Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 15th Nov 2005 00:39 UTC, submitted by Mikael Elf
OS/2 and eComStation Serenity Systems offers a promotional price for eComStation 1.2 until the last of November. This will include a one year software subscription. The subscription implies also that you can participate in the betaprogram for version 2.0 and includes the version 2.0 GA release after betatesting is done.
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None of the free distributions come with installation support (official, not user-to-user) from the manufacturer. We're comparing apples to oranges, anyway. We need to compare eComStation to Windows, as both are proprietary operating systems.

The only reason people don't "feel" the cost of Windows is that it's diluted in the cost of the bundled system just purchased. In fact, I read recently (The Register? eWeek?) that MS has been sadly disappointed by the lack of upgrade sales of XP on the corporate desktop. When you consider that people received bundled W2K Pro licenses with the last round of hardware they purchased, the thought of paying for an "upgrade" (their word, not mine) to XP became yet another unnecessary cost.

For those companies using whitebox workstations (vs. packaged systems), the OS cost is usually visible (at least it's visibility is under the control of the VAR, or in my case, the consultant). Retail for MS Windows XP Pro w/SP2 (part # E85-02665)(from CompUSA, who I do not consider to be a deep discounter) is $299.99 US (see That, of course, includes no upgrade protection to the next version. Next to that, eComStation 1.2, at $229 US retail, is a bargain. (BTW, Mensys lists XP Pro at $420.40.)

Often, the trade-off for the free OS licensing is the lack of phone or even email support (BTW, try calling Microsoft for a problem with an OEM version of XP on a Dell system; you can't, you have to call Dell, who may have nobody there with the resources or knowhow to resolve an issue). For some (hackers, like me), this makes very little difference. For others, this can be the difference between using the OS and just deleting the downloaded iso and giving up (or hiring a professional like me, at $140 per hour, to resolve the problem).

Hey, if you want to build your own house, knock yourself out; that's great. Most folks, however, don't have the skillset (or the time) to do that, so they need to buy one from someone else. If they pay a fair price for it, and they find a problem after they move in, they can (usually) call the builder to have it fixed - free of charge. That's a good feeling - for most people.

In my line of work, I get weary hearing the same, "can you guarantee that this won't happen again?" question. As my right hand tech says, "if you want a guaranty, buy a toaster." The question comes up more in the spirit of "will I have to pay you to fix this again," than "will I have to deal with the issue a second time." With product support from the manufacturer, my charges are less of an issue.

I can't speak to Sun's policy with regard to Solaris for x86. I know the distro is free, but I would doubt that Sun provides any kind of non-fee-based support for it.

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