The Open-PC project, which developed an open source Linux PC based on community survey requests, says its KDE-flavored nettop will ship next month. The Open-PC is equipped with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom 330 with 3GB RAM and 160GB storage, but its high $500 price has stirred some controversy.
As the Open-PC project announced in July, the Open-PC is designed as a completely open source Linux desktop. "Only components with complete technical specifications, as provided by the manufacturers, were used," states the project's web-site. "Everything works with free drivers and no proprietary software is needed."
The project is said to be a response to other unnamed "free software" Linux systems that have been marred by pre-installed software that "was buggy and not widely tested," or by device drivers that were "often unstable, non-free or not available at all."
Open-PC hardware details
The 359 Euro (about $505) price includes phone- and email-based installation support, says the project. In addition, 10 Euros from every PC sold is donated to the KDE project, which supplies the Linux desktop environment pre-installed on the system.
More Open-PC hardware details
With the price ranging up to about $650 with a monitor and basic peripherals, the general consensus was that there were much better deals to be had for a nettop, no matter how free the drivers are, writes Noyes. She quotes one post by an Anonymous Coward: "I wanted to buy a Free PC, but I couldn't afford it."
Noyes also quotes Slashdot blogger GNUAlmafuerte as noting that it is unfair to call the system truly free when it lacks an open BIOS. (The ASRock specs lists a 4MB AMI BIOS.) Among other critiques, Noyes quotes blogger Robert Pogson as telling her, "Matching a 250W power supply with an Atom processor is insane."
Others opined, meanwhile, that the Intel 82945GC northbridge used in the Open-PC is not optimized for multimedia. Indeed, Intel's single-core Atom 230 and the dual-core Atom 330 used in the Open-PC are typically combined with Intel's 82945GC northbridge, which is also used in the system. To add greater multimedia oomph, including HD video playback, systems integrators such as ZaReason have instead chosen to add Nvidia's HD-ready "Ion" companion chip. ZaReason's Ion Breeze 3770, for example, starts at $400 and is based on an Atom 230 and Nvidia's Ion chip.
Others, meanwhile, suggest that an ARM-based system would have been a better — or at least a lower cost — choice. Several projects and companies have released open source systems based on the ARM Cortex-A8-based Texas Instruments BeagleBoard, including the Always Innovating Touch Book. Featuring a detachable tablet, the netbook sells for $400.
The Open-PC's KDE-based desktop
(Click on either to enlarge)
Back at LinuxInsider, Noyes concludes that despite the high price and other issues, the project was, if nothing else, a worthwhile experiment. "Using surveys to collaboratively decide on the machine's key specs — and delivering a tangible, FOSS-based product just six months after the project's launch — are nothing to be sneezed at, whatever your opinion of the result," she writes.
The Open-PC will be available for sale in late February for the price of 359 Euros (about $505), says the Open-PC project. More information may be found here. The LinuxInsider story on Open-PC should be here.
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.