How the Koobox Home Linux System Stacks Up

Here is how the two systems compare:

Dell Dimension B110 Essential Koobox
Base System Cost: $349 Base System Cost: $299
Intel Celeron D 325 (2.53GHz, 533MHz FSB) AMD Semperon 2800
40GB ATA/100 7200 RPM hard disk drive 40GB 7200 RPM hard disk drive
48x CD-RW/DVD-ROM optical drive (free upgrade) 48x-24x-48x CD-RW optical drive (no DVD capability)
A215 speakers ($25 upgrade from no speakers) 2W speakers
USB keyboard and optical mouse ($10 upgrade from mechanical mouse) Internet keyboard and optical mouse
Windows XP Home operating system Linspire (Linux) operating system
Corel Word Perfect (no office suite) OpenOffice.Org office suite
security software added cost anti-virus software included
17 inch E773 conventional CRT monitor (included) 17 inch conventional CRT monitor (add $109)
optional: upgrade display to 17 inch E173FP flat panel (add $170) optional: upgrade display to 17 inch flat panel (add $120)
90 day warranty 90 day warranty
Shipping & Handling: $99 Shipping: $46
Total Cost:
$483 (with conventional CRT)
$653 (with flat panel display)
Total Cost:
$454 (with conventional CRT)
$574 (with flat panel display)

This shows that you can save between $29 and $69 with the Linux system, depending on the choice of display. Otherwise, the specs on the system are pretty comparable.

When you buy a Windows computer, there is a "Microsoft tax" manifests itself two ways. First, there is the added cost of the Microsoft license that is built into the price of the computer. About the lowest I've seen Windows XP Home is $69 (here). So, you'd want a Linux-based system to recoup some of that, and indeed the Koobox does.

The other aspect of the "Microsoft tax" is that system cost is increased by the added hardware that is needed to support the Microsoft products. Therein lies one stark difference in the comparison. I feel totally comfortable specing a system such as the above to run a Linux desktop, but not so much for Windows. At the very least, I'd probably want to double the main memory before running Windows.

The biggest limitation to this "paper comparison" is that it assumes all components are created equal and they aren't. My experience with Dell products is that the low-end systems are cheap crap, but the displays are very nice. I don't know anything about the Koobox components. It would be good to know if their system is quiet, cool, solid and reliable, but I don't know. On the other hand, the entry-level Dell systems set a pretty low bar; it's not hard to meet or exceed their quality.

This all adds up to the conclusion that if you need a home system for Internet and office tasks, the Linux-based Koobox may be a very good option. It's cheaper than the Windows solution, and I bet it performs better too.