Review: Linspire 7.0
Being a fan of the original Linspire I decided to give this iteration a try. I saw some videos which praised it and I read some scathing reviews. Being as this would be my first Medium.com article I decided to do a review. First thing I did was go to the homepage http://www.linspirelinux.com to see what was what for myself. The new Linspire can be had for as little $29.99 for a digital download, to $39.99 for a self-support box set all the way to $4,000.00 for something they call unlimited licensing. According to the young lady I spoke to, Layla Martinez, that is for a corporate license and they can install the OS on as many machines as they would like. They do have a $79.99 boxed set and you get 12 months of support according to Mrs. Martinez that is their most popular package. I opted for the $29.99 download.
The Download and install
The download took about 33 minutes and after their support helped me walk through creating a bootable USB stick from Windows 10 I booted the system. Boot time was fast and in about 16 minutes after tapping the Install Linspire button I was greeted with a most familiar looking screen.
Exploring the system
I clicked on the L logo which is the equivalent of the “Start” button in Windows and was greeted by a nice complement of tools and applications. In the favorites menu you have,
Google Chrome, web browser of choice for Linspire
Thunderbird Mail, self explanatory
File Manager, equivalent to Windows Explorer
LibreOffice Writer, which is part of a Microsoft Office clone for Linux
LibreOffice Calc, which is a clone of Excel
Pidgin, an IM client
The Software Store, which is a clone of Windows Store or the Apple App Store
Rhythmbox, an iTunes clone
VLC, a video and movie player
The menus alone were full of some great programs. You have a full office suite, a photo manager called Shotwell, a painting program called Kolourpaint, a flow-charting program, a project management suite, and a bunch of system tools like a free anti-virus and a firewall tool for security as well as a Time Machine clone. You also have a Solitaire game. The killer app on any computer.
Installing applications was a snap. I clicked on “Software” and was greeted by a nice screen of applications that were available. Im a Java programmer by trade so I installed Netbeans and Eclipse. All went without a hitch and worked beautifully. I also installed the GIMP which is a free clone of Photoshop, Firefox and Hexchat for IRC.
Next, I needed help. What surprised me was when I emailed the support team the response was quick. Much quicker than Linspire Inc. ever could hope to be I sent the mail off and got a response 45 minutes later. The issue I was having was trying to sync my phone to the computer so I could upload my photos and my music. The internal SD card wasn't being picked up. To be fair I never had this issue with openSUSE it only happened with Linspire. The support was nice enough, very patient and walked me through the settings on my phone and in Linspire. After about 5 minutes we had it working (The phone was set to charge only) after that I clicked on the “Help” icon and was greeted with a lot of useful documents in PDF form that were very informative. Some of it was pretty technical and wouldn't help a novice but you can tell some work really went into the Help documentation. Equally I was impressed by the support documentation on the PC/Opensystems website http://www.pc-opensystems.com/p/documentation.html
Surfing safari, errrr Chrome
Google Chrome is based on the same technology as Apples Safari browser and anyone who uses Safari knows what to expect out of Chrome. Chrome is great. I have a Chromebook and love it just as much as I do the browser. Every site I went to worked perfectly and Flash even still worked on some of the games I play. YouTube played my video playlist and unlike some other distributions where I had issues with sound or having to pick my output device Linspire worked flawlessly. I do most of my e-mail management, tax filing and Quicken online and I had no issues performing these tasks.
Movies and Music
Once again, no flaws whatsoever. VLC and Rhythmbox worked as you would expect and as well as they do on other distributions and platforms. Most of my music is in MP3 and most of my videos in AVI. I also had no problem importing my family videos from my camcorder. Overall the experience with music and movies was good with no issues at all.
Conclusion and final thoughts
Linspire 7 is a solid distribution and one I would recommend to friends and family. Coming from a Windows, openSUSE, ChromeOS and CloudReady background I pretty much knew what to expect. There is nothing that seriously stands out with Linspire to make me say WOW save its stability, easy of use and compatibility. I had several older devices and newer devices that I wasn't expecting to work and they did. Would this bring me around to switching? Absolutely. ChromeOS is a serious mess and CloudReady doesn't support one of my laptops anymore. Its easier to configure than openSUSE with YAST and its a straightforward solution. I would recommend this for old folk like me and for small businesses who need a cheap and neat solution. One of the many things I like in this Linspire vs the old Linspire is that this one is more close knit with the Linux apps and doesn't have many proprietary-to-them applications. I do miss Click and Run. A few criticisms I do have is that some of the documentation is a little techy and novices would get lost easy. I would work with and get a better bug reporting system. Overall I am enjoying the experience and like I said, solid, stable and affordable. I definitely will keep this and Windows 10 around for a long time.
I want to thank PC/Opensystems for bringing Linspire back to us and I would like to thank Medium.com for hosting this review.