Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:17 UTC
Original OSNews Interviews What happens when ex-Lycoris employees join a Linux-friendly hardware computer reseller? Apparently, a new desktop Linux distro with a kick: the hardware that comes with it is meant to give you the Apple experience. ION Linux is a Debian-based distro that is meant to work well with the hardware it sells with. Read on for our interview with Element Computer's Mike Hjorleifsson (one of the founders and CTO) regarding their new upcoming products and a screenshot of ION.
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Sounds great...
by Simon on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:29 UTC

Sounds great, but how will they ever compete? I mean, look at the number of Mac user in the world compared to the number of Windows users, how did they reach the conclusion that integrated hardware and software solutions is the way to success?

Anyways, great to see some real quality products emerge around Linux and open standards.

- Simon

Weird replies by that guy
by Jon on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:32 UTC

> We don't publicly state who and where our developers are for obvious reasons.

I don't see any obvious reasons. The question how was big the dev team is, not what the names of each one or what their favorite burger.

As a consumer, I would like to know from who I buy computers/software and what are the abilities of the company in question to fix my problems.

What is obvious is that the dev team is probably a 1-2 people, which is too small to be considered "serious".

> Are you going to provide a dev kit?

He never replied to this.

> We are obviously providing a more robust experience than the "install it yourself, support yourself" typical Windows mantra.

Huh? Last time I checked most people were getting their PCs preinstalled with Windows. Is this guy full of FUD or what?

I love the KDE theme
by Ronald on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:35 UTC

it's really non-aggressive and pleasing to the eyes.

Re: Weird replies by that guy
by Syntaxis on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:39 UTC

> I don't see any obvious reasons. The question how was big the dev team is, not what the names of each one or what their favorite burger.

They probably don't want to encourage direct interaction with the developers for fear of people being able to breach the hype bubble. I'd guess they want everything to go via the PR department, at least for the moment.

RE: I love the KDE theme
by Gabriel Ebner on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:39 UTC

That's stock Plastik, isn't it?

RE: Weird replies by that guy
by TLy on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:39 UTC

Element Computer:The distribution is Debian based, and built on top of another outstanding distribution which we are not a liberty to name just yet.

Smells like Lindows. If it's Debian-based, why did they go and make their own "software upgrade function"? Oh, because of "intergration." To me, it sounds a lot like Lindows' software warehouse scheme.

v Good Idea
by Dan on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:44 UTC
It's Lindows
by General Zod on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:45 UTC

KDE, restricted APT sources, no dev kit...the mystery Debian-based distro they are based on is obviously Lindows.

And the reason they won't divulge the name and locations of their developers is not because they're in the Federal Witness Protection Program like they make it sound but because they don't have any. (Except the guy in charge of running perl -pi -e 's/Lindows/ION/g;' on every file!)

Hardware
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:49 UTC

At the end of the day they're going to need to give people a really good reason to try this.

If they want to start with geeks they'll need hardware on the leading edge (think Voodoo Envy's, Apple PowerBooks, or loaded IBM T-series). But, if they want to target consumers they'll need to drop their prices some more. ($799 for a laptop is nice but not great.)

Personally, I'm capable of installing my own Debian sources so it's nice that the laptop will just work as it is. I'd really consider it if it looked anything like a PowerBook and had performance that was close. Until then, I say you need to perform better than Apple if you want to take away some of their niche.

This sounds OKay
by Chris on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:51 UTC

It would sound better if the company wasn't secretive and evasive. Why would I buy something from these people?

Wow!
by dr_gonzo on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:52 UTC

This nearly sounds too good to be true. Finally Linux users won't be asking "does it run on linux". They'll just go to the ION web site, buy the piece of hardware and use it. This, IMHO, is the proper way to provide computers. It's nice to see a company to take a courageous step and just support a controlled set of hardware instead of trying to do the impossible task of supporting as much hardware as possible.

Good stuff
by Lumbergh on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:12 UTC

I can see a good market for this being the small to medium sized businesses without a lot of linux expertise in-house but are fed up paying for microsoft's products. The 12 support contacts is something inbetweeen say just install support and a mucho-dinero fullblown RedHat support contract.

I think it's a testatement to the KDE framework that these people, xandros, lindows and others use custom or stock KDEs for their desktops. Nothing against Gnome, I'm running 2.6.

To the conspiracy nuts, what is so secret and evasive about their answers? All he said, was that he wasn't going to disclose what that other distribution it's based on yet. Although I don't know what the obvious reason for not disclosing developer names is, who cares?

RE:
by jeremy wininger on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:22 UTC

All I can say is that it is about time. Saddly, i agree with it sounding too good to be true.

Time will tell.

Interesting
by Alex on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:39 UTC

Well, it's a great idea for people buying new computers. However, most people already have computers and so I can't see them getting a whole lot of marketshare unless they sell the software separately too.

v too expensive
by shark on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:47 UTC
I smell a bad "Copy Marketing" plan
by Tom Ahasverussen on Tue 13th Apr 2004 22:18 UTC

So the guy realises the Apple marketing model is good? and wants to copy it for a Linux based version of the Apple fairytale?

The baddest part of it, is that he expects the same excellence that Apple has earned over many years.
Guess what, you will surely fail this venture...

Seams like a newbie marketing guy to me..

Here's a hint:
Some people say that "they should look at the past to predicy the future".. (Apple Model)
This is NOT true about the IT-Industry, especially because "OpenSource" has apeared and changed the math of software/hardware business today.

I would use the force of opensource instead of removing it.

Elements
by Luke McCarthy on Tue 13th Apr 2004 22:28 UTC

How cliche.

what?
by Square on Tue 13th Apr 2004 22:31 UTC

compiling the linux kernel to only work with the hardware they sell you is a nice touch (assuming thats what they do) its hardly the "Mac experience", thats like saying HP gives you the mac experience becouse it only installs the drivers for your hardware in windows. unless they meen extreemly high prices for example want 1 gig of ram insted of the 512 they give you it costs 369$, wtf how much is is 333MHz DDR again, I know its not 396$ for a 512Meg stick. adding 1.5 gigs of ram costs almost 2k, im sorry ram doesnt cost that much. While interesting that a small store is offering its own distro of linux preinstalled it doesn't amount to much.

What do they give back?
by Nathan O. on Tue 13th Apr 2004 23:29 UTC

How much do they contribute to the OSS movement, the people who make the software that allows them to sell the hardware?

Sounds good
by Devon on Wed 14th Apr 2004 00:17 UTC

I think hes on the right track here. If done right this could be very successful.

One things for sure though, they MUST get more variety in their desktop systems! That stupid all in one design just doesn't cut it. Only Apple can get away with that, period.

Great idea
by Chris on Wed 14th Apr 2004 01:03 UTC

Well, maybe not great but it's about time somebody else started doing it.
And btw, this is not an Apple thing. If you think about it, Compaq(HP), Dell, Gateway all have done similar things. You know those "recovery" disks? Guess what those are... Windows with all the drivers you need, and often times the install is taylored to do it ALL for you. Sometimes they even messed around with hardware to make replacement parts difficult (you had to use theirs unless you wanted to do your own power supply wiring). To be like Apple they will have to provide support, a consistend interface, and keep people from trying to put random upgrades into their computer.
It may be possible, but I'm not sure how much different they will be from Dell in the end. At this point, however, I am happy to see somebody sell pre-installed Linux systems.

v RE: I smell a bad "Copy Marketing" plan
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 01:32 UTC
RE: I smell a bad "Copy Marketing" plan
by Jared White on Wed 14th Apr 2004 01:41 UTC

Spoken like a true troll. Did you ever think "doesn't run Windoze" has something to do with it?

BTW, 25+ million people isn't exactly "hardly anybody".

Regards,

Jared

v Must suck if it needs 12 incidents of support
by Chuck Lowrey on Wed 14th Apr 2004 02:05 UTC
Re: It's Lindows
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 03:22 UTC

KDE, restricted APT sources, no dev kit...the mystery Debian-based distro they are based on is obviously Lindows

Are you suggesting this new distro is a - Lacintosh :-)

Responses to some posts
by Mike From Element Computer on Wed 14th Apr 2004 03:26 UTC

I jumped in to answer some of the questions I saw in the posts, rather than let rumor and gossip take over.

1. Are we based on lindows... NO

2. Are we going to state who's framework we used.. YES

3. Why dont we release the names of our dev team. Well gents being in IT biz for over 15 years I can tell you its NEVER a good idea to give out the names of your developers, headhunting, email swarms of nonsense advertising etc..

4. "Where are they located?"
That's easy all over N. America and Europe, our team telecommutes it has been a great productivity gain for us, bright guys dont work well on the strict 9-5 work week.

5. "Sounds great, but how will they ever compete? I mean, look at the number of Mac user in the world compared to the number of Windows users, how did they reach the conclusion that integrated hardware and software solutions is the way to success? "

Well we arent saying we are going to topple Microsoft, what we are stating is that from the feedback we have received from our existing customers, general market information and dicussions at various user groups, there is a market for this.

6. "I would use the force of opensource instead of removing it. "

We agree, we are providing our software as open source and want to leverage the open source power and flexibility, BUT we want business customers NOT to HAVE to learn how to integrate open source for themselves to use linux, we arent saying they should or shouldn't just that as it stands now THEY HAVE TO.

A widget manufacturer or restaurant supplier you dont care about the technology, just that it A) works B) provides a return on your $$ investment.

7. ". is cheaper to buy a dell or hp system AND a SuSE or whatever-comercial-linux-distro-you-like license. "

Actually I disagree, go to dell's site, price a Laptop with close to the same specs (799.00 at the time of this email) then add Suse 89.00 and then HOPE that everything works. That is what we are trying to solve.

8. "Seams like a newbie marketing guy to me.."
Well I am not the marketing guy, I am the CTO, our marketing guy though is responsible for the $199.00 Walmart PC promotions you may have hear of. We obviously disagree, no reason to belittle someone's skills/character.

9. "How much do they contribute to the OSS movement, the people who make the software that allows them to sell the hardware?"
That is a great question, we will be releasing this information shortly.

10. "One things for sure though, they MUST get more variety in their desktop systems! That stupid all in one design just doesn't cut it. Only Apple can get away with that, period."

We agree, we will be releasing additional models in the over the next few weeks, and server appliances that work seamlessly with these devices later this summer.

11. "I read a lot of complaints on the web about these guys - hardware constantly breaks, so it makes sense you get 12 times of support."

I challenge this claim, we provide outstanding service to our customers to ensure they are happy with the hardware they purchase. Are we perfect, no of course not but we stand by our customers and make sure we handle any issues, the 12 incidents ARE NOT hardware support incidents, those are FREE for a period of a year.

I will have the marketing folks EXPAND on that. The 12 incidents can be used for software upgrade questions, software training type questions, its a way for us to provide an outlet for their questions rather than pointing them to google to search answers on their own and hope they find a forum to help them.

I wanted to answer this one seperately.. as it was posted more than once

"KDE, restricted APT sources, no dev kit...the mystery Debian-based distro they are based on is obviously Lindows
Are you suggesting this new distro is a - Lacintosh :-) "

We DONT restrict KDE or APT, we provide our own repository with customized deb files that are built to integrate seamlessly with our system, as we all know apt is wonderful but can be problematic (try doing apt-get install mondo)
we wanted to help with that for the most requested packages, we are also providing a simple faq on changing the apt sources to use the std. debian sources.

ITS NOT LINDOWS !!

RE:Mike
by Chris on Wed 14th Apr 2004 03:33 UTC

OSNews is a tough crowd, I wouldn't take it personal. One of the reasons I read posts here is because I can find some good coherent and yet often extreme positions.

RE:Mike
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 03:50 UTC

OSNews is a tough crowd, I wouldn't take it personal. One of the reasons I read posts here is because I can find some good coherent and yet often extreme positions

Have to agree with you Chris.

First impression is that of a mauling at the Colosseum - but it's really more like extreme dissection!

I hope...
by opa on Wed 14th Apr 2004 03:51 UTC

Their PCs are faster than their webserver. Jesus.

v Bleh...
by Crawling Mushroom Syndicate on Wed 14th Apr 2004 04:19 UTC
RE: Responses to some posts
by Andy Longton on Wed 14th Apr 2004 04:30 UTC

Mike, thanks for your comments. Seeing a direct public reply to the questions asked raises my opinion of Element.

I've been torn on what to get as a replacement for my current laptop (I'm very picky and admitedly unreasonable ;-] ), though seeing that you're willing to give such direct replies is encouraging.

Apple model
by Bendertheoffender on Wed 14th Apr 2004 04:35 UTC

This is somewhat redundant at this point, but Apple's model IS successful. It is important to differentiate success from dominance. Certainly Microsoft rules the OS market, but Apple has managed to carve a unique, profitable niche; just as have QNX, Palm, etc. To make a tired, tired, almost useless analogy, there may be few BMWs on the road, but that doesn't make the company a failure. They are content and profitable in their niche.

I hope this company has some success for a couple of reasons. For one, if more companies do this sort of thing, there will be more parity in the OS market, which is good (particularly as companies like Sun are seeming to have some problems). Furthermore, if the OS is really specialized for the hardware, it could make the computing experience much more consistent and efficient on the Linux side. Linux can be installed on just about anything, but that can be both an advantage and a liability. The ability to incorporate a wide variety of hardware is a benefit (and it can be downright fun to be able to tweak and modify the system to your own needs), but because linux has this kind of extensibility, by its very nature it isn't specialized to the hardware level (unless done by the user). The same thing is true of Windows (although Windows is clearly less customizable). Think of the myriad conflicts, crashes, and hassles that are a direct result of Windows trying to be a "one size fits all" solution and trying to incorporate the vast amount of available hardware and software.

I use a Mac as my prime machine, and this something that comes up in discussions with Linux and Windows proponents (yes, they exist). A Mac is more console-like; that is to say, it is more like a game console or an appliance. It is designed to be a unified hardware and software product. That does not mean Macs aren't expandable (another common misconception), but because Apple has an almost draconian hold on the hardware and software integration, more time is devoted to actually USING the computer rather than MAINTAINING the computer. This is something I discuss with my Linux admin buddies. Sure, in Linux you can always make changes, tweak things, and recompile, but all that takes time, effort, and a fair amount of technical expertise. If your system is geared to your needs out of the box, you don't have to bother with it. Of course, Linux distros alleviate some of this, but there is a limit as to how far distros can go if they don't know what hardware they will be running on. With a Mac, you are not paying for a hard disk, a processor, external drives, and so forth, you are paying for a solution. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If this company can bring that to the Linux side, more power to them. It would be another testament to Linux's potency.

That all being said, as the mood of this thread indicates, the market for this company doesn't seem to be the home Linux user; those are people who enjoy getting their hands dirty in their systems' guts. This product seems to be more of a solution for companies that want to incorporate and deploy OSS without a lot of hassle and with the safety net of company support. Red Hat seems to be going this way. This company appears to be pushing it onto the hardware side.

Few questions...
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 04:50 UTC

Hi Mike, few questions for you.

First, let me say that I think it's a great idea,
if it works right out of the box and it's trivial
to use, update, configure.

Any plans to release it with CrossOver office
and/or Microsoft Office built-in... as an option?

That would be nice instead of dealing with
StarOffice, OpenOffice or KOffice issues...

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, mostly...
especially on a laptop for PowerPoint presentation.
I think few people will love to have that.

Do you plan to duplicate most wanted 'deb' files
for your platform, if so, how does a customer
proceed to vote/request for such? On your Website ?

Is it possible to easily uninstall/reinstall packages?
(not only install/upgrade)

Let's say going from KDE 3.2 to 3.3 in the near future...
or Linux Kernel 2.6.x to 2.6.y, OpenSSH, glibc, etc.
[ Usually, nightmares on other distros... RH9 ]

Do you plan to notice users to upgrade there thing
(KDE applet) to tell them "upgrade your system",
for instance, for latest security patch?

Does it come with an intuitive KDE interface for packaging?
If so, do you plan to release it for general debian community?

Does the laptop comes with a wireless LAN card?

Is it possible to connect/disconnect/reconnect 'on the fly' to various Wireless networks on the fly automagically?

Samething with printers (a better CUPS)...

Tip: If it does all that maybe you should send trial version
to some editorial people for marketing purposes.
Especially, those who complained for any of the above! ;)

Fix an itch, get famous?

Let me try again.
by Dan on Wed 14th Apr 2004 05:12 UTC

Last time my comments were moderated down. I think I was misinterpreted as trolling ... sorry

What I meant to say is that I believe Apple should have created a custum Linux distribution on propriatary X86 hardware, instead of using NEXT on Power PC.

I think this LINUX distribution has got the right idea. Using off the self parts, but still maintain the quality control that comes from an integrated hardware/software solution. Using LINUX also cuts down on the R&D. The problem is, that it takes a company like Apple to pull it off. It really needs Steve Job's reality distortion field, so that people will take notice.

I never thought ebay, Yahoo, or a couple of other companies were going to make it. I think this company has the right idea, I just hope they can successfully execute!

RE: Lacintosh
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 07:38 UTC

Are you suggesting this new distro is a - Lacintosh :-)

Wouldn't a Lacintosh be Lindows for PowerPC? ;)

Which Debian Distro ???
by elmo on Wed 14th Apr 2004 10:56 UTC

Could be Knoppix - best hardware detection around - and seeing that they want their hardware to work flawlessly it would be the least work for them ...

am i missing something?!
by synergy on Wed 14th Apr 2004 11:42 UTC

or is it more than obvious that - given the developers worked for lycoris before they joined e.c - their base-distro is lycoris?!

Gnome
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 12:17 UTC

Will Gnome be available as an option for a desktop? If not, I hope they intend to release full specs on the hardware so that a distribution of Gnome can be developed that runs on this hardware platform. I find KDE to be all but unusable, regardless of how nice plastik may look.

RE:Mike
by z1xq on Wed 14th Apr 2004 12:23 UTC

It doesn't matter what distro it is built on. The very fact that they won't divulge any developer info is fishy. This interview seemed to not be quite in the spirit of open source. I realize that free software is free to use, but the GPL also states that changes to the code have to be made publicly available. This guy is trying to hide that info that the GPL requires you to make public. If no source changes are being made then what is the advantage of using it. If you want the "Mac" experience with Linux just make sure your hardware is Nvidia and Soundblaster with a name brand network card at least 18 months old. Better yet buy a Mac. I have a 366Mhz G4 running OS10.3 with a net investment of $125. If this is truly a custom distro then the identity of the dev team should be no secret. On the Xandros web site they tell who their developers are.

Next gues: is it based on... Xandros?
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 12:44 UTC

Debian-based, official and 'unsupported' apt-get repositiry
, behaves nicely in a Windows environment...

Must be Xandros? Only one I know of based on Debian that does all that.

RE:am i missing something?!
by Egon Spengler on Wed 14th Apr 2004 12:52 UTC

Nope, not Lyc. Lyc is Caldera redone. Uses rpms.

RE:am i missing something?!
by Egon Spengler on Wed 14th Apr 2004 13:25 UTC

Could be mepis. I just did a google for elementcomputers and the mepis site has a mike from elementcomputers listed as a member. Of course, this is speculation at this point, but, it is plausible.

Geez...
by Al Hartman on Wed 14th Apr 2004 13:47 UTC

To all of the naysayers...

If you don't like Element Computers and Ion Linux... Don't buy the thing.

Sheesh!

Too bad, you don't like their business plan, and their current level of exposure.

It's their money, their business, their risk.

If they screw up with this, they'll go under.

If they don't, they'll make a good product people will want to buy.

Why won't you just wait and see which one comes true, instead of slamming the new guy who wants to try his hand at making a living in the Computer Marketplace?

Where do you think the next Microsoft is going to come from, other than some entrepreneurs who have an idea and try it out in the Marketplace?

It'll never work
by Dean9921 on Wed 14th Apr 2004 14:02 UTC

Vendor lock-ins don't work long-term. Ask Tandy or Zenith about their proprietary vendor lock-in scams for their computers. The only reason why it works for Apple is because they have hardware & software that's rock-solid, as well as over 25 years of business savvy.

If element had something brand new to offer then that might be something worth taking a second glance at. This will simply be another version of Linux. One tied tightly to a hardware platform that the user probably wont have any control over as far as upgrades go.

No thank you. I'm not spending money on something from Element when there so many other alternatives. Working alternatives like SuSE, Mandrake, Xandros, Lycoris, FreeBSD, and a bunch of others.

Great idea...
by Eu on Wed 14th Apr 2004 14:06 UTC

This place is full of idiots who will cry foul no matter what you give them. Element Computers is filling a huge gap in the market for those that want hardware that will work well with Linux. Has it occured to you that if it works with Element's distribution, it will also work with your distribution of choice?

To the Element folks, I applaud your vision.


Here are some more answers to the questions that were posted yesterday my answers are prefaced
with a >>


Any plans to release it with CrossOver office
and/or Microsoft Office built-in... as an option?
>> Yes it is already in the pipeline, as is Win4Lin and KDE 3.2.1


Do you plan to duplicate most wanted 'deb' files for your platform, if so, how does a customer
proceed to vote/request for such? On your Website ?
>> Absolutely, via the update mechanism.

Is it possible to easily uninstall/reinstall packages? (not only install/upgrade)
>> Yes.

Do you plan to notice users to upgrade there thing (KDE applet) to tell them "upgrade your system",
for instance, for latest security patch?
>> Rather than using system resources for this we are providing a place for customers to subscribe
to the updates list which will give them a summary of the updates available and link to install.

Does the laptop comes with a wireless LAN card?
>> Wireless is optional on all models

Is it possible to connect/disconnect/reconnect 'on the fly' to various Wireless networks on the fly automagically?
>> Yes

Samething with printers (a better CUPS)...
>>Yes

Tip: If it does all that maybe you should send trial versionto some editorial people for marketing purposes.
Especially, those who complained for any of the above! ;)

>> We are planning magazine reviews with over a dozen US magazines and a dozen or so European mags.

"or is it more than obvious that - given the developers worked for lycoris before they joined e.c - their base-distro is lycoris?"
>> That is a logical thought but no, we needed more flexibility than lycoris could provide for our roadmap.

Will Gnome be available as an option for a desktop?
>> We dont currently have it but we are soliciting feedback to see how much demand is out there for it.

RE:am i missing something?!
by synergy on Wed 14th Apr 2004 14:38 UTC

"Nope, not Lyc. Lyc is Caldera redone. Uses rpms."

ah ok, thought that lycoris was debian-based also.

hm, what about "componentized linux" (cl) from progeny...?

whatever...!

Missing Element in Applesque plan
by Pakdawg on Wed 14th Apr 2004 15:08 UTC

The representative of Element made it seem as if the integration of hardware and software is what makes Apple go. I don't think so. The Apple formula has three parts: (1) Start with great, custom hardware - much of the point of buying a Mac is that a PC with those ergonomics and style is available from no one else. (I'm a devout PC user, but I've got to give it up for Apple's hardware engineers.) Then (2) you marry to that hardware software functionality built just for it. Finally, (3) you add the distinctive, also well-engineered (so my Mac-using friends swear) user interface for that software.

I've heard many people on this forum mention how the hardware is too expensive, but that's not what gets me: I think the missing Element for Element is that the hardware's too vanilla.

Hmmm
by Smartpatrol on Wed 14th Apr 2004 15:29 UTC

I understand the concept, but why do i want to get locked into another platform/OS? Especially when there are much better computing Platform/OS's out there than X86 Linux! Proprietary or otherwise. This looks more like a devised way to turn a buck with linux by selling hardware.

Re: Mike from Element Computing
by Karrick S. McDermott on Wed 14th Apr 2004 16:17 UTC

Mike,

There is not enough applause for your team of engineers. You are filling a big gap in the marketplace, and I hope your business plan pays off for you and for our community at large.

This level of hardware and open-source software integration has yet to be seen with x86 based computers. I admit there are systems that approach it, but if I remember correctly there is not one who achieves it to the extent that Apple has shown with PowerPCs.

Best wishes.

Here's the experience of one user with an Element computer
by Moorlock on Wed 14th Apr 2004 17:57 UTC

I'm just breaking in a new Element 700 laptop this month.

This is the first time I've tried one of these user-friendly, WalMart-safe linux boxes. I've got mixed feelings.

On the plus side, the install/setup was a breeze, and when I pulled an 802.11b card from my old machine and popped it in to this one it was recognized and used without any special effort on my part. This is a long way from the old "google for a driver, recompile the kernel, run LiLo, cross fingers, reboot" method I used to use when adding hardware.

But on the negative side, I think a Windows user who switches to this is going to have some valid complaints. Primary among these is cut-and-paste functionality, which ought to be a flawless thing that you barely have to think about.

In fact, it appears that KDE apps and non-KDE apps have different cut-and-paste buffers that don't talk to each other. The intermediary "klipper" app can sometimes be used to bridge the gap - but sometimes not, and in any case: what a kludge! Occasionally you use ctrl-C/V to copy and paste; other times you must use ctrl/shift-ins, other times merely selecting text puts it in the buffer, other times you must use a menu selection. Sometimes there is a second or two of delay between when you copy something into a buffer and when it is available for paste. Some apps, and some parts of apps, seem completely oblivious to cut-and-paste no matter how you do it. To your average desktop user (and to me, frankly) this is pathetic and a horrible frustration (I don't remember having this problem with gnome).

The CDROM drive was not correctly set up, and I had to tweak some configuration files to get it to come up correctly in the file system. Not something your typical WalMart customer is going to be able to do, so for them, they'll have a CDROM drive that just doesn't work correctly.

There are some other peculiarities, like when I use Mozilla's URL bar for searching. I used to be able to enter "search term" here, then hit the down-arrow which would pop up a "Search for search term" drop box. Hit enter, and go to google's results page. Now the same set of actions, which look on the UI like they should be accomplishing the same thing, result in an "invalid URL" message. Where's the bug? I dunno, but it bugs.

Mozilla also has the tendency to, after a period of use, suddenly enter molasses-mode where everything slows down to the point of unusability. Gotta kill and restart it. Lame.

About a third of the time the machine starts up, the network doesn't come up correctly. After digging around for a while, I found I could bring it up by manually starting dhclient. Again, this is not something the average WalMart user is going to be able to figure out.

The file manager has some quirky bugs too, which a Windows user will notice and compare unfavorably. For instance, use the mouse to select a group of files, then right-click and choose "move to recycle bin." All of a sudden, only the first file in the selection is selected, and only that file will be moved to the recycle bin. That's pretty lame.

So, in short, I don't think we're quite ready for prime time just yet.

Re: Re: It's Lindows
by dpi on Wed 14th Apr 2004 18:22 UTC

Are you suggesting this new distro is a - Lacintosh :-)

Lemon ;p (not Bitter)

Whatever you are planning on element computers, you should at least be more professional and giving detials about what os you ship with the hardware. There is not one real detail i could find on their site. Should at least say something about whats installed, and what you can do with it to be productive.Some nice screenshots are also helpfull. For the only thing i seen for now is an ugly icewm kind of looking desktop with an very nasty windows theme. Okey the idea is good, but i hope they make some more effort with it. ;) good luck.

Mike told me about this a few months ago, and I'm very excited by it.

The Helium is a sweet tablet laptop, and we've got a mailing list for running Debian on it already:

http://lists.csail.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/helium-debian

It ships with Lycoris linux, and the laptop is available from other dealers under other names/brands, including with Windows bundled. Element sells it without.

The only things not working under Linux are the zc301 chip webcam and the 4in1 card reader, neither of which has linux drivers

XFM?
by Anonymous Coward on Thu 15th Apr 2004 09:19 UTC

From the screenshots, I cannot be totally sure about what it is based on, but the File Manager looks SO MUCH like Xandros file manager, and probably is.

IMO that's an excellent decision because half of what made xandros 2 so successful was this thing.
Referring to the guy who suggested MEPIS, I had this feeling too.