Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 15:08:11 -0500 (EST)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LPN] Linux Pipeline Newsletter - 12-21-04 - Wal-Mart's 'Balance' Gambit Linux Pipeline Newsletter | Wal-Mart's 'Balance' Gambit | 12.21.2004
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Wal-Mart's 'Balance' Gambit
  • Top Linux News
        - Wal-Mart, Linspire Team On Low-Budget Laptop
        - Linux To Ring Up $35 Billion By 2008
        - Researchers Find Fewer Bugs In Linux
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Back To The Browser Wars
        - IBM: Boon Or Bane For Linux?
        - Opening The Desktop
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: Linux Security Threats
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Wal-Mart's 'Balance' Gambit

    I'm no fan of Wal-Mart. During my college years back in North Carolina and Georgia, I watched as Sam Walton's "big box" retail outlets spread across the Deep South like a bad rash, leaving one bombed-out small-town business district after another in their wake. It didn't make for a very pleasant shopping experience at the time, and I'm not much more enthusiastic about it today.

    Having said that, I'm not entirely disappointed to see Wal-Mart turning its marketing fire against Microsoft. The retailer's partnership with Linspire to produce a sub-$500 laptop using only Linux, OpenOffice, and other open-source software has paid off: At $498, the Balance laptop looks like a reasonably nice system, and it's the cheapest laptop on the market to include both an operating system and an office productivity suite.

    The most interesting part of this deal, however, isn't the price of this laptop; it's the nature of the company selling it. Wal-Mart is notorious for dictating everything from wholesale pricing to supply-chain technology to its suppliers, although in this case there's no cost at all associated with the software on this laptop system. That's a big difference compared to any computer using a Microsoft operating system, office suite, and other software, all of which would increase the cost of the Balance laptop by 50 percent or more.

    Does Wal-Mart intend to put some serious marketing muscle behind its Linux laptop? Or is the Balance intended more as a message to Microsoft, whose products are still far more familiar to most consumers and thus much easier to sell in large quantities? Redmond might not be happy giving Wal-Mart the kind of preferential pricing the retailer would like to see, but it could be preferable to seeing the Balance sitting front-and-center in hundreds of stores, tempting even the most dubious consumers with its unheard-of price.

    I suspect we won't have to wait long to see how this story ends. In the meantime, if any of you decide to shell out $498, drop me a line, and let me know what you think of the Balance.

    Have a good week and a happy holiday.

    Matthew McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    Wal-Mart, Linspire Team On Low-Budget Laptop
    The discount retailer and Linux distribution vendor break the $500 price barrier with their $498 Balance laptop.

    Linux To Ring Up $35 Billion By 2008
    For a theoretically free operating system, Linux is proving to be quite a cash cow: A research firm sees a bright financial future for the OS, especially in overseas markets.

    Researchers Find Fewer Bugs In Linux
    The newest version of Linux sports far fewer bugs than the average commercial code, a group of former Stanford University researchers says.

    No Room For Microsoft At New Open-Source Store
    An ambitious new retail store features only Linux and open-source software, including a low-cost laptop that is completely devoid of Microsoft software.

    Microsoft Buys Tool To Fix IE Spyware Problems
    Microsoft buys anti-spyware technology to integrate with Internet Explorer, a move intended to slow the exodus of users to rivals such as Mozilla's Firefox.

    IBM Promotes Grid Computing Among Partners
    Grid computing is nearly a billion-dollar business for IBM, and the company wants independent software vendors to start getting in on the act.

    Penguin Blade Server Takes A Stab At Entry-Level Clustering
    Penguin Computing unveils its BladeRunner blade server, designed to provide a low-cost, Linux-based departmental clustering solution.

    JBoss Puts Together Open-Source Middleware Offering
    The move, which puts JBoss in more direct competition with Red Hat and Gluecode Software, will make Java easier to use, the company says.

    Editor's Picks

    Back To The Browser Wars
    The move from Internet Explorer to Firefox is more like a mass exodus among tech-savvy users. Will a real competitive threat finally breathe some life back into Internet Explorer?

    IBM: Boon Or Bane For Linux?
    With IBM's recent sale of its PC division, things are about to get really interesting--but guest columnist Rob Enderle wonders whether the outcome will be good or bad for Linux.

    Opening The Desktop
    The Firefox Web browser is a smash hit, and the companion Thunderbird e-mail client promises to follow suit. Now, the open-source veterans behind Mozilla's recent success stories consider how to keep up the pressure on Microsoft.

    Will Linux Hold The High-Performance Ground?
    Can Linux maintain its leadership in the high-performance computing market, even as new opportunities and new competitors come onto the scene?

    Survivor's Guide To 2005: Security
    The good news: networks are starting to defend themselves, requiring less hands-on human intervention. The bad news: competing standards and alliances mean that security managers betting on the wrong technology could find themselves running Betamax in a VHS world.

    Voting Booth:

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    Does Wal-Mart Love Linux?

    Is Wal-Mart serious about promoting its $498 Linux laptop co-produced with Linspire, or is it just a negotiating ploy to get pricing concessions from Microsoft? Let us know what you think, cast your vote!

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