back to article Lane Fox promises sub-£100 PCs

Martha Lane Fox is promising £98 computers to tempt the last remaining digital refuseniks in UK to get online. The machines, refurbed by Remploy, will come complete with telephone support, monitor, mouse and Linux software. Lane Fox, David Cameron's Digital Champion, told the Financial Times (subscription link): "Motivation …


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  1. Dave Murray

    iPad style consumption only devices?

    "will come complete with telephone support, monitor, mouse and Linux software"

    What no keyboard? :p

  2. Peter Bond

    I'm confused

    Is the involvement of the Biblically annoying Lane Fox supposed to encourage or discourage uptake?

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Biblically anoying?

      Obviously, you weren't thiking about Personally, I think it was a shame for a helluva lot of people they picked up the mistake quickly.

      That apart, I don't think there's any way for this to succeed. Volunteers? margin of root-bugger-all on a machine - with Telephone support, FFS? (charged at premium rate is the only possible way...)

      Reminded me of a disatrous venture at Marconi, (liverpool, I think) where they were offering to repair Casio cash registers for £3 a shot. I know, because a a sales eng. for Nicolet, they wanted us to sell them a £5,000 logic analyser.

      Even a financial fool like me would see that: £3/pop. One bloke. Parts included. Depreciation on the testgear. Returns, etc, just wasn't gonna work, unless the one bloke - I kid you not -could fix 100 or so a day. i.e., about 20/hr. You couldn't get the screws out and back in that time...

      Although Lane Fox's heart is in the right place (positioned nicely between two, stoppit, Andus) and she's made a sodding mint, there's something missing in the story somewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Something missing

        That missing something is probably the fact that dear Martha is a quango in her own right as she hasn't actually achieved much but continues to suck on the tax payers cash.

        Don't get me wrong her heart is in the right place, it's just a shame her employers never give her enough teeth to execute some of her better ideas.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Is this a fail in the making ?

    I suspect very few of the remaining PC-less households are that way because the can't afford a basic setup.

    However I am sure there are plenty of households (like mine) that would snap up a £98 PC to add to the 3 or 4 they may already have ....

    1. Mark 65

      Havenots or Wantnots?

      I agree that most of the remaining households are likely that way because they really couldn't give a rat's arse about the internet.

      Governments and Corporates that try to appeal to the currently fashionable "must have everything, 5 minute concentration span, is it on Facebook?" brigade will have to put up with it.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    "Complete with..."

    "... complete with telephone support, monitor, mouse and Linux software"

    What, no keyboard? That'll make things interesting :)

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Bring back minitel

    There's no margin in a refurbished machine for £100 it's difficult to see companies getting on board selling these unless there's a fat subsidy for it.

    If you want people online it's better to give them some kind of updated minitel system for the "digital" town hall stuff. The new ARM-based stuff would be ideal for this but something piggy-backing on a Freeview set-top box might be even better, although I can imagine my mum, a refusenik par excellence, still having nothing to with it.

    But, of course, this can't be done on the cheap. You can only hope to make the cost back on reduced costs for other services over time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "No margin"

      Did you notice who's "refurbishing" them?


      A charity, providing work to "those who experience complex barriers to work".

      Does there need to be a "margin", since it's not being done on a commercial for-profit basis? £98 should certainly cover the Remploy costs, and if they can get the sourcing working effectively, it'll also help to ease WEEE recycling.

      Sounds like a win-win to me.

      1. My Alter Ego

        "those who experience complex barriers to work"

        I had to go to the website to work out what the hell that meant. Regardless of slogan, it appears to be a good cause.

        1. Elmer Phud


          I'm confused - Remploy is one of those outfits that the Tories wanted to do away with.

          Unless, that is, they've realised that they can try and foist this idea from the notexactlyskint MLF as coming from Big Society.

          Anyway MLF -- you try and convince my mum, my partner's mum and many others that they have a need for the internet and another bloody gadget. It's not as if they have enough crap to deal with -- all those digital photo frames, mobiles and the rest that are supposed to be somehow a benefit to those who either can't or won't uses them.

      2. nobby

        sounds like?

        sounds more like a lin-lin scenario to me

  6. Apocalypse Later

    Blond leading the blind

    Had to be said.

  7. Tom_

    Wrong strategy?

    Wouldn't it be better to just wait for these people to die off?

    1. copsewood

      digital inclusion

      Yes it's true that many of those who do not use the Internet will die before they do so. It is also unfortunate, particularly for the individuals concerned and for their families that many of these individuals will die rather sooner due to mainstream exclusion, isolation and boredom than they otherwise would. Digitally included people are more likely to live happier and longer, so just "letting them die" isn't a responsible approach and demonstrates a heartless attitude.

      I have engaged in efforts to get and keep 2 ageing family members online (both happy users of Ubuntu Linux currently aged 80 and 90) and the real issue here is availability of effective computer support for their needs. One of the real culprits here is the collusion of PC vendors with Microsoft determined to keep personal computer use expensive, unreliable and complex by failing to support much more cost effective open source systems for this purpose.

      Another culprit is the fact that the community based IT basics courses and mainstream PC retailers fail to cover these simpler and more reliable systems which don't need constant upgrades or antivirus. Both of these groups have badly let down this potential user group.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Down


        "Digitally included people are more likely to live happier and longer"

        Whilst I agree entirely with the sentiments of your post, you dont do yourself any favours by spouting made up guff as fact.

        You would have made a far stronger point by omitting emotional falsehoods.

        1. copsewood

          @it wasnt me

          "You would have made a far stronger point by omitting emotional falsehoods."

          Sorry but these are not falsehoods and these observations are objectively supportable, based upon my own research and personal experience.

          The problem I am referring to is partly down to younger family members preferring modern communication methods and having to make adjustments to keep sending snail mail and initiating phone calls to granny. This does make life more complex for younger family members, having to maintain use of a wider range of communication methods, some of which are considered obsolete for purposes other than including otherwise disconnected granny. Why bother to send postcards when you go on holiday if you can use Facebook for example ? People will naturally tend to prioritise communications based upon cost effectiveness, and yes this does exclude granny from having as fertile and interesting communications with younger family members than would be the case given an exclusively old-communications world.

          I don't see this as emotional falsehood given I have also observed all of these mechanisms at work, not just in families but also within a community group which has some social similarities to a wider family, and which has seen the digitally included (based upon the metric of us having an email address for an account holding member) grow from 30% of membership to 80% over the last 10 years. We still send out paper newsletters by snail mail each month, but it is a significant cost overhead to keep a diminishing proportion of our membership less well in touch than the rest, but at least connected to some extent.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @it wasnt me

            "Sorry but these are not falsehoods and these observations are objectively supportable, based upon my own research and personal experience."

            Objective research based on personal experience, eh? Don't let anyone get in the way of your rocket science, will you?

            "Why bother to send postcards when you go on holiday if you can use Facebook for example ?"

            Because postcards give a lasting memory of your holiday. Good luck with using Facebook for that unless you regularly do a "Print Screen" and print it all out. Also, despite the brevity of messages on postcards, they may convey more information than someone tweeting "some nice tits here, LOL" from the beach.

            I'm not arguing that "digitally included" people can't get more benefits, but your Facebook versus postcards example (or even your newsletter versus not-printed-out-but-e-mailed-instead newsletter example) isn't really very convincing.

          2. Jim 59
            Thumb Up

            Good cause

            You are working towards a good cause but I must say:

            - granny, in fact anybody, would much rather get a physical letter or card than a facebook update. One is thoughtful and caring. The other takes zero effort.

            - some people, old and young, just prefer to walk to the shops, write cheques & use the phone than surf the web. It is still quiet possible to live like its the 1950s. They just don't get excited by the internet.

            - Many older people are masters of the web. Many younger people just know Facebook, which is like the internet for thickos.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Digital inclusion - wossat?

        you mean people with fingers?

  8. Llanfair

    In the long run

    You do realise this is a way to force everyone onto the Internet so then they can shut down many of the government and council offices to save money. They will no longer send letters by post, but make everything rely on the Internet.

    Will they provide training for people? There are so many people falling for phishing scams, that they need to be taught. Also teach those who already have a computer. I sometimes wish there was something like a computer licence, so then those who passed a basic computer test will be allowed one with Internet access.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      ECDL ?

      in a previous life, I worked with a company developing software for estate agents. Believe me, there was nothing these guys wouldn't skimp on. It was the norm to get a support call from a new employee (usually middle-aged and quite dim) who had replaced the last person (6 months was a long term employee) who expected us to train them *in windows* before they could even begin to use the system.

      I suggested we make possession of an ECDL basic qualification a condition of support. Sadly, estate agents really don't want to spend *anything* on staff.

      The only people I have worked with who were tighter, were lawyers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Redirect of funds

        Maybe if they spent less on BMW Minis, 1 series and Audi TTs, they could afford to send their staff on ECDL courses.

        Of course, all this could do might be to teach the letting agent secretary to send off template emails to concerns and issues sent by the renter over the rented property......

        1. Cpt Blue Bear

          They're much tighter than that

          You don't think they actaully bought those BMWs, etc do you? Like everything else, the car is on lease. A flash, new car is seen as a necessity in the trade.

          Every real estate agency I've ever dealt with has been run on an absolute shoe string. The number of times I've installed shiney new monitors, keyboards and mice and hidden a crappy, 5 year old PC away under the desk. Don't get me started on the software they run - I swear one was going to wear out the Office 97 disc it was installed so many times. They just will not spend money anything unless they absolutely have to.

          They lawyers I've worked for on the other hand, have all been fine. Just so long as they think they are getting good service...

          I must say that things must be going downhill in the UK. Out here in Aus, no agent would be seen dead in a 1 Series, Audi or Mini. A 3 series will do for your first year, but really it's 5 Series or C-Class minimum. Actually, you might get away with a Mini if you are particularly hip and metro, but not for long.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            IT Angle

            Offies and Car talk

            Office 97 is still surprisingly useful and fairly compatible (albeit not with anything 2007 onwards).

            OK maybe not for day to day use in industry (apart from estate agents), but to get an old P2 laptop to do something worthwhile as an excuse to save it from the recycle centre. It even runs on NT 3.51!

            The estate agent progression seems to be MINI -> 1 series -> TT. After that I'm not sure what happens. Do they hide in the backoffice driving a 2nd hand Corsa?

            In Aus I would've thought the progression would have culminated in a Commodore or Falcon :)

      2. Francis Fish

        Not ECDL, there's a "first steps" access course

        Which the missus teaches, as well as ECDL.

        Most of her ECDL folk have just been made redundant and are looking to be able to prove to an employer they can do the basics. In MS products too.

        First steps is probably enough to get started.

    2. Wommit

      Re : llanfair

      "I sometimes wish there was something like a computer licence"

      And if their computer crashed will they get points on their licence?

      Just askin'

    3. MrCheese

      Thanks for pointing that out

      No-one else seems to have done so! Getting the last third on-line has always been a means to close down the face-to-face "supply channel" so to speak.

      Besides, thanks to BT and co. most of that last third won't be able to get a decent web connection even if they did part with the £98, maybe if MLF was leaning on the right people (telcos) she'd get more uptake.

      Typical arse-about-facedness from the government again

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Just waiting for the brownouts....

    ...or, indeed, solar flares that reduce the capability for any powered, not just online, services. Then no public service centre because they had all been closed, reduced communications because AM or even FM no longer in use because of digital radio etc....

    Overly paranoid? Or just realistic? Shouldn't core sociological components/serivces be sensibly distributed over geography?

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Linux? When everyone else (non-techies) is using either Windows or Apple Macs? I hope they pay for training? Or they just going to give you a piece of paper with destructions on how to launch the browser?


    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      Clearly you have not actually used much else have you? Modern Linux (for 5 years or more I have used it) has a firefox icon that just does the business. How hard is that?

      And my cowardly friend, you seem to have failed to notice these machines are for folk without PCs, so why should you expect them to be somehow a master of Windows or Mac use?

      Think it through sunshine, you are suggesting:

      (1) Windows, with 1M+ new viruses per 6 months. So who pays for Windows license? Who pays for or performs the cleaning up when the AV fails (as they frequently do)?

      (2) An Apple computer that 2nd hand is still going to sell for way more than £100, unless its unusable. And lets face it, most peripherals that fail on Linux are also failed for Mac for the same reason (secretive devices that the manufacturer only supports Windows).

      While I have my doubts about the grand social plan here, I can't see there is anything technically wrong with the proposed solution.

    2. Steven Raith





      Pull down menus

      That's all you need to know to navigate and use any modern operating system - learning the basics in Windows will serve you well enough in Mac OS X/Any linux distro with a decent GUI, and vice versa - someone who was brought up in Gnome would be able to navigate through Windows 7 without any major problems, I'd wager.

      Also, try booting a live Ubuntu CD from the last three years, and be shocked at how straightforward it is, providing your hardware works out of the box. Even there, I've rarely seen any systems Ubuthu won't boot where anything other than wifi drivers aren't there - and 99% of the time, a wired network connection and the "Add Hardware" program will fix that anyway....

      Hope that helps

      Steven R

      1. Matt_W

        Always thought it was...

        Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer, no?

        - as in the things that on the screen vs physical things.

        1. Steven Raith

          Pointer/pull down member

          I think they're interchangeable to be honest, but pull down menu is the less obvious point that the mouse pointer itself, which is so easy a three year old can work out that moving a mouse = moving the pointer.

          Pull down menus are a bit less obvious, hence why that always sticks in my mind for WIMP, but I am happy to be corrected...

          Steven R

    3. Spanners Silver badge

      Same as Windows

      1 Double-Click on the Firefox icon on the desktop.

      2 That's it.

      For £100, you can have a system where everything is online

      The fact that the <Start> menu doesn't have the word "start" in it doesn't matter.

      It can be set to update itself and, unlike Windows, will probably not reboot itself afterwards. They won't even know.

      If they want email, webmail is the non-tecchie favourite.

      Not being Windows, it won't have to run an anti-virus system.

      Not being into computers, they probably won't want to install applications.or games.

    4. doperative

      non-techie Linux training

      > Linux? When everyone else (non-techies) is using either Windows or Apple Macs? I hope they pay for training? Or they just going to give you a piece of paper with destructions on how to launch the browser?

      Rubbish, the Linux GUIs are just as easy to navigate as the Windows 'standard'.

    5. Kevin Bailey

      my mum didn't need...

      ...'destructions' (oh, I see what you done there - guffaw, guffaw) and she is 71 and a happy gmail user.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC #WTF

      >Linux? When everyone else (non-techies) is using either Windows or Apple Macs?

      As it happens, you can have Windows 7 Starter Edition instead at no extra charge......which Netbook history suggests will pretty much kill off the linux option.

      I'm not sure its all that hard to click on a browser icon either way though.....

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        @{@AC #WTF}

        Yes, maybe "you can have Windows 7 Starter Edition instead at no extra charge" since MS want to avoid competition, and you still have the issue of (1) the overwhelming malware choice for Windows at 99.9%+, (2) the lack of a central install & patch system for things like Flash, and (3) the slightly higher hardware requirement.

        This is for folks with essentially no computer experience, so Windows, Mac, or Linux, it makes no difference as they have to be trained anyway. In addition, they have little or no interest in PCs, so are not bothered about range of applications, games, etc.

        Web access - check

        Email - check

        Photos - check

        Word processor - check

        Linux does them all, just so long as they are set up by someone half-competent, unlike some of the commercial efforts so far.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    £98? seems expensive

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Viglen chuck out a *buntu based machine with next to no storage for £75? Now I may be a rubbish business man, but there may be a market here for someone to buy a job lot of viglens and throw them out at £97 - £20 profit per machine - can't be too bad can it?

    Pre-emptive pint on the back of this top notch sure fire winner...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telephone support?

    For the technologically ignorati, it might be worth paying £98 just for that, if it works efficiently.

    But where would it be hosted?

    Somehow, just somehow, I suspect that it won't be available via an 0800 number...

  13. Jacqui


    are already doing this for free!

    Members travel around, taking dumped ex-school or college (windows) kit and provide this to people who would otherwise not be able to afford a PC. Sometimes people have bet access

    but not always. Quite often having thier photo collection scanned and stored with some basic games and eud software is a good enough start without the burden of an unwanted net connection bill.

    I got involved but the problem was some of the folks I supplied machines to ended up having the systems taken by bailifs against outstanding debts. I got quite sore that I was paying to upgrade these boxes, find and renovate a decent monitor etc and these folks intentionaly use the machine as a way to reduce their debt.

    There are a lot of penioners out there who would love such a box but there are an insane number of scum who will abuse this sort of service.

    1. Vic

      Re: LUGs

      > are already doing this for free!

      Our LUG put on a presentation to the then-Secretary of State for for Innovation, Universities and Skills. He was trying to get PCs for "disadvantaged" families.

      We took him to a warehouse full of PC kit that was going begging. We demonstrated that hardware running Free software. We gave him his project for a song.

      A few weeks later, the local paper announced that said MP had approved a plan to buy a load of new Winows laptops, at substantial cost to the local economy. Apparently, what's important in a headline is how much money you've spent on a "good cause", rather than the number of people you've helped :-(


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        re: Apparently, what's important ...

        No backhanders involved then?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    I approve

    Getting people onto Linux.

    It really is an epic fail that schools still use Windows given how perfectly suited Linux is to an academic environment and how poorly suited Windows is. The music and art departments will use Macs anyway so why the hell do the rest of the school need Windows? Aaaaanyway.

    With thousands more people out there using Linux, it will slowly work it's way into the main stream. I'm not hoping for total supremacy or anything dumb like that, but a decent percentage of people demanding open source (even if they don't actually know it) will make life better for all of us.

    It's becoming clear that Microsoft's days really are numbered. Every time someone wants to innovate, every time someone wants low cost, every time they want freedom - Linux is right there. And it's becoming hard to ignore.

    1. CD001


      There is a place in schools for Windows - those drab business studies rooms where the best fun to be had was locking the teacher in the supply cupboard ... not that we ever did anything like that of course!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        "the best fun to be had was locking the teacher in the supply cupboard"

        Kids in my school used to lock themselves in the supply cupboard.

        I remember one boy getting a bollocking: "there could have been anything in there; exam papers, chemicals, exam papers, ANYTHING"

        One has to wonder what she was planning to do with all those exam papers and chemicals.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Educational OSs

      During school the machines supplied by (mostly then) RM and Apple gave a base knowledge of Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95 and MacOS classic 6 -> 9, from 1st year all the way through to A level. The emphasis was on the *skills* and not the OS, but the OS was what was supplied by the vendor, and supportable by the MS qualified on-site technician.

      During University, the machines started off as Win2k machines, not overly different to the 9x machines of the previous years. Again, the emphasis was on teaching and using the tools, not the OS. A course using 'C' introduced us to Linux. But it was that - an *introduction*. They didn't have the time to go through the differences and benefits of using Linux, where simple things like double clicking what should be an executable .bin work differently from the windows and mac worlds. (The RedHat distro was from before the time in the last 6-7 years where Linux has became very user friendly). As a result, and because of deadlines and having enough to learn in terms of theory, assignments, programming practicals etc., most of us booted in Windows just to get the stuff done without having to learn another way of doing things.

      Ideally Linux should have been a module on it's own!

      Luckily, after graduation, getting hands on with Linux servers and forcing myself to work with a Linux desktop, and finding home installations that work perfectly with all my hardware (Linux now is a gift compared to recent years) I educated myself and moved from the dark side! :)

    3. Lewis Mettler 1

      even Gates gave half a billion

      Even the Gates Foundation gave half a billion to instruct consumers how to save money.

      Of course, those idiots would never suggest saving money on computers. Even if it is for the less fortunate.

      No, when it comes to computers everyone must pay the high price of a Microsoft OS and Microsoft applications including Internet Explorer. Only then can they benefit from other less costly solutions.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speaking as someone who went to school in the archimedies era.

      It seems a little pointless to teach people how to use computers that were completely ignored in the business world.

      99% of students had windows or nothing at home; until something becomes the mainstream then there's little point getting people to use it.

      Don't get me wrong, I thought Arcs were great machines, but it just seemed a little pointless. Especially by the time we were using them it they were obviously a sinking ship.

      Windows licences aren't cheap, but neither is the time to support alternatives, especially when a lot of people seem to learn computers by rote.

    5. Lee Dowling Silver badge


      Because 99% of the curriculum-conforming software out there is Windows. And precisely 1% of the stuff on Linux etc. that *claims* to be "for kids" isn't curriculum-conforming (and is therefore a waste of time except for "spare time" activities - i.e. when a kid has finished their work). Look at 2Simple Software that produce tons of Windows programs - I could write any one in an afternoon with a graphic designer, but they are focused to certain parts of the curriculum, updated regularly, and are simple to learn. Shame they are Windows-only.

      I've worked in school IT since I left uni. The hardware and OS are basically completely the same. What matters is the end-user application software. There are precisely zero big-name educational suppliers selling Linux educational software, even when it's been written in a cross-platform library and allows them to pump out Windows and Mac versions from the same codebase.

      The stuff that *does* run is mostly generic applications (so OpenOffice *can* and *does* replace Office in many schools, and TuxPaint is incredibly popular in primary schools - because it effectively replaces the next-nearest equivalent which is RM Colour Magic) and that's sufficient for Internet research, writing notes and printing and some very basic tasks - they are the pens and pencils of the IT world, but what about the textboooks? IT is in *every* subject and there is a big fuss about linking into the curriculum content and there is nothing on Linux that even *tries* to do that. A brilliant piece of software with a million features is useless if it cost £100 and only satisfies one line of the curriculum. Instead a crappy, years-old, Quicktime-based point-and-click game designed for Windows 95 that DOES satisfy the curriculum effectively is worth a lot more, and a lot more investment in IT to get it to run.

      Some pilot schools are entirely Linux. This is usually done by, for example, buying a subscription to educational online content that has UK curriculum focus in all the subject areas (companies like Espresso Education specialise in selling schools Linux boxes that have Apache, Squid and 500Gb hard drives that download educational content overnight so the whole school can play a curriculum-aimed video / clip / game simultaneously the next morning - updated every day with every single change and news-relevant topics). Most schools hate that because it locks you into a particular service that you have to pay for every month and when you stop paying, you lose everything. So they stick with crappy, years-old, supported programs that they've owned for years, that are curriculum-oriented, that the teachers are familiar with and that run on anything Windows (with some tweaking).

      Software as a service is pushing into schools at the moment (hell, you're basically renting Windows now too, so why not either rent a whole system or move away and rent an online service?) and that's making educational software a bit worthless. But the largest manufacturer of interactive whiteboards (SmartBoard) has had Linux drivers and application software for years, and the hardware is all Linux-compatible (I push Linux into every school I can, where it suits their needs), and the infrastructure is Linux-compatible (you can logon to Windows Servers with Likewise Open quite easily from Linux), but the end-user application software isn't. It doesn't even exist. What does exist is one or two guy's ideas of what everyone should teach (and that's the worst thing you can assume of another teacher) and doesn't cover even the most basic of needs.

      When all schools are on Software as a Service, then 99% of the thin-clients, servers, etc. they use to do that will be Linux, because it really doesn't matter any more. But the fact is that the applications ONLY exist on Windows, at the moment, despite there being a Linux market. You should have gone to BETT in Kensington Olympia last week - there's not a mention of anything non-Windows in their software section and what looks like rubbish to you and me is worth THOUSANDS to the teachers because it covers their portion of the curriculum completely and is up-to-date.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I certainly

      find it hard to ignore when every distro I've tried for about the last 2 or 3 years tries to set my 2 hard drives up as a RAID array just because I have a RAID controller. One time I forgot and set the installation running without remembering how bad Linux installers are and had to restore 300GB of data and operating systems from dvd backups. Luckily the only stuff I hadn't burnt to disc was trivial anyway. In about the last half a dozen attempted installations I haven't yet seen even a remotely user-friendly way to install Linux without deleting a full hdd-worth of data I want on said hdd. I can only imagine none of the Linux fanbois multiboot with Windows, or if they do, not on a multidisk system with an nVidia RAID controller, or if they do, give a flying fuck about doing so from a GUI installer (therefore don't really care about Linux ever realistically challenging Windows).

      I ran various distros for years before getting an nVidia chipset-based mobo and finding out the Linux experience is as incompetent as it ever was. Meanwhile I have 6 versions of Windows currently multibooting and no problem doing so whatsoever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I certainly

        I have an nvidia chipset and multiple disks and I have no idea what you're talking about.

        Same story with another system I had that used an Adaptec 4 port SATA RAID card. RAID was a conscious choice. You don't choose it, you don't get it. That was my experience with OpenSUSE 11.something and Ubuntu 9.04 anyway.

        But I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Installing an OS DOES involve formatting disks. So care should be taken. How many Windows enthusiasts unplug secondary hard drives before they install Windows so that it doesn't shit all over them? That's right: a pretty embarrassing majority.

        Windows multiboots okay with other Windows, but Linux multiboots well with everything. Yes I have had some nightmare experiences with GRUB, but I am the most dangerous kind of enthusiast; one who rarely bothers planning anything. Even so I can't say I've ever bricked 300GB worth of data.


      2. DRendar


        I have multiple systems multibooting - WinXP + Ubu on a Laptop and Win7+Ubu on my desktop (Which has 3 HDDs)

        The Desktop is also an NVidia Chipset with built in RAID.

        My Server also runs SME Server 7 with 4 Identical Disks, also on NVidia Chipset.

        I'm not sure what you're doing wrong but I've NEVER had an issue like you describe. The only way that any installer I've used would treat individual drives as a RAID array is if they already were a RAID array. Is your SATA mode set to RAID perchance?

      3. Vic

        I do not believe you

        > every distro I've tried for about the last 2 or 3 years tries to set my 2 hard drives up as a RAID array

        Nonsense. Distros do not do that.

        Some will have offered you a "RAID" button in case you wanted to set up an array - but none of them do anything like that by default.

        I'll be charitable and say that you were confused...


      4. rsm1979

        Probably LVM

        You almost certainly selected the option called LVM, which will use all disks that it finds in a system.

        This is not RAID, but can appear similar.

        1. Vic

          Not LVM.

          > You almost certainly selected the option called LVM, which will use

          > all disks that it finds in a system.

          Errr - no.

          All the installers that support LVM installation require partitions to be set up explicitly as PVs. The closest to your description I know of is the SuSE installer, which creates the VG first, then asks you which partitions to add to it (as PVs). The dialogue presents all partitions, including those in use for other things.

          Anaconda (RHEL/Fedora-type installer) requires PVs to be set up (within the installer) before the VG can be created. Slackware and Gentoo have their own strangeness. The standard Ubuntu installer doesn't do LVM at all, so you either need to create the VG by hand before installing, or fight your way through the alternate installation disk (which I've often found to be problematic).

          > This is not RAID, but can appear similar.

          I wouldn't agree with that. LVM is a soft partitioning scheme, not a RAID configuration.


    7. Vic

      I approved a few hours ago :-(

      > Getting people onto Linux.

      It as a nice dream while it lasted.

      From :-

      "Microsoft is jumping on the low-cost PC bandwagon, by offering free software to Martha Lane Fox's scheme to get cheap PCs to Britain's broadband have-nots. "

      That'll raise Remploy's costs, though - someone has to pay for that extra RAM...


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Microsoft is jumping on the low-cost PC bandwagon"

        Great well that's that idea officially stuffed then. As you say, nice while it lasted.

        What's the benefit in having Windows if its a naff "starter" edition that is deliberately missing all of the features it had that supposedly made it "superior" to Linux? Of course, there is no benefit to anyone except Microsoft who have decided to fight Linux by providing their own free OS that actually sucks major league balls by design.

        At this point Microsoft actually wants Windows Starter to be horrible as in their mind it punishes these people for not having the funds to buy the real version. It also gives them the idea that any free OS must suck, just because Microsoft's does.

        The most sickening part of all is that they are misrepresenting this as a charitable donation. I've never agreed with Steve Jobs before, but I think he was right when he said that MS really have no taste at all. This is like digging up someone's grave the day after the funeral so that you can steal their coffin and use it as a foot bath. I don't think I could be much more disgusted.

    8. greggo

      and recycle hardware.

      All those 4-5 yr old XP machines which won't upgrade to Win7? Most will run ubuntu fine. And they have decent processors, USB2 and DVI out and all that (probably SATA even) so you'll be fine for schools.

  15. Mage Silver badge

    How did Three get there?

    Online but not Broadband.

    Why not a choice of Mobile supplier and option of paying extra for DSL or Virgin?

    In fact at £9 a month Three makes a whopping loss.

    Nothing wrong with Penguins. More apps for Linux than OS X.

    Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird are just the same as on Windows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why not a choice of Mobile supplier and option of paying extra for DSL or Virgin?"

      One would hope that the dongle is optional. Those who don't want it could take their pick of any ISP.

      But as it stands this scheme is designed as a way to give people a simple "internet ready" package with no effort involved at a cheapish cost. You don't want to overwhelm them with loads of choices; picking an ISP can be a pain in the ass regardless of your skill level and a meaningless choice for those with no skill at all.

      You don't want to come to these people's houses preaching the gospel of the internet, and then start pissing them off with a load of difficult choices. You just say: "it's £100 then £9 a month; you game?". That's how you sell things to these people.

    2. Chemist

      "Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird are just the same...."

      and Google Earth, VLC, Skype

  16. Mage Silver badge

    What was the Survey?

    That showed that Advantaged kids with parents that teach them Reading and such before they start school benefit from PC and that Poor Disadvantaged ignored kids have worse Educational performance when they get a PC?

  17. eJ2095


    If Memory servers me right Three support with teh dongles and linux are well erm not that good....

    Ebay will be clogged full of these machines (Thats if they can work out how to get them on there)

    1. johnvile

      3.. bloody rubbish

      I have a 3 Dongle gathering dust somewhere.

      It came with (not advertised on the box) some kind-of Linux drivers that where never going to work in reality.

      The forums where replete with no answers at all.

      3 where most unhelpful

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Agreed ...

        3 told me they "don't support linux". Fortunately you can just plug a 3 dongle into a modern Ubuntu distro, and when the box pops up, select '3'. Then it works. It's one of the advantages of using Linux - last time I tried an O2 dongle on Windows it tried to subvert all my Wifi config by replacing the windows zero-config with a huge bloaty buggy mess.

    2. Fred 24

      Support is not needed

      Beyond ejecting the '3 Connect' cd device first.

      Then simply right click network manager and select '3internet'


      1. Trevor 3

        I love the reg

        If you have no help on any forums on any product, just come here when an appropriate story comes along, rant until your testes turn blue and 2 people will post 2 solutions to your problem and even include the word "simples" on the end. Within hours.

        Pint for everyone.

  18. Joe Montana

    Broadband & second rate linux distros

    Will this system come with a useful linux distro such as Ubuntu, or will it come with some half assed unheard of distro that creates a poor impression of linux?

    Also, why provide a 3g dongle? Will most of these systems be laptops? How about providing a choice between 3g dongle, ultra cheap adsl etc (isps should offer an extremely cheap 128k adsl or something).

    The biggest advantage of this system that i can see, is to introduce poor kids to linux... There will inevitably be a percentage of kids there with the right mindset to learn, but who would otherwise have not had the chance to.

    1. The BigYin

      @Joe Montana

      If these are old machines (and they probably are) then Ubuntu will create the poor image. it's just too big and demanding (and it's only going to get worse - Wayland/Unity). Lubuntu....maybe but I reckon a good Pup-dervied distro would be the best way to go.

      1. Andus McCoatover


        You dog! I'd go with Lin-puss meself...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3G dongles

      Some people may prefer the pay as you go nature of a 3G dongle over a long contract for adsl. My parents are still using dialup and like the idea that you just pay for what you use. I have come to the conclusion that the simplest way to get them onto broadband is to get them a PAYG 3G modem. Perhaps after using this for a while, they will see the benefits of broadband and will be happy to move to adsl. In that case, it will have been a useful stepping stone. If they are happy with 3G and stick with it, it will still have been a useful thing for them.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Matt 70


    Maybe people don't want a PC because they just don't want one.

    Maybe they don't want to go on the intertubes.

    Maybe they don't want to to be locked in to spending £108 on silly intertubes a year.

    and maybe they can see that the claim in the report of being able to save £560 per year online is only relevant if you actually have thousands to be able to spend or want to spend buying stuff anyways.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The poor will always be with us."

    Thousands of years of evolution and there will alway be someone or something worse off that others. Some people have enough trouble raising enough cash to give their kids a decent meal, give a a couple of quid and send them down the chippy.

    Only two things will happen with cheap PCs. IT techs will buy them to knock-up MythTV, firewall and SMTP gateway boxes or someone will scam the system to buy them and flog them down the "Sunday Booties" for double the price.

  21. PaulM 1
    Gates Halo

    These PCs should be sold with Windows

    I can not see microsoft allowing Linux to be sold on cheap PCs if they become mainstream. Microsoft has already seen off Linux on netbooks with £40 copies of Windows 7 starter edition. I am sure that Microsoft will similarily see off Linux on these refurbished PCs.

    Anyway don't the people who made this announcement realise that you can already buy a refurbished PC with Windows XP installed for less than the cost of an XP licence. For example you can currently buy a refurbished 2.8 Ghz HP tower PC with XP installed for only £40 from Hemplan's ebay shop.

    I have not seen a refurbished PC sold without an XP license for some time. I guess that Microsoft will do almost anything to ensure that all PCs are sold with Windows licences.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "currently buy a refurbished 2.8 Ghz HP tower PC with XP installed for only £40 from Hemplan's ebay"

      Sure thing. But are Hemplan's selling 8,000 such machines?

      Is the licence really genuine and valid? If not, you might as well not have it at all. (note: I have no idea who Hemplan's are, I am not insinuating anything about them)

      Furthermore, do you really think it a good idea to migrate thousands of people onto an OS that is reaching the end of it's life?

      And finally, £40 on top of £100 (lets say for Windows 7) is a 40% increase in price. For what possible benefit when you consider that these low power systems probably can't run the latest Windows software anyway?

      1. PaulM 1
        Gates Halo

        Microsoft will cut the cost of software to virtually nothing to make a sale

        I bought a complete Windows 98 PC for £35 for a friend some years ago from Hemplan. It had a believable Windows 98 sticker on the side. From what I can see, Microsoft allow recyclers to install Windows on any recycled PC which was originally sold with a copy of Windows.

        There are plenty of other suppliers of refurbished PCs in the UK other than Morgan and Hemplan who will sell you a refurbished PC with XP installed for less than the cost of an XP license. CRS is another company which comes to mind. I can not believe that these 3 high profile companies could get away with selling dodgy copies of XP.

        So far as Windows 7 is concerned I only paid £50 for a legal copy of Windows 7 Ultimate edition upgrade for my son's PC. If you have children then you need not pay more than £50 for any Microsoft software.

        Dont you love Microsoft?

      2. Vic

        Might not be £40...

        > And finally, £40 on top of £100 (lets say for Windows 7)

        Microsoft do a "refurbished" licence. I don't know the cost, but it's fairly cheap.

        Still needs all the administration overhead, though - buying licences, tracking them, typing them into installations, ...

        If you're trying to build cheap systems with minimal construction overheads, it makes a lot of sense to use Free Software, even if the licences aren't all that much cheaper...


    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: These PCs should be sold with Windows

      "I can not see microsoft allowing Linux to be sold on cheap PCs if they become mainstream."

      Do we have to ask Microsoft's permission for things now?

      "Microsoft has already seen off Linux on netbooks with £40 copies of Windows 7 starter edition. I am sure that Microsoft will similarily see off Linux on these refurbished PCs."

      I am sure that Microsoft will use every dirty trick in their playbook to "see off" competition, whether that involves coercing manufacturers to drop Linux-based products and shipping the hardware with the widely hated "starter edition" you mention, and/or getting everyone to play the "it's part of the product/free of charge" versus "it's separate, Mr Regulator/costs money, Mr Pirate" refund and regulatory avoidance game.

      "I have not seen a refurbished PC sold without an XP license for some time. I guess that Microsoft will do almost anything to ensure that all PCs are sold with Windows licences."

      Yes, they just love to sell stuff to people over and over again, even if you think you're getting a "good deal" by paying less than the RRP for that product you already have. And for those who don't want Mr Gates' product, they're out of luck: the propaganda says that you're a "pirate" if you don't want Windows forced upon you.

      So no, these PCs should be sold with genuinely open solutions, rather than being yet another anticompetitive channel for cash to pass from customers and taxpayers to large US monopolists.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I quite like this idea, in principle.

    I quite like this idea, in principle. I do it myself and recommend it to others, and it sounds like good opportunity for Remploy to "reduce reuse recycle".

    There are plenty of perfectly capable ex-corporate computers on the market. Morgan sell some, folks on ebay have plenty too, often at rather lower oprices (often because Morgan include Windows and ebay often doesn't). At £100 (complete) to buy there is not much of a subsidy and therefore not much motivation for the kit to end up on fleabay.

    Any decent Linux is now in a state where those not Windows-dependent could cope with it just as well as they could with Windows. Whether they could cope at all is a different question.

    3G dongles are a bit less helpful, but they are OK when they work.

    There are massive FAILs in this scheme but they are around the politics not the technology. E.g. as already pointed out, "the report of being able to save £560 per year online is only relevant if you actually have thousands to be able to spend" and in particular "I suspect very few of the remaining PC-less households are that way because the can't afford a basic setup." and "this is a way to force everyone onto the Internet so then they can shut down many of the government and council offices to save money. "

  23. johnvile

    I Blame Linux

    I fear this is going to be yet another "Blame Linux" when it all goes tits up.

    People who haven’t got computers already probably don’t won't things that equate to quite large pieces of plastic furniture hanging about. Cables and bits of tackle to plug in. It's just a mess.

    If you offered a reasonably spec tablet at the same price I'm sure you'd be looking at a winner.

    If they won't people online them give them a tool for being online. Not the whole *&^% tool box.

    1. GrumpyJoe
      Thumb Down


      A tablet PC lets you become a consumer - a fully working PC allows you to be a creator. Which one do we want people to be - mindless consumers or active contributors to society and culture?

      I desperately try to get my kids interested in computers, but they only see the apps - without realising the potential underneath them - when all are consumers who creates?

  24. Ned Fowden

    why ?

    Why is there a necessity to get absolutely everyone online or get them a computer ?

    1. Dante

      Why... Martha look useful of course

    2. JimC

      >everyone online

      As has been said, because they think that if they can eliminate all other forms of communiocation with the public then they'll be able to save a few quid.

  25. DRendar


    Oh Christ, I can see it now. It's ASUS and their God-Awful EEEPC distro all over again.

    They won't bundle a decent distro and they will all be flakey with crap support, we end up with an entire generation of people who think that "Linux" and not "Cobbled-Together-Remploy-Distro" is crap.

    They then go to PC world where the monkeys look at it, scratch their heads and pronounce that they need a £600 upgrade to support Windows.

    Fecking Brilliant.

    For God's sake PLEASE don't do what ASUS did - bundle a REAL DISTRO!!!!

    Won't Someone PLEASE think of the PENGUINS!!!!

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Don't EVER call my missus a penguin...

      OK, she waddles a bit, and sports yellow teeth just to prove that Sterodent doesn't work, but..

      She loves her Asus eeepc701, with original Xandros. Gets her internet, and can do her work forms on it. Pays her bills electronically, without a sub-zero 5Km bike ride to the bank.

      Doesn't use it much more after that, but I doubt if 'Granny' will be playing Warcraft on one either.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PCs and the elderly

    Just how suited is a PC to our beloved elder population anyway? I'm using my dear old nan as a yardstick here: she has never typed, and I tried her with a mouse once back in 1994 and she absolutely couldn't get it to do what she wanted. I coupled with mild arthritis this would make it a frustrating experience at best. The space a PC takes up (and she would want to move it about to dust behind it and unplug it at night), and the electricity it consumes would consign it to becoming a gift for a neighbour's kids or to the bin in pretty short order.

    If web access is the goal, wouldn't a cheap Android tablet with some accessibility software together with the Three SIM be the order of the day?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If she finds a mouse uncomfortable, it's hard to imagine that a large flat surface that you hold awkwardly with one hand and jab with the other is going to be any more comfortable. Neck craned downwards like you're trying to win a staring contest against your own shoes.

      It's just like using a clipboard, the problem is, clipboards suck and usually mark the owner out as someone you would never want to talk to ever (with the exception of hospital staff I guess... and the really cool ones use dictaphones).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fair point

        I admit I had talking via Skype or sitting at a table to fill in a form in mind when I suggested that. Actually I'm not quite sure what else she'd want from the web she doesn't already get from the telly. How about an android tablet with a sturdy desk stand thrown in?

        1. Chemist

          "..from the web she doesn't already get from the telly.."

          You ageist Anonymous Coward !!

  27. Matt_payne666

    nice little earner...

    for 3!!

    9per month on a 12 month contract i expect... with the usual, or possibly lower bandwith limit, hand out to the inept and have them all try streaming or down loading... soon you will be selling those extra megabyes like they were going out of fashion!!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Run by big brother

    My first thought was great and tried to join, but when I saw a facebook link, I had my first doubt, but then I saw an email link and tried to join via an email address, first I tried to enter my yahoo address which it rejected, then I tried to enter my gmail address, it also rejected that, there is no way anyone gets my personal email address, till I trust them.

    I have a facebook account but I would not trust that outfit any farther than I could throw them.

    So then I did a bit of digging on the site and discovered the women who is running the scheme, is a non executive director of Marks and Spencer.

    You might think the man who runs Britain is David Cameron, he might be a nice enough fellar, but in charge of Britain he is not.

    The people who run Britain, are the same people who told Colin Powell, to tell De Billiere and Schwarzkopf to stop at the border of Iraq and not march all the way to Baghdad and try Saddam as a war criminal, it is on record that both wanted to finish the job then.

    They euphemistically called it 'The First Gulf War' so when did it end? You know when did the peace treaty get written?

    The reason the allies did not finish the job nearly twenty years ago, was it contributed to the idea of a planet run by rule of law, mandated by a democratic UN.

    The people who run Britain, are the same people who run most of its supermarkets. People complain about bankers bonuses nobody ever says a thing about the enormous profits supermarkets make.

    Supermarkets create nothing and make society no richer, all they do is get betwixt producer and consumer and say I'll have some of that.

    The politicians keep telling us we have a deficit, what a deficit in money? How come when we can just print the stuff?

    No what is really happening, the people who run Britain do not want the dreaded phrase, trade deficit used, because the big multiples would rather import things from countries where people work for less wages and have a lower standard of living, because this enables a bigger mark up and more profit.

    Why do you think farmers have such a big suicide rate and bankruptcy rate?

    Up and 'at 'em Assange

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I think

      They put subliminal messages in the ice cream truck music.

      If you listen carefully you can kinda hear "hail satan"

  29. SteelPriest
    Thumb Down


    so their first experience of the net is gonna be over crappy 3g connections (or more likely GPRS)!?

    no thanks.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    my experience, for what it's worth

    of doing this sort of thing (selling refurbed obsolete hardware set up to do basic tasks easily & introduce people to IT) is that the time from installation to a help line call - 'it won't run the latest whizzy game that we were told it couldn't run and said we didn't want to run but the kids/grandkids/neighbours came round and said we should try this disc and now the computer won't run properly/do anything...'

    - is about 5 days.

    then you go round to unscramble it and find the neighbour has reformatted the drive & installed a cracked version of xp... 'but there's still something wrong cause it won't run call of crysis 2 etc...and now the colours/sound/internet won't work'

    It's not worth the trouble - stuff costs money for a reason

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      True cost of stuff is work.

      Stuff don't cost money it costs 'work', money you can print or conjure out of thin air with a trick called 'quantitative easing'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: It's not worth the trouble

      Set the machine up with a separate /home partition, make an image of the root partition. When they mess up the installation just restore the image. Simples. I know it's not perfect, but what do you expect for £100?

      1. gerryg

        separate /home partition

        Ever since I've ever used incarnations of SUSE (the only distro I've ever used, FWIW) /home has always been on a separate partition. I'd have to work out how to do it differently.

        I've even done a new install rather than upgrade and the data is still where I left it.

        Is there a distro that does otherwise by default?

        1. Vic

          Yes, there is :-(

          > Is there a distro that does otherwise by default?

          There is. Despite how much more sense it makes to have /home separate, it means you have to answer questions about filesystems being full when the disk has plenty of space left. In at least one instance, the "Linux must be easier to use" crowd have won out, and that question is avoided by having the whole filesystem in one lump. Thus Linux is rendered harder to use over the slightly longer term...

          However, all is not lost. Distros that offer an "upgrade" option to the installer - as all RH-derived ones used to - can still cope by doing the whole upgrade as one humungous package operation.


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what you talkin about Martha ?

    Please understand. Not everyone in the UK want to get on the net. Hard to believe while you are milking the idea that they do for all you're worth.

    Points of views vary, they'll have theirs, you'll have yours and I'll have mine, And together we'll be fine....

    Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.

    Yes it does.

    It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.

  32. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Pointless idea...

    Just like that Fox bint.

  33. Tim Jenkins

    "We're all better off when everyone's online - find out why"

    Presumably the 3 dongle is to limit the activities of the "porn-monkey doleys", as referred to in the Telegraph reader comments on this story.

    Incidentally, nice to see that the campaign to get the 'non-lines' online links from their homepage to an FT story that's behind a paywall...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telephone Support?

    Meaning something one can put one's telephone on?

  35. Oldfogey

    These People

    The sort of people you are talking about here are like my mother in law, in her 80's and widowed.

    "£100 down and £9 a month - you game?"

    "No. What would I use it for, even if I could learn to use it?"

    In fact she has a perfectly good PC, printer, and scanner from when her husband died. I cancelled the broadband once I had dealt with the estate, and set up a PAYG dial-up. She turns it on occasionally to use a little program I have put on that makes it act like a photocopyier, and a couple of times I have talked her through receiving and printing an e-mail when I needed to get a document to her urgently.

    And that's it. Anything else she needs on line I do for her (selling off bits and pieces on ebay for instance). I can't tutor her, living 200 miles away, and the local first step course is in the evening, when she is in bed by 9:00, plus a taxi would be £15 each way.

    As for telephone support, forget it. They would never have the patience.

    There is no way she is ever going to use that machine, ut on the other hand she is not exactly without access to the net, via me - so what's the big problem?

  36. tim-e
    Thumb Up

    My mum

    I have just put my 62 year old mum online for the first time, using an old Dell laptop from work and Windows XP. She's off and racing, and will be looking at LOLcats in no time.

  37. Don Mitchell

    Walmart all over again

    Wow, how many times have we seen this happen. These cheap linux boxes get returned in droves, when customers realize it's basically an ersatz PC that won't run the games and programs they expect. Walmart tried this at least twice.

  38. RyokuMas

    Dongle from 3....

    ... will be sure to give that one a miss then, given their track record of dodgy debt handling.

  39. spegru
    Thumb Up

    Locked Down

    I can def see this working for people who have resisted using PCs up to now. Simple icon driven (mainly web) applications, with no need to consider viruses, probably managed remotely by the people who have the the su password.

    All the user has to do is click.

    Think of it as a really big ASUS eeePC701 - Ideal for technophobes who only really need it to access the web - in order that the gov can close more offices and reduce the deficit.

    3? well that because they're cheap and no need to worry about installing DSL etc I guess - just plug it in.

  40. Michael 28

    Forget the hardware...

    ... if cost is a problem, the performance of the machines is secondary. They'll probably connect to Tiscali or a worse provider.

  41. Paul 87

    They're still missing the point

    The problem with "getting online" isn't that it's particularly expensive to do, what the problem is that it's *hard* for many people to do. A PC is still a fairly complex machine, and whilst for many of us, it's intuative, there's still a good group of people who just don't want the hassle.

    What's really needed is a device like an iPad where it just works to be given out, something that'll work akin to the television where you can switch it on, press maybe a couple of buttons to tune it in and get on with using it.

  42. Andrew Moore

    Ah, remember when...

    ...Lane Fox thought she was as important as Zuckerberg thinks he is now.

  43. Martin Usher

    Wait a bit...

    PC prices are already in free-fall again in the US because the move to all-in-one designs seems to bring serious economies in manufacturing costs. There are relatively few klunkers out there that I'd inflict on a new computer user -- even laptops are a bit confusing to them (and quite fragile). The all-in-one plus a modern Linux distro gives you a seamless experience that's just about on a par with Windows 7, especially if the software you're running is browser based.

  44. gbru2606

    3 dongles?

    Right, so these digitally unsavvy people will have to contend with the non-existant 3 customer service when their dongles are out of reach of the phone mast. Took me 6 months and several letters to get a refund from 3 when the signal couldn't even deliver 56k. Total nightmare.

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