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You can have your computer and save money, too

Ever wonder how much money you could save on computing if you put your mind to it? PCs and Macs can be fabulously expensive if you want peak performance and bells and whistles. But a fairly modest investment is good enough for the basics of Internet and office applications.

Computer

Let's start with the computer. We're using laptops for this price comparison, mostly because we're seeing a lot buzz about cheap, sawed-off "netbooks," which as a group have Linux 10-inch or smaller screens, vs. the middle-of-the-road 15-inch laptop that runs Windows. Netbooks are generally touted as much cheaper than standard laptops.

About the best you'll do pricewise is the Asus Eee PC 2 G Surf, with a 7-inch display and minuscule 2-gigabyte solid-state hard drive, for $250. Preloaded with Linux, its great charm (apart from price) is portability for surfing the Net. The tiny drive is a deal breaker for many kinds of serious work.

So how much can you save by using open-source software? As much as $450, and you're not giving up that much.

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