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
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.
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