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

"LindowsOS, continued"
After receiving several useless and unworkable suggestions from Lindows support, and after some other users sympathized so much that they started ranting on the public "guest" boards where the prospective Lindows customers could see it, the company finally did ship me an upgrade CD set. So give them a +1 for that. Even though I am quite sure in my own mind that they did it to shut me up, I must admit that Lindows ultimately made the problem go away. This brings the running score so far up to -2 +1 = -1. Starting to regain some lost ground here.

As soon as the version 4.0 CDs arrived I upgraded. Again, my secondary system installed without issues. And again, my primary system went to the black screen of confusion and forced me to use the onboard video. Give them a -1 for not fixing that problem in their latest upgrade. I know perfectly well that both debian sarge and XFree86 4.2 support the old Radeon video cards like mine. In fact, I was so disgusted that I am going to give them another -1 for general aggravation of the customer over a stupid issue. So that leaves us at -1-1-1 = -3. Not so good. Take off one more point for still using the outdated 4.2 version of XFree86. I know sarge uses 4.2, but Lindows is advertising itself as something more than plain debian. And many other Linux distros have been using XFree86 4.3 for quite some time. Thus we are now at -3 -1 = -4.

Now to get some work done. The latest version of Lindows includes a few standard packages on the CD, enough to get started with. That's nice. Lindows 4.0 is smooth and stable, as I expected from debian sarge. No complaints, no surprises. No score. Still at -4 at this point.

What about the vaunted Click 'n Run (CnR) warehouse? It actually lives up to the hype. I was surprised by that. They really do have copies of just about any "desktop" type program known to penguins and pretty much any development tool anyone might need as well. Give Lindows a +1 for living up to their advertising. This sadly unusual in my experience. Most companies wouldn't deserve special praise for simply doing what they said they would do, but the software industry operates by different standards. This leaves the score at -4 +1 = -3. Crawling back up.

The CnR warehouse *appears* to be basically a GUI pasted on top of apt-get. I don't know enough programming to say for sure, but from appearances I am guessing that they took a modified version of the Konquerer web browser, stuck it on apt-get, and set their version of sources.list to point to the Lindows servers. Just my guess. It works. It gets the job done.

Unfortunately using apt-get breaks CnR. Lindows is not fully compatible with standard debian sarge. But Lindows does actually warn people about that possiblity up front, so no score. You can still use apt-get if you wish. It works fine. The only thing using apt-get means is that eventually you are going to end up breaking the CnR software with dependency conflicts. Users choice. Which is fine. No score.

Where are we now? Score stands at -3. After using Lindows a few more days I began to sympathize with the technical support moderator on the user forums. He really was busting his backside trying to respond to people, he was just overloaded. And through it all, he was unfailingly polite. No matter how much it must have hurt. Give Lindows a +1 for having sense enough to hire a real professional. Score now is -3 +1 = -2.

Esthetics are not a huge concern to me, but I am not totally indifferent either. Give them a +1 for having a pretty desktop. Score now -2 +1 = -1.

Every package I tried in Lindows worked just as it should. The CD-RW software is K3b, and it did its usual flawless job. In the music CD player especially, Lindows deserves special mention for something delightful. I noticed that when I inserted a music CD the program not only detected and started it, but it also read the playlist on the CD and presented me with a list of songs on each track. The noteworthy part of this is the fact that no other distro has ever been able to read the database on that particular (relatively old) CD. No other distro could read it, but Lindows did it. Give them a +1 for doing it right. Score is now back up to -1 +1 = 0. Breaking even again.

My daughter's cheap little IBM webcam was not recognized and did not work. Those things are as common as dirt. Give them a -1. It is possible that I might have been able to download something from CnR that would make it work, but on a dialup I did not bother to try. Score now stands 0 -1 = -1.

The main advantage of Lindows is the Click 'n Run warehouse. The main disadvantage of Lindows is the Click 'n Run warehouse. I am on dialup, not broadband. Over the years I have collected a fairly substantial pile of Linux software, both debian and rpm. I could use it on Lindows and it would work fine. But if I use it, CnR will die a horrible death. CnR costs a little money, but claims to save you a lot of time and problems by offering software that is assured to work. How much is your time worth? That's the value judgement.

I can't come up with anything else to praise or complain about. The truth is, Lindows came out looking bland as vanilla. Pretty but not exciting. Bottom line? Lindows offers no compelling reason to choose it, and no compelling reason not to choose it. I could live with this distro. I could get some work done with this distro, and I feel confident that I could depend on it. But it would be boring. Which, given that they are targeting the home user, might be just what they are shooting for.

Next victim.......Libranet. Stay tuned.

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