Pogo Linux: 1GHz for under $1000by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 29, 2001 12:00 PM EST
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Walk down the aisles of your local Best Buy, Compusa, Circuit City or Fry's and you'll see rows of pre-built desktop PC's to choose from. Take your search online and you'll find "customize your own PC" tools on the websites of manufacturers like Dell and Gateway. The idea of a PC tailored to your own needs is interesting, in fact it is what most AnandTech readers have been doing for many years, while others are just starting.
Why do we custom build our PCs? You can make the argument that the computers in the aforementioned retail stores simply don't suit our needs, but in that case why do we not just seek out the Dells and the Gateways of the online world? Simply put, our idea of custom building a PC involves much more than specifying what speed processor and how much memory you want in your next system.
For your own personal system, taking an afternoon away from work and the usual monotony in order to sit down and put a computer together is worth it. But what happens when you have to put together 10, or 100 systems for work? Complicating the situation even more, what happens when these 10 or 100 systems have to be running the same platform as the rest of your company? What happens if these systems have to be running Linux?
Linux is far from a consumer-operating system, which is why you don't see it in your brick and mortar stores like Best Buy or Fry's. In spite of the recent Linux-fad that came up around the same time as the dot-com boom in 1999/2000, the major PC manufacturers haven't taken it upon themselves to offer Linux as an alternative to their usual list of OS options: Windows 98, ME, NT or 2000.
The main reason behind this is because of support. In order for Linux to truly take off, someone must support it. Because of the Open Source nature of the OS, that responsibility falls on the PC manufacturer. A company like Gateway can't be expected to forward all of their tech-support calls to an IRC channel, so they must take it upon themselves to provide the support for the OS as a part of the whole package.
The issue of support hasn't scared off all of the big rigs in the industry. The smell of capitalizing on the Linux platform has thrust Dell into the market as they currently offer and support systems pre-loaded with Red Hat Linux. However in Dell's case, we are still thrown back to square one, where their idea of a "customized" system is far from being just that.