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VA Linux Enters Cheap PC Fray

By evro in News
Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 03:43:44 AM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)
Hardware

According to this C|NET article, VA Linux now has its own "Cheap PC," the StartX SP2, which starts at $795 for a Celeron 466, 64 MB SDRAM, 10.2 GB 5400 RPM HD, and no monitor.


I don't think too much luck has been had in the cheap PC market by the likes of eMachines, and this new offering doesn't seem all that "cheap," considering the stats of the system (I'm using a local guy, who quoted me a price of about $1200 for an Athlon 750, 256MB SDRAM, 20.5 GB 7200 RPM HD, with a 15 inch monitor, as my basis for comparison; though even when compared with Dell's "WebPC", which has the same stats as VA's system + a 15 inch monitor for $120 less, the VA System seems to fall behind. Also, VA's system runs Linux (of course), which may make it useless for the majority of potential cheap-pc buyers).

Then again, I don't know if this is a "Cheap PC" or simply a cheap pc -- i.e. whether it is targeting the same market as eMachines or simply meant as an inexpensive alternative to their pricier offerings.

Does anybody have any experience with VA hardware? Is it worth the extra money? They claim to have much higher reliability than other systems, is this true?

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VA Linux Enters Cheap PC Fray | 29 comments (29 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
VA's all over the map. Why do so ma... (4.00 / 1) (#1)
by rusty on Tue Apr 11, 2000 at 08:21:17 PM EST

rusty voted -1 on this story.

VA's all over the map. Why do so many companies seem to have trouble with the concept of "core focus" these days? Used to be, VA Research made the best linux server systems, bar none. Then they became VA Linux Systems, and started on this frenzy of doing everything but their core competence. Anyway, personally, I don't care too much what VA does anymore. But those are my thoughts, in case this does get posted :-)

____
Not the real rusty

The base story, YA el cheapo PC, is... (none / 0) (#11)
by warpeightbot on Tue Apr 11, 2000 at 09:15:37 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

The base story, YA el cheapo PC, is ho-hum. On the other hand, the submitter generates an interesting question: Is a VA Linux box really the Rolls-Royce of the community, or is it like paying $40 for a pair of real Dockers when the $29.95 (and occasionally on sale for $20) store brand will do just fine...?

I don't care about this to be hones... (3.00 / 2) (#5)
by Anonymous Coward on Tue Apr 11, 2000 at 10:29:11 PM EST

Anonymous Coward voted -1 on this story.

I don't care about this to be honest. This is very uninteresting, as well as unimportant news. And that's not cheap in the *slighest* for me. ;) For the hardware provided, it's quite steep.

Oops... (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by Anonymous Coward on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 04:11:09 PM EST

Make that "honest" in the subject. Typi. :)

[ Parent ]
Er... (2.50 / 2) (#29)
by Anonymous Coward on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 04:11:40 PM EST

Er, "typo."

[ Parent ]
I don't like VA.. there is somethin... (1.00 / 1) (#6)
by pulsar on Tue Apr 11, 2000 at 10:36:55 PM EST

pulsar voted -1 on this story.

I don't like VA.. there is something about them that says "evil" to me.. not sure what it is yet...

Re: I don't like VA.. there is somethin... (none / 0) (#16)
by jrennie on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 07:43:52 AM EST

It's the f***ing $243 you have to pay to upgrade from 64MB->128MB SDRAM. Talk about insanity...

Jason

[ Parent ]

Re: I don't like VA.. there is somethin... (none / 0) (#24)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 01:21:08 PM EST

If you think that's bad, try a Dell. With Rambus it's like $399 to upgrade from a 128 mb chip to a 256. The 256s are $800.

[ Parent ]
Interesting. I'm wondering who they... (none / 0) (#4)
by analog on Tue Apr 11, 2000 at 11:43:20 PM EST

analog voted 1 on this story.

Interesting. I'm wondering who they're aiming this at? For all the effort at 'user friendliness' (which is actually making it less so for this user), Linux is still a 'get under the hood and tinker with it' operating system. Most of the end user types that use Linux will be building their own boxes I would think.

One thing that does make sense is if this is aimed at corporate desktops. I can see big advantages to buying a bunch of preconfigured boxes with everything integrated in that situation. The question then becomes whether they are doing this in response to demand, or in anticipation of it. The answer to that would be very interesting indeed.

As far as the quality of their hardware, I don't have any personal experience. However, everybody I've talked to that has used it swears by it (they sometimes have unkind words about VA's customer service, mind you, but they love the hardware).

Go ahead and post it - it is not a ... (none / 0) (#10)
by soulhuntre on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 12:16:29 AM EST

soulhuntre voted 1 on this story.

Go ahead and post it - it is not a bad chunk of info. VALinux seems to be desperate to make some money, showing againt he growing problems of loss leader Linux companies... eventually someone wants to see them DO something other than give away hard won R&D money.

Re: Go ahead and post it - it is not a ... (none / 0) (#14)
by rusty on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 04:04:02 AM EST

VALinux seems to be desperate to make some money, showing againt he growing problems of loss leader Linux companies... eventually someone wants to see them DO something other than give away hard won R&D money.

Ok, they used to sell OEM server systems, loaded with free software, on commodity x86 hardware. They used expensive hardware, but they sold expensive boxen too. What was wrong with that business model? If they're struggling as a loss-leader now, they've brought it on themselves by getting into web media and cheap PC's and n+1 other businesses.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Go ahead and post it - it is not a ... (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by analog on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 09:46:29 AM EST

What was wrong with that business model?

Anyone could duplicate it (and someone did; Penguin Computing was founded by a former VA employee). It's hard to justify the kind of market cap VA had when anybody can start an identical company in their garage with a few contacts and a good line of credit. It was a viable business model, but the company wouldn't have been unique.

It appears they're taking a page out of the Amazon book; throw everything possible at the wall and see what sticks. Then swear that was your intention all along.

[ Parent ]

Free ad. for VA? Nah. Let's do it... (3.00 / 1) (#2)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 12:23:08 AM EST

Paul Dunne voted -1 on this story.

Free ad. for VA? Nah. Let's do it properly, with banner ads, if we're going down that route. Besides, there's nothing to discuss: this is just an announcement that anyone who's interested with find out about through other channels.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/

Re: Free ad. for VA? Nah. Let's do it... (none / 0) (#13)
by rusty on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 04:01:29 AM EST

That's how I felt about this one too. Although it would seem that people have things to say about it. Story moderation never fails to prove me wrong, it would appear. Thus continually reinforcing my feeling that without it, you'd all hate what I thought was news-worthy. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Free ad. for VA? Nah. Let's do it... (none / 0) (#19)
by evro on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 10:07:15 AM EST

Actually, what I posted was distinctly NOT pro-VA.  If you notice, I was sort
of remarking that what you get from VA for the price falls way short of other
systems.  I don't think 64 MB is enough ram for anyone today, and I have never
liked Celerons.

As for it being simply an announcement that "anyone who's interested with find
out about through other channels," I would say that that's true for 90% of the
articles posted here, and practically everything on the web.

---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
[ Parent ]
Re: Free ad. for VA? Nah. Let's do it... (none / 0) (#21)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 10:56:31 AM EST

I didn't for a moment think that your intention was to give VA advertising. But what is there in the story? VA bring out a new product. There must be thousands of companies that do this every day. What makes VA special? Only the fact that they have an association with Linux. But that's not unusual any more. Some company bringing out another PC clone that runs Linux is just not interesting, is the gist of it. But in any case, I don't think product announcements belong on kuro5in.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
Re: Free ad. for VA? Nah. Let's do it... (none / 0) (#22)
by rusty on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 11:15:24 AM EST

However, this is yet another example of the (as someone else put it) "Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" business strategy VA (and everyone else) has adopted lately. I think there's some useful mileage to be had from taking them as a case in point for what everyone seems to be doing these days-- is it as idiotic as it seems (to me anyway)? Or is the idea that a company should do one thing, and do it well an archaic holdover?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Actually, the case was pretty decen... (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by dieman on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 12:38:51 AM EST

dieman voted 1 on this story.

Actually, the case was pretty decently designed. Its a minitower that resembels a dell moreso than anything else. comparing it to your local bargain basement is not fair.
---
blah

I think this is intresting news but... (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by FlinkDelDinky on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 01:30:44 AM EST

FlinkDelDinky voted 0 on this story.

I think this is intresting news but I just don't like VA for some reason. I don't think this is a consumer product. In my mind it can only be a cheap business PC.

VA makes only intel based PC's (Intel owns a good chunk of VA). Basically they're highly engineered, well supported, very reliable, low to mid range linux servers.

The high price of a VA system is partly the engineering of the box and partly their support. Think of a VA Linux system as a cheap SUN.

This is what I've heard anyway.



Re: I think this is intresting news but... (none / 0) (#20)
by asad on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 10:54:17 AM EST

actually I think of tatung as cheap suns.

[ Parent ]
I feel sorta "so what"-ish about VA... (none / 0) (#8)
by djzoot on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 02:17:56 AM EST

djzoot voted 0 on this story.

I feel sorta "so what"-ish about VA releasing a cheaper unit to their line ... hence the vote. However, to answer your questions, a few random thoughts on VA boxes I've purchased:

  • having your reseller pre-install a linux distro is convenient (saves 15-45 minutes of someone's time)
  • comparing them to dell is not quite accurate ... who else has had a bitch of a time trying to figure out exactly which cheap-as-possible different chipsets dell had glued onto their motherboards for machines with the same model number?
  • the claims of higher reliability (from VA) are mostly due to their use of better (although more expensive) hardware (ie: ecc parity ram -- note: the ram in this new "cheap" model is not ecc ...)
  • theoretically, VA "tunes" their configurations to linux ... meaning I guess they only use hardware with stable drivers?
  • they have nicer cases than most resellers (especially dell!)
  • unfortunatly, after much success, i had order/customer service problems with 2 VA orders and will never buy a machine from them again ...

-rob
--
There is no K5.
VA make sexy hardware. But it costs... (2.00 / 1) (#7)
by pwhysall on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 02:29:22 AM EST

pwhysall voted 1 on this story.

VA make sexy hardware. But it costs too much.

It's good quality stuff, though - which is unfortunately not my experience with the current crop of Dells (GX110, P3 733, sorta spec).
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown

Re: VA make sexy hardware. But it costs... (none / 0) (#12)
by rusty on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 03:59:46 AM EST

I've had good luck with my dell, but it's a high-end machine (Precision 410 workstation). I don't know what their low end boxen are like. We are considering buying an Inspiron laptop though (only one I could find that can drive my 21" monitor at work). Any reports on those would be greatly appreciated.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: VA make sexy hardware. But it costs... (none / 0) (#15)
by Matthew Guenther on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 07:39:12 AM EST

I would recommend a Latitude over an Inspiron, mine has held up extremely well over the past three years. The reason I recommend the Latitude is it's oriented more towards businesses, so it's built with durability and stability in mind... the Latitudes have always done extremely well in durability tests. But any Dell laptop is good, they've been excellent about service to myself, everyone I've personally talked to has had similar experiences, and comp.sys.laptop usually gives them good reviews.

Also, I don't know what resolution your monitor is at, but the CPx can drive an external monitor to 1600 x 1200, and most others can go up to 1280 x 1024.

MBG



[ Parent ]
Dell Latitudes (was: Re: VA make sexy hardware. Bu (none / 0) (#18)
by warpeightbot on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 09:58:55 AM EST

Hear, here on the Latitudes. I carried one or the other of them around for three years, thru countless airports, hotels, and often less-than-optimum client sites; each of them (2) failed once. Both times in the video section, both times it was fixed by the time I got back from lunch the next day, each time on a customer site 1000 miles from home. If I can find somebody that will preload Linux on it, I'm getting a Latitude when my computer loan eligibility comes up next month. (or maybe one of those sexy Vaios.... :) But if I *had* to depend on the laptop, I'd get the Dell, simply for the customer service.

[ Parent ]
Re: Dell Latitudes (was: Re: VA make sexy hardware (none / 0) (#23)
by rusty on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 11:23:35 AM EST

If I can find somebody that will preload Linux on it, I'm getting a Latitude when my computer loan eligibility comes up next month.

Dell will preload linux on it. :-)

(or maybe one of those sexy Vaios.... :)

Ironically, I'm looking for a machine to replace my sexy Vaio (F430). The vaio's a very nice machine, don't get me wrong. But the video chip is just not up to running the monitor, and there seems to be no docking station I could use to add an external card.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

How about an AMD based system? (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by xah on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 02:01:40 PM EST

VA sells only Intel, apparently. Anyone know of a cheap AMD system preconfigured with Linux?

Re: How about an AMD based system? (none / 0) (#26)
by djzoot on Wed Apr 12, 2000 at 07:19:23 PM EST

penguin computing sells AMD stuff as well as Intel boxen -- they even have labelled their athalon based box as a "gaming machine" ... *shrug*
--
There is no K5.
[ Parent ]
Re: How about an AMD based system? (none / 0) (#27)
by xah on Thu Apr 20, 2000 at 10:37:27 PM EST

Indeed, they do. AMD boxen are listed on the penguin web site. Unfortunately, any use of the system configurator fails (currently) with a "document not found" message. Apparently they haven't kept this up-to-date. Perhaps this underscores one of the markets that AMD hasn't yet successfully tackled: the "slimline" or small-box, utility/tertiary/backup/rover computer.

[ Parent ]
VA Linux Enters Cheap PC Fray | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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