Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Wrong Direction?

Wal Mart is now selling an Everex gPC. This computer is made with a mini ITX motherboard, much like what's found in a Mac Mini, but Everex put it in a bigger box. Seems people like big better. And, they use a specific version of Ubuntu called gOS.

I decided to download the gOS LiveCD and give it a try. After rebooting my computer, the "Start or Install gOS" options menu appeared. Same as ED/K/X/Ubuntu, including an OEM installation. I use the OEM installations for Free Geek Central Florida.

If you look close, the desktop seems to be Google-centric, and a bit OSX-like in the interface. The green leaf at the lower left is like a 'start' button on Windows, but the rest of the icons across the bottom work like the OSX doc. Checking out the menus, it seems gOS kept most of the programs that came with Ubuntu, so things like Pidgin and are there.

gOS is a pretty desktop. Simple to use, and has most of the stuff teens and college age kids use. It would be a excellent OS for a one of them.

Even though I was using the LiveCD version, and not installed to the hard drive, gOS seemed slower than Ubuntu on the LiveCD. I'll eventually install it to a hard drive to see what it's like, and I'll report back.

Overall, I like the look and feel of gOS and may even use it in some Free Geek Central Florida installations.

gOS has come to the forefront as it's the installed system on an Everex gPC sold at Wal Mart for under $200. From what I understand, the Everex gPC is only sold on the Wal Mart online store, and not in the Supercenters quite yet. ZaReason sells the Everex gPC too. Looking over the specifications of the gPC, it's not bad for the price.

The major advantage of the gPC is energy use. Supposed the machine averages just 2 watts of power consumption. I'm not sure what they mean by averages. It's possible that if I kept my computer off when I'm not using it, I might average 2 watts.

I'm glad to see another Linux distribution -especially a pretty one- and especially glad it's based on Ubuntu/Debian since I'm use to those. I'm glad they included the OEM installation in the options.

What I'm concerned about is what seems like a step backwards as far as hardware goes. I'm probably wrong on this, if their claims of energy consumption are correct. The VIA processor the gPC uses is a 1.5 GHz C7-D. The processor seems to really focus on performance per watt, and have a max of 20 watts of usage. With Linux, you don't need the latest superfast hardware to get your computer working well. And 512 MB ram is enough for most machines, and most people, so a computer like this is excellent.

What I'm concerned about is why I'm working on Free Geek here:
  • There are thousands of perfectly good computers pushed aside for upgrades.
  • Those computers are often just sitting in a closet, or worse, in a landfill.
  • There are computers that get discarded simply because one part stops working. It's sometimes cheaper to get a new computer, so people don't get repairs done.
  • In Florida alone, there is about 3-5 workable computers available for every man, woman and child living here.
Maybe having a computer like this, along with a restoration program like Free Geek is ideal, but I don't see it just yet. It seems we should focus on getting usable hardware into people's hands first, and use those for their lifecycle.

Everex is suppose to be coming out with a low cost, low power laptop with gOS installed pretty soon. That would be something that might be a good idea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was hoping to see someone blog about this. I like the look and I love that they're using Linux (and Ubuntu :D ) but I think you're right about the hardware issue.

People are using computers like Kleenex, and it's to no benefit except computer manufacturers. I'd prefer people saved their money and got the same functions off a free Ubuntu/gOS install on their old computer.

And as I side note, I'm becoming more and more skeptical of all the Google doo-dads these days. I still have my Gmail account so I haven't jumped ship yet, but I worry sometimes. ... :|