By : Ulukai
There's a new distribution in the Linux operating
systems arena called Linspire. It is derived from the words
Linux and Inspire. They used to call it Lindows but Microsoft
were far from happy with this and set about taking legal
action. As a result they decided to change the name to Linspire.
Lindows stems from the words Linux and windows, which is
kind of the idea of this distribution.
The man behind this distribution is the same man behind
the mp3.com website, Michael Robertson. His vision is simple,
to replace Windows as dominant desktop operating system,
and it started off with him taking a simple Linux distribution
and using emulators to run Windows software.
In earlier version they have gotten very far with such techniques,
until Microsoft caught on.
Microsoft sued the Lindows Company, claiming the name Lindows
was too similar to the name Windows and would confuse customers
who wanted to buy their products.
Recently Microsoft had won the suit in the Benelux which
forced Lindows to consider the name change, since the name
Lindows was deemed illegal by the courts.
The sole focus of this distribution is the desktop market
for business and private consumers. This means that Linspire
is very slimmed down in terms of compilers and programming
software and such.
Its strength comes from providing an all-in-one solution,
offering things such as office, USB support and internet
support built-in, to name a few.
Now the newer distributions of Red Hat and Mandrake support
most of these features (if not all) too, but what makes
this distribution different is the idea behind it.
The Linspire company has thought hard and has taken most
of the pros (and cons) of Windows and tried to apply (and
fix) them on Linspire. From things like the installation
of the operating system to having an Office clone installed
on the computer.
They have just taken a working operating system, Linux,
and tinkered with it until it is fit to replace Windows.
Linspire seems to be a customized Debian distribution with
a kernel version 2.4.24. The Windows manager installed is
KDE, which is the only Windows manager available. It comes
with several software packages installed; packages like
OpenOffice, Mozilla internet browser, Konqueror file browser
WINE is software that allows Windows programs to run on
a Linux operating system without emulating the processor
core. It simply uses the Windows dll files and directory
structure to recreate a Windows environment.
OpenOffice is a simple office suit that is compatible with
document types found in Microsoft Office.
It contains a spreadsheet program, a word processor, drawing
tools and even a PDF writing option.
Other software features of Linspire are an instant messenger
supporting all messenger protocols, a Winamp clone called
xmms, native Ogg and MP3 support and many more features.
This is the feature list shown on the Linspire website:
phone calls - with conferencing
New in 4.5
to information - saving you time and hassle
New in 4.5
web content from or into six different languages with
a single click
New in 4.5
Remote Desktop Sharing
collaborative works and tech support.
New in 4.5
novices can quickly familiarize themselves with everyday
New in 4.5
Full office suite
your office work without spending hundreds of dollars
New in 4.5
downloads - saves you time & money!
Spam & Popup Blocking
spam and popups from annoying you, and cluttering
your desktop and inbox
your data from hackers
featrures in this table this list is going to change when
Microsoft has released their new service pack, service pack
2 for Windows XP.
service contains a built-in firewall and popup blocker for
windows xp so, as you can see, Linspire
is trying very hard to stay competitive.
Installing Linspire 4.5
installing and testing Linspire I have used VMWare workstation
by itself wasnít easy as I discovered. J
have installed Linspire on a normal system to see how long
it takes to install it and if you use the simple way and
let Linspire take over your hard disk, itís done in 4-7
impressive, compared to Windows XPís 20-30 minutes.
are the requirements for Linspire as found on their website:
- PC with 800 MHz
or higher processor
- 128 MB of RAM
(256 MB or higher recommended for best performance)
- Hard disk
- 1024 x 768 or
higher resolution and monitor* (3-D graphics accelerator
card for some games, screen savers, etc.)
- CD-ROM or DVD
drive, Keyboard & Mouse
sound card and speakers or headphones
56 Kbps hardware modem, cable modem, or DSL modem
- Ethernet card
for Internet/LAN connectivity
are some requirements for using Linspire in virtual machine
- 3 GB Hard disk
- Operating system
set to Linux and version set to other Linux.
- Knowledge of
how to install VMWare tools in the shell environment.
(that can be found on the VMWare website)
you can see I stated a 3 GB hard disk, simply because 2
GB will give you errors and results in a failure to install
you donít set the right operating system you wonít get the
right VMtools to install and if you specify the wrong kernel
type, Linspire will fail to start. Also
Linspire doesnít recognize the video driver right of the
bat, so some manual labour is required to install the VMWare
has a boot sector on the CD-ROM, making it able to boot
you have an elderly computer or for some reason booting
from CD-ROM doesnít work for you, Linspire has also got
the option to make a bootable floppy.
the installation you get 2 options, install or diagnostics.
launches the GUI based installation procedure and diagnostics
is as the word says to diagnose why your installation might
fail in a semi (DOS) shell like way.
installation is followed by a set of installation options.
First installation option being if Linspire should set up
your hard disk for you or if you would like to do that for
left it up to Linspire, but for those control freaks among
us, you can tinker to your heartís content.
after that are the computer name and root/administrative
having set all the options, Linspire goes on merrily installing
away, followed by a reboot, after which you get the same
choices screen as with the install, this time with three
you can choose Linspire, diagnostics again and redetect
again shows you that they have applied the pros of Windows
on Linux, having the option to redetect your hardware so
you can install it properly (Plug and Play).
course choosing Linspire would start it normally.
this case it wonít because the video card is not recognized
and it will start in the (DOS like) shell.
Now itís time to login as root and install the VMWare tools
the support section on the VMWare site, I found the instructions
to manually install the VMWare tools.
basically consists of copying the VMWare tools to local
hard disk and unpacking it, (You
have to mount the CD-ROM drive first before you can copy
simply run the install command.
will ask you where to install, I left it all default.
one snag though, the VMWare tools need a C++ compiler for
the last step.
last step creates a shared folder option between host and
guest operating system so
itís best to skip that option and it should tell you it
is done installing.
you can simply start the GUI by typing "startx"
or let the virtual machine restart typing reboot.
should work similarly with other video cards, except then
you wonít have to install any VMWare tools.
rounds off the installation process.
you can see it looks allot like windows.
is a picture of the OpenOffice Writer, the Microsoft Word
picture shows the remote desktop feature.
- Pricing, the
price is very cheap for a operating system,
- Free OpenOffice
and PDF writer included, always a plus :D
- Good support
section on their website, www.linspire.com
- Quick and easy
- The kernel is
upgradeable, which means Linspire can be flexible.
- The missing compilers
and programming software can be added if you so desire.
- Linspire sometimes
give away discount coupons, which, when used, make the
operating system available for free.
- Security is increased.
- Doesnít support
the latest and greatest hardware, simply because the drivers
arenít added yet.
- If you have a
problem during the installation, it is not easy to fix
problems with certain software/hardware.
- If a security
gap is found, it can be hard to fix/patch.
for the expert users in the Linux community the cons are
easily fixed, but
for the newbies this is a different story as they might
have trouble getting it running when they stumble onto something.
problems are bound to occur, not all programs that run on
Windows will run on Linspire, but that can also be said
vice versa. ;-)
in all Linspire seems to be a complete desktop operating
system for those that donít demand too much from a computer.
those who want to use the latest in software and games,
it doesnít seem very practical yet.
when Linux becomes more mainstream, you will see more and
more Linspire machines out there.
note: This document was written in Microsoft Word 2003 and
edited in OpenOffice Writer, with no problems at all.
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