May 5, 2002

Weekly news wrap-up: No more Winmodems at Walmart.com; MS tells schools they can't remove Windows

- By Grant Gross -

Wal-Mart and PC supplier Microtel Computer Systems won some hearts in the Linux community this week with their customer-focused response to a review about their operating system-less PCs. It all started with Russell C. Pavlicek's review of one of the machines here on NewsForge/Linux.com.
Russell noted that several versions of Linux installed easily on the machine, but the modem that came with it was a Winmodem without a functional Linux driver. The review got a lot of response, and within a couple of days, Microtel's president emailed Russell, promising the company would change those modems. That quick response got tons of kudos from Linux fans, along with promises to buy the PCs through Walmart.com.

Another way to keep customers

Maybe Microsoft could take a lesson in customer service from Microtel. Microsoft has been telling schools who get used PCs donated to them that removing Windows is illegal. Call it marketing, call it a bold-faced lie. After The Register caught Microsoft in the fib, our favorite monopolist revised its stance just a bit.

Total cost: Linux wins

One argument Microsoft has made against switching to Linux is that you have to look at the "total cost of ownership," not just how much less Linux costs out of the box. Not so fast, Mr. Gates. Cyber.com.au has a study saying Linux can have up to a 34% lower total cost of ownership than Windows.

All kinds of security issues

C|Net suggests that a security problem in an old version of Winamp -- surprise, surprise, another Windows security hole -- may help users move to the Open Source audio format Ogg Vorbis instead of MP3.

Of course, Open Source projects aren't without their security problems once in awhile. This week, a Mozilla/Netscape hole was found that could potentially allow an attacker to view documents on the user's PC.

Moving on

Jordan Hubbard, a founding member of the FreeBSD project, resigned from its core team this week, saying he lacked the time, energy and fun needed to continue.

Success story of the week

Red Hat announced that Jim Henson's Creature Shop is using Linux to power its design studio and other digital projects.

Newly released

The much anticipated 1.0 version of the OpenOffice office suite was released this week.

Newly reviewed

Robin Miller noted that installing Mandrake 8.2 is boring, and he means that in the best kind of way. Meanwhile, Linuxdot.org offered two reviews of the new Mandrake 8.2.

Speaking of Mandrake, TuxPPC reviews its PPC 8.2 version and says the long wait was worth it.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols checks out the Open Source Sputnik wireless gateway and says the start-up company has a bright future.

A Gartner viewpoint on ZDNet suggests Sun's StarOffice suite is ready to challenge Microsoft's Office.

LinuxLookup.com looks at TransGaming's WineX Linux gaming emulator and says the company is making it easier to play Windows games on Linux boxes.

LinuxPlanet reviews Mozilla 1.0 Candidate 1.

Evil3D.com offered a review of the Pogo Linux Vorticon 1800+ with Linux pre-installed.

New at NewsForge/Linux.com

Among the other stories we reported first this week:

Jack Bryar suggests Linux on the desktop may soon become a reality, in Asia if not North America.

We look at the OpenCD project, a new project to convert Windows users to Open Source software by supplying a package of popular Open Source programs for Windows.

Stock news

The Nasdaq ended the week at 1,613.03, skidding more than 50 points from the April 26 close of 1,663.89, mostly coming from a Friday drop of more than 31 points. The tech heavy market has been on a downward slide since April 16, when it closed at 1,816.79. The last time the Nasdaq was this low was Oct. 9, 2001.

Of our 11 Open Source related stocks, only three posted gains, including Hewlett-Packard, which closed its controversial merger with Compaq this week.

Taking a huge hit this week was Wind River Systems, which dropped from 10.69 to 7.00 for the week on warnings of a larger-than-expected loss.

French Linux company MandrakeSoft's stock dropped slightly for the week, even though the company reported "a strong increase in consolidated revenue."

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 4/26 Close 5/3 Close
Apple AAPL 23.01 23.51
Borland Software Int'l BORL 10.78 10.29
Caldera International CALD 1.09 1.00
Hewlett-Packard HWP 16.96 17.44
IBM IBM 84.71 81.78
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e2.65 e2.60
Red Hat RHAT 4.62 5.16
Sun Microsystems SUNW 8.05 6.77
TiVo TIVO 4.04 3.96
VA Software LNUX 1.27 1.18
Wind River Systems WIND 10.69 7.00
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