A lot has been said about Lindows. We will talk about some of these issues here and debunk them. Update: Read more and scroll down for the update of the article!1. Lindows is called “Lindows.”
Actually, Lindows is a misnomer. The company is called Lindows.com, and their product is called LindowsOS. One can only speculate whether or not this is part of the much discussed but somewhat hushed outcome of the Microsoft Windows lawsuit. Either way, Lindows is neither a company nor a product.
2. Under LindowsOS, you have to run as root.
LindowsOS does “run as root” by default. This is intentional, most people don’t care to fool with user accounts, as evidenced by WindowsXP, the latest Microsoft offering, which also runs as their version of root, Administrator, by default. Adding user accounts is not the easiest task in the world under LindowsOS, but it certainly isn’t difficult. To add users, simply visit the command line and type
press return, and follow the directions. For more information on this, see this article.
3. Lindows.com is in violation of the GPL / Lindows.com does not support open source.
When people realized that Lindows.com does not readily offer the source code to LindowsOS, cries of “GPL Violation!” were heard all over the net. The simple fact is that the GPL is not very specific, but the general and common implemention of it is. Nowhere does the GPL specify that the source code must be distributed over the Internet; this is just something many take for granted since many Linux distributors offer their source in said manner. Lindows.com does make the non-GPL’ed part of their source code available to their “insiders.” This satisfies the GPL requirements.
Under the GPL, in fact, you could charge exhorbitant sums for your source. The only restriction is that it must “be available.”
As for not supporting Open Source development, Lindows.com has contributed and supported a number of projects. According to this Michael’s Minute, Lindows.com has contributed to the Desktop Linux summit, wineCONF 2002, DebConf2, and KDE League, among others projects.
4. You need to buy Click-N-Run to use LindowsOS effectively.
While true that Click-N-Run is the heart of LindowsOS, it is not imperative to have CNR access to make LindowsOS work. Lindows.com left the normal underpinnings of Debian intact, meaning that apt-get works from the command line and synaptic, once installed, works in the GUI. My major gripe with LindowsOS is that it comes bare, devoid of an office suite and some simple utilities like a screenshot grabber that every OS should have. My personal view is that Lindows.com was being slightly devious in purposely not including these programs to encourage Click-N-Run use. Of course, this is assumption and not necessarily their true motivationThat aside, Upon boot, a simple:
#apt-get install synaptic
will give you an enormous repository, worlds larger and more current than the CNR warehouse, at your fingertips. Oh, yeah – and FREE.
5. LindowsOS is dumbed down and feature-stripped.
LindowsOS is aimed a transitionalists: those who want to switch but have either been intimidated by Linux or found it too complex for use. For the most part, it does its job. Lindows.com hasn’t removed the Linux-ability from LindowsOS, they’ve just hidden it from view. Underneath it all, there is a robust and well-tested system, Debian Linux (Woody), and it is, as far as I can tell, fully functional. As seen in the question above, you can even use some of the Debian utilities to escape some of the LindowsOS pay-to-play flagships. This is truly a case of what you see ain’t what ya get. Like the staple 80’s toys The Transformers, there’s much “more than meets the eye.”
This is not to say LindowsOS is perfect. In fact, it’s far from it. While I believe it strides beyond other desktop distributions overall, it’s way too expensive. At this point, for my $99, I’d still rather use WindowsXP or 2000. However, as it matures, LindowsOS will have to either come into its own or Lindows.com will have to drop the price.
I truly hope that the “community” we all refer to is less pre-judging and open minded about this. Lindows.com has made an important stand that I believe can and will affect the future of Linux as we know it – they have said “We’re here to make money.” I don’t oppose commercialism, I oppose flagrant bullying. Personally, I want to get off the Microsoft platform, and I’ll do that as soon as there’s a product worth it – whether I can download it for free or not.
Two issues have come up that I wanted to address. First the “exhorbitant price” for the source code has been doted upon – the truth is that if the price of the software is high and the source is only distributed with the
binaries, the price of the source *is* exhorbitant. Lindows.com is not in violation of the GPL, despite the many message board frequenters who try to convince you otherwise.
Secondly, LindowsOS’ $99 price tag is hefty, and if it can be justified, it is by the inclusion of the entire StarOffice 6 suite, valued at approximately $70 and the commercial version of TuxRacer. The question is, with alternatives like OpenOffice.org available with every other
distribution, are those factors convincing? I understand why LindowsOS is different from other Linux distributions –
it’s smoother and works better than most. I also understand what they’re working against, and when I can run Red Hat 8 for nothing, or even buy itfor $59, it’s hard to justify the money for LindowsOS.
About the Author:
Adam Scheinberg is a network engineer working with the Naval Sea Systems Command. He uses Windows 2000 and Red Hat Linux at home, and Novell Netware 5.1 and Windows 2000 at work. He also apparently misses The Transformers.