The HT Magazine in a recent issue (21st August 2005) carries a column by Saubhik Chakrabarti on the recent launch of low cost PCs by some of the vendors. The uniqueness of the low cost launch has been that all these sub 10,000 INR PCs/Desktops come preloaded with Linux. Saubhik argues that it is not a bargain and that sub 10K desktops end up costing much more in terms of upkeep and usage.
The problem with the column is that it gets it wrong. Right at the beginning there is this nice blurb that the work you do on a Linux PC may not be transferable to a Windows PC. Around 2 years ago, this would have been readily agreed to. As of today, it is a trifle hard to believe. Given the large volume of desktop deployments, that particular argument will not hold water. The solution proposed is even more laughable. Install Windows on the PC.
When Acer began to ship Linux pre-loaded laptops at very affordable prices, a large volume of the sale was driven by buy the laptop-upgrade the RAM-install Windows cycle. The entire notion of providing a sub 10K PC is to provide a computing environment that is complete. It allows the desktop to be used for SOHO purposes. That means practically allowing it to perform flawlessly through the entire spectrum of office applications, media applications, internet browsing, e-mailing, IM and what not as well as some fun and games. A completely sane installation of any Linux Operating System allows one to do the same.
The column makes the same mistake again when it re-iterates that 128MB of RAM is much too less for Windows. But that is basically the point. Given the current price point of RAMs, spending another 2500 INR would provide the user with a sufficiently responsive desktop. And as the article goes on and on about how the PC will falter if one wants to use it as a home theater, one is inclined to believe that the author has not used (or perhaps even seen) a modern Linux desktop.
Buying an Alto and then analysing why it will fail to carry Qualis kinds of performance is not the right way to review either hardware or software. Perhaps Saubhik would do well to put across his functional needs for a SOHO desktop and have someone demonstrate the same on a Linux machine.