Cheap PCs from Wal-Mart

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at
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 
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

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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