Would you buy a Linux desktop?

September 10, 2008

I think a lot of us are open to Linux on the desktop. Quick, free, frequently updated, etc., etc…We know the standard reasons to look at Linux-based PCs. While laptops reign supreme for consumers and many business users, there are still many good reasons to purchase desktop computers in education.

I ask the question in the title, though, because I just saw a review on linux.com of a new, cheap, pre-built desktop from LinPC. As the reviewer pointed out,

LinPC is not a dream gaming machine, but in a world where the price of everything is uncomfortably high, a $309 computer with these specs and these capabilities is a bargain.

I won’t reiterate the specs; they’re in the review. Suffice to say, this is a solid business or education desktop with all the standard trimmings for $309. The reviewer liked the machine and it’s very similar to a few I’ve put together; running any modern Linux distro, they work very well. Which is what I mean when I ask if you would buy a Linux desktop. Would it make more sense to actually just build one (or a bunch)?

Obviously, a preconfigured machine saves time and effort; pull it out of the box, load up any users and any extra apps you might want and you’re in business. However, with the rock-bottom kit prices available on TigerDirect and NewEgg, I have to wonder if it makes sense for those of us in education to save the money and just roll our own?

While assembling a desktop isn’t quite as easy as pulling one out of the box, it is a remarkably quick process with modern kits. Obviously, this provides you with more flexibility on options and, since you’re going open source in a project like this anyway, you can choose your OS as well.

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