Turns Out The Wal-Mart Crowd Just Isn't That Into Linux

from the who-knew? dept

You have to admit that it seemed like a mismatch from the very beginning: Wal-Mart selling a Linux-based PC? The idea, of course, was that it was crazy cheap: $199. However, the gPC from Everex clearly wasn’t in huge demand. While it did eventually sell out, Wal-Mart has chosen not to restock the machines in its stores, though it will continue selling it off the Wal-Mart website. Wal-Mart tends to be pretty thorough about these things, so clearly it recognized that the shelf space dedicated to these machines would be better served by some other product. While the machines were cheap, apparently Wal-Mart customers recognized that price wasn’t the only factor driving purchasing decisions for PCs, and convincing people to take a chance on some no-name computer with an alternative operating system didn’t set the world of Wal-Mart shoppers on fire.

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Companies: everex, wal-mart

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Comments on “Turns Out The Wal-Mart Crowd Just Isn't That Into Linux”

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Triatomic Tortoise says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is wrong! Average users of home computers (and some work computers as well) as astoundingly dumb. They have no clue. Additionally, the American population is aging and this doesn’t go well with an aging population.

The fact is that the PC is so popular, the whole credit goes to Microsoft whether you like it or not.

Kevin says:

Re: Yep

I had a friend who purchased the Linux pc from walmart when they first started selling them at the store i worked at. He said it worked for about 3 weeks then would stop working.. needless to say its a paperweight now!

Great Idea walmart but stock a better product!

The highlighted parts are ironic on so many levels…

Triatomic Tortoise says:

Re: Re: Yep

“What person that shops at Walmart, who has only $200 to spend on a PC, is going to let the thing become a paperweight just because there are problems with it?”

Even if I spend a lot of money on toys that I like, I shop at Walmart as well. And for curiosity, I might end up doing the same thing, buy the cheap PC just to check it out. If that did not work, it takes a lot of time to send it for recycling. Therefore, for a while it would become paperweight for me.

I have higher end Quad-core computers at home to do more serious work that runs on Windows Vista! See I do not blame the poor fellow who burnt his ass buying this crap.

ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

If you're going to run a Slashdot story

Try to keep your analysis at least at the /. level. Slashdot’s article even included the Everex manager’S quote from the CanadianPress story: “selling the gPC online was ‘significantly more effective’ than selling it in stores.”


Not only is Wal*Mart continuing to sell the Everex desktop on-line, they’re also selling the $400 Everex laptop. What Wal*Mart’s not doing is selling the machines in-store. While the store believes they can earn more profit per linear foot of shelf space with other products, they haven’t dropped Everex’ Linux machines; they’ve only found a more efficient means of distribution.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: If you're going to run a Slashdot story

Not only is Wal*Mart continuing to sell the Everex desktop on-line, they’re also selling the $400 Everex laptop. What Wal*Mart’s not doing is selling the machines in-store. While the store believes they can earn more profit per linear foot of shelf space with other products, they haven’t dropped Everex’ Linux machines; they’ve only found a more efficient means of distribution.

Um. That’s exactly what I said in the post.

But, honestly, since when do you take the word of the guy who’s PC’s just got pulled off the shelf as not being marketing spin?

ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

Intarwebs authorities

AGAIN: If a PC cost is $200 and they are making a profit, its a piece of JUNK! Period (.)

Thank you for that detailed analysis. Can you also tell me if McGriddles are good or bad? I know you haven’t actually eaten one either (because to eat something like that you’d have to be pretty drunk, something few of us are at the times McD’s actually sells the things), but you appear to be an extremely knowledgeable fellow with keen insight.

Anonymousey Cowardacious (profile) says:

Buy Linux Now

Mr Coward has spoken…3 or 4 times, putting down the inexpensive linux platforms. Mr Coward, not everyone is flush with money, and no one says less with few words better than you. I have friends that shun products that are inexpensive just because they are inexpensive. I am proud to shop at Wal-Mart and think the walbashers are idiots. Someone saying a product is junk just because it’s cheap is an moron, and deserves to pay thousands more for the same product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Buy Linux Now

It’s not only about what you can afford, but what you want to do with that PC as well. One should assume if you’re in the market for a cheap PC, you shouldn’t be expecting it to do much than the basics, Linux or not. Granted Linux works better as a smaller footprint OS and more powerful toys built in, but I buy/build my laptop/PC parts based on the performance I want, not the price. I will get the most performance for the cheapest I can. (My consideration of a cheap desktop would be $900)

Steve R. (profile) says:

Missing the Point When Buying a Computer

When you buy a computer, you are buying “TWO” things. One is the hardware the other is the operating system. You should be able to buy these two things independently. (Yes, I know that bundling software can offer the customer more, but what if the customer does not want the bundle?)

For example, if you don’t want WINDOWS on should be able to demand that it not be included in the purchase price of the software. Unfortunately, the way computers are sold you are forced to buy both, as well as all the trial junk, at the time of purchase. So far I only know of two vendors (small companies) who are willing to sell you the computer without the operating system.

Stores, such as Walmart, Staples, and Best Buy need to sell, at least some of their computers, without an operating system so you can install your own.

CHL Instructor (user link) says:


Walmart is famous for leaning on suppliers to reduce prices, and the pressure is enormous. A few of the larger names in various industries have reacted by producing ‘special’ versions of their products for Walmart. I got some ‘name-brand’ shoes once upon a time at Walmart; they hurt my feet so bad that I will 1) never buy shoes at Walmart again, and 2) never buy that brand of shoe again, even from a retailer that carries the ‘regular’ product.

Smart vendors only allow Walmart to have a small percentage of their output. Smarter vendors just say no. Dumb vendors allow Walmart to squeeze them completely out of business in a very painful, protracted manner.

BTW, they treat their other suppliers (builders, shelving vendors, etc) the same way. They dangle a bit of business with the ‘possibility’ of follow-on business, and the contractor bids a loss-leader in hopes of some long-term business. Guess what? The follow-on business goes to another contractor with a another loss-leader bid. I have a friend who got shafted that way; he now sends Walmart RFPs directly to the round file (I suggested that he bid normally, and tack on a 20% “Walmart surcharge”, but he didn’t want to waste his time “making a statement”).

heartless_ (user link) says:


I like to trumpet Linux whenever possible, but I won’t sit back and defend it when it is improperly thrown out into the masses. The gPC was cheap, because it had crap components, not because it ran Linux.

The EEE from Asus is another fad, meant for geeks, and talked about by geeks. I don’t know anyone in the general non-tech audience that even cares about the damn thing.

I look at the EEE this way. At it’s original price point of $399, I’d rather just buy a Playstation 3 (yuck!) and hack Yellow Dog onto it. Much bigger bang for the buck. Sure it’s not small and portable, but who cares. It’s not like the EEE can be used for productive work without massive hacking and modification.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thank you for that detailed analysis. Can you also tell me if McGriddles are good or bad?


Comparing McGriddles to Computers? Ok – sure, if the McGriddle was sold for 15 cents – wouldn’t it make you wonder why it’s so cheap?

But see – you’re saying the ‘computer’ is a household name like McDonalds – when, regardless that it’s sold at Wal-Mart the PC isn’t a name brand.

So let’s compare a bit more fairly..

You can buy a McGriddle for $2.50 – or you can buy ‘Mama’s Phat Sausage Biscuit with Syrup’ for 25 Cents. You may be ok with risking the cheap one, but personally – to me, there’s a lot of influence on my purchase with known good brands. You may decide to get the cheap food, but almost always – you get what you pay for.

Mark Potter says:

I guess Anonymous Coward didn’t bother to RTFA to begin with. They are removing them from the stores because they sell better online in spite of constantly selling out of the product. They are introducing another product from the same company. Sure a 200.00 PC is lower powered than most anything else but the fact is most people aren’t gamers or power users. Most people want to get on the intertubes and check their email and a 200.00 PC does that just fine. Would most folks in IT (i.e. most readers here) consider it a piece of crap? Why sure they would but the fact of the matter is it does what most people want it to do and does it just fast enough (Note: not fast, but fast enough) that they are satisfied.

If it’s such crap then why does it keep selling out? Why would WalMart stock the laptop version? Your constant screaming that cheap = crap has a total and complete lack of logic and a departure from reality. I could go into a long analysis of why you are wrong but I have feeling my efforts would be wasted. You can keep screaming that cheap = bad but it won’t make it true.

Michael Long (user link) says:

Re: You're reading too much into the article...

The article says that they “sold out the in-store gPC inventory” and that they’re not restocking. Nowhere does it say that they’re “constantly selling out of the product” or that it “keep[s] selling out”. Guess you didn’t RTFA for comprehension either.

The article DOES say that they “didn’t attract enough attention from Wal-Mart customers” and that “This really wasn’t what our customers were looking for”, which tells me that it wasn’t popular, that it probably took them months to sell what few they had, and that they determined that the shelf space could be better used for things people actually want.

Mike_N_Nashville says:

Facts or no facts?

Ok, here are the actual facts about the deal on the Wal-Mart PC for $199 Anonymous_Coward.

First off, it doesn’t come with a monitor so take that out of your argument for it being too cheap.

I pulled the specs from Wal-Mart.com and then priced building one retail from a pc parts website.

I could build a similar system retail for 150.00 and that isn’t using the cheapest parts or I could have gotten down to $100.00.

That is logitech keyboard/mouse, corsair memory, maxtor HD, etc.

So if you can order the parts and build it retail for $150 then you know Wal-Mart and their bulk buying power is getting for at least 1/2 that. So, buying at around $75 and selling for $199 not a bad deal.

Oh, and I happen to know 2 people who bought these PCs when they first came out and both are still running perfectly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Linux will never maintain a noticeable market share in the desktop market. People have predicted it would for years now and it is repeatedly proven that the masses prefer Windows for ease of use, support and range of applications.

Ubuntu was just one more of a doomed line of Linux flavors wasting the time of talented developers who could have been doing something worthwhile with their talents than reinventing a crappy version of the wheel that will never be used by more than a few extremeists.

Anonymous Coward says:

I can understand the reasoning behind these cheap PCs: get Linux out into the masses. While I applaud the effort, I believe it has several flaws. First of all, no matter what OS you’re using, $199 worth of hardware is going to be the most worthless, problematic, unstable piece of junk you could ever buy. The cheapest I could possibly build a system myself without seriously compromising quality or performance is around $400, and that’s just the PC, no peripherals. People may not want the OS, but I think an awful lot of people also believe that you get what you pay for, and a $199 computer is simply a too-good-to-be-true type of deal.

I personally am a Windows user for life, but I’m all for computers that give people choices. All OS’s have their place, and I believe in choice. But, if you continually try to push Linux into the laps of consumers on the most worthless pieces of hardware you can find, people are not going to see it for what it could be. Instead, they will see it as something as cheap and flawed as the hardware it’s running on. No, the push needs to be for Linux on major OEMs like Dell and HP. Only then will it get the respect it deserves. A $199 can never hope to bring any respect for Linux, no matter what kind of spin you put on it.

kipster says:

linux: ready for primetime?

but but but…its LINUX! it MUST be better!!!!

sorry, but Linux is still not ready for prime time. linux guys always say it is and it never is. i got the new release of Ubuntu (7.10) and it works great, but getting it to see my Verizon datacard was a 2 day ordeal involving 2 computers, ISO disks, and tech support at Verizon who simmply hate linux calls. im about to get my mom a computer but it wont be a linux box. i can just hear my mom calling on the phone and asking, “It says it needs drivers for my modem. You told me it came with a modem. Am i supposed to drive it?” shes getting my old XP laptop.

honestly, i dislike Vista as much as the next guy, but A.) it works out of the box for grandmothers all over America, and B.) my mom (who’s VCR still flashes 12:00 all the time) cant handle Linux. ill use a make. i can get to the BSD shell, use Applescripts, and do ANYTHING linux does.

you linux fanboys need to step back and realize that we are not all Sys Admins.

Theodor Macris says:

The average PC User is not able to operate Linux? Are you mad? With most modern distributions the average user can not only use them but the learning curve for Linux is no more difficult than changing from WinXP to Vista.

Not true. I have used Linux for many years and it is still easy to fuxor it to the point of no return. When all of a sudden your package manager has a duplicate library that you can not locate or rid yourself of and just stops working all together, or your graphics driver or X goes phooey, forget about it. The “average” user will just have to reinstall. Linux, unfortunately was never designed to be a great desktop user experience. It is getting better, but it is not prime-time yet.

TheDock22 says:

Not good

Earlier somebody posted a link to the reviews for the computer. MOST of them were from people not being able to use the Linux version on it and who were so frustrated they returned it!

I mean, I like Linux and all and use it whenever I can, but for the AVERAGE computer user, it is hard to learn and a pain to deal with. So the Linux fanboys need to back off and realize this little experiment of a Linux box sold to the masses was a failure (I bet the number of Linux boxes they sold to the number of Windows machines they sold with a little higher price would be not contest in favor of Windows).

Most of us may know how to load a driver onto a computer to make your camera work in Linux, but most people want to just plug it in and be ready to go (beside I doubt the software that came with it would work). Walmart was stupid to even try this in the stores to begin with. Keep selling it online.

punk says:


I think I must have missed something. What does Ubuntu or any “desktop” Linux distro have to do with this?? The Everex pc runs gOS which isn’t really a “desktop” os since it uses mostly online based apps.
I say if people don’t want to mess with Linux, fine.
The low market shares will keep the virus and malware away.
I think the biggest problem was that the system for one is Everex and two…no monitor.
But like I said… whatever.
I’ll keep my Kubuntu and you can have Windohs. There, problem solved.

Mark Potter says:

There are plenty of people commenting who aren’t Linux fan boys. I won’t even begin to speculate on the stability of gOS since I have never used. I am a Linux user and have been for many years but to me this has nothing to do with Linux. This has to do with the complete invalid argument that cheap is the equivalent of crap. It doesn’t make sense from an economics standpoint and it doesn’t hold true from a consumer standpoint. It is a baseless argument. You do not always get what you pay for nor is it often enough to even claim it is a rule. I couldn’t possibly care less what OS these boxes are running the mere fact they are cheap doesn’t mean they are crap. Sure they have an out of box failure rate but even HP has to deal with that.

Look at the reviews. Only a couple blame hardware for their problems. Most of them are people who didn’t bother to read what they were getting and ended up with a Linux OS and copies they bought of a bunch of MS apps. That’s not even the fault of the OS but rather the consumer for not reading the most basic description provided both in store and on the website. It is also a well accepted rule that those who have problems are more likely to do things such as write a review or tell their friends. The sampling of complaints off of a website proves very little. How many have they sold? After all they did sell out of the machines more than once and are still selling them on the website. How many complaints are written on the website compared to how many were sold? You cannot even extrapolate any data from either of those numbers. You can’t make an accurate assumption of any level of satisfaction given the data available.

With the dropping of price in hardware, the lowered cost of OS using gOS (again no comment on the stability), the power of WalMart’s distribution center, the wholesale buying power of Everex, there is a cost level that a consumer can come nowhere near matching when building a PC. The claim of a 400 cost for building a decent PC is based on consumer level buying and comparing that to an assembled machine purchased at wholesale cost is lunacy.

The arguments against the cost of this machine are based in anecdote and pure fantasy and do not play out in the real world. Thanks for trying though, it has amused me today.

Pro says:


Personally I’ll never understand the personality disorder that is “being a linux fan”. I can only equate it to knowing a secret, ultracomplicated handshake that no one else knows but you and your friends. Once you know it, you’re going to use it. Personally, I consider it a vacant piece of shit. Unless you and your friends just want to sit around and ping each other all day, eat the hundred bucks and buy an XP license.

I know what you mean about vista, but if you feed it what it needs (which is ALOT of RAM) it starts to behave quite nicely.

Mark Potter says:

Re: Linux

I’ll never understand the need to bait people. I love Linux but as far as what other people use it’s horses for courses. I don’t want to support all my friends’ and family’s OS issues. I much prefer they stay right where they are on their Macs and PCs. I dual boot to play games but I prefer Linux for everything else. I can understand that some of the zealots tick people off but then again they tick me off. I would love it if Linux made more headway in the desktop arena but if it doesn’t happen I’ll keep doing what I do and giggling at people who need to bait others in an effort to boost their own esteem. I don’t use Linux because I am better than anyone else I use it because it is best for my needs. If Windows is best for yours then use it and leave the rest of us alone. That is the same advice I dole out to the Linux zealots who want Linux on every desktop. The last thing I want to do is become desktop support again…

Mark Potter says:

Re: Re: Re: Linux

I would like it for the same reason I would like to see Mac capture more market share. I think that both of them are more stable and on the Linux front there is potential. What I would gain from it is more development for Linux by the major players such as gaming companies. Linux is by far more efficient with hardware so you can get better performance on the same hardware this means that I could run games faster and better if they were native Linux than someone on Windows with the same hardware. It’s purely selfish on that level. I do like free software but not because it has no cost but because it is free to do with as I choose. I do like the freedom of Linux but that’s not, and never will be, a selling point for the masses. I have other reasons as well bu my dislike of MS is not in the software they produce but rather their business practices and never the twain shall meet. I would love to see them out of business completely but that wouldn’t be good for the economy overall and wouldn’t be good for the industry and so on. I can have that fantasy all day long and still freely admit that Windows is what most people should run. Now get WoW ported to Linux along with a few other titles and I’ll stop caring about Linux making inroads in the desktop arena because my selfish little goals will be met.

There is actually more to my arguments but since I really tried to stay out of the Linux debate, and still got sucked in, I’ll just throw out my selfish reasons and leave it be.

ECA (profile) says:

OK, WHO looked up the system on WALMART.

Go look at the system.
Its a Whitebox..Nothing except the System/tower/desktop.

Its a 1.4Ghz system.
It has gOS on it??

And if you read the site..
NOT available online
NOT available in stores.

1. Via isnt a friendly environment.
2. Under powered.
3. gOS??
4. consumer penetration, The consumer DONT KNOW what it is.(good for them)

Seth Brundle says:

I am glad that Walmart and Dell are selling Linux now, so that the Linux community will face a lot of Linux’s Desktop shortcomings and stop lack of adoption on retailers and users.

I have been a Linux server-side developer for 15 years, but haven’t used the Linux Desktop regularly for about 10(!) I use Windows (SecureCRT for Linux Development), although I thoroughly test out every Ubuntu and Suse release to see whats new – I’m often impressed but never swayed.

The only open source software I prefer on the desktop is Firefox – other than that, there is really no other app that I use where I would rather choose the Open Source alternative to the freeware, shareware, or commercial Windows alternative. There is almost always a better choice there.

Also, when running a Linux desktop I find myself spending hours surfing support sites to do something very specific (or simple!), and often wind up breaking my X config or (much worse) bootloader. Its just an unproductive time sink.

It even still has its hardware issues – wireless especially – and the most popular sound card for the last 3 years (X-Fi) – Linux still cant make that thing beep.

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