Cheap PCs from Wal-Mart
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
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