/var/opinion - It's free. It's proprietary. No, it's two (click) two (click) two distros in one.

Freespire is Linspire's new inspired response to the factors that are holding back the best desktop distribution around.
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I think that Freespire is terrific!

Brian Masinick, NH's picture

I have long been a proponent of Lindows.com, then of Linspire, but I confess the doubts I had before they first came out. Like Corel and Xandros, when they were testing, they did not release any source code, so the Free Software Foundation made them come clean, and they did.

When I first saw Lindows.com in action at Debconf 2 at York University in the summer of 2002, I knew that Michael (and Kevin) were on to something.

By the time the name Linspire came about and we were at the Release 4.5 and 5.0 versions, their stuff really started to look and behave nicely. The one problem they had, and I think you hit it on the head, is that they were always playing catchup on versions. I had to hack the code and change the repositories, effectively breaking CNR in order to get what I wanted, so as a result, I would not end up using it for very long.

But when Freespire came out, I could have it both ways. IF I want, I could do the CNR, which a consumer is going to want to do. A geek like me can mess around with their repositories, yet still have an easy to use every day system that I need not mess around with much, unless I have the time and I am in the mood.

Perfect! At last, a consumer ready, safe, flexible, easy system that can be updated with a click, but also is palatable to the hobbyist and tweaker.

Beware, though. I just noticed in the past week or so that other distributions are now adding one click updates. I first saw this a month or two ago in PC-BSD and thought, "Wow, FreeBSD is finally easy enough to install and use every day on the desktop!" But more recently, I saw a task bar icon in SimplyMEPIS that allows you to click and download updates. It uses Synaptic, but that is barely more difficult than Click N Run. I also note that even the distro with the reputation of being hard to install, Debian, contains a really easy to click GNOME task bar icon that, guess what, updates packages!

So I say "Hurrah!" to Freespire, but frankly, they HAD to do this or fade away, because I am starting to see features nearly as easy to use in Xandros, MEPIS, and even in lowly FREE Debian itself!

I do like Freespire, and I am glad that Linspire is keeping up. Now I wish that the free Debian project would learn how to write a halfway decent installation and configuration program. The base installer installs the software fine, but the configuration component must plug in to a ten or fifteen year old configuration program because it is interactive (even when using installgui) and it forces you to check in on your installation WAY too often because it wants too much interaction. Maybe Freespire can donate some of their good work to the Debian project and even make it portable so that it can be used with the many architectures that the full Debian project supports. Since Debian has SO MANY good attributes, perhaps the Freespire (or maybe the Ubuntu) project can help by donating code for a decent installation and configuration, not something that comes from the days when I still had a full head of hair! :-)

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