stupidity is rampant

Every couple weeks I read another article about hacking linux onto the X-Box. Now the thing that makes nerds chuckle about this is that Microsoft loses about $100 (estimated) per X-Box that it sells. They are subsidizing the console in hopes that they’ll recover the loss and more in video game sales. At $50-$60 per game, I’ve no doubt that this recovery happens rather quickly.

Enter the linux/X-Box hackers. They figure that if they can get linux to boot on an un-modded X-Box (important that it be un-modded. Microsoft sues modders and mod sellers), they’ll have a cheap (ie, subsidized) computing platform to run whatever they please on. Seti@home is mentioning in the article I linked at the top.

Here’s what’s stupid about that. If I remember correctly, the X-Box is based around a 733Mhz Celeron. That’s an ok processor, but nothing spectacular. Consider the Epia platform from VIA. It’s an x86 compatible low-power consumption 1Ghz motherboard with integrated everything. You need three things to make this equivalent to an xbox in terms of computing utility. The first two are a power supply and an enclosure. Kinda useless to have a PC without a power supply. The second is a DVD-Rom drive. So let’s add those two things to the Epia. So now we’re talking about $200 for an Epia that is functionally equivalent to the xbox. While the xbox has much stronger 3D abilities, the xbox hackers don’t care much about that, so I’m ignoring it.

What does an xbox run these days, retail? $199? Oh, woops. The xbox hackers just did a butt-ton of work to accomplish what boils down to tweaking microsofts nose for no financial gain, and a technological loss. The Epia is computationally faster than an xbox!

Anyway, it just seems kinda childish to put so much work into something like this, for so little apparent gain. If you really like Microsoft so little, why bother with them at all?

  1. I think it’s more about the moral victory of having a Microsoft-subsidized Linux box.

  2. I feelya man. I work here. And I’ve got some serious linux geek friends that work here. One of them the other night at a little get together proceeded to explain to me all the ins and outs of figuring out how to get linux to run on a PS2. Now, what on earth this is good for, I dunno. So I asked him.

    He said the point was to have a cheap computer.

    Which, like you argued, makes no sense given the cheap prices of computers. It makes even less sense, given that PS2’s have even less processing power than an X-box.

    I dunno though, linux nuts have this weird fascination with taking old, cheap computers and turning them into “linux boxes.” I guess I could see how it might be usefull for packet forwarding/firewall stuff, maybe even as a file server, but thats about it.

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