The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

Search the Blog of helios and all comments


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Lessons Learned? We Can Only Hope.

It's old news by now.

CompUSA is out of bid'ness.

While there are a number of reasons for this, one of them should be obvious.

They stubbornly held onto their loyalty to Microsoft.

Now, it's no secret that I made an enemy of CompUSA years ago. I was "strongly advised" to pull that blog down, but in the stayed up.

CompUSA went down.

And no...there is not a shred of positive correlation between the two.

On several occasions I walked into CompUSA to see what I could see on the Linux Shelves. I asked them why they didn't support Linux when there was evidence all around them that it was a desired product. When Linux was finally offered there, I wrote about my experience in finding Suse and Xandros stuffed on the bottom shelves, in obvious disarray. My confrontations with management over this led me to be escorted from the premises on more than one occasion.. On several occasions I found Microsoft products covering Linux offerings, or the Linux boxed distros thrown under the display case.

We launched a dead end investigation when each of these distros disappeared from the shelves within 24 hours of those above named entities making their Deal with the Devil. Yes, it was a dead end. I could never tie anything together to substantiate the "coincidence" of that timing. No one would talk any higher than store managers and they didn't really have any reason to talk to me anyway. In the case of Linspire, I am assuming the bulging pockets of those top Execs who were shown the door might have bought some silence.

But I could be wrong.

Yeah, right.

Yet, when it comes down to it...CompUSA is gone. I personally will shed no tears. I am convinced that their blindness to consumer needs played some part in their demise if not a large one, whether it was Linux or any other non-microsoft product. You want to argue it? OK...

Walmart is carrying Linux products now.

Intel got the religion for obvious reasons - thanks AMD.

So did Acer

and HP

As did IBM/Lenovo

Hell, even Best Buy, that bastion of Microsoft-only products has gotten the hint.

Some say that Dell started the landslide...I disagree but it's not meant for discussion here.

That Grand-Daddy of all Big Box Stores, Sears Now carries Linux products (online only for now)

That's right...Sears. The Ultimate Mom and Dad Store. You know you've made inroads when Sears carries your product.

And yeah, it's Linspire...and I have some problems with that but for now, we gotta take what we get. Once we get them understanding Linux, we can get them educated properly.

Thanks Dumper. You raise some excellent points.

As did everyone else contributing to that post. Various deadlines and family commitments deter me from posting other examples of Linux hitting the consumer and hence, the retail awareness. A simple google will spill dozens more examples into your lap.

The biggest story isn't the above cited's the phenomenon of embedded Linux. The explosion of "hidden Linux" far exceeds Tivo sets. Wind River, a company who vocally denounced Linux as a "plaything" has found the value of Open Source. That in itself carries weight you and I have yet to even imagine. The "Linux Inside" thing is huge folks...absolutely huge. You know that it has to eat at the insides of those who made their living knocking FOSS and those who comprise this community.

Companies like are coming into their own. Why? They sell hardware for profit. They offer Linux on principle. That is how an open source venture will survive then thrive, and personally; I am going to go out of my way to see that these particular warriors succeed maddeningly. These folks put Linux on their computers when it was a matter of principle, not profit. You might want to make note of that before you purchase that brand new laptop from Dell or HP.

Now, had CompUSA gotten said religion, would they have survived? It's hard to say and anything I post here is pure conjecture...sprinkled liberally with doses of wishful thinking, and topped off masterfully with globs of gloating.

Sticking my small, ineffective shiv into CompUSA prior to their demise is gratifying, as wrong as it may be.

But that aside, we've established let's talk about the menu.

On this menu is only one item, but there are many delicious ways it can be served.

The dinner guests in our little bistro will be Collective Microsoft Execs and those who knelt at their alter. Let's look at some of the things they've said about Linux and companies who built their success on Linux...shall we?

Let's start with our favorite bad guy, Steve-O-Rino Ballmer. The Steve-ster...The Ballmeister guy...

Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards.

(That "House of Cards is trading at +800.00 a share now pal...what is MS pulling down per share buddy?)

Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.

(Is THAT why you bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of "Cancer" Steve ol' boy?)

Our mail product, Hotmail, is the market leader globally.
(better cross-reference the first quote Steve.)

OK...I think we've got Steve Ballmer's take on Linux...flying chairs not withstanding his wrath. Let's move on to the Big Boy. Let's see what Unkle Billy has had to say about things:

GPL software is like this thing called Linux, where you can never commercialize anything around it; that is, it always has to be free. And, you know, that's just a philosophy. Some said philosophy wasn't around much anymore, but it's still there. And so that's where we part company."

"Let's face it, the average computer user has the brain of a Spider Monkey." - (ok, so it's not Linux Related but it shows you where his head is at. And he may be right in some cases.

And here, Bill seems to be seeing the handwriting on the wall.

What we were really after is simply that people purchase a legal license for Windows for each computer they own before they move on to Linux or Sun Solaris or BSD or OS/2 or whatever.

Being wrong isn't always a bad thing...except when you drag an entire corporation and national store chain down with you. Microsoft received one of the rudest and most expensive awakenings in business history when the EU recently leveled over a one billion dollar fine against them for anti-trust violations. The history and motives of the EU's persecution of Microsoft is complex, and some have come right out and called me un-American for cheering them on.

You've got to be kidding me...right?

This isn't a "national" or "patriotic" thing. It's a matter of someone finally doing something that's needed done for a long time. Their powerful Washington Lobby cannot protect them from this quarter. Microsoft's power has long exceeded their responsibility to wield it, and if bustin' their piggy bank is going to make them easier to co-exist with, so be it. Of course had this decision come from another global quarter, my tune would change immediately...

Lest the question be asked.

Their stock over the past five years has the geographical steadiness of an Illinois corn field and any bump that raises above the flatline is truly just a blip in the overall straight ink they've produced in the NASDAQ. Stockholders have been on the verge of revolt for years and you won't find many holding MS stock that held it 10 years ago.

But hey...I think my greatest professional pleasure was when Daniel Lyons was outed as FSJ. Lyons was brutal in his rantings against Linux and his stiff backbone for SCO is legendary. Lyons refused 9 interview requests from Lobby4Linux after he was outed. His nasty treatment of the Tux500 project was sure to come up and he knew it...but like the 'fraidy-cat he is, he couldn't see his way clear to do an interview with us once we knew who he was.

That seems about par for the course for him and other Linux hatchet-men. Lyons has spent a great amount of time sputtering about how often he was taken out of context during his masquerade. Some of the things he said couldn't be interpreted any other way but the way they were meant...he's just hoping to get a pass from those who don't have the time to take him seriously anymore. There is a growing number of them these days. Let's talk about Dan Lyons and SCO.

How did that go Danny Boy? "What SCO Wants, SCO Gets?" It is sad that I take such pleasure in imagining Lyons' discomfort every time someone points to that article. Between him and Enderle, I don't think Microsoft has had two better but-buddies.

But as in "but this Linux thing is a passing fad." or, "But Linux can't begin to compete with Windows"

I am wondering, in their quiet moments, if they don't think about what will happen if someone honestly gets Linux and FOSS products into the public awareness. Let me give you guys a hand with that.

And hey, no's my pleasure.

If the strong members of this community can put down their distro cannons long enough to cease fire on one another and unite for a short time, what you fear is going to happen...and how significant is the date...?

On the 4th of July, people in Felton California are going to make their own Declaration of Independence boys. Those "rag-tag hippies" that would never bring Linux past a "student hobbyist system" are going to announce to the world that people do indeed have a choice, and that choice is GNU/Linux and Free Open Source Software.

Read it and weep...

And watch for flying chairs.

But while you are watching, let me give you something else to watch. It is said that history teaches us what NOT to do again. Let's see if this can guide you a bit.

Which incidently mentions one of the greatest "Lord-I-Wish-I-Could-Have-That-One-Back" quotes of all time by the Gartner Group.

Hype-du-jour indeed...

All Righty Then...


Anonymous said...

Reach out and touch someone! helios sure has a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Prior to the first wave of CompUSA's demise, they did actually stock Linux distributions. And often at some very reasonable prices (basically paying for the media convenience and the nice hard copy manual).

With that said, what killed CompUSA was the Internet. That is, the ability to purchase computer technology easily via the Internet.

Who wants to pay almost full retail pricing anymore? What killed CompUSA was a cheaper, faster and better seller... the plethora of businesses selling via the Internet. CompUSA really never tried to adapt and kept their expensive B&M stores with their almost full retail pricing. Big mistake. Not saying they couldn't have kept some B&M stores, they just had to adapt their model to be dependent on Internet sales... and they never did.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. But why only offer the movie towards the end in a .mov format. Why not something more Linux friendly?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is right. Even at the super duper clearance liquidation discount prices, I could still purchase most items worth having cheaper at

Unknown said...

Or Frys personal non-religious Mecca. My wife prepares for bankruptcy every time I announce a pilgrimage.

No, it was never my intent to offer positive correlation between their demise and their lack of Linux Support...only the attitudinal type attitude (man I love redundancies).
Yes, I stalked them often to see how their displays were being handled and mentioned so above. Suse and Xandros were offered at this particular store long before The Treachery took place.

I do find it gratifying to see those who scoffed at my suggestion that they carry Linux machines at least on line are now doing so. Again, I'm sure I had nothing to do with it personally...but perhaps the dozens of people who came in at my, uh...suggestion, yeah, that's my suggestion, had something to do with it.

We'll never know anyway so moot-ness shall ensue from here on in.


Unknown said...

Love your blog. But why only offer the movie towards the end in a .mov format. Why not something more Linux friendly?

my bad...really short on time at the moment and it was in my public_html without having to suffer a fish upload or ssh session. Will replace at a later date...besides, mplayer plugin has bias...gotta love them guyz


John Macey said...


I'm a Linux kind of guy - have Sites, Forums, Blogs, etc. about Linux, and have been watching / posting to a Blog about what SlashDot called the The 54 Million Dollar Computer.

That is here:

Sorry for the long URL.

Hey, thanks for your post. I'm going to use it on my Blog with full credit from you.

Best Regards,

Phoenix, Arizona

mikemunsil said...

What REALLY killed CompUSA was their lack of customer service. Too bad they died AFTER I published this; I could have titled it differently...

Unknown said...

Watch out helios,

I've heard some horror stories about Frys as well (mainly in California though). Anyway, I'm looking forward to the west coast event. That would be really interesting to see...... I would love to be there.....

Anonymous said...

Ironically, on the same day the LinuxToday feed sends me a link to your great article, and to this one: Wal-Mart ends test of Linux in stores. Yet another coincidence!

The funny thing is that the stock sold out, but it "really wasn't what our customers were looking for". Odd. It wasn't what they were looking for, but they bought it anyway? It was also available with Windows for $100 more, but those ones didn't sell out.

Wal-Mart is too big for even MS to intimidate, but there are always people who can be bribed...

Anonymous said...

But wait... they aren't dead yet!!

CompUSA back with plans for Gardens store

Unknown said...

Ah...I named this article Lessons Learned...?" for a reason. Looks like the lesson they learned is to restructure their stores after the Fry's Electronics let's see how their attitude has changed. Anyone from This Area want to challenge them on their Linux support?

Don't make me come down there...


Anonymous said...

TigerDirect bought out some part of CompUSA (basically the name and some physical stores) and has reopened a few of the stores under the CompUSA name. The CompUSA web site was overhauled and now resembles the TigerDirect site. Also, the prices I checked were the same at both sites.

(FYI: CompUSA gift cards and credit cards are no longer valid)

I remember when the CompUSA by my house had the shelves on one entire row (albeit, a small row) filled with boxes of Red Hat, Suse, StarOffice, etc. It's where I bought my first boxed Suse.

Even though the linux stuff did disappear, I figure about 25% of the computer toys I bought came from CompUSA. Linux just works with most stuff, anyway, so it didn't matter if the brainless sales droids had that glazed look in their eys when the word Linux was mentioned. Also, I hate mail order returns. For large items I'd rather be able to go to a store and put my hands on it and carry it out (and back if necessary) without wondering what the FedEx/UPS/DHL couriers are doing to the box.

It was usually good fun to P-O'd the third-party sales reps on the weekends. A Belkin rep there once asked my why I picked up some linksys wifi hardware (that he was blocking with his display) instead of his shiny, new, cheaper Belkin toys, so I let him know the Belkin hardware got bad reviews for linux compatability. "Oh, linux", said with that condescending tone that suggests something between I'm disadvantaged, or some sort of socially undesireable freeloader. Never mind I was actually spending money.

I don't know how much the TigerDirect ownership will change things. Sometimes the Tiger Direct web site has really great prices. But, most deals get eaten up by their higher than usual shipping costs -- and this, even though Tiger Direct is local to me in Miami!

I notice the BestBuy across the street from the CompUSA near my house has recently started carrying more computer components, but BestBuy is usually the last place I get computer toys, since 95% they're usually full retail.