“People confused and frustrated by computers can now turn to a laptop called Alex built just for them. Based on Linux, the laptop comes with simplified e-mail, web browsing, image editing and office software. Those who sign up for Alex pay GBP 39.95 a month for telephone support, software updates and broadband access. Its creators hope the laptop and its simple suite of software proves to be a popular alternative to the Windows and Mac operating systems.”
Laptop Launched to Aid Computer Novices
Submitted by SReilly 2010-02-22 Hardware 2 Comments
I sent feedback to the Alex site via their contact form, but I can summarise it as follows:
* The laptop runs a custom UI on top of Ubuntu Linux, but the Website never admits that, which I see could upset a lot of people who might think it runs Windows (yes, I know there’s WINE, but that’s not mentioned either and it doesn’t run all Windows software anyway).
* You have to *pay* for software updates monthly, which is a doomed business model from day one. Windows has free updates and nearly all Linux distros provide free upodates too.
* It comes with a USB “latchkey” which seems to just authenticate your user (you still need to type in a password). What if you lose this – does this stop you logging in (presumably the Alex folks can ship you a replacement at a hefty cost)? This would be very bad news – much easier to lose a USB stick then it is to forget a username.
* The Alex software T&C’s here look very onerous – see http://www.welcometoalex.com/page/alextermandconditions.cfm –
with Alex software being based on Ubuntu Linux, does this contravene the open source licenses (GPL etc)?
* The BBC article linked to not only spills the beans about it running Ubuntu Linux (which the official Alex site deliberately fails to mention as I said), but claims that phone+updates+broadband costs 39.95 pounds a month, but that package seems to be 24.99 pounds a month on the Alex site or have I missed something?
Alex – nice idea, but failure to mention it runs Linux and a compulsory monthly fee make it an epic fail in my books.