posted by Michael Valentine on Mon 28th Mar 2005 19:49 UTC
IconI decided to write this review to provide a quick inside to the new Linspire 5.0 released on March 15th, 2005. The review will determine the use of Linspire 5.0 in a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) Environment. The download was free for me since I'm a current CNR subscriber. UPDATE: Another Linspire review, and the Linspire 5.0 Live CD is now available for free download.

I will not post any Screen Shots, but instead offer users to visit OSDir.com and look at the screenshots provided by them from start to finish. These folks offer a wonderful service and deserve as much credit as possible in providing this for us. I am a Linspire Insider, but will do a very honest and open review about Linspire 5.0. I have also provided many hyperlinks to other areas of interest in this review, so please check them out.

1) Test System and Hardware Support

Dell D800 Laptop, with Pentium M 2.0Ghz CPU, 1GB Memory, 15.4 WUXGA LCD, NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5650 AGP Video, 60GB 7200RPM Hard Drive, 8x DVD+RW, Wireless 1350 802.11b/g, Intel GHz Network Card, and 56k Modem. As you can see this is a very modern and up to date test system, and should really demonstrate Linspireís ability to perform in a SOHO Environment for which I intend to use it for. Everything worked for me on this system, the LCD was not adjusted correctly at first but was easily adjusted with the Linspire Display Tool to its default setting of 1920x1600. I plugged in my Maxtor USB2 160GB External HD with a Fat32 Partition and it worked, my Lexar 1GB JumpDrive Traveler worked, my HP All-In-One Officejet 4215 worked once I installed the HP Drivers from CNR ! and Kooka for Scanner support also available from CNR, my Kensington USB Wireless PocketMouse was a go, in other words full support for my Hardware. I did not try the Modem for this test, but since itís a WinModem there is a chance it wonít work.

Score: 10 out of 10

2) Install

As with most modern Linux Distribution the install process is rather eventless and straightforward. You first get greeted by a grub boot menu with the choice to:

A) Install or Update Linspire
B) LiveCD
C) Advanced Options

I choose the install option and a nice Boot Screen greeted me next. No info is displayed, except for a progress bar moving on the bottom. Pressing the ESC Key will display the action going on behind the Boot Screen for those needing to see or know this. Once the Install Screen comes up Linspire asks very few questions, and a total of 7 Mouse Clicks and 3 question need to be answered if you choose a standard install which I did. The install went very fast on my 3Ghz Test PC, 11 Minutes to be exact. This is the fastest install of any Distribution or Operating System to date for me.

Score: 10 out of 10

3) First Boot

The first thing I noticed was the huge improvement in boot up speed, still slow when I compare it to Xandros 3 or SUSE 9.2, but vastly improved. Hopefully as Linspire tweaks 5.0 over time boot up speed will also decrease. The Welcome Screen is nicely done and the KDE Splash Screen is the nicest one I have seen so far. During the initial boot your greeted to a Setup Wizard which letís you setup a Non Root User, Adj! ust Time, Screen Settings, Network Settings and so on. I assume this could have been accomplished during the initial install, but I guess itís a matter of preference. I like it the Linspire way since it makes the install process a breeze for the average computer user. To many questions during the install process can cause confusion and unnecessary support calls. Once you finish with the advanced settings you get greeted by a Flash Tutorial that is very well done, and surely appreciated by new users to Linspire. I just clicked on the Exit Tutorial and logged out and back in to my non root user account. So to dispel one common rumor about Linspire, ďNO YOU ARE NOT FORCED TO RUN AS ROOTĒ! You have a choice and I made mine. I would like to see more emphasis from Linspire to encourage users not to run as r! oot like a warning message of the importance to use a Non Root User Account.

Score: 9 out of 10

4) Initial Feel and Look of the Desktop

I guess it depends on the user how they feel about Linspireís Initial Look. For some itís to flashy for some itís not. I think they found a nice middle ground with the setup and I like it. There were a few things I changes like Wallpaper (I like scenic wallpaper), removed some Desktop Icons (hate clutter) and changed some settings in the Control Center. But overall, it still looks pretty much the same as stock, so yes I like it. The menus are clearly laid out and easy to navigate, support options are easy to find on the task bar and easy to identify (Life vest Icon).

Score: 10 out of 10

Table of contents
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