Linare Corp sent us in the Pro version of their Linare Linux flavor. We are taking a quick look at the product, at it’s advantages and occasional… missteps.The box included the installation CD and a 82-page booklet which detailed the installation procedure and quickly introduced most of the desktop applications.
Linare Pro is based on a mix-n-match of Fedora Core 1 and 2. It uses a modified Red Hat Anaconda installation routine which I found very comfortable and easy to use. About 2/3 of the standard FC2 Anaconda screens have been removed, leaving in only the absolutely needed screens for a usable installation. The installation to this $199 Linare PC went without problems whatsoever, all software problems were fixed since our last review.
Linare boots on a standard KDE 3.x but with a modified Kicker taskbar. It reads “Explorer” and it has a distinctive green color. In fact, Linare Corp. has created its own theme, for both KDE and Gnome 2.x. It has a distinctive green color, but it feels bold with “in your face” gradients. Personally, I do not like it and I think that usability-wise it’s poor.
Otherwise, Linare is able to pull through a usable desktop, filled with well-known open source applications, needed for day to day tasks. Evolution is used as the primary email system, Mozilla 1.7.2 as the main browser, Flash and mp3 support are pre-installed. On the desktop you will find a “connect to the internet” icon, but this seems to just fire up Kppp, and not the Red Hat connection wizard which supports more connection methods.
The modifications made to Fedora by Linare are mostly cosmetic. There is not much to report, other than this is a desktop-oriented distro as you would expect it, similar to Lindows or Lycoris (or Fedora but with dev tools and servers removed). It has been very stable for me, however performance is poor. The Linare PC originally came with 128 MBs of RAM, but I don’t even want to think running something FC2-alike with only 128 MBs. I have upgraded the machine to 384 MBs and while applications now load much more comfortably, CPU-bound actions are still visibly problematic. For example, opening more than 3-4 tabs on Epiphany, or using Mozilla or loading KOffice will kneel the machine. On the same machine I have also tried Arch Linux and Slackware, that did not exhibit the performance problems as Fedora or Linare have.
Linare uses Synaptic 0.52 as its updating method. It comes pre-configured to use the Linare repository, but also available are the freshrpms and Fedora update repositories. I don’t quite understand this move, because for the one month that I am evaluating Linare Pro, I have never seen their servers up (see screenshot)! As for the freshrpms/fedora channels these worked very well for normal applications, except for the system files (e.g. kdebase, kernel etc) where conflicts occured.
Overall, Linare is a system that can work for new Linux or PC users in general. It does the basics pretty well, and it can be extensible via Fedora’s updates (minus the conflicts). I can see Linare sold as an OS bundled with a cheap PC as a Christmas present or as a fist PC to a kid or a new user, but not as an office OS (OOo is included but the OS lacks flexibility and support), or a workstation (no dev tools installed). It is an interesting attempt, but it is less interesting than Lindows, Xandros or Lycoris, as these “big-three of the Linux desktop market” have created more unique tools and technologies that differentiate their products from the rest.