posted by Eugenia Loli on Tue 3rd Dec 2002 01:32 UTC
IconI heard so much about this product (some good, some bad), but I had never really tried it before Lindows.com sent us in the latest version of their OS, LindowsOS version 3.0. I took it a spin for two weeks now, and here is what I think about it (and for the eye-candy seekers, screenshots included).

I received the LindowsOS 3.0 via download, and the ISO file was a 397 MB file. I had an empty 8 GB partition on my dual Celeron 2x533 Mhz machine waiting for it, but booting its CD and not seeing anywhere the option to disallow it to overwrite my MBR and my boot manager, it was a no-go for me to install it there (that machine has 9 OSes in it and I don't feel like indanger its bootmanager where WinXP relies on (XP can become a pain if you overwrite 7 hex numbers that it needs in my MBR). The only other machine available I have here is my AthlonXP 1600+ with 768 MB of RAM. It already had 3 OSes there, but I don't use that machine often and putting back its original bootmanager wouldn't be that hard, so I decided to wipe out my SuSE 8.1 PRO installation in order to make some room and install LindowsOS for this review. I believe that the option to "Do not install Bootmanager on MBR" (in a form of a simple checkbox or something) is greatly needed in the installation process, not only for the majority of their customers who buy LindowsOS as a standalone product (not as part of a PC that is), but also for the various reviewers. The positive side is that in their GUI-based boot manager LindowsOS includes the other bootable partitions found on that PC, so not all is that bad.

LindowsOS installer LindowsOS' installation is truly dead easy. There are only 3-4 steps in the process and the only thing you really pick is the fact if you want LindowsOS to utilize the whole hard drive, or to pick a pre-arranged partition and install it there. Overall, I think the whole installation process took about 10 minutes. The only thing that LindowsOS should lose are these in-your-face capital character sentences that they popup to the user when you are about to install the OS. It looks very unprofessional, despite the importance of the message. Perhaps they should bold or indent the characters instead of capitalize them like that.

Booting the OS (in graphical mode - safe mode/expert mode also offered via its boot manager) takes the usual Linux-distro time; it is after all a Linux distribution based on Debian, while they have licensed a few bits from Xandros. You will be greeted with the KDM login screen, able to only login as root, at first. Login in to the only DE available, you will find KDE 3.0.1-CVS running with the Keramik theme. LindowsOS uses XFree 4.2 and is in fact includes and installs by default the nVidia closed source drivers (if you have an Nvidia card that is). Of course, on my machine, these included Nvidia drivers would crash LindowsOS completely, the exact same way as Red Hat 8.0 and SuSE 8.1 did as I described in their respective reviews on OSNews a month ago. All these people who emailed me to give me "tips" on how to make these drivers more stable are really in vain. The conclusion just is that the Nvidia drivers just don't run on that machine. And you know what the funny part is? That the AthlonXP 1600+ I used for this review is a MicroTel/Wal-Mart PC, which Lindows.com have special contracts with and have approved it. The only thing I have added on that machine is the Asus GeForce2-MX400, which is one of the most stable and quality GeForce cards around. The fault here is, of course, the driver's bugs in conjuction with the VIA chipset. The bottom line is that LindowsOS (and any other Linux distro with various kernel parametres) would consistently crash every time, until I changed the driver to "nv" on its /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file. After that point, I did not experience any LindowsOS crashes.

The first thing I tried to do after I first booted to Lindows, was to add a new user ("eugenia") so I wouldn't have to be logged in as root all the time. I created the account, setup the password and everything, but the system wouldn't let me log in as "eugenia"! I was getting an error like "you must change your password; Root re-inforced" or something like that. I went back in as root, I changed eugenia's password, retried to login, but it would still not let me login! I then pressed ALT+F1 and went to a real console where I tried to login via the command line. And there it would give me the same error, but at least it would offer me the chance of changing eugenia's password after inserting the password that it didn't like! After doing so, I was able to login properly.

Table of contents
  1. "First Contact"
  2. "Using the System"
  3. "Click-N-Run"
  4. "Analyzing the... Lindows Phenomena"
  5. "Conclusion"
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