Review of Linspire Beta 2
Currently, the beta versions
are only available to Linspire insiders.
I have been a Lindows (oops) Linspire user since the early
days. The days when Lindows was a pretty basic distro and
just getting started. I have followed the progress of this distro,
trying each new version as it came along. My last review was on Lindows
3.0. See my previously written article Is
Lindows Ready for Microsoft?
there have been quite a few changes since then. I took a little hiatus
for about six months, happily running Lindows 4.5 on my main. I
recently got back on the horse, bit the bullet and signed
up for another year of Linspire's CNR (Click_N-Run) membership, so that
my insider status would not expire. Originally, Linspire was
enough to give me a few years of CNR for free, as an original Insider
subscriber, thanks, Lindows!
So let's take a look at the new Linspire and how it is shaping up.
The Tested System
MSI KT-266 Pro2-R motherboard (raid capable)
256 mb DDR 2100 RAM
S3 Savage 4 video card (32 mb)
AMD Duron processor (1000 mhz)
Linksys NC 100 Ethernet PCI card
Onboard VIA Sound
Toshiba 40X CDROM drive
One of Linspire's strong point has always been it's ease of
But first, some background. I had tried an earlier beta release of
Linspire, nicknamed Marlin, namely version 4.9.232. This worked
flawlessly on my generic test box. The problem with beta testing this
version was there was no CNR available, so I played with this version
for a while. No real issues here, except for a lack of development
tools that hampered installing any real useful packages form source. No
problem, I still had my original 4.5 install on my main system.
Attempting to install version 4.9.373 was another matter. After burning
several cd disks, i could not get a good burn that would run. Now, I'm
not a newbie with this, so I just waited until the new beta 2 came out
1/15/05 (version 4.9.411).
Ahh.. the first disk burned without a problem. The neat "click to
verify" utility on the Linspire cd showed that my disk seems fine
(checks the md5sum on the files to assure that they are valid). Popped
the disk into my test box and started the install.
This is where the first minor glitch appeared. Trying to do
advanced install (choosing a partition to install to, rather than
allowing the installer to take over the entire hard drive), I kept
getting a message that Linspire could not find any usable hard disks
to install. Hmmm... well I know that i have 5 distros on the system,
but.....the problem eventually came down to a zip disk in my zip drive
that Linspire did not like. After ejecting the problematic
disk, the install started
without a problem. Yes, always consider hardware as a possible cause of
As mentioned above, the Linspire install, as expected, worked
flawlessly and took just under 17 minutes to complete. Pretty good by
Linspire standards on my Duron 1000 mhz system.
Some points to consider here. Linspire is really designed to be the
only OS on your system. Most folks want ease of installation. A
install would write Linspire over the entire hard drive, which is what
you want to do, if Linspire will be your only OS on the system.
users are looking for options, say, if you are like me and now have six
distros on you system. The advanced install allows me to choose what
partition to install to, which is what I was looking for. This requires
some knowledge of hard disk partitioning and such.
The First Startup
On initial boot, I was greeted by the Grub boot screen. Viola! All my
previously installed distros showed up on the boot screen. Pretty
impressive. We will see if they all work, later on. Since, I had a
previous install of Linspire on the system, probably Linspire
picked up all my other boot options from the former Grub install. Fine
On first boot, it took Linspire about 4 minutes to produce a desktop.
reboots took much less longer, about 1 minute on average. This was
I was initially greeted by a startup screen that gave
instructions how to add users, followed by a configuration screen that
gave such options as the ability to change my password and some other
tasks that users might
want. Since I had no problem accepting the defaults (yes, even as root
user) I elected to skip this section and move on. They can be changed
later, if needed. Some veteran Linux users may be hesitant to run as
root user and may wish to add a regular user account.
Previous builds of
Lindows/Linspire came with just the basics. Functional, but limited to
basic users. Most programs (packages) were obtained via the CNR
Warehouse. This is by design. The CNR Warehouse was designed for ease
of downloading packages and installing with 1-click. Adding "external"
packages has always been a little complicated, but one has to consider
the design of Linspire. It works for most users not interested in
compiling applications on their own.
Unlike other beta
versions of Linspire, this version comes with the CNR client installed.
I attempted to download NVU, which failed on the first attempt, but
successfully completed on the second attempt. Subsequent
Bluefish and Photogenics also failed. K-mail and screen
installed without incident. One annoyance with CNR is that it takes a
while to load properly, initially telling you that you do not have an
active internet connection and offering you a membership with CNR.
Also, on boot and CNR start, I continuously got a message that an
update to CNR failed to install. Obviously, CNR is not totally ready
for the beta version yet, but meant for testing only. This problem is
noted in the beta release notes.
KDE 3.3.2: KDE has
always been my favorite desktop environment. Sorry Gnome users.
has taken this version of KDE and integrated it into their own
customized environment. Former (or current) Windows users will relax
and concentrate on the tasks at hand.
Linspire Internet Suite: This
is a customized build of Mozilla
5.0, including a web browser, mail client and basic HTML editor. The
package is a little bulky and slow for me, but completely
for most users who do not want to fuss with things. Being the simple
user that I am, I probably will elect to try Firefox, which is
available by CNR.
From the CNR page
is a music manager and media
player for Linspire. This all-in-one program installs easily with CNR
Technology and offers great features for any audiophile:
audio tracks from your CDs
your music collection using
play lists & more
to MP3s, audio CDs, or
hundreds of streaming Internet radio stations
custom music CDs
simple-to-use interface will
have you rocking in no time - get Lsongs today!
(v0.11.17): Simply the best
cd burning software around for Linux.
Office Suite: An excellent
pick for a Microsoft Office clone. StarOffice is still my favorite, but
this will do nicely.
I came across this
nice photo organizer some time ago. A very nice addition.
2.6.10: The latest
kernel version, which will be interesting to test on my newer systems.
Macromedia Flash Player
What's not Included
An excellent web page
designing application (developed by Linspire) , my absolute favorite.
The nice thing about this
application, is that you can use the "normal" mode to just write away
and publish you document easily, or you can elect to use the "HTML
Source" option to
tweak your web pages. It is available as a CNR option, or as
downloadable package for use with other Linux (and yes) Windows
environments. The Nvu web page is located here.
Still the Linux mail
standard, as far as I am concerned. I
installed this right off using CNR, to ease the integration of my
e-mail from my other installed distros.
Although Nvu has an
automatic Publishing feature to post web pages to your server, I prefer
more control using with a package like gftp. Fortunately, gftp
installed via CNR without incident.
2.0: A must have Photoshop
clone for photo editing and manipulation. I installed an updated
version from CNR with no problem.