I have had a love/hate relationship with Windows for many years, I saw the first version in 1985, and it was awful. I saw version 2, the wazoo version for the 286. I waited patiently for version 3, and that was crap as well. Of course Windows 95, and a boatload of development has changed our thinking. Windows has elevated itself from joke to pain in the butt! The major governments of the world (Everyone but Iran and Myanmar) are charging Microsoft with monopolies violations. And I have to admit that I am in agreement. It is a stupid program, It is 25 times bigger than it needs to be, and if you want to type a simple review (and your spelling sux) you need to plonk down another $400 for Microsoft Office. The way Microsoft sees it, the software costs more than the hardware. A $300 computer from Best Buy becomes a $1500 money pit.

I have spent the last week in Windows hell, I have been the victim of virus writers, and indeed a victim of Microsoft themselves, I believe they call the program “Windows Genuine (DIS)advantage”. The upshot of this is that I am a really grumpy person!

When I saw the Press Release for Linspire I was skeptical to say the least. I have played in the wonderful world of Linux before! Now I am not saying that Linux caused my stroke, but I am sure it contributed. Generally speaking Linux requires a PHD in Astro Physics just to log in. It then requires a double PHD just to browse a web site.

Well, as I said before, I was fed up with stinking Windows, so when I read the Press Release for Linspire 6.0 I was game. Linspire may not be a name you recognize. I know the original version was named Lindows, and that pissed off Bill Gates like he had gall stones! (He got all red and could not go to the bathroom)! Lindows was touted as a free replacement for Windows. All I can say is, you don’t get to be a billionaire by letting some upstart beat you at your own game.

OK, history lesson is over! Lets talk about Linspire. It is easy to buy endorsements, it is way harder to to get free publicity. So here is my story:

Bored and frustrated with a week long adventure with Spy-ware and Viruses, I was ripe for the picking. I read an interesting Press Release, and one that caught my attention. I have nothing against Linux, in fact I run a couple of servers with it, but when it comes to the desktop it sux! Linux and real people just do not seem to get along well. I decided that my computer had reached a crossroad, either I was going to hit it with a large hammer because of the continual virus warnings, or I was going to become a ‘Penguin head’.

At $49.99 Linspire is way cheaper then Windows. Here is my story.

It took less than 10 minutes to attract attention from Linspire, in fact we had traded half a dozen emails in 10 mins. I was impressed. I had a download site, and a userid and password.

The download of the ISO was seamless, 650 meg, and it took way under an hour. The biggest issue was finding a burner, I panicked early, it turned out I already had one in the computer I was using. As you can see I opted for one of my custom computers. This one is made out of Plastic Canvas!

SO, I have always lived in mortal fear of ISO’s! I Googled ISO burning and found a great little program, ISO Burner, this takes all the pain out. It took less than 1 minute to download and I was a happy camper. Even I can follow instructions like ‘Right Mouse click and select Copy To CD’. Within 10 minutes I had the CD burned! It took me longer than that to figure out that I had a burner in my computer. I had assumed it was in the ‘Pile’, and my pile is large.

Just as Windows was telling me in a less than helpful fashion that I likely had an infection, (I had a stroke two weeks ago, so a damn infection is not going to phase me!).

Anyway, I rebooted my computer with the newly burned CD and sat back to watch the fun.

The adverts claimed that it was going to be a 10 minute adventure. Well I hate to burst someones bubble, but it took 13 minutes. The only interaction I had was to stick my name and preferred userid in. There was none of that garbage that comes with Windows, and the need to reboot 87 gazzilion times.

My wife Jan was amazed. I was installing a new Operating System and I was not using the ‘F’ word. Actually I did swear a little bit. The ‘custom’ computer that I use has the CD drive in the back, so I had to move the bar stool it lives on to insert the CD.

So, 13 minutes later, it tells me it is done. I am cynical, this can not be. I know Windows! 13 minutes, hell you could not even load Media Player, never mind the rest of the garbage.

It was telling me that it was good to go! Well I was skeptical, but I am also open minded. If you look at what I use the computer for… it boils down to just a few tasks:

Web browsing

Writing stuff with MS Word

Listening to CD’s and other inane online content

Talking to people in my wifes IRC channel

With this lofty set of goals off I went, I know Windows, but I know less than a broken shard of glass about Linux in general, and Linspire in particular. Web browsing was no problem, in fact it booted right up! I was Googling in no time flat. Obviously I spend a great deal of time in the wonderful world of typing! Linspire comes with Open Office, I’ll be the first to admit that it is not quite as feature rich as MS Word. But lets think about this. I use Word a lot, I build complex documents, documents that the average person would not. For the average user Open Office has all of the features that they are likely to need. It can also read and write Word 2003 and 2007 formatted files, so you can pretty much handle what anyone sends you.

One of the gripes I have had with Linux was it’s inbred inability to handle media files. That said, I grabbed a CD at random (as it turned out it was a bad choice) and the room was filled with some Punk Rocker screaming at us! It also had no problems playing MP3’s and even Windows Media files.

My next test was the IRC. Linspire comes with a handy universal chat client Pidgin. In less that a minute I was on the IRC. It is not as feature rich as mIrc but serves the purpose nicely.

Firefox is a great little web browser and works flawlessly.

There is just one minor thing that I don’t like and that is how some of the fonts appear, I am a writer by trade and probably I am a little pickier than the average person. I found that some of the default fonts appear a little thin, it is possible though that it is the video card that I am using. I will have to investigate this further.

I give Linspire very high marks indeed, they have done a great job of packaging Linux in such a fashion that anyone can use it. For under $50 this has to be the bargain of the year. I also have to give very high marks to the customer service group at Linspire, they were courteous and very efficient. Some much larger organizations could learn a thing or two from Linspire.

You can find out more about Linspire on their web site www.linspire.com

Simon Barrett


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