I signed up to become a Lindows Insider (now
Linspire) back in February 2004, after giving Lindows 4.5 Developer Edition a try and walking away very impressed about how far Lindows had come. I was very hesitant plugging down $99.00 for something you could do free with most other Distros which I thought was beta testing and voicing your opinion, but figured I had nothing to lose since they offered a 100% Money Back Guarantee on the program.To be honest I even asked for a full refund within days of signing up
because I found no beta or anything else that seemed useful at the time.
The only real thing I noticed was the addition of a few more forum chat
areas devoted to the Insiders and that was it at a mere glance.
I was eventually assured by several other Insiders that this was a slow
period and to stick around since things would be picking up soon and I
would really appreciate the program and boy were they right! I did
change my mind and stuck around and so far it’s been a real pleasure to be
and Insider for Linspire.
The year 2004 and early 2005 proved to be a very fast moving year at
Linspire, name changes, LSongs, LPhoto, Linspire 5, MP3Tunes, MP3Beamer
and other things happening behind the scenes.
From the outside it seemed Linspire was dying a slow death to some
because there weren’t many announcements from Linspire, and the rankings
were slipping on DistroWatch, but
if you watched closely Linspire was constantly releasing point releases
to the 4.5 series while actively working on 5.0.
I would like to see Linspire announce these point releases since it
shows that they are constantly improving on their product and are not just
stuck in first gear.
Now let’s talk about the Insider Program. It’s great, that’s all I can
say about it!
Just kidding of course, it’s a real pleasure being an Insider. The
company really shows that it appreciates the input from its Insiders.
Many things happening at Linspire are the direct results from feedback
coming from the Insiders. One example was a much longer testing period for
Linspire 5. Yes, it took many months to test and fine tune Linspire
5.0 to bring it to where it is now. Is it bug free, no I don’t think
there is a single bug free OS available anywhere, but it’s solid enough
for release, and with the constant point releases coming from Linspire
most of these bug will eventually be squashed.
Linspire also holds many closed door chats with its Insiders and the
different teams within Linspire to talk about possible future features we
would like to see, the state of Linspire and upcoming products and test
cycles. We don’t get told everything that happens at Linspire and
sometimes only find out a day or two before it’s announced to the Press,
but most of the time we know before the press does. The reason for this,
well it’s simple, anybody can sign up to become an insider, no NDA
required. For this reason there could be some employees from other
competing products hanging around and taking notes. So it’s in the interest
of Linspire not to spill all the beans about the internal happenings of
Despite all of this, they do remain very open and focused on the
Insiders, and have never mandated an NDA or spoken of it since I’m onboard.
I think most of the Insiders that want Linspire to succeed would not
mind signing an NDA to get more involved, but I can’t speak for all of
Now what is so different about Beta testing for Linspire than beta
testing for others? Much in my opinion! I have Beta tested in the past
for others like Lycoris, Libranet and Xandros, but have found that
Linspire shows the most interest in getting problems resolved, input from
it’s testers and ways to make things run better. The staff is constantly
involved and these guys and girls never seem to go home. Could things
be even better? Yes, there is always room for improvements for any well
Are there times that Linspire does not seem to listen to the Insiders
input, yes it has happened, and again there are some things Linspire has
to do no matter how unpopular it might seem to the Insiders. Linspire
is running a business, which has to meet timelines and timeframes to
stay successful and eventually become profitable. It’s a sticky
business, and unpopular decisions have to be made at times. One I can think of
most recently was the decision to ship 5.0 with the plain OpenOffice
look that did not match any of the Linspire 5.0 consistent looks and the
hard work they put into it. It was a very unpopular decision with some
of us, but we understand why it was done after Linspire explained the
decision making behind it for us.
Who are the Insiders you might ask! Well they come from all walks of
life, Teachers, Students, IT Professionals, Retires, Salesman, Business
Owners and the list goes on. Some spend many hours a day on the
Linspire Forums helping and educating new users to Linspire and the way of
Linux. Some run their own websites with much useful information on them
such as LinspireGuide.com.
Some have businesses that sell Linspire Products and PC’s such as Sub300.com and LinspireNetwork.com. As you can
see, you don’t have to be an expert to become an Insider. What it does
require is some of your time for input on decisions, a spare PC for
testing and the willingness to be social and open to different ideas and
views. Is it for everyone? No, $99.00 is not a small price to pay to
join the Insiders Program and should only be done if you believe in what
Linspire is doing and want it to succeed to the fullest. Do you get
anything special for your $99.00? No, there are no T-Shirts or Coffee
Mugs or anything else you receive for your money, but you do get to have
input to the decisions and ideas at Linspire, make new friendships and
have the satisfaction of knowing I was part of this. Is it worth the
money? For me it would be a resounding Yes, while for others it would
If you’re interested in the Insiders program, and want to see, test and
play with what is happening at Linspire for 2005 and beyond, feel free
to check it out. The requirements for becoming an Insider are listed