Open Source

Linspire - "Uninspired" to me

I had my first hands on with Linspire 5.0 over the weekend and I will

have to say I am lukewarm over the product. Linspire (formerly

known as Lindows) is a Linux distribution by Linspire Inc. that is

touted as the "Worlds Easiest Desktop Linux".

Based on that description, I had my expectations set. I was

prepared to have an install that went smooth and painless and which

recognized all my hardware. So I pulled out my test machine that

I put all my linux distributions on and started fresh by wiping the

drive as part of the install. My test machine is a Pentium

II 450mhz with 384 megs of RAM, a Nvidia Geforce II MX, an HP CD/RW, a

floppy drive, an internal ZIP drive, a generic NIC, and a Sound Blaster

sound card. Yes the platform is old, but it is a good test bed

for linux and those distributions that are well done run like a champ

on it.

The install was smooth and required less input and hid more of the

technical stuff that was going on than most other linux distros that I am

familiar with. Once it was done however, I was disappointed to

find that my sound card and my Zip drive were ignored during the

setup. This was disconcerting since both Suse Linux, Red Hat, and

Mandrake love this machine.

Ignoring the hardware that didn't work, I proceeded to use the OS to

see how functional it was. The desktop is KDE, (Gnome is not a

choice during setup) and is attractive. It is designed to mimic

Windows as much as possible. It has just about everything you

need to get going with Linux as your desktop. I have no issues

with the installed base of software you get or the environment's ease

of use. My biggest gripe is its speed. Having had previous

versions of linux on this same machine, I have come to expect a certain

level of performance and this install just seemed sluggish.

Bringing up the browser, switching applications, etc. just seemed to

take longer. In fact, Windows XP on this same machine runs faster.

My second gripe is the service that comes with Linspire 5.0 called CNR

which is short for Click and Run. It is billed as "A software

delivery service designed for Linspire users that makes it easy to

install Linux software." And in fact it does - however it is a

subscription service for which you get charged for the convenience of

having 1 click access to already free software. The CNR interface

was just too out right "comercial" for me and just screamed "BUY BUY

BUY" to me. A definite turn off for what could be a powerful tool.

All in all, for home use Linspire 5.0 is ok. But if I was going to

choose a linux desktop for the enterprise I would rather have Red Hat

or Novell/SUSE. Obviously this wasn't a scientific evaluation of

the product but more of a gut reation based on experience - and as

always, it is my personal opinion. I normally would suggest you try

before you buy, but Linspire does not have an evaluation version as far

as I can tell. And unless you have $50.00 to spend for the sake

of curiosity, I would stay with one of the free linux distributions

which you can obtain here.

Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect

public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,

delivered each Tuesday. Automatically sign up today!

Editor's Picks