Linux Mint (a close cousin of Ubuntu) now comes bundled on a nice-looking small form factor PC–a small metal box, comparable in size to a home router, ideal for connecting to a television to use as an HTPC and/or as a secondary PC.
Here’s the problem: It costs $500. By way of comparison, HP sells a not-quite-as-small PC called the 100B B0054TP4KS for considerably less–$100 on a bad day, $200 if you find one on sale. And that includes the Windows tax.
The 100B isn’t quite as nice of an HTPC, because it lacks an HDMI port to connect to your HDTV. I’m not sure if HP intends to sell the 100B as a business PC, or as a secondary PC for home use, so it’s not quite ideal for either, though the price is nice.
What the Mint box probably lacks is volume. If the Mint box were made and sold in the quantities of the HP 100B, it probably could sell for $300 or less.
Now that Microsoft is trying to move toward making hardware that it can sell in its own boutique stores, a la Apple, maybe that can happen. I can’t imagine HP and Dell are thrilled at the prospect of competing with their biggest supplier, and I can’t imagine they’re thrilled about scraping by with 5% profit margins on its products while Microsoft enjoys 95% profit margins on its own.
And that can really only be a good thing. Did you know that every time you pick up an Android phone, you’re using a Linux box? Android proves that Linux can be just as easy to use as anything else.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.