"To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

Linspire 5

Linspire 5

Saturday 26th November 2005

Categories: Reviews, GNU/Linux, FLOSS


Linspire. Something which can essentially be summed as Debian made easy, with extra bits added, and costing some money. Naturally, it isn't that simple (what is?), but that's the basic premise. The question: is Linspire worth the money over other free distributions?

To expand a little on that, Linspire is supposed to provide a Linux alternative to Windows, as its previous name more than hints at. It is based on Debian, but is designed to be user friendly, and costs a few bob. As always, the first task to undertake is installation.


Right then, whack the CD in, change the boot order, and we're off! First of all, we get... a long wait. The installation loads from the CD, taking an incredibly long time just to start up. The first real choice you have is keyboard layout. With other distributions, you get far too many choices to list. Linspire gives around dozen, maybe less. Annoyingly, the UK keyboard was absent, meaning I had to try and work out where the Americans have put all their keys instead.

After that, we start partitioning. For the basic user, this is adequate - you simply wipe what you have on your hard drive, and the installation will happily continue. For the more advanced user, you are thankfully given the option of what partition you want to use.

You are then asked for a name, and an administrator password. At this point, I thought this was a positive for Linspire - despite being an easy distribution, it still maintains the arrangement of root and normal users. Unfortunately, it never asked me to create a normal account either. When I reviewed Ubuntu 5.10, I didn't like the user arrangement, with the first user being able to use sudo, but it was ultimately not so bad. Linspire, on the other hand, decides that it is perfectly acceptable to be Administrator all the time. Admittedly, it may help users new to Linux, but the security cost is just too great in this case.

After that, Linspire sends some time copying files from its single CD. Once it has finished, three symbols appear on the screen, the general gist being eject your CD drive, take your CD out, and hit the Return key.

After a reboot, I'm presented with the familiar sight of GRUB. Among the expected options is an entry for Debian. Unfortunately, it didn't work at all, meaning I had to add Debian back to the GRUB menu manually - that is a little surprising considering that Linspire is a derivative of Debian.