posted by Michael Katsevman on Fri 14th Mar 2003 19:18 UTC
IconDue to the recent hype surrounding LindowsOS I decided to take it out on a test-drive. And despite some bumps in the road, it all went pretty smoothly. Here is my review:

The Background
I will not bore you with details, but the outcome of some unfortunate tinkering was losing the ability to log into any operation system, be it Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Red Hat Linux. My floppy does not work at the moment, so I was stranded, cold and alone with my unbootable box. But then, I remembered getting LindowsOS several days ago. I crossed my fingers as I turned on the computer and popped the CD in.

The Installation
Here I was, watching the setup program trying to detect my hardware before loading, expecting another tedious and complicated installation purpose. But oh, was I surprised.
After accepting their license agreement, I was given one of the only choices the LindowsOS Installation gives you: Whether I want to reformat my hard drive and install the OS, or install it on a partition. Lucky for me I had an empty partition ready (don't expect Disc Druid, there's no partitioning function, just choose a ready-made one). Next it required me to provide a computer name and gave me the "option" of choosing the password for the root account. The whole "option" thing threw me off a bit, but I recovered. Apparently, they don't care much about your security. Anyway, as I was saying, I entered the computer name and root password, and proceeded to install. In 4 minutes flat, it was done, and got ready to reboot. I was in a slight shock, but I complied with the instruction. After the BIOS boot, and the nice IRQ table, I was greeted by an endless line of 0's. How nice. So I put the CD back in, and installed it again. This time it worked.

The First Impressions
I was greeted by a nice LindowsOS branded, graphical, LILO boot loader. Apparently I had no choice in the matter, which was OK in my case. I hear the usually, LindowsOS auto-detects the others operation system, but it just supplied me the following option: 1)LindowsOS 2)Safe Mode 3)Configure... (expert) 4)hda1 5)hdd1. I have not tried the Safe Mode, but Configure leads to the OS without loading X. Choices 4 and 5 are the two partitions which contains my operation systems. I chose #1.
After a nice little while autodetecting my hardware, the impossible happened. Let me side track for a moment; through several importunate circumstances I came into the ownership of a USB NIC, supplied by my ISP. No operating system I have ever used before (which includes Windows from NT SP4 up to XP, and several version of Red Hat Linux) was able to use the NIC without initial trouble of some sort, and RedHat wasn't able to use it all! However, LindowsOS detected it, configured my network settings, and proceeded to non-chalantly start X and load KDE. After putting in my password, it just as smoothly connect to the Click-N-Run database and download some system updates.
So here I was, my mouth hanging open, not blinking, my hand suspended over my mouse. Let me again take you aside for a moment: I am cursed. Nothing I have EVER installed did its job perfectly, no OS, program, or anything else. So you can just imagine what I felt when LindowsOS booted up and loaded everything nicely.
It had a nice desktop, it mounted my drives, and my one FAT partition (it doesn't support NTFS). KDE looked nice with the colorful Lindows icons and the Keramik theme. So here I was, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to begin my LindowsOS experience.

The Second Impressions
I began looking through the applications supplied, and found them a bit lacking. Yes, xmms was there, Kate, too. Some basic games (about 5 of them). And assorted thinga-magigs. Well, being on a small budget, I did not intend to pay the $99 Click-N-Run yearly access fee, so I loaded it up anyway. I was told I could access about 15 programs for free, most of which were games, although Real Player and KWord (given the dubious name of Write Pro) were included.
So I went to the Debian GNU/Linux upon which LindowsOS is based (version 3.0 of Debian) and decided to get a start on some packages. And there, I was stumped. Although many packages install just fine, many have dependency issues. I spent three days hunting down dependencies to install programs and increase functionality, even gcc is not included with Lindows. Here was the secret of the four minute installation. All these problems would not exist if you agree to pay $99 a year, which is decidedly cheaper than buying MS Office.

The Performance
I would now like to take the time to acquaint you with my settings: an AMD Athlon 1700+ XP, 512 MB, Matrox 15GB HD, IBM Deskstar 120 80GB HD, CATC Netmate 2 USB NIC, Creative CD-RW Blaster, AOpen 52x CDRom, ATI Radeon 8500LE, and a Creative SoundBlaster sound card. Everything worked perfectly.
The speed was a tad slower than WinXP, but only enough to feel it, not more. Utilization of resources was ok as well. Nevertheless, LindowsOS did crash once, it refused to close XMPS.
Except for this one annoyance, it all worked smoothly.

The Other Thoughts
Then I discovered This website allows you to access software such as OpenOffice simply and easily through apt-get. So I did. OpenOffice worked just fine. So did Xine.
LindowsOS has talented art team and the looks of the WM, and even the XMMS skin, were all great.

The Final Verdict
Despite some minor setbacks LindowsOS is a decent operation system. However, without the yearly Click-N-Run account, it really isn't worth anything. Basically without CNR its an extremely stripped down version of Debian running KDE.
So here are the scores:
Desktop Replacement for Windows: 9.5/10
Representative of all Linux-kind to humanity: 6/10
Fun to use for the average user: 8/10
Geek-factor: 4/10
Cost: (compared to Windows) 7/10 (compared to other Linux distros) 2/10

Overall score: 7.5/10

The Post-Script
For me, LindowsOS was a temporary "rescue-OS". Since then I've tried Knoppix and it worked just great! It detected my dreadul USB NIC (which I will replace in a short while) and had much more software, all on its bootable LiveCD. Next on my list is Gentoo. I might write a review of Knoppix in the immediate future. Or I might not, only the future may tell.

About the author
Being a high school student in the Metro Boston, Massachusetts area is fun and all, but I have to amuse myself by watching a lot of Anime and installing more operating systems than my poor machine can support. Look for me in a few years at a good college taking Computer Science and using my mysterious dark aura to crash computers and render them beyond repair! The world will yet hear of Michael Katsevman!

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