A few months ago, super-sized discount store Wal-Mart made the headlines in the Linux world by becoming the first major U.S. retailer to offer PCs without Windows preloaded. At this writing, the Walmart.com Web site lists no less than 14 PCs available without an operating system.
While this was widely hailed in the Open Source community as a victory over the “Microsoft tax,” which usually afflicts buyers of Linux PCs, one major question remained unanswered: How well do these machines support Linux? Some PCs produced today are crammed with “value-added” (otherwise known as “brain dead”) hardware that only works with specific drivers — drivers that are frequently available under Windows alone.
So, in order to get the straight scoop, we went off to the Wal-Mart Web site to purchase a system and load Linux on it.
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