Oracle plans $150 Intel-Linux machine

Ellison loops back to the beginning of NC project, apparently....

Our department of strange coincidences can't help noticing that on the day Liberate Technologies went public, Larry Ellison was telling analysts about another Oracle low-cost hardware project. This beast is Linux-based, but is clearly an attempt by Oracle to have another crack at Ellison's old network computer concept. Liberate itself was called Network Computer Inc until earlier this year, and is the Oracle-founded hardware company originally charged with design of NCs. The unfortunate association of the N-word with failure will have had considerable influence in the name change, and curiously, yesterday Ellison seems to have been talking about the latest idea as a "thin client" platform. Thin clients are successes, and NCs so far have been failures. But really, that's more of a marketing thing, because if the two labels weren't the same to start with, they're pretty much equivalent now. NCI... sorry, Liberate has actually been looking rather promising recently, and yesterday's IPO was broadly welcomed, with an initial $16 price rising to around $20. One might muse that, as Liberate was the Oracle thin-client/NC hardware operation, it's a bit odd that Oracle is instantly talking about thin-client hardware designs again. But there you go. The latest design is Intel-based, uses Linux as the OS, has 64 megs of RAM and boots from a CD instead of a hard drive. They'll cost $250 with monitor, $150 without. Oracle will be setting up an operation to sell them (hey, didn't it do that already?), into the education market initially. By not including a hard disk Oracle is sticking with the initial NC concept of making the machines network dependent, but using a CD as the boot device means they don't actually have to boot off the network. This time around though the concept may play better, given that cheaper, dumber client devices are starting to gain more widespread acceptance. ®

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