Ballmer Asked For a $100 PC and Here It Is: Running GNU/Linux

Thursday, November 25 2004 @ 01:04 PM EST

Contributed by: PJ

This is nice. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer asked the industry last month to make a $100 PC for emerging markets, and they did. Except it runs GNU/Linux. Oops. Grin:

" . . .Thousand Oaks, California-based SolarPC has managed it with the Linux-based SolarLite. Due for launch in December, SolarLite is a rugged book-sized PC with a Compact Flash drive loaded with software.

"The SolarLite will be based on VIA Technologies Inc long-life chipset technologies and is designed to run on 12-volt power via solar panels, car batteries, or even human-powered generators. The software for the SolarLite is provided by the DSL . . . project, a bootable Live CD Linux distribution.

"SolarPC also announced plans to give away a million SolarLite computers to schools in emerging countries around the world via the Global Education Link project.

You don't have to live in emerging markets countries to drop Microsoft software, of course. The Bristol City Council in the UK is following what I think is a good strategy for easing into it, switching most of their desktops to StarOffice, but keeping Microsoft Office on some:

"Bristol City Council has dumped Microsoft Office, Corel Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3 from 5,000 user desktops as part of a migration to the open source StarOffice 7.

"The local authority estimates that the move will save it some 1.4m over the next five years."

Wait until they discover OpenOffice.

Most departments will switch, but some "1,800 desktops in the city's education service, including schools, will remain on Microsoft Office for the time being." That's because Microsoft offers deals to educational facilities it won't offer to other public sector users. I'm thinking they will soon. They are also keeping a few computers with Windows for those who "need to manage the few documents with specific technical features not yet fully supported in StarOffice."

I think this is a fine plan, because it eases the transition greatly to have your familiar old software handy for when you are in a rush and haven't figured out all the ins and outs of the new software yet. It's also how most of us tranfer to GNU/Linux systems, bit by bit. A spokesman for the Bristol City Council says they studied the the technical, financial and cultural issues for three years before deciding to switch to StarOffice. If the world keeps this up, it won't matter what the EU Commission decides or how little the Justice Department does or who sells out for a pile of bills, will it?