom builds, eee pc has some linux versions and they seem to be willing to take risks on untested products (ie netbooks). They also have some good connections at both brick & mortar and online retailers in the US now. I don't know who you'd contact, though.

Reply Score: 1

i do wonder
by dizzey on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:23 UTC
dizzey
Member since:
2005-10-15

Will this be a system with off the shelf components.
This intel motherboard with a intel gpu, maby some radeon pci-e gpu if we manage to make usable drivers.

Or is this more of designing a custom motherboard with only supported devices.

If it is the first option any small systembuilder should be able to handerl it. If it's more custom we would haveto use intel or asus. And it will mostly be intel components they have pretty good specs.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Fusion
by Fusion on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:24 UTC
Fusion
Member since:
2005-07-18

Cyberpower, Inc.
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/

I haven't had much personal experience with Cyberpower in the past few years, but the company certainly fits the size, scope, and profile of the target company you described.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Fusion
by Anon9 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 22:41 UTC in reply to "Comment by Fusion"
Anon9 Member since:
2008-06-30



That's what I was thinking too.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by sprack
by sprack on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:32 UTC
sprack
Member since:
2006-11-26

You're going to have a heck of a time doing this on the timelines you're talking. Are you planning on gerbering your own pcb or buying a premade off an ODM? Second you'll need to get a chipset/cpu contact to get full register info to write bios code, though you may be able to fudge your way through that with some old linuxbios code. Do you have a qual process layed out and some good signal integrity equipment in place to debug with? Tier 1 OEM's have a 6mo lead time on a revised platform build, 12-18mo on a new design. Best of luck.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by sprack
by David on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by sprack"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

I think they're just looking for a company that builds commodity x86 PCs.

Reply Score: 2

RE:
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 18:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by sprack"
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

I guess it will work like this:

Get hardware which is in the Linux compatibility list.
Bild PC
Install 10 different distributions and test if all of them provide seamless "install and play" with all components (3D graphics, sound, wireless, wired networking).
If one piece of hardware is not supported "out of the box", swap it for a different one.
The final spec is delivered to the manufacturers.

This approach totally makes sense, because it is cheap, fast, and deliveres good results, and the manufacturers and sellers don't have to undergo a "supporting Linx nightmare".
Additional benefit for the customer: NO Linux knowledge needed. Install and it will run, put on it a new distribution and it will run, upgrade your distro and it will run - the Apple experience on a Linux machine!

I will be SO a customer of this company! Buying a PC for my mother, and she can handle the damn thing COMPLETELY on her own!

Edited 2009-08-09 18:06 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Google Ads to the rescue!
by David on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:42 UTC
David
Member since:
1997-10-01

I noticed that one of the ads running next to the article was for a US-based company called System76. Maybe they'd be a good partner. Google's robots think so.

http://system76.com

Reply Score: 5

RE: Google Ads to the rescue!
by fretinator on Fri 7th Aug 2009 21:03 UTC in reply to "Google Ads to the rescue!"
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

or
http://www.zareason.com

Edited 2009-08-07 21:04 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Google Ads to the rescue!
by sbergman27 on Fri 7th Aug 2009 21:41 UTC in reply to "Google Ads to the rescue!"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I noticed that one of the ads running next to the article was for a US-based company called System76. Maybe they'd be a good partner.

I certainly commend System76 for their work in distributing Open Source machines. However... I ended up switching from them to Dell for machines with Linux pre-installed. Too many quality problems with the System 76 boxes. Their low volume just doesn't allow them to shake out the problems like Dell can.

All things being equal, I prefer to support the little guy. And System76 is run by nice guys. Sometimes the owners answer the tech support lines themselves. But all things were just not equal. And I got embarrassed too many times in front of customers.

Edited 2009-08-07 21:47 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Google Ads to the rescue!
by Phloptical on Fri 7th Aug 2009 22:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Google Ads to the rescue!"
Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

Wow, the "quality" bar must be set real low considering you're choosing Dell as the benchmark. Dell from 1996, perhaps....but not the commoditized Dell of today.

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Wow, the "quality" bar must be set real low considering you're choosing Dell as the benchmark.

The Linux offerings from Dell are pretty good. The rock bottom low end hardware from them tends to be Windows only. The Linux models live in the strata above that.

And certainly the Linux server hardware is solid. In that arena, it's only when I've had customers who have specified HP hardware that I've had embarrassing problems. Like failed motherboards after only a few months of service. Oops.

I have had a few issues with bottom of the line Dells that the customer ordered in themselves, with Windows OSes on them. (It's annoying, but it happens.) In particular, a whole batch of Dimension 521s with faulty USB chipsets. Mouse and keyboard would lock up at random times. Unplugging the affected device and plugging it back in would get them going again. Add-on USB pci cards "fixed" them all.

With commodity hardware, you get what you pay for. I often find that one step up from the lowest rung is a good tradeoff between price and reliability. Keeping in mind that most of the desktop machines we buy are used as X-terminals. So high performance isn't really a factor.

Edited 2009-08-07 23:04 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Linux only?
by jonas.kirilla on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:45 UTC
jonas.kirilla
Member since:
2005-07-11

In the survey on their website they ask only what desktop environment, browser and media player would be desired - not what operating system(s) one would like to run. Appears to be Linux-only. Open but single-minded.

Edited 2009-08-07 20:47 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Linux only?
by umccullough on Fri 7th Aug 2009 20:58 UTC in reply to "Linux only?"
umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

Appears to be Linux-only. Open but single-minded.


I had the exact same thought when I fired up the survey.

I was expecting the survey to revolve around hardware features, not what choice of Linux desktop environment, browser, or media player ;)

At least they asked whether an optical drive should be included :/

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Linux only?
by Lennie on Sat 8th Aug 2009 13:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Linux only?"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

It seems their target is to get Linux on the desktop, make it easier for newbies or something, preinstalled and ready to run. Not so much to get experienced people a good hardware/open source driver combination (or even better: good OS-supported hardware). Which I guess would be more inline with the visitors of this site.

Edited 2009-08-08 13:12 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Linux only?
by umccullough on Sat 8th Aug 2009 14:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Linux only?"
umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

It seems their target is to get Linux on the desktop, make it easier for newbies or something, preinstalled and ready to run. Not so much to get experienced people a good hardware/open source driver combination (or even better: good OS-supported hardware). Which I guess would be more inline with the visitors of this site.


Until you take their survey, and they ask you: should we be targeting FOSS developers, experienced users, or new users.

I answered "experienced", dunno about everyone else.

This indicates that they don't really have their target defined yet.

Reply Score: 2

darrinjohnson
Member since:
2009-08-07

Colfax International (http://www.colfax-intl.com/) in the Bay Area is a good choice. I have been using them for a number years to build custom boxes. What I especially like is that they have great relationships with Intel and AMD and other vendors to get product quick and fairly inexpensive. They are very knowledgeable through out the whole product lifecycle.

Reply Score: 1

None
by Moulinneuf on Fri 7th Aug 2009 21:37 UTC
Moulinneuf
Member since:
2005-07-06

- None , You don't do anything at all in the US. You should not do anything in Germany either except for support. The big brand OEM certainly don't and don't plan to invest more in the US quite the opposite , they are using the deep recession to get rid of those costly workers.

- I would even go as far as to ignore the US completly at first. ( take large company/group orders if any , but nothing else).

You need to build a large userbase and huge volume elsewhere and big support system , work out the kinks and problems. Then you can hope to survive and enter in the US market.

The US is prima Battleground , you need really deep pocket and really big budget and infrastructure and marketing machine , and a big recognized name to show up and make a dent and hope to survive.

Google , Apple and Microsoft will be engaging themself there in the next 3 month , with tons of lossing money proposition in order to gain marketshares at the expenses of the others.

Plus , the US is in first part of a deep recession and there currency is too weak and volatile now to be an interesting market.

Reply Score: 3

Anti-American?
by ecruz on Fri 7th Aug 2009 22:23 UTC in reply to "None "
ecruz Member since:
2007-06-16

Thank you for the support buddy. It was all great when, amd we still are, the big PX, the big bazaar.

So what country are you from that is going to come out this economic problem so much better than us?

Reply Score: 1

Will like to see the results
by Phloptical on Fri 7th Aug 2009 22:50 UTC
Phloptical
Member since:
2006-10-10

I've always been one to give the big middle finger to globalization, but in these economic times, I'll give two.

Glad to see an experiment like this.

Reply Score: 2

Milwaukee PC
by anomie on Fri 7th Aug 2009 23:38 UTC
anomie
Member since:
2007-02-26

I'm not sure that they will fit the bill, but here's another option for you to at least look into: http://milwaukeepc.com

I purchased components and talked with folks who bought their systems when I lived in the midwestern US. AFAIK, they are reputable and dependable. Their location (near Chicagoland) should mean reasonable shipping rates.

I have no idea whether they could handle the scale of what you're describing, or whether they have substantial Linux expertise.

Good luck with this cool project.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by TheChucklesStart
by TheChucklesStart on Sat 8th Aug 2009 00:10 UTC
TheChucklesStart
Member since:
2009-04-17

I like colfax-intl.com.

As for Dell, we have several Dells, of which every single one of them has had to have its power supply replaced.... some multiple times (we get Dell replacements).

Edited 2009-08-08 00:10 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Yea, how exciting.
by IkeKrull on Sat 8th Aug 2009 00:23 UTC
IkeKrull
Member since:
2006-01-24

If i'm reading the website correctly, it seems that OpenPC is going to install Linux on a generic x86 PC and sell it to you. That sounds pretty simple.

If you outsource your hardware to Asus, your OS and software applications to the open source community, and your support to your chosen distro vendor, you're really not doing much of anything. You just arrange for orders to be dispatched.

Sounds like a great way to make money - minimum effort and you hopefully make a decent margin on your sales.

With only one flaw. Linux continues to suck as a consumer desktop. I wish it could be different, but I predict a dearth of interest in the market followed by OpenPCs bankruptcy.

Really, why would anyone want one of these machines? Are they going to look cool? Be faster than a dell at the same price? Produce some kind of dizzying high when you switch it on?

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that there is something people want to buy here, but is there any actual justification for this?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Yea, how exciting.
by umccullough on Sat 8th Aug 2009 00:47 UTC in reply to "Yea, how exciting."
umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that there is something people want to buy here, but is there any actual justification for this?


Perhaps the "assurance" that the drivers will be maintained and open for all of the hardware in the machine?

I know that seems like a tall order and all.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Yea, how exciting.
by DrillSgt on Sat 8th Aug 2009 02:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Yea, how exciting."
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"There seems to be an unspoken assumption that there is something people want to buy here, but is there any actual justification for this?


Perhaps the "assurance" that the drivers will be maintained and open for all of the hardware in the machine?

I know that seems like a tall order and all.
"

Well, Joe User doesn't care if they are open or not, they just care if the thing will do what they need it to. To some of us, openness matters a bit. For the majority, they could care less.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Yea, how exciting.
by IkeKrull on Sat 8th Aug 2009 03:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Yea, how exciting."
IkeKrull Member since:
2006-01-24

And what happens to that assurance when something like the recent X.org changes rear their heads and impose major performance regressions on intel graphics etc.

As far as I can see OpenPC have no way to provide any assurances here.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Yea, how exciting.
by umccullough on Sat 8th Aug 2009 03:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Yea, how exciting."
umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

As far as I can see OpenPC have no way to provide any assurances here.


Assuring there open hardware specs is a huge step.

I'm not sure I give a flying fvck if X.org breaks their shit or not, but for "Open" hardware, at least alternative OSes have a chance of survival.

For someone who wishes to use Haiku, an "Open PC" has quite a potential advantage.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Yea, how exciting.
by setec_astronomy on Sat 8th Aug 2009 09:43 UTC in reply to "Yea, how exciting."
setec_astronomy Member since:
2007-11-17

Really, why would anyone want one of these machines? Are they going to look cool? Be faster than a dell at the same price? Produce some kind of dizzying high when you switch it on?


I don't know about your country, but here in Austria "ordinary" people mostly buy their computers from large retail chains and small local computer shops. Every now and then, this ventures feature a "really really cheap" computer, typically 50 - 100€ reduced if compared to the next more expensive offering (which would run some kind of MS Windows OS). Typically, these computers run Linux. And typically, shortly after these offerings are advertised, strange people who I don't even know start to call me and ask for help because their friend/neighbour/chess partner/cousin knows somebody who bought a similar (e.g. equipped with Linux) computer which was broken in a similar way than theirs.

Of course, a lot of people are pissed that "Operating System with MS Office compatible Office suite" turns out to be an ages old version of OpenSuSE with OpenOffice rather than something their kids can play some of their games on (although, truth to be told that if they have a PC gaming kid in the family, chances are that they don't buy the cheapest computer offerings). But a lot of people actually could use computers of this class for their work (the usual list of mail, IM, music, photo management and some video playback, aka "basic home computing") if the vendors and suppliers would have spend the minimum amount of work necessary to provide a good out of the box experience.

Most errors I'm called to fix nowadays result from either the company having some kind of "image" that they apply to all their computers, regardless of slight or not-so-slight variations in configuration or hardware (from the top of my head for the last two years or so: partition scheme does not match configuration files, wrong filesystem in the initrd, build-in webcam not supported by the shipped kernel although a more recent version would work, xorg.conf file for NVIDIA hardware while the computer had an ATI card - my personal favourite, etc.) or because they seem to have absolutly no idea how to do a proper end-user setup with an alternative operating system like a linux distro (again, from the top of my head: no adequat documentation at all, or the documentation prints paths in upper- or mixedcase while the system is all lowercase, refers to nautilus / konqueror as "explorer", outdated or unsupported repository configurations, "etc."). Others, like Dell, still have some miles to go in the department of customer support (at least from my experience, ymmv, of course) and should probably really think about updating their shipped distro.

A surprisingly high number of folks that call me stick with Linux on their computers after the most glaring problems have been fixed (although there certainly is a selection bias, because those who have had enough after their first exposure to "vendor-xy-super-duper-linux os" probably returned the box immediatly).

I had hopes that with the advent of netbooks (known, more or less Linux friendly hardware base, large number of identical machines, predefined useage patterns) it would be possible for dedicated vendors to avoid most of the common pitfalls. Unfortunately, it has turned out that the prospect of selling people a discount Windows XP license is more appealing to vendors like Asus, MSI or Acer than to get their act together (Linpus, I'm looking at you) or turn towards the larger, established distros.

If openPC could provide a source for openly specified desktops/laptops plus preconfigured software images matched to the respective hardware, then this would ease my "work" quite a bit, since I get about 10 - 20 requests for recommodations for such machines a year from people whose computing needs fall into the "basic" category mentioned above, who simply don't care which operating system their box runs and who rely on me being their tech support.

So yeah, depending on the quality of open-PC's offering, there is indeed a "market" for a dedicated open vendor with an targetted price/machine range of 300 - 400€.

Reply Score: 3

You are spot on
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 18:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Yea, how exciting."
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

In my opinion, they should NOT strive for a hardware/software bundle, but simply select hardware which lets you have a flawless installation experience with those distributions: (K)Ubuntu, Fedora, Opensuse, Debian, Mandriva, Slackware.

With flawless installation experience I mean: Installation runs smooth, all hardware is detected and configured correctly, you just have to enter some username/password pairs, and tell the thing where to get network connections from.

The offer in a webshop should look like this:
Select:
* RAM (How much)
* HD size (How much)
* one of those Linux systems preinstalled ($5): ...
* Do you want to dual boot with Windows? (add. $130)
* Do you want to have a virtual machine with Windows preinstalled? (add. $130)

Edited 2009-08-09 18:34 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Thinkmate / PCs for everyone
by nahamu on Mon 10th Aug 2009 14:25 UTC
nahamu
Member since:
2009-08-10

www.thinkmate.com
www.pcsforeveryone.com

I've gotten all sorts of custom machines from them.
I have a contact there I could pass along.
PM me for more info.

Reply Score: 1