A Year With Lycoris Desktop/LX

Has is really been a year? How the time flew by… In July 2003 I took a gamble that’s paid off like I never imagined it would. In early 2003, I came across Lycoris and Desktop/LX.

Not the product, but their web site and community forum; appropriately named, “The Greenhouse.” My initial thoughts were that this was a potential Linux platform to keep my eye on. Though I didn’t purchase their OS, it did catch my eye. The company’s Greenhouse Forum also looked to have one of the most active user-bases I’d ever come across.

After checking out the company for a period of time, I downloaded the free ISO of Update 2 in July 2003. After burning the CD and installing it on my system, I was very impressed. Here was a Desktop Linux OS that went well beyond the normal jargon that everyone claims of their products. Sure, there were a few minor limitations in Update 2, but the OS was exceptionally stable, well designed and it worked very smoothly.

I was impressed enough to order Desktop/LX. After receiving it a couple of days later, I immersed myself into Desktop/LX and found that this amazingly simple OS was also powerful and feature-filled. It became quite obvious that while being simple to use, it wasn’t stripped-down or crippled in any way. This OS was just as powerful, even more so in my opinion, than other distributions.

The Greenhouse Forum turns out to be the shining star for Desktop/LX users. This had to be one of the best experiences I’ve been involved with. Visitors will quickly notice that there is usually a high level of activity. New forum threads will be opened requesting help with a particular issue, and in a few minutes time, one of the many regulars will have answered the question. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for someone to ask a question and return later that day to see two or three replies. This is a fantastic group of people and all are willing to help or respond in the various topics.

The Lycoris Chat Room is another bright star. There are quite a few who are noted as being part of the ‘regular’ cast of characters. Many not only discuss Desktop/LX, but have built true relationships. On one evening this past winter, my wife came into my office and I was in the Lycris Chat Room. She noticed the chat window and asked in an accusatory tone, “Are you in a ‘Chat Room’..?” When I said yes, she asked what I we were talking about. I answered, “Sexy stuff.” She just about bowled me over to get to the screen. On it, she saw all sorts of scripting and coding going on. When she asked what in the world all that ‘stuff’ was, I explained that there were five of us chatting and we just finished helping someone fix a particular problem he was having with his system. We did it on-line and in real time. I even told her what country everyone was from. I then said to my wife, “Now that’s sexy!” She shook her head and while walking off, I heard her mumble something about nerds and geeks (can you believe it?). But since that day, she never worries if she notices me in a chat room.

In September 2003, my daughter asked me to put Desktop/LX on her computer. She was 9 years old and she knew I’d been having a lot of fun with Desktop/LX and now she wanted to give it a try. Prior to loading it onto the system she shares with her brother, I let her jump on my system for a few sessions. She loved it, and was soon whipping around the apps & menus like she’d been doing so all her life. Needless to say, I purchased another license from Lycoris and loaded Desktop/LX on the kids’ machine. They both really enjoy the ease of use and have no trouble getting it to play games, navigate the ‘net (under strict parental supervision, only) or fooling around.

User friendly? Absolutely! If children 5 an 9 years old enjoy what Desktop/LX has to offer, that speaks for itself.

Shortly after getting involved in the, “Lycoris Lifestyle,” as I put it, I signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with Lycoris. This not only meant that I’d be able to contribute more actively, but I’d be a little better informed as to new products, new innovations, and I’d get advance notice of, ‘what’s to come.’ Knowing the direction a company plans to take and having a hand (even a small one) in helping to cultivate something new is always rewarding. Just knowing that your efforts will bring about something good is always satisfying.

In January 2004, I attened LinuxWorld in NYC. The folks at Lycoris had extended an invitation to come to NYC so we could all meet. Since I lived in the Boston area, NYC wasn’t out of the question. When I talked to my wife about going to the event, she asked, “Who are these people?” Then I reminded her of the chat room. After chuckling, she gave me her blessing and a kitchen-pass!

A few weeks later, with my kitchen-pass in hand, I boarded the train from Boston to New York City. It was at LinuxWorld where I met Joseph Cheek, Lycoris President and CTO, and Rus Bayne, VP of Sales. After the face-to-face introductions we started talking Linux. The next thing I knew, Joseph and Rus tossed me a brand new shirt. It was tailored, button-down, my size, and had a very nice weave and an embroidered Lycoris Logo on the left breast. They told me I should change, as if I was going to be there, I should look the part. Stunned, I went off to change. When I returned, Joseph and Rus were busy answering questions and doing demos. Then I jumped in and started answering questions, demoing products and having the time of my life. Very late that night, I was on the train back to Boston. It was the best 20-hour day I’d had since becoming a father.

While at LinuxWorld, Joseph Cheek showed me his Sharp Zaurus SL-5500. Installed on it was a pre-Alpha of Desktop/LX Pocket PC Edition. He told me to play with it and let him know what I thought. All I kept thinking was, “Don’t pinch me. If this is a dream, I’m sleeping in…….” Later, I did have to wake up as Joseph returned. But even in it’s ‘alpha’ stage, the Pocket PC Edition of Desktop/LX was feature-filled and impressive enough to literally drool over (I really needed a bib). Sorry, I can’t provide any details; I’ll leave that for the Lycoris Staff.

Over the course of my first year with Lycoris and it’s products, I’ve enjoyed and even contributed a little to some of the changes in the company and it’s products. We’ve all seen the following updates & new products:

Desktop/LX Update 3,
Solitaire Ace (new),
ProductivityPak Update 1,
Updates to the Iris Software Gallery (enhanced),
Iris Software Gallery on CD (new),
13 FontPaks (all new),
Book; Lycoris Desktop/LX: The Authorized User Guide (new),
Bitstream Relationship (new),
Wallpaper-A-Day.com Relationship (new),
CodeWeavers Relationship (new),
And more… with more to come, I’m sure.

As I’m putting these thoughts down, many Desktop/LX users are eagerly awaiting the much anticipated debut of Desktop/LX 1.4 (previously known as Update 4). This will be the most ambitious release from Lycoris to date. Filled with new features, enhanced capabilities, improvements, and more.

What will the NEXT year be like?

I’ll let you all know how it went in July 2005.

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