|Specs | Installation | Graphics | APM | Drives | Sound | Ethernet | Modem | Ports | Summary|
In summer 2002, Fry's offered a turn key linux box called a GQ (Great Quality). This item came with a sticker price of $399 and was regularly offered at $299. At the end of August they marked them "while supplies last" and turned them out at $199. It took the $199 price to get me to bite. If you are reading this after Sept 2002, you will not likely find this box because they were surely cleared out to make room for the newer model which is a Celeron 1.8 offering at 500 bucks.
Update: as of 15 Sept 2002 the box is being offered again at 300 bucks locally and was still available at outpost.com. This is a turn-key Linux box -- you supply monitor and possibly modem and that is about all!
This box is the replacement product for the Gigapro 733. It comes in the same case and has the same pctel modem. It runs significantly hotter than the Gigapro. It provides a much improved installation "Thiz Linux" that is RPM-based.
The keyboard is by BTC. Looks reasonable and has a moon (sleep) key.
Plug in power, monitor, mouse, keyboard. Power it up and the system boots and runs something called Thiz Linux. All works -- comes up in GUI mode and presents the various apps that have been provided by the vendor including Konqueror, Mozilla, and config tools. There is a full menu system within KDE. Documentation tells how to login as root, and user can run konsole if he likes. As such it is easy to see how this distro was built and what its problems are. More info is at Thiz Linux site. I fault the Thiz team for not suppling kword which I would have expected with all the nice KDE stuff that they have provided. It is also unclear whether the purchaser is entitled to Thiz support -- hopefully it is provided and purchaser can download packages from their site at the very least. Ideally the purchaser would be able to also get some email support as well. If the Thiz team would like to write to me and clarify the issue, I will update these notes.
Thiz seems to be reasonably well done. It comes with a 2.4.17 kernel. The manual clearly states "No Linux support" so user is on his own. No decent word processor was found so unless you are a RedHat person or unless you get download privileges at thiz.com, the reasonable procedure is to re-install whatever you want. If you want more from Thiz folks you must register.
While I will surely re-install what I consider to be a viable distro, the Thiz team has at least built a system that we can study, with the goal of making that pctel "modem" work if none other. Some pertinent details are RPM List and Modules typical listing of modules loaded and modconf your basic /etc/modconf file. Most everything else here is observations of the box and Thiz Linux distro as-supplied. For an example of re-installation, see my Gigapro page. I thought my rpm dump is neat but see Distrowatch for some charts for some 75 Linux distributions.
X window system works in 1024x768 resolution with 16-bit depth. Here is the XF86Config file.
APM is configured and working with Thiz. apm -s to make it sleep.
All drives operable -- CD, Hard drive, and floppy.
Sound is operational.
Modprobe sis900 to run. The supplied Thiz Config tool works. The sis900 NIC takes one PCI slot.
This is where the Thiz installation gives us something to look at. We have a pctel modem, and the appropriate kernel modules are built and loadable. It takes wvdialconf to query the modem (neither kermit nor cu are on hand). Thiz has set /dev/modem --> /dev/ttyS1 but for your pctel it will be /dev/ttyS15. Supplied config gui works but I think you will have to fix the link. faxconfig (hylafax tool) also queried the "modem" just fine, again with Thiz.
The external ports are
Who can go wrong for $199? My greatest concern about this box is for the ExelStor hard drive. I did do a full check of the hard drive upon installing Debian and saw no problems. Software-wise, you either add whatever RPM packages you need, or you replace it with the distro of your choice, even microsoft if you own a full-install version of windoze.