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 osnews.com

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 WalMart.com $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. "WalMart.com 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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