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Freespire On; Freespire Off

Aug 13, 2007, 00:00 (9 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Chip for this article. ]

10:08 PM--Freespire on!

I've been waiting for months for the release of Freespire 2.0. Over the past two years I've downloaded and tried many distros but had been saving the "best for last." I'd heard so much about Freespire and Linspire; especially the new CNR program installer/remover. On my hard drive was a downloaded Freespire 1.0 ISO, but I just never burned the CD. Then it became a matter of version 2.0 coming really soon anyway, so I'd just wait for it.

I learned a lot when it finally came. With Freespire you get what you pay for. Freespire has a long way to go before being competitive with the really serious Linux distros. While Freespire may be the base and testing ground for its parent company, one would have to cautiously question some of the logic it uses for the attraction of potential clients.

Being a born idealist, I've learned when to put realism at the proper end of the cart. I'll go only so far, accept and forgive only so many errors, before unhitching from a runaway. Freespire is still a runaway distro, having failed to fall in line with established protocol, and learn from the very recent mistakes of other distros.

Freespire problem #1 (failure to follow established protocol): The download ISO is for a Live CD and/or install. Every other distro offering a Live CD with the option to install boots the Live CD. Not so with Freespire, it wants to Install first. To boot to the Live CD is the 2nd option on the boot menu. Don't turn your head or you'll be answering questions you think are for the purpose of booting the Live CD, when you're actually going headfirst into an actual install to your hard drive. This freakish twist on initial boot options must be a real customer grabber, NOT. Just another communications hole in the road which OpenSuse and Fedora solved years ago, along with every other distro offering a Live CD with an install option.

Freespire problem #2 (introduction of unfamiliar drive/partition diagnostics): Okay, so I got caught with the boot upside-down thingy. I decided to go ahead and install the OS to the hard drive anyway. The out-front distros, openSUSE and Fedora, seem to have a good knack for letting you know what is going to happen "before" you select an option(s). Not so with Freespire.

I'm running the Novell NLD 9, Novell SLED 10, and Fedora 7 distros on my system. I have 25 gigs of free space to try other distros. With Freespire, therefore, I don't want the first install option of wiping out my complete hard disk to "try" Freespire installed (a test drive goes faster with an installed version than the Live CD). The second(*) "Advanced" option gives me a graphical table of my hard drive partitions but no real identification of the physical parts or numbers. Had I not known what size each partition was, I would not know which was which. Luckily, very luckily "assumptions" didn't bite me and I was able to achieve an install, apparently with no damage to my other Linux systems.

Freespire problem #3 (PCLinusOS only a couple of months ago came out with their latest version with this same problem): This is a biggie. The bootloader didn't grab my NLD 9 or SLED 10. Well, I'm afraid that's a fatal sin with me. When I can install many of the other distros and have their bootloader see and add my other Linux systems, why should I go any further with Freespire? Here we have a distro feeding a base system to Linspire which in itself is trying to win customers over with a no hassle, easy to install, easy to use GUI interfaced Linux. Can you imagine the newbie who may have multiple OS's finding he can no longer boot anything but Freespire?

I didn't go any further, didn't check out the programs or play with any of Freespire's features. I'd seen enough problems from this distro. Three so far and three too many for seriousness!

It just doesn't make sense. Maybe I should go back and search for the Linux user polls from the past few years. But I'm pretty darn sure that a very large majority of those who would want to test drive an installed copy of Freespire are also booting multiple OSs on their systems.

Yes, you can argue that a true Linux Guru should have no problem fine tuning the bootloader and having their system in custom condition in short order. I have to ask, then where is the no hassle, easy to install, easy-to-use GUI-interfaced Linux for the computer illiterate potential-convert Windows user?

Some distros need to sit down and figure out where they want to go and how they want to get there, and Freespire is one of them. BTW, this is something that should have been decided at least 5 years ago. In my opinion, Freespire has had the time and the opportunity to be ultra successful and they have failed miserably.

I think I'll stick with the pros: Novell SUSE and Red Hat Fedora.

10:57 PM--Freespire off, because it can't be seriously recommended.

* The disk partition anaylizer at this step in the "Advanced" install is several huge steps backwards. It is a most unfamiliar partition description. Why on earth would anyone throw in a heretofore undocumented utility such as this? Its optional use is very minimized and it follows no known Linux partition diagnostics.

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