posted by J. Scott Edwards on Tue 1st Jul 2003 06:09 UTC
IconI was quite distressed when I read the article in the July 2003 Consumer Reports about the Wal-Mart $300 Computer. I've been a big fan of Consumer Reports for years. But this time I didn't feel that they really did a fair comparison of the Wal-Mart Linux PC's. So I decided to do one of my own.

Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of

I feel that should have done more thorough testing of the Lindows OS machine they had, and more importantly, tested the other versions that were available. I felt like they dismissed Linux without even scratching the surface.

Then last week the $199 PC I had ordered arrived (with Lycoris Linux on it). And much to my chagrin, after I completed the setup, it wouldn't even boot into the desktop. I was quite disturbed by this.

And finally yesterday ExtremeTech tested the new Lindows OS 4.0 and gave it a fairly glowing review. They went so far as to say it passed the "Mom" test.

This raised all sorts of doubts in my mind. I have been using Linux as my main operating system* for over five years. In the beginning it was a little rough around the edges. Installation was more difficult and the software was hit and miss. But it really has steadily improved and now I do almost everything I need to do with it. I do word processing, spreadsheets, digital camera, scanner, mp3's, audio processing, photo editing, e-mail, surfing the web, and banking. Furthermore, my wife (a self-proclaimed techno-idiot) and her daughters have been using Linux on their PC's for years as well. And with absolutely minimal coaching from me, I might add.

Is Linux usable as a desktop OS for the masses? I decided that since I had this Wal-Mart PC right here, and all of the common Linux distributions, I whould try out some common functions with each of the distributions and see how they stack up.

* Assisted by Mac OS and BeOS when needed.

Table of contents
  1. "Introduction"
  2. " Lycoris Linux PC"
  3. "Lindows OS 4.0"
  4. "SuSE Linux 8.2"
  5. "Mandrake Linux 9.1"
  6. "Red Hat Linux 9, Conclusion"
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