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Freespire: A Quick Look

August 11, 2006

At the recommendation of a commenter identifying himself as Paulo, I decided to burn a Freespire CD. Freespire met my initial criteria of being a live CD and being free. I’ve heard of Linspire before and have had more than one person comment here that is was a good, easy distro. Since I had one successful experience burning a CD and getting it to boot, I decided to try my luck again. It’s nice having access to a speedy connection at work.

The downloading and burning went off without a hitch. It helps that I’m doing this with the Mepis 3.3 version of K3B, because I don’t think the MS XP burning software likes burning ISO images. I was never able to get one to boot, anyway.

I booted Linspire on a machine next to this one right after downloading and began working on this review. Freespire began booting and the initial splash screen gave a few options as far as installing or partitioning or just running as a live CD. I picked the latter and then saw the next screen which was the EULA which is actually a combination of 3 different agreements: Linspire, Freespire and Freespire without the 3rd party stuff. I picked one and agreed to whatever it was that they had written in there. This is a live CD hooked to a non-networked computer so I’m not too worried about the computer police busting down my door.

The next configuration screen was for adjusting the sound, which I thought was different. Since I didn’t have speakers on this machine, I went to the next screen which had many more settings to configure, including one for dial-up. Even though this machine did not have a modem, I decided to look at that and saw the familiar KPPP tool. Nothing new, there. Hmm, I’ll have to see how this works on the home machine. Stay tuned for that. It was nice to at least see it in the initial set up. Mepis was the only other distro to have it available without having to dig around for it.

The Freespire desktop looks sharp and has all of the components that you would expect to find on an XP desktop, It also has this CNR icon. CNR stands for Click ‘n Run, which is their version of apt get, or their way of downloading and installing Linux programs from their repository. Not being networked, I wasn’t able to test it.

The “Launch” menu works just like an XP “Start” menu. I began poking around the programs and do find that there are a lot more options for getting connected to the internet. There are several tools available for connecting to Juno, Netzero, AOL and Earthlink. While Mepis 6.0 has an Earthlink icon on the desktop, no other distro I’ve looked at so far had this many different options. There is also a Linspire tutorial entitled “How to Connect to the Internet” but it is very brief. Basically they say that dial-up is the most complicated and least reliable method of getting on the internet and then refer to a website for more information.

Um. If I can not get hooked to the internet, how would they expect a body to get to their website?

Okay, moving on…

Freespire comes with Open Office, an MP3 player, Kplayer and something called Lphoto. I did not see GIMP. There is also FLASH player and Real MediaPlayer 10. It has an adequate supply of programs to get a person started. Not as robust as Mepis, but it does have some nice features and seems to be fairly user friendly at the outset. This is just a preliminary look and I’ll give it another try this weekend at home for more of a workout. I see many possibilities, here.

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4 comments

  1. Hi Dick,

    So, any news on the Freespire front? I like it. I think I will set it up to my wife to use. She as been using Ubuntu so far but there are a few bumps here and there so I will see if with FreeSpire things will go smoother for her. I don’t know when I will be able to do it…

    Regards.
    Paulo.


  2. Nope, it doesn’t like my US Robotics PCI modem any more than the other distros. But it is nice and might be a possibility for newbies. Certainly better than Ubuntu.

    dick


  3. Hi Dick,

    Hum.. Have a look at this page and let me know if that helps. Also, could you post (when ever you can) the result of the “cat /proc/pci” command here so we can have a look at exactly what modem you have?

    Regards,
    Paulo


  4. […] While doing all of this, a young lady came to my room with some questions. She had been referred to me by Loraine and Elaine, who are the twins who do most of the basic IT stuff around the school. Apparently the young lady, who I’ll just go ahead and name Halle as in Halle Barry, had just bought a new computer. from Wal-Mart and it came with Linux preinstalled. I asked her which distribution and she said she didn’t know but I guessed Linspire. Yes, it came with Linspire, which I had tried once as FreeSpire. She was having trouble getting online, because she was using dialup and her ISP was Bellsouth. […]



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