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Thursday, June 24, 2004

LINUX: New computer store first to feature Linux gear

TheStar.com - New computer store first to feature Linux gear


Opening hailed as historic event

Windows rival grows in popularity

TYLER HAMILTON
TECHNOLOGY REPORTER

Toronto will become home this weekend to what's being touted as the first retail computer store devoted exclusively to Linux-based products.

Sub500.com, located at 2930 Dufferin St. near Lawrence Ave., will sell PCs and laptop computers based on the increasingly popular and relatively inexpensive open-source operating system, which has emerged as a serious alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows.

Linux has already grabbed a significant share of the corporate server market and a growing number of Linux software providers, Red Hat, Mandrake, Xandros and Lindows among them, are beginning to promote the operating system for business and home use.

Marc and David Silverman, 32 and 37, respectively, have been selling Linux products over the Web for 18 months. The brothers also operate a car wash on Dufferin St. and figured they could use surplus office space at that location to open a Linux store.

Marc Silverman said many people are tired of having "Microsoft shoved down their throats" and a store dedicated to Linux gives the average computer user a chance to test computers and applications based on the operating system before making a purchase.

The store will have Linux experts to answer questions and a service centre that can handle repairs and upgrades.

The brothers will initially sell laptops and personal computers based on Lindow Inc.'s Linspire, a user-friendly Windows-like version of Linux.

PCs will cost from $299 to $979, while laptops will sell for as low as $1,111.

Linspire add-on software packages containing personal finance, word processing, spreadsheets and photo-editing applications, as well as games, will sell for less than $50.

Marc Silverman said Linspire offers "a good way for the average guy to get out of Windows," though the brothers plan to add other versions of Linux in the coming months.

"We're going to carry the whole line-up."

Michael Robinson, chief executive officer of Lindows, went so far as to call the upcoming opening of the new store a "historical event for the Linux industry." That's because most current Linux users must download and install the operating system and related applications themselves, as there are few retailers who sell and service pre-loaded Linux computers.

Marc Silverman said the store is an experimental "one-off" at the moment.

"But if things work well we would definitely expand."

Montreal would likely be the next target city, he added.

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