posted by Barry Smith on Wed 26th Nov 2003 18:11 UTC

First Victim.........Lindows:

If I had to pick a single word to describe Lindows it would be "polished". It is so polished that it almost blinds you. Mr. Robertson's crew has put a lot of elbow grease into the wax coating on this piece of furniture. That's great, but will the shiny new chair hold a person's butt up off of the floor?

I purchased Lindows version 3.0 (based on debian woody), with the understanding that it included a free upgrade to the latest (4.0, based on debian sarge) version. Problems arose immediately with installation. I said I wouldn't mention the installation unless it caused problems didn't I?

Lindows 3.0 did fine on my backup system, which is a P3-450 with 128 meg of RAM, a 4 meg Rage video, ESS sound card, and a Lucent Winmodem. It even recognized the winmodem and configured it automatically. Give them a +1 for that part.

However, it refused to install on my main system. My primary workstation is a P3-1 gig with 384 meg of RAM, a US Robotics modem, ESS soundcard, i810 onboard video (disabled in BIOS) and a 32 meg Radeon 7200 card. Lindows started to install and then went to a black screen. I knew what to look for, having seen this problem before with other distros on other systems.

What had happened was that Lindows was detecting my onboard i810, even though it had been disabled in BIOS, and was trying to load the wrong video drivers. When this problem cropped up in older distros I had simply overidden the installer and manually selected a vesa driver. But Lindows won't let you do that. You don't even have the option of selecting an "expert mode" during installation. All control over the process belongs to the software. I haven't really had this problem in any case since the 4.2 version of XFree86 came out. Give them a -1 for having this problem.

The running score so far is +1-1 = 0. At this point Lindows breaks even.

So I sighed and rebooted. After re-setting the BIOS to use the onboard video and switching my monitor connections, Lindows dove right in and installed without a hitch. This left me with a pretty desktop using an i810 video card and a disgruntled attitude. Give them another -1 for ticking off the customer over an unnecessary hardware recognition problem. I could eventually fix this using apt-get and some configuration tweaking. I am not happy about it, but it isn't (quite) a deal breaker either.

Oddly enough, Lindows couldn't detect or setup my USR modem automatically. Many distros can't, but I was surprised at Lindows since it had detected and setup my Lucent winmodem on the backup system easily. However, a simple ln -s /dev/ttyS4 /dev/modem fixed that issue and I was ready for the net. I won't take any points off for that one, since I have only seen one Linux distro to date that was capable of finding the USR modem.

I am on a 56K dialup connection and I foresaw that patience would be required for my system upgrade. I went to the Lindows web site and registered, and then surfed over to the download page and started downloading the 4.0 ISO. Then I found out that neither the Lindows ftp nor http servers support download resuming. At least, not in Lindows 3.0. I was chagrined. I was so very much perturbed that I went on the Lindows user forums and threw a conniption fit. Several other users sympathized, and one even went so far as to offer to burn me a CD and mail it on his own nickel. I was deeply impressed with the quality of the Lindows community. Give Lindows a -1 for the aggravation of making it hard to upgrade if you don't have a broadband connection. Then give them a +1 for the quality of their excellent community. With loyal users like these, they must be doing something right.

Where are we now? Let's see, -1 -1 +1 = -1. At this point Lindows is one down, but the day is young.

I eventually got some belated responses from Lindows customer support, several days after my initial complaint. Give them a -1 for taking forever to respond to the customer. In fairness, I later found out that this is due mainly to the fact the Lindows customer service department is drastically overloaded. But still, that is not the customer's fault so the point stays off. That gives us a running total of -1-1 = -2. At this point, Lindows is sinking fast.

Table of contents
  1. "Introduction"
  2. "LindowsOS"
  3. "LindowsOS, continued"
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