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Wal-Mart Web Offers Linux as Windows Alternative

Wal-Mart Web Offers Linux as Windows Alternative

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc.(NYSE:WMT - news) the world's
largest retailer, has begun selling packaged Linux (news - web sites)
operating system software on its Web site, a sign of rising consumer
interest in the alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq:MSFT - news)
Windows, software maker Lycoris said on Tuesday.

Walmart.com offers Linux operating systems and applications from Lycoris and
Lindows, two companies which produce slightly different versions of Linux
that both look similar to Windows.


Walmart.com has already offered computers loaded with Linux for as little as
$200. The boxed software, meant to be loaded on an extra, often older
machine, is an expansion of the Linux product lines carried by the retailer.


Linux enthusiasts say the upstart platform offers a cheaper alternative to
Microsoft, which has an effective monopoly in the market for PC operating
systems.


A Lycoris desktop operating system goes for about $30, compared to about
$100-$120 for Microsoft Windows XP (news - web sites) home edition upgrades
and full versions, on Walmart.com. Lindows' and Lycoris's operating system,
office software and games cost about $100.


The core of a Linux operating system is a nugget of freely available "open
source" software code that is developed cooperatively by programmers
worldwide. Many applications, such as word processing programs, are also
available in open source versions.


Critics say Linux is still relatively difficult to use for consumers, but
Lycoris spokesman Jason Spisak said the audience was clearly growing as
mainstream retailers like Wal-Mart and Fry's offered his software.


Open source software is often free, but technological novices generally find
it easier to buy the software packaged with instructions and
consumer-friendly applications, such as from Lindows and Lycoris.


Linux so far has been more widely adopted by corporations and hi-end users,
and Microsoft's dominance on the desktop is nearly absolute. Spisak said at
peak during the holiday season Wal-Mart sold in one week about 700 of its
$200 computer running Lycoris Linux.


He said the boxed software would appeal to more sophisticated users putting
Linux on older machines, often for less technologically able friends and
acquaintances.

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