Wal-Mart has become one of the most important mainstream boosters of the open-source Linux operating system and other alternatives to Microsoft's Windows.
Through its Web site, the retail giant early this year began offering low-cost PCs without an operating system preinstalled. It then expanded to Linux, initially on the Lindows distribution of Linux and later expanding to MandrakeSoft's version of the OS.
By using the open-source software and low-cost processors from Taiwan chipmaker Via, Wal-Mart has been able toprices to $199 for a PC without a monitor.
Lycoris was launched in Redmond, Wash., home base of OS rival Microsoft, two years ago by former Microsoft systems tester Joseph Cheek. The company began selling Lycoris Desktop/LX, its version of Linux for desktop PCs, early this year and quickly won recognition for dressing up Linux with a user interface similar in look and feel to recent versions of Windows.
"We don't have the same abhorrence for Windows that a lot of Linux fanatics do," said Marketing Director Jason Spisak. "We like what Microsoft's done--we think they've come up with a lot of great innovations. The difference is that our software's open; we don't have anything to hide."