Cheap PCs from Wal-Mart

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Thu May 29 18:34:22 EDT 2003


For those of you looking to build a cluster on the (real) cheap, Walmart 
has mailorder PCs, with Lindows (a Linux variant) installed for $200 (plus 
sales tax and shipping, of course).

I just bought one of these for my daughter (with WinXP, for $300.. I guess 
the MS license is $100) and while it's no ball of fire, and the keyboard 
and mouse are what you'd expect for a $200 computer, it DOES work ok..at 
least WinXP hasn't crashed in the last week except when my daughter tried 
to play a Win95 (only) Disney game on it.  The exact configuration seems to 
be changing.. last fall it was a Via C3 800MHz, now it's an Athlon 1.1GHz.. 
anyway, 128MB, 20GB disk, CD-ROM (read only), Realtek on board 10/100 
ethernet, S3 video, no floppy,...  The fan is quite loud in the power supply.

For someone looking to "play" with Beowulfery and set up, say 3 or 4 nodes, 
this seems to be a pretty low budget way to do it.  I haven't checked, but 
I'll bet you can buy a 5 port Linksys switch from Walmart as well as the 
plug strips and network cables.  A 4 node system for under $1000 is a very 
real possibility. I ordered mine online on Tuesday and UPS tried to deliver 
it on Friday, so it's even an "impulse buy" candidate.

For what it's worth, they are made by MicroTelPC http://www.microtelpc.com/


I'd just try shoving a Linux CDROM in to see if it boots, but I'm afraid 
that WinXP will die... I might just get another one, bare, to try it out.

James Lux, P.E.

Spacecraft Telecommunications Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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