August 13, 2004
An Alternative to Windows
Will it always be a Microsoft Windows world? That's what I hoped to find out when I sliced open the box containing the new PC I'd ordered from WalMart.com. It had a respectable 1.6-gigahertz processor, a serviceable 40-gigabyte hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, an MP3 player, and enough other software to keep me occupied for life, though supporting it all was a barely adequate 128 megabytes of RAM. Okay, I knew this chunky black box wouldn't be the sexiest PC on my block. But that was fine, considering its paltry $278 price tag-and that I'd really ordered it for what it didn't have: any Microsoft software whatsoever. Rather than Windows and Office, it came with Linspire 4.5, one of the many commercial versions of the open-source Linux operating system that are now available, and a link to a website where I could download a variety of open-source applications.