Thursday, August 10, 2006

My two cents on Freespire 1.0 Marlin

Welcome to Inter-City Linux:The Unofficial Freespire Blog at stlouisfreespire. Starting on August 7th, the final version of Freespire 1.0 became available. Freespire offers users the ability to choose what software they want installed on their computer, including third-party proprietary drivers, codecs, and applications software. This is not RC2 nor will there be a RC3. It's the real deal. Also available is the Freespire 1.0 OSS Edition, a special version of Freespire that does not include any proprietary software. This version can be used by those who wish to build upon Freespire, without any of the 3rd-party licensed components included in the core OS.

This is a pro LinspireFreespire blog, so yes we here like to see Freeware,
OpenSource and proprietary software mixed into a single pot. Freespire 1.0 Marlin is built around kernel 2.6.14, glibc 2.3.2 and 6.9.0. The desktop is made up of KDE 3.3.2, Firefox and 2.0.3. For software management, Freespire comes pre-installed with Linspire's CNR (Click and Run) technology, as well as the ability to freely use apt-get or Synaptic. The Freespire default web L-browser and email client is based on Firefox and Thunderbird getting things like n-line spell checking. In fact they have made so many enhancements and improvements to Firefox and Thunderbird, that guys at Freespire can't even call it "Firefox" anymore, its because of trademark issues.

Some users object to Linspire making it so easy for users to use proprietary software with open-source Linux. They argue that by making it easier for proprietary programs to be installed Linux, it will discourage open-source software development. Now lets face it, thats a load. Tell me, why is there a need for “Automatix” in Ubuntu? It's to make easier for proprietary programs to be installed in Ubuntu Linux. PClinuxOS has been doing this same very thing, as Linspire, for years, yet their (PCLinuxOS) never accused of being bad for the Open Source world. “Equipped not stripped” is how they sell themselves. “PCLinuxOS comes fully equipped with just about everything a desktop user would want in an operating system. Browse the web, send and receive emails, chat with friends on Yahoo, MSN, AOL and IRC. Play games, listen to music, share files, rip CDs and watch videos. You can also burn CDs, DVDs, import, view and edit pictures. Our office suite allows you to write letters, do spreadsheets,drawings and slide presentations. Everything you can do with that other OS you can do in PCLinuxOS without worrying about virus infections, adware or spyware.” Hypocrites. No one wants to talk about the fact that the vast majority of GNU/Linux users have some amount of non-free software on their systems.

Last week Novell has banned all proprietary software from their Linux offerings. Yes SLED 10 does ship with a complete slate of desktop applications, including the office productivity suite , the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, Evolution groupware client, Gaim instant messenger client and GIMP photo manipulation program. Yes in the default SLED 10 install you gets all the Firefox plugins for Java, Flash, Adobe Acrobat (PDF), RealPlayer, and Citrix. No you don't get the ability to play Windows Media video files through Firefox. What?
Something does not make since here. For the record Java, Flash, and Adobe Acrobat are non-OSS proprietary software apps. Hypocrites.

According to some Linux users,this kind of eazy use comes at the cost of discouraging vendors and developers from making open-source software. Free software is not the only good software. Adobe Reader 7.0 and RestoreIT are killer apps on Windows. I am glad that there are purist distributions all over the web, but I am also grateful for consumer products that provide a degree of freedom. Adobe Reader 7.0 and RestoreIT are not open-source software programs but their effective native Linux apps.
Others in the world of Linux can say what they want. Without a doubt Freespire certainly offers the best out-the-box experience of any “free-as-in-beer distro” on the web, and I believe will open up Linux to a much wider audience. It can't denied that codec support is the most notable feature.


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