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An Early Look at Freespire Linux

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the lime-in-the-coconut dept.


An anonymous reader writes " takes an early look at Freespire Linux in a recent article. Linspire will be releasing their first version of Freespire, the first community Linux distribution to include many third-party proprietary codecs, drivers, and software. From the article: 'While I still have my doubts about the long-term wisdom of using proprietary software and drivers with Linux, I must say that if you feel you need to use such programs, Freespire makes it much easier than any other Linux distribution. And, when is all said and done, that's really what Freespire is all about -- making Linux as easy as possible for users.'"

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It's about time... (4, Insightful)

Geldon (444090) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834061)

Linspire has had some pretty good ideas when it comes to making Linux easy for the Windows user. But since it has not been free, I have been reluctent to recommend it to friends. I would like to see how this turns out...

Re:It's about time... (2, Interesting)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834241)

Seems Linspire is moving to the business model of giving away the software and charging
for the support.

I agree with the notion that 'non-free' software with an 'open' api and documented
formats is not a true evil and should be allowed as a choice on a free system. If you
use such an application you are not truly locked in to it as you can migrate your data.

The only problem I see with Freespire is the same one I see with other Debian clones.
They may use .deb packages but they don't all follow the same source trees and you can
end up with a broken system by mixing packages from different archives. That's a problem
because may want an application that is only available from a different archive tree than the
one your system was installed from and run into dependancy problems. (Installing
the desired package from source into /usr/local may be the safest path in this case, and
even this isn't foolproof.)

My problem with Linspire (2, Informative)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834304)

is that it uses root accounts by default. That's pretty much asking for trouble.

Re:My problem with Linspire (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834425)

Freespire doesn't handle accounts the same as Linspire.

It's more like Ubuntu in that regard - a user account with sudo privileges with the account's password.

It's quite easy to create user accounts in Linspire, and it's even recommmended during the installation.

Re:My problem with Linspire (2, Informative)

jsight (8987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834643)

linspire hasn't done that for years.

I stand corrected. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834763)


Re:It's about time... (2, Interesting)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834617)

I agree. This gives me a good chance to see it for myself: test the waters, so to speak, before passing it along to the less initiated. From the description, it sounds like a killer distro: I'd love to have proprietary codecs and the like installed out of the box. If this distro ends up being all it's cracked up to be, I might just subscribe to the click and run even though I know how to use apt-get already: just to support it.

Of course, I'll have to really give credance to the FSF's take on proprietary software first: I'd hate to be damaging progress for the sake of convenience, if that really is the end consequence.

I wonder what the ratio here is (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15835052)

The ratio of linux leeters who decry freespire or linspire, yet maintain a windows partition "for video games" or "well, my work makes me us blah blah so ..." and other sorts of non-pure cop outs. How many are running some peripheral with a binary blob? I bet the hypocrisy ratio is quite high in that regard. How about using websites that are hosted on non pure, or use something else non-pure? Do they boycott those websites? How about brick and mortar stores? Do they inquire what apps and OS the parent company uses, and if it is "non pure" do they put their squawk where their material goods lust is and boycott? It's like, how far do you want o take it. Seems every company out there that tries to make linux *useable* with a default install gets dissed severely. can go to EVERY major distro out there and find the wink wink non nod instructions on getting the non pure stuff up and running. Fedora, mandrake, debian, gentoo, ubuntu, all of them, easy-peasy to find all the instructions necessary to make non pure but functional and find the relevant off shore someplace links to the repositories.

I'd bet more than a weeks pay that the number of linux users using ONLY "pure" open and free software is less than 1%.

Re:I wonder what the ratio here is (2, Interesting)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835268)

There's a difference between accepting and utilizing a necessary evil and integrating that necessary evil with your long term operations. I don't pretend to have a well-informed opinion on whether or not the FSF's position on shipping things like proprietary drivers and codecs with GPL software is the correct one, but I know it's important to address that issue before acting in potentially harmful ways (and regretting it later).

Let's not look at the way things are when we decide the way things should be.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Dukhat (198764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835193)

I was really amazed at the Linspire live cd for one thing in particular. It automatically recognized my Wifi card, and it was easy to configure it. Even on ubuntu, I have to google for the right windows driver to use with ndiswrapper, which is really annoying.

Odd name (3, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834079)

For a linux distro that contains software which is not "free"

Re:Odd name (3, Funny)

vancondo (986849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834215)

Yeah, but I heard that this distro includes free beer, so count me in!

Re:Odd name (3, Insightful)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834452)

It is the perhaps unfortunate nature of the english language that two, entirely separate concepts are both given the same name - free. The target audience of this distribution does not care about source code or software politics. They want a tool that they can use to get work done, and they want it on the cheap. For them, the name Freespire is good, as the point of the distribution is that it does not cost money. Whether or not it is Stallman approved means less to them than if it is "kid tested and mother approved."

Re:Odd name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15834552)

Your comments should be modded as flamebait. I'm curious to know what makes them any different than other Distro's as far as Free is concerned. Is your comment based on the fact that they do allow users to use proprietary drivers and codecs in their distro? Free is about Freedom. Apparently unless you want to resrict the freedoms of others to use the drivers and codecs that they want to use. Besides, this usually releaves the user from searching/installing the codecs and drivers anyway. They realize that until alternatives are available, why not make it easier. They have contributed a lot to the community, and it sucks that they get such a bad wrap from the ignorant masses. ( ignorant adj. - Unaware or uninformed )

Re:nice quip (4, Insightful)

aixou (756713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834608)

Nice quip, served you well.

You appear to be misinformed however. Freespire will be released in two distinct versions:

One containing entirely free software, and one containing proprietary codecs (paid for and licensed by Linspire).
The user gets to choose which he uses.

Hence the "Free" -- freedom of choice to opt into one of two free (as in beer) choices: a completely free (as in speech and beer) version, and a free (just as in beer) version.
Seems pretty free to me.

Any questions?

Re:nice quip (1)

G Morgan (979144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834867)

LAME is free software anyway. The code is there.

Re:nice quip (2, Funny)

Fallen Mongoose (982517) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835440)

I understand the free speech part, but I've been to six supermarkets and have yet to find this free beer you speak of.

More Bubbly (4, Insightful)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834103)

Is it just me, or do Linux Desktops seem to be following the Windows trend? They seem to be getting more bubbly. Take me back to the days of BlackBox

Re:More Bubbly (5, Insightful)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834159)

I agree Linux is going that way, but familiarity and 'good' looks are the only way to start converting the non-geeks. And there are plenty of nuts and bolts distros.

Eye candy is very appealing to the mainstream user, and will help A LOT to increase Linux's usage and familiarity.

Re:More Bubbly (5, Insightful)

B11 (894359) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834287)

I don't know about you, but it's nice to have a system that isn't ugly. Of course, the first thing I did when I installed ubuntu was change the theme and get rid of the brown. Seriously, who thought that was a good idea? Of course now, it's sort of their claim to fame, and they can't change it now, but I wonder how many "regular" users are put off by unbuntu altogether, right off the bat?

Re:More Bubbly (2, Interesting)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834335)

I'm actually partial to the color scheme in Ubuntu (my choice of distro). I have an asian themed room and the subdued tones mesh very well with the colors of the room. (Using the 'Dawn of Ubuntu' wallpaper, the tree with the faded sky behind it)

Re:More Bubbly (1)

dolson (634094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834366)

Actually, they have said that each cycle will possibly have a different color theme, so don't be surprised if they change from Brown/Orange to Pink/Neon Green for Edgy.

Re:More Bubbly (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834599)

I don't know about you, but it's nice to have a system that isn't ugly.

Sadly, I'm not a fan of the 'bubbly' look of XP (or Linspire). Give me a functional look like fvwm or Gnome any day. Functionality and simplicity have their own aesthetic!


Re:More Bubbly (1)

B11 (894359) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834764)

Bubble (or XP's "Fisher-Price" inspired look) I guess works for some. I was actually referring the overall look of an OS (and how east it is to change it). I love how easy it is in gnome to change the theme. I had to hack windows to be able to do the same (at least beyond the simple choices built into xp).

Re:More Bubbly (2, Interesting)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834651)

It's amazing how many of my classmates I've converted to Ubuntu because they saw how sexy it was with proper theming and the use of a few desklets. Yes, even to senior level computer science students, eye candy sells.

...Of course, once they actually tried it out and used the slick features like apt-get the first time, they were head over heels.

Re:More Bubbly (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834207)

slackware :)

Re:More Bubbly (5, Interesting)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834254)

It's easier for an expert to kill X than it is for a n00b to start it. It's not like XP where the CLI is an afterthought. It's there, just like back in the olden days of Windows, running under the GUI.

If you don't like it, don't use it. For me, I'm looking for a linux system that works BEFORE I start working on it. Give me a working system, then let me customize it. I don't have the chops to build a linux box from the ground up, and while that puts me in the minority here, I'm very firmly in the majority over the general population on this one.

I'm hoping this gives the linux movement a bit more momentum, even if it does do so at the expense of tarnishing the OSS camps' dreams just a bit.

Re:More Bubbly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15834578)

It's easier for an expert to kill X than it is for a n00b to start it.

This is nonsense. Mainstream Linux distros have been booting straight into X for about six or seven years.

Re:More Bubbly (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834665)

For me, I'm looking for a linux system that works BEFORE I start working on it.

Not exactly Linux, but my OpenBSD install worked quite nicely out of the box. X even booted in 640x480/256 mode the first time I typed "startx" (sort of equivalent to the "win" command back in the day?). "xorgconfig" was required to set X up to play nice with my video card at 1024x768, but that wasn't a big deal - the config took a minute and was completely straightforward.

Installing Debian was slightly more fun because of wierd shift-key issues on my Dell desktop and the need to get ACPI working on my Thinkpad.


Yes but, (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835040)

what does that have to do with how the distro looks? He wasn't saying he wanted no gui, just one that isn't so 'bubbly' like Windows.

Re:More Bubbly (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834281)

Just use Gentoo with pekwm the way I do.

Kickstart (4, Interesting)

also-rr (980579) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834116)

Proprietary software, as long as it doesn't make the system less free, is not necessarily bad.

For example a proprietary document system that uses open formats and has open APIs does very little to harm the user and potentially fills a niche that cannot be served by free software very well (eg handles certain legal compliance issues, which requires expensive insurance and research).

As long as you *could* write your own software to replace bits of the system, or interoperate with the system, then you dont necessarily have to for the benefit to be very real indeed.

A lot (although not all) of the stuff that comes with Linspire falls into this category.

Re:Kickstart (3, Insightful)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834689)

Much of the concern over the use of proprietary material is that it'll eventually be relied-upon with no alternative. If that happens and then the owner of the proprietary software has a change of heart or goes belly up, there are problems. For example: if everyone uses ATI's fglrx drivers, there's no need for the open source ones. If ATI goes out of business, everyone's using this huge black box to power their ATI cards. Bug fixes would have to be in the form of unofficial binary hacks, and new feature implementation is next to impossible. By not using any non-free (as in speech) components, such a calamity can be avoided.

Actually.. (4, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834138)

And, when is all said and done, that's really what Freespire is all about -- making Linux as easy as possible for users.'"

Usually, when all is said and done, more is said than done.

non-GPL Kernel modules (0, Troll)

Chutzpah (6677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834170)

From what I can tell, freespire advertises that they ship the nVidia and ATI drivers? If they are shipping precompiled copies of the source that is distributed, then they are violating the GPL, and it is likely that the kernel developers will have a talk with them.

It is illegal to distribute non-GPL binary kernel modules (ask any kernel developer), and Freespire should respect the GPL since they are a Linux company.

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (4, Informative)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834367)

It is illegal to distribute non-GPL binary kernel modules (ask any kernel developer), and Freespire should respect the GPL since they are a Linux company.

Well, the actual nVidia/ATI kernel module IS GPLed. It acts as layer between the kernel and the binary blob. This layer has an open API, which is used by the blob. Thus, the blob uses the kernel, it does not extend it. The extension comes from the GPLed layer.

The real issue is that nVidia & ATI use GPL code from other parts of the kernel in their drivers. This is the only issue, because the way I described above makes binary blobs perfectly legal.

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (3, Informative)

Chutzpah (6677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834573)

The layer is not GPL'ed, its not even open source. Take a look at the copyright notice at the top of the source files that nVidia distributes:
  * Copyright 1999-2001 by NVIDIA Corporation. All rights reserved. All
  * information contained herein is proprietary and confidential to NVIDIA
  * Corporation. Any use, reproduction, or disclosure without the written
  * permission of NVIDIA Corporation is prohibited.

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834632)

Sorry, my mistake. Obviously I misunderstood something in the nVidia sources.
But still, the layer idea allows binary drivers without violating the GPL.

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834965)

Do you really think that it'd be that hard for them to get NVidia and ATI to 'bless' a version of their drivers to ship with the distro? I doubt it.

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (1)

Chutzpah (6677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835086)

It's more the fact that shipping a precompiled kernel module is a GPL violation that I am worried about.

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835136)

It is not, as long as the source code is available.
Otherwise, all non-source based distros would be illegal, including Ubuntu, Debian, Suse, Fedora,....

Re:non-GPL Kernel modules (1)

gnud (934243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835414)

That's not the point. As I understand it, the kernel module has source aviable, but the license is _not_ gpl-compatible. Nvidia ditributes it under it's own license, but it's still linked to the kernel. This is legal as long as the linking is performed by the end user. When distributed however, this looks as an GPL violation to me, although IANAL.

Binary == bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15834173)

Using binary blob drivers and you willingly give away your freedoms. Use OpenBSD: 100% Open and Free.

Re:Binary == bad (1)

creepynut (933825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834701)

100% Open and free, until you want to use your nVidia card for something more than point and click.

Re:Binary == bad (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835331)

I'll trade this r9200 for your 7950GX2!

not exactly packaged with the distro... (3, Informative)

tlacuache (768218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834175)

... but EasyUbuntu [] accomplishes the same thing (at least as far as the codecs and drivers go, I didn't RTFA) for Ubuntu and is as easy as the name suggests.

Re: just one little thing (3, Insightful)

aixou (756713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834640)

One eensy weensy little detail distinguishes Freespire from EasyUbuntu:


Freespire uses fully licensed codecs (paid for by Linspire), whereas EasyUbuntu takes the gray area route of not using fully legal stuff.

Since Linspire is footing the bill for the codecs, I think we can all see which choice is both more practical for the user and more ethical.

It's perfectly legal in the rest of the world (3, Informative)

parodyca (890419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834909)

>One eensy weensy little detail distinguishes Freespire from EasyUbuntu:

Only in the U. S. of Eh. my friend. Up here in the Great White North, not to mention the rest of the free world, (NOT Australia since they've joined the US copyright tyranny) it is completely legal to use most of those codecs that might land an American butt in the slammer.

What I find most frustrating is that because people are so afraid of what the Americans will do, they intentionally cripple these distros. Grrrrr.

Re:It's perfectly legal in the rest of the world (1)

G Morgan (979144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834963)

Personally I think it would be better if someone released a non crippled distro. The EU is very staunchly against software patents at the moment so the conflict would only bring the problem into the eyes of the public elsewhere.

Yep. Major improvement... (1)

Doches (761288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834195)

Far superior, of course, to Ubuntu + Automatix [] .

GPL violation? (1, Offtopic)

bughouse26 (975570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834201)

Including proprietary drivers in a distribution violates the GPL because your are distributing a derivative GPL work (the linux kernel) without also making the source code available.

How are they working around this?

Re:GPL violation? (3, Informative)

humajime (952879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834316)

The work around is that there is no GPL violation. The Linux Kernel has an open API. If you conform to the API and have written all the code yourself, your code isn't subject to the GPL. The Kernel source is GPL. Any module can be whatever the author deems it.

Re:GPL violation? (1)

hacker (14635) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834582)

Except that binary kernel modules are illegal, and will not be allowed in, period.

Seen the various talks at OLS a couple of weeks ago? Seen the stance by Novell as a result of it?

Re:GPL violation? (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834606)

Using the GPL layer approach, they are not.
But apparently, I was mistaken about the open-source nVidia kernel modules that act as the layer. They are not GPLed. If they are re-released under the GPL, then the nvidia binary drivers are perfectly legal.

Re:GPL violation? (1)

bughouse26 (975570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834644)

Driver module authors are of course free to license their code as they see fit. While binary driver module authors and others are free to distribute their driver _standalone_ without providing source (even this is disputed by the FSF), they are not free to distribute a kernel compiled with their driver linked in. Such a work is derivative and is therefore subject to the GPL. Ask Cisco (Linksys) how they fared trying to keep their binary modules closed when they distributed the WRT54G wireless router. See also 2059242 []

Re:GPL violation? (1)

G Morgan (979144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834987)

They could of course spend 5 seconds at install compiling the shim and then all is good. I'm suprised more distros don't do this given the rise of live cd installers. Prehaps thats why Ubuntu is moving to a live cd, next release will detect then compile the correct module for you. You haven't distributed a pre-compiled binary then.

Hasn't this been tried (1)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834203)

Didn't a little company called "Caldera" try this marketing strategy once? Hopefully when freespire changes its name again, it won't be changing it to "SCO".

Re:Hasn't this been tried (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834394)


But this is web 2.0 stuff we're talking about here!

Caldera was early and the Linux desktop has come a long way since.

I'll hazzard a guess and say Linspire is still a little early to the game, but I think Longwait's convoluted marketing plan with different packages unlocking different functions only benefits Linspire.

If they continue to concentrate on OEM contracts, I think they'll provide a great deal of exposure to the Linux desktop. It will be a clearly lower priced and function as well. Let's not forget the dramatically better security model that's pretty transparent to the desktop user.

Hopefully, they aren't burning through cash like a web 2.0 startup so they'll be around for a while.

Re:Hasn't this been tried (1)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834596)

Let's not forget the dramatically better security model that's pretty transparent to the desktop user.

Maybe freespire has changed this, but I seem to remember that when Walmart was selling "Lindows" preinstalled on $200 PCs, it booted into root by default with no password. Lindows was also bundling non-free software at the time. Their justification for both was exactly the same as it is today, "But it's easier!"

You may be right about the market having changed since Caldera. Certainly more people know about Linux today, so the potential market might be bigger. But, I've always thought that Caldera's problem with their philosophy was that they did not understand that Linux geeks *care* about freedom. Today, that might no longer be true in the corporate data center, but freespire is going to have to get its momentum from home users. My experience is that linux-in-the-home is found in two places, people who love Linux because they care about freedom, and their friends and relatives.

Re:Hasn't this been tried (1)

G Morgan (979144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835010)

As I understand it they are nowhere near profitability.

Not the way to go (0)

gigne (990887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834217)

Although Linspire may have a reasonable goal... to run windows programs on a windows interface, I don't think this is the way to go.
The idea of getting a Windows user to operate a horribly bastardised version of GNU/Linux is a bad idea. There will be a never ending stream of problems relating to windows being a hacked together piece of crap, with never ending interop problems. Windows users like system integration, from my experience with freespire, this is lacking.
Bad Emulation of a bad operating system is not the way to go.
We need to make a good Linux distribution, without the crazy package dependancies, and bi-daily system updates. only when someone creates a user experience that is not a horrible mix between the worst elements of GNU/Linux and Windows, will we ever progress in creating a real operating system.
the whole *NIX thing is not good for the newbie, and in it's current state of affairs, never will be. Despite Linsire giving you nice config tools, it's still necessary to manually edit config files. When we come up with a solution for the whole config file problem (so many in so many places) will we ever move forward.
As a side note, a much better approach would to to virtualise a custom windows. Possibly just the kernel and underlying win32 API, and then X host it out. It does mean that the user would need a valid windows license, but they come with all computers now. This would at least give you a real windows environment. Wine just doesn't cut the mustard.

Re:Not the way to go (1)

exKingZog (847868) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834320)

Config files... we could build a big, centralised database of them, maybe split into user and computer, with the user having rights over their own section but not the computer... and we could call it... THE REGISTRY.

Re:Not the way to go (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835265)

I call it GConf.

Re:Not the way to go (2, Informative)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834369)

"It does mean that the user would need a valid windows license, but they come with all computers now."

That license does NOT grant the right to run Windows on any other system.

But, on a different note. There are different points of view. The first is that the "Operating System" is simply a resource manager. Its goal is to maximize utilization of your computer. From this point of view, Linux is already superior to Windows.

Another point of view is that the "Operating System" is central to your (enjoyable) use of the computer. That it presents and correlates information, and integrates applications. From this point of view Windows is superior to Linux.

What is a "newbie"? If it is someone who interacts "lightly" with a computer, and only does email and web surfing, Linux is probably a better choice. If it is someone who uses programs in a "non-integrated" way, Linux is a better choice.

Only if that "newbie" uses multiple programs and expects them to integrate in the Windows way, Windows would be the better choice. But that person would no longer be a "newbie". As to "config file problem" -- I have 22 years of computer experience, and I don't know my way around the "Windows Registry". It makes no sense to me. And, to boot, I have been unable to install Windows XP on some pretty plain hardware. I would say that Linux is easier to install and manage. I guess I'm not that mythical "newbie".

You are dead on in your observation that simply emulating Windows isn't the right direction. Not because Windows is a "bad" experience. Simply because the super-tight integration costs a lot. In security. In trying to customize. In maintainance.

"Crazy package dependencies". Interesting, the same finger can be pointed at Microsoft. For instance, I purchased a program "DVD Ripper". It claimed on the box to run on Windows 98 up to Windows XP. I installed it -- it is missing "something.dll" (not sure of the exact thing). Now, that would be a crazy package dependency. Especially as I really don't have time (or the desire) to dig though OTHER peoples computers to find what is missing. Or "warez" sites. Available in binary only, naturally. I should be so stupid as to actually download a random binary, from a site I don't trust...

"bi-daily system updates". Well then, don't do it! Or, choose a "Linux" that is stable.

As always, YMMV

Re:Not the way to go (1)

gigne (990887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834498)

You make some good counterpoints.

I guess that by "newbie" I mean me. I have 10 years Linux experience, and have just recently started to learn windows. I also find it illogical, and completely irrational. My Package dependancy issues are something I didn't explain properly. My gripe is not that packages have dependancies, it's that they break too easily, and it's not a trivial matter to build a package for you preferred distro. Also the sheer number of dependant packages with the most simple application is min boggling. Adding one package in your preferred package manager may install another 140 packages.

Before I attract more flaming, I am not against Linux, at all. I think it's a much better system generally, and I am a supporter and contributer of Open Source. I just think there are lots of things in Linux that are impossible for the average windows user to instantly comprehend. It's so fundamentally different in how it works, it takes a long time to get used to. My flatmate still has issues doing anything but the most basic things in Linux, despite 5 years of usage. Some people "get it" because they want to, and those that don't "get it", generally don't want to.
Your argument that Linux is superior in most respects, I am inclined to agree. There are still many things that annoy me on a daily basis, and I wish someone would fix, or it could be done better (before you ask... I fix as much as I have time for). Config files is just one of my gripes. I am not saying that a central "registry" is a good option, because it's clearly not. What would be a better option is for the config files to be kept in the same place (i.e unchanged), but an auto symlink is generated with a whole load of meta data showing what application it is, and what version. A central SVN or SQL database could track the changes. Nothing has to change for something as simple as this to work. It sits above the current default config. I believe there are projects working along these lines, only time will tell if that works.

Re:Not the way to go (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834597)

I guess that by "newbie" I mean me. I have 10 years Linux experience, and have just recently started to learn windows. I also find it illogical, and completely irrational.

Don't we all? :)

Re:Not the way to go (2, Interesting)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835109)

I guess that by "newbie" I mean me. I have 10 years Linux experience, and have just recently started to learn windows. I also find it illogical, and completely irrational.

Don't we all? :)

No. No 'we' don't.

Windows has been around in its' current incarnation for 11 years now. During the course of that 11 years it has remained decently consistent in its' interface and has provided a reliable mechanism to do tasks (keyboard shortcuts, cut and paste, etc).

There are places where the UI violates good UI design (too many nested menus, for instance), but for those minor problems, Linux is no better.

Half of the reason, my friends, that KDE and GNOME are busy playing catch-up with Windows is that they do not have a better way of doing things either.

The ease of use of Linux is still very variable from distribution to distribution. In gui terms Linux is far more illogical than Windows simply because you never know what you're gonna get.

Only someone wrapped up in their hatred of Microsoft could dismiss windows' strenths out of hand...this is even more obvious when considering the fact that linux has the same exact flaws and many more to boot!

The RedHat Business Model (1)

tabdelgawad (590061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834246)

When Redhat dropped their supported free desktop version and split their offerings into the 'community' Fedora Core and the 'professional' RHEL, everybody beat up on them then, and continues to do so (see the Ubuntu-as-Redhat-Killer article from earlier today). Yet it seems like many Linux distros with commercial aspirations are doing the same (Suse, and now Linspire).

Maybe Redhat was onto something?

Re:The RedHat Business Model (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834301)

With respect to SuSE, you got that wrong. OpenSUSE (the free SuSE), is ONLY free software. Nothing that doesn't have source is included in there. Non-open SuSE (the pay for DVD one) contains all the binary only bits that make GPL folks cringe.

Re:The RedHat Business Model (1)

thedrunkensailor (992824) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834954)

thank the lord not all have "commercial aspirations"


No GPL Violations (1, Informative)

humajime (952879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834368)

People don't seem to understand what the GPL covers in term of "derivative" work. If you fulfill an API, that is not covered under the GPL. If you take parts of the linux kernel, modify them and then repackage them, that does constitute derivative work. It just happens that most kernal modules distrubuted with Linux distros are GPLed, but they don't have to be. The module can be 100% new code, and the author can then release it under whatever Liscence they want.

Re:No GPL Violations (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835483)

This is a large problem. The GPL says little about what does or does not constitute a derivative work.

There's a good reason for that: the GPL is supposed to be portable. However, including a clause that says "The following do not constitute derivative works: [...] Licenses that differ only in this clause are considered to be fully compatible" might be a viable option.

We'll see. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15834374)

I've tried over a dozen Linux distros and all of them have had major, glaring problems from a user standpoint. The worst is support for MP3 files. SuSE pretends there isn't any such thing; Ubuntu gives you a link to a cryptic page which says "please go away". USB thumbdrives can be plugged in but not unplugged on SuSE. Music CDs won't play, and no apparent reason is given. On and on. Ubuntu's the closest, but it's still not anything I could give to anyone who's not a masochistic geek. Get over it and fix the stupid problems!

Re:We'll see. (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834431)

Indeed, automounting still has issues. For example, you unmount it using the KDE menu, but after unplugging, its still present. Or, it simply does not automount etc.
IMO automounting is not well integrated, even after Project Utopia. The Unix design is simply not made for automounting and removable media, and it shows. Only after the creation of pmount *useful* media mounting is possible (i.e. you dont have to be root).

Another thing I am not fond of is samba share mounting. It is really not trivial to mount a share being an user, and with the rights set so that ordinary users can access it. It takes tons of samba tutorials to actually get this to work. KDE and Gnome support mounting using their own VFS', which is bad for non-KDE/GNOME apps. Fix this!

Re:We'll see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15835340)

Try smb4k for samba mounting. It's even simpler than in windows.

Re:We'll see. (1)

matgorb (562145) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834484)

Hum, my SuSE came with mp3 support out of the box, thanks to a clever integration with real helix software used as a back end. What the hell is it with Ubuntu anyway, you might be able to do the same with automatix or easy ubuntu or what not, but freespire makes it LEGAL (at least in the US, in the civilised word software patent don't yet apply)!

Re:We'll see. (1)

delire (809063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835170)

What the hell is it with Ubuntu anyway, you might be able to do the same with automatix or easy ubuntu or what not, but freespire makes it LEGAL (at least in the US, in the civilised word software patent don't yet apply)! Only a small proportion of all humans on Earth live in America. For this reason - and the support of a massive Ubuntu userbase - Ubuntu with Automatix/Easy Ubuntu is both a sane and legal option for most.

Re:We'll see. (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834486)

Hmmm ... ever try to play a DVD on a vanilla Windows install? Yeah, SuSE doesn't let you play MP3s or other goodies of that ilk out of the box. You need to update against a few choice repositories before you can use that goodness. That said, it's VERY easy to create a super-install DVD from Yast with all those "omitted" packages. As for the CD and USB thumbdrive issue, you need to run SuSEPlugger, it handles all that mount / unmount stuff for you. I don't use it personally, I like to mount shit when I need it rather than have it automounted, but for non-techs, it works just as well as Winders auto-detection mech.

Re:We'll see. (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834723)

don't use it personally, I like to mount shit when I need it rather than have it automounted, but for non-techs, it works just as well as Winders auto-detection mech. Same with Debian/Gnome. Plug in an external HDD? It shows up on the desktop about a second later, without all the hemming and hawing that takes 'doze 10 sec to detect a drive. And don't even get me started on "do you want to Autoplay?" (I know it can be disabled, but if you plug a USB key into an unfamiliar system and forget...bleh).


Re:We'll see. (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834648)

Get over it and fix the stupid problems!

The problem is propriatary code/codecs. This is not a problem that can be fixed by including code, since a legal monopoly on such code is the very problem.

And the very problem, for good or ill, that Lin/Free/spire is trying to deal with; and, I might point out, that the GPL is trying to deal with at the root.


low-quality drivers (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834421)

What sometimes gets left out of this kind of discussion is that closed-source drivers are often of very low quality. Recently, I've been scanning in an old 400-page book on an HP scanner, using HP's closed-source MacOS 9 driver and scanning software. The MacOS X driver wasn't released until a couple of years after we bought the scanner, although they claimed it would be coming "real soon now." When the MacOS X driver finally was released, I found that it crashed so often as to make it useless. So here I am, in the year 2006, booting into MacOS 9 whenever I want to use the scanner. IIRC a driver is available for SANE, but I think I had dependency problems getting it to instal on my Linux box.

I scanned the first 100 pages or so, transferred them to the Linux box, and made sure I could read them. No problem. I finished scanning the book, transferred the rest of the pages to the Linux box. Oops --- can't read anything after page 250. Why? It turns out all those files are empty --- zero bytes in size. Why? Oh, the Mac's hard disk had apparently filled up, and the software didn't check for an I/O error when it wrote the files.

I'm not saying that OSS is always perfect and bug-free, but I doubt that this kind of low-quality code would ever have become widely used if it was open source.

I don't really want closed-source drivers for Linux. All I want is two things:

  1. I want to be able to find clear, accurate, up-to-date information on what devices have OSS drivers available, so I can buy hardware that's well supported.
  2. I want to be able to install the OSS drivers without a lot of hassles.
Really, #1 seems to be pretty well covered by the SANE folks (although the situation seems to be worse for wireless cards, where there's a ton of out-of-date info on the web, and I didn't find any canonical, well-maintained site that had all the info). #2 is probably slowly getting better too, as Ubuntu becomes more and more mature. I suspect that by the time I upgrade to the next Ubuntu, the scanner driver I need will already be included in SANE by default, and the dependency problems will be fixed.

Re:low-quality drivers (2, Informative)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834470)

The problem with #2 is that the drivers need constant support, because the kernel changes so fast. Of course it is logical that a driver written for Kernel 2.6.1 may not work with 2.6.15, but sometimes stuff even breaks because it was written for 2.6.14! This makes Linux driver maintenance expensive. If the maintainer does not have 24/7 devotion behind it, the driver is gone.

Contrast this with stuff like ext2fs for Windows. I can *still* use it, even after the updates and the switch from 2000 to XP. There should be a stable API for GPLed OSS drivers, which is changed ONLY between major releases.

Icon Similarities... (1)

ickoonite (639305) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834443)

Not only does the default interface look like Windows XP, some of the icons look like their Windows equivalents. The IM icon for Gaim, for example, has more than a passing resemblance to the AOL AIM icon.

...and even more of a resemblance to Apple's iChat icon [] .


iqu :|

It's an Operating System (2)

sqlgeek (168433) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834476)

Linux' ability to run proprietary software such as an Oracle database is essential to its success. How is this any different?

Haskell : strange but true (2, Interesting)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834499)

Coincidentally, I discovered [] today that Linspire/Freespire are standardizing on Haskell [] for core OS development. I'm still blinking a bit about that one, but you have to give them marks for chutzpah.

Wierd. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834876)

Thats bizare, but they might not have asuch a difficult time finding developers. Parrot ( the backend of Perl 6) is beign writeen in Haskell. I like haskell, or at least the idea of it. As the note says they've already written a lot of the packaging system in Ocaml another functional language that was the basis of an experimental microsoft .Net language F#. I'd like to see functional programing take off, but I have my doubts it will in any shape or form. I think Haskell will be a big drawback inthe short term.

Proprietary addicts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15834572)

'While I still have my doubts about the long-term wisdom of using crack and heroin, I must say that if you feel you need to use such drugs, Freepharm makes it much easier than any other pharmacy. And, when is all said and done, that's really what Freepharm is all about -- making drugs as easy as possible for users.'"

Still have to pay for CNR? (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834585)

I was hoping this would provide a free alternative to the CNR warehouse of Linspire. Linspire isnt' really that expensive to begin with ($50 or even cheaper last I checked). But then asking people to pay $20/year for the CNR warehouse wasn't cool. People don't want to associate some kind of yearly fee with this I don't think.

Re:Still have to pay for CNR? (1)

ccgr (612619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834602)

agreed I didn't keep Linspire long after they were charing for updats that were free via apt on any other debin based distro

Re:Still have to pay for CNR? (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834794)

I think most people who are geeks won't be using freespire or linspire, so saying you can get them via apt-get doesn't really help the target audience here which is grandma and your other family members.

Stop trying to look like Windoze... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834641)

Sheesh! The "launch" menu is basically a clone of the Start menu, which wasn't a great idea in the first place. Give me an application menu that can show up anywhere on the screen like in fvwm or blackbox, and a NeXT/Apple-style dock on one side of the screen for the apps and directories I use most often...

Actually, give me a true 3-button mouse and allow different menus to show up at the pointer site with different combinations of button clicks.


Re:Stop trying to look like Windoze... (1)

narfbot (515956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834880)

Hehehe, I've had TWM doing that for years. I have the three buttons mapped to different menus and can get it anywhere I click on the desktop.

Re:Stop trying to look like Windoze... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834905)

Hehehe, I've had TWM doing that for years. I have the three buttons mapped to different menus and can get it anywhere I click on the desktop.

I was thinking:
left - windowlist
right - actions
middle - normal launcher menu
left + middle = whatever the hell you want
right + middle = WTHYW
l + r = WTHYW


Two other versions in the works (3, Funny)

jiawen (693693) | more than 8 years ago | (#15834819)

Two other versions are currently being designed. One, which requires that users give the company some of their intellectual property in exchange for additional software packages, and another, which allows users to exchange a few hours' work for a robust Linux-based system. The first version will be called Inspire; the second, Perspire.

The company is also thinking of donating free software to relatives of the recently deceased. This will naturally be called Expire.

Question (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835005)

Ok I am a windows gamer (World of Warcraft) who is building a second system from scratch and want an easy version of Linux for the OS. I have been tempted for a while to start looking at Linux, and that is all this computer will be for. I would like a distro where you use command prompts as little as possible. IYO what is the easiest version to adapt to from windows as far as install on configuration. I don't want to have to spend money on it, and I want something after a while i can use as a main system. Let me know what you think.

Re:Question (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15835535)

i switched from windows to linux within the last year.

first of all, get acquanted with

if this is for personal enrichment / value, i'd recommend going debian or a derivative. the derivatives are easier to start with. i'd recommend ubuntu (lots of people seems to love, i've never installed it, but might eventually do so) or simply mepis. i use mepis day in and day out and rarely switch over to winxp.

if this is for business experience, you have to do redhat or suse.

mepis packages (software) are based upon ubuntu's packages. it is kind of like kubuntu (ubuntu with kde instead of gnome), but mepis (kde) is #1 in the mepis community and kubuntu is #2 in the ubuntu community.

keep in mind that your hardware may dictate what distro you use. i think both ubuntu and mepis have live cds - try them and make sure your hardware works with them. if it works with ubuntu and not mepis, ubuntu is the better fo the two choices.

wpa wireless entworking is still an "adventure" in linux. in order to avoid the research and the headaches, i spent $65 on a wireless bridge - my wireless linux box ethernets into the wireless bridge and all is nice and neat. as far as linux is concerned, it is on ethernet.

also keep in mind that there is no one or two right answers. visit other distros will work fine - the most critical parts are between your ears and shoulders - your mind and your heart. i've enjoyed my recent foray into linux and's mepis forum has been very helpful.

Re:Question (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835546)

Ubuntu, of course.

If you want to use WINE to run Windows applications, you'll need to use the command line. If you want to recompile your kernel for a speed increase (mainly at boot), you'll need to use the command line. Most other functions you'll need are available with a GUI, and all of them through the command line as well.

SUSE might be as good; I haven't tried it yet. But Ubuntu fulfills your requirements, I think.

Glad they put users before developers (1)

martinultima (832468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15835115)

First of all, may as well mention that a lot of smaller distributions have included all that stuff for years, but whatever the case it's good to see that one of the big distributions has finally chosen to do something pragmatic and practical rather than follow a bunch of abstract ideas like most of the others (*cough* Debian *cough*) seem to do. Now, don't get me wrong – I do agree that freedom is very important in any context and form – but as far as the whole "proprietary software is EVIL!!" thing goes, I have to say it's just a little bit exaggerated, and besides, there are gray areas – if my video card only works with a proprietary driver on Linux, it's still better from a free software perspective to just use the proprietary driver than to go back or switch to a non-free system.

Anyway, to get back on topic, I'm glad to see a big-name distribution considering the people who are actually using their system, not just the ones developing it. A lot of people switching to Linux now couldn't care less about the free-vs.-proprietary-software thing – they switch because it's less expensive, or because they don't like Windows and they hear Linux is better. If anything this whole holy war thing probably drives people away rather than bringing them in; if they get a bad first impression, it's hard to change that around. A lot of the reason users still dual-boot Windows or switch to other distributions is because so many distros refuse to include support for MP3's, wireless drivers, Flash, Wine, etc. Obviously this isn't true for everyone, but that's how it is for a lot of my own users. So long story short, it's a lot better to include a couple non-free programs than to risk them switching to an entirely non-free system altogether...

(Sorry if this is too long or off-topic, you can get back to your regular everyday lives now...)

I wonder (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15835261)

I wonder how fast this "distro" will fry my system.

SuSE was done within 2 hours
Red hat was gone within 5 minutes
Linspire was the only one to work and never give me problems (aside from my display, it never went past 1024x768 even though I could display 1280x1024 with no problems) the only drawback to it was you had to pay for support.

Ubuntu fried my DVD Drive and that was just from the live CD, which is really pathetic, and before the linux zealots start, my DVD drive NEVER gave me any problems what so ever before I ran that live CD,after I ran it (which wasn't even in that drive) when I put in a DVD it would click really loud and then refuse to burn anything to 100% then it started to refuse burning + discs, then it refuesed to burn - discs, then it refused to read any kind of disc. all this happened AFTER I ran that live CD so I don't know how badly they fucked that disc up but it fried my perfectly working DVD Burner.
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