Much has been made of the $169 diskless Linux PC launched by Lindows in the US, but it seems there are no plans to sell it in Europe.
Techworld has been unable to uncover any European distribution for it – in fact the similar £250 E-scape Li, launched by Evesham in October has been quietly discontinued in favour of a Mandrake solution.
European vendors agree that cutting corners on a machine that may not be easy to use is not a great idea.
Evesham’s E-scape was intended for economy-minded customers, but apparently met with little success. The company quietly discontinued the E-scape in June and launched the E-Linux 2400, a more upmarket Linux PC. Based on Mandrake 9.1, it costs £552 plus VAT for an Athlon-based system with 512M RAM, 80G hard disk, a CD-RW drive, full networking and 4 USB ports.
“With the release of Mandrake 9.1, we saw the opportunity to provide our customers with a free, powerful, feature-rich, stable, good-looking, operating system as an alternative to our Windows-based machines,” said Darren Mansell of Evesham, in a statement which made no direct mention of E-scape.
“We decided a PC that cut corners to be as cheap as possible also wasn't doing Mandrake 9.1 justice so we elected to use high-spec components.” The Lindows WebStation has been launched in the US as a family’s second computer: Lindows’ release suggests there should be “a computer in every child’s bedroom”.
It is also intended for business, where cheap work terminals or public-access kiosks are required. It includes web browsing, email, instant messaging, and a Microsoft-compatible office suite that can open and edit Microsoft documents. A CD, mounted internally and in some models not accessible to the user, includes the LindowsCD operating system. The Lindows WebStation is actually put together by hardware partners. One made by Wintergreen is sold by TigerDirect (including a floppy drive as standard, and with vacant slots for hard disks). Two different models, sold by Idotpc.com can have hard disks fitted for an extra $67.
Despite the attractions of the idea, European vendors seem to be cautious about its actual viability. German Linux vendor SuSE, which also sells Linux PCs, has no plans to compete, even in the US.
“The low-cost home appliance market is currently not a market for SuSE Linux,” said Holger Dryoff, US general manager of SuSe. “We wish Lindows the best in this segment, as we want to make Linux more used in general.”
Lindows itself did not respond to our query as to whether it plans to launch the WebStation in Europe, but presumably such a move would require a European hardware partner. The most likely prospect for this role would have been Evesham, but this now seems unlikely.