As early as next week, Walmart.com will begin selling Microtel PCs loaded with
the Mandrake Linux distribution.
Keep your eye on Walmart.com for new Microtel systems bearing the Mandrake logo.
The systems will sell alongside the newly announced Lindows-based PCs, say sources. And continue to
look for more online retail envelope-pushing from Wal-Mart's online wing, of all
MandrakeSoft CEO Jacques Le Marois confirms the news this morning, and
company spokeswoman Margaret Waples says, while a contract with Microtel has not been
finalized, the company is working on getting Mandrake certified to run like clockwork
on the Microtel systems. Waples is hopeful that the dotted line will be signed and PCs up for sale by the end of next week.
Walmart.com and Microtel are getting a lot of press lately, mostly because
Walmart.com is the first major retailer to offer something other than the
standard Windows PC. With Walmart.com taking the first leap, it's possible that
other stores will follow in selling bare systems and those with Linux
Walmart.com has a few well-placed electronics buyers who are savvy to Linux, and
a management team looking for ways to reinvigorate stagnant computer sales
numbers. The combination has resulted in innovations like the Windows-free Microtel line and has generated strong sales and low return numbers, a trend Walmart.com may hope will continue with the
introduction of Linux systems. According to sources, the buyers chose Lindows
first because of perceived user-friendliness.
But the move to Mandrake may be seen as a better one for the Linux world and for people
who want to purchase the Microtel systems with Linux, because Mandrake has been around for years, is already on the brink of a 9.0 release level and has an established reputation for providing
support. In support of LindowsOS, however, Rich Hindman of Microtel says that as
of Monday, June 17, the version of Lindows that lives in the systems sold
through Walmart.com is LindowOS 1.1, not the beta SPX mentioned in a quote from a Lindows PR spokeswoman in Tuesday's report.
A source close to Walmart.com says that Lindows itself is "ready to roll," and
that drivers are the only hold up. The Walmart.com units contain special custom
drivers written specifically for the Microtel project. "The only way someone can get
Lindows 1.1 is to buy a computer with it pre-installed," says Hindman, vice president at Microtel.
There has been some disdain expressed in the Linux community over the perception that Lindows has been reluctant to release source code under the terms of the GPL. Brad Kuhn of the Free Software Foundation expressed some concern that Lindows
was going to market at Walmart.com without a fitting EULA. "We have promised [Lindows CEO Michael] Robertson a rewrite
of his EULA, and it is waiting for time from our general counsel to write
one. We do wish he'd told us in confidence that this Wal-Mart deal was
imminent; we could have expedited the work on the EULA if we'd known."