Thursday, August 16, 2007

Freespire 2.0 Review: you knew it was coming....

Lately, Linux has been becoming increasingly at home on the desktop. Though the use of Linux is largely seen as only for the tech-savvy it has been able to make a number of inroads into the desktop market. Linspire's goal with Freespire is to provide users with the security, speed, and price advantages of Linux but with an ease of use that rivals operating systems like Windows XP and Apple's OS X.

Freespire 2.0, is the community edition of the Linspire distro, that was released a few days ago. Sporting out-the-box support for various codecs and features not normally included in free-to-download Linux distros, it could have a big impact in the Linux world. Freespire is Ubuntu derived and uses KDE as its desktop environment. Both the 2.0 and eventual Linspire 6.1 release are based on KDE 3.6 and the 2.6.20 kernel. There are two different Freespire distributions: the standard edition, which includes proprietary video drivers (ATI, Nvidia, Intel) and Web browser plugins (Java, RealPlayer, Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime); and the OSS edition, which is the same operating system without any proprietary extras. Obviously the standard edition provides a much more complete desktop experience. Without question Freespire can easily stand up to any other GNU/Linux distribution on the market with its expanded support for popular Internet, office and media file types like: QuickTime, Windows Media, Flash, Java, Real, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .mp3, .pdf, .mpg, etc...

My test systems:

  • Toshiba Satellite A35-S159. It has 512MB of RAM, a 2.3 GHz Pentium M, and a 60GB hard drive. It also has an Atheros AR5001X+ wireless network adapter, which supports Centrino 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g.
  • Custom AMD AM2 64X2 Gigabyte GA-M55plus-S3G system (North Bridge NVIDIA GeForce 6100,South Bridge NVIDIA nForce 430) 1024 MB Ram
    Western Digital 120GB Hard Disk
    NVIDIA Geforce 6600GT (128MB)
    Creative Soundblaster 5.1 Surround Card

The booting process is similar to what is seen in Ubuntu. Unlike Ubuntu's earth colors. The default color scheme is blue and I have always liked the kind of blue used by Freespire. Freespire's installer is pretty fast, getting it self onto your system in 10-30 minutes. Hardware detection was spot on for me. Like the commercial version of Linspire, the default Freespire 2.0 installation ships only a small set of applications; others are available through Linspire's Click-and-Run ( service, which is a front end for Apt-Get which is the debian package management tool. It does exactly what it claims, you click it downloads and installs and than it runs, it really does work. The CNR store includes many familiar favorites of the Linux application world. These include open-source programs, such as the GIMP graphics editor; free proprietary programs, such as Adobe Acrobat ; and commercial proprietary software, such as Win4Lin , which enables users to run Windows 2000 and XP as virtual machines with Freespire. You also have Synaptic or Adept to offer more specific install needs. The Synaptic and Adept package managers ably installs customized deb packages from their repositories.

Apt-get needs to be updated regularly with the new applications being added to the Repositories. To update apt cache, execute the command from konsole.


sudo apt-get update

I'm really impressed with Freespire 2.0, with its smooth and (mostly) simple experience. It is visually a standout distro. If you don't like its default look, your free to change it.

The installed applications include:

Lsongs the music manager and All-in-one media player which lets everyone listen to MP3s, OGGs, audio CDs, or hundreds of streaming Internet radio stations. Lsongs supports OGG, WAV, MP3, MP4Aa and other common music formats. Its never been easier to organize your entire music collection with its simple-to-use tools. It is an open source project which is written in Python and released under the terms of the GNU General Public License. Lsongs was started by and is maintained by Linspire Inc.

There is L browser based on Firefox and their modification of note is the Hot Words feature. Just move the mouse over a word in a Web page and after two seconds it will highlight yellow. Right-click while the word is highlighted and a pop-up menu will appear, giving you options to search auctions and Web sites for that term. You can even look word up from a online dictionary.

You also get, Lmail based on Thunderbird, Pidgin (once known as Gaim) , 2.2, and much-much more.

Oh yes and let us not forget the expanded support for popular Internet, office and media file types: Supports QuickTime, Windows Media, Flash, Java, Real, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .mp3, .pdf, .mpg, etc...


While it doesn’t get everything right, it does do the vast majority of things right. Out of the box, Freespire 2.0 is supposed to be the “click and go” GNU/Linux distribution. Just boot the live cd, install it, and then you’re ready to go without any huss or fuss. That’s not exactly true in all cases. Freespire 2.0.0 did not configure my NVIDIA card out of the box. Synaptic/Adept is supposed to be setup to work off the Ubuntu repositories for everything it needs, however frozen bubble 2 a very simple program seem to make trouble for my systems after I used the Synaptic package manager to install it . Freespire is also the first desktop Linux operating system that will include a CNR plugin for the soon to be released new CNR Service, but until we see, Freespire Ver.2 will always be missing something.

The minimum requirements for Freespire 2

1000 MHz or higher processor
256 MB of RAM (512 MB or higher recommended)
8 GB free space
SVGA or higher resolution and monitor (3-D graphics accelerator card for some games, screen savers, etc.)
CD-ROM or DVD drive, Keyboard & Mouse
Freespire-compatible sound card and speakers or headphones
Freespire-compatible 56 Kbps hardware modem, cable modem, or DSL modem
Ethernet card for Internet/LAN connectivity

About Linspire
Linspire, Inc. ( was founded in 2001 to bring choice into the operating system market. The company's flagship product, the Linspire operating system, is an affordable, easy-to-use Linux-based operating system distributed primarily pre-installed on PCs for home, school, and business users. Freespire ( is a community-involved, Linux-based operating system that combines the best that free, open source software has to offer (community involved, freely distributed, open source code, etc.), but also provides users the choice of including proprietary codecs, drivers and applications as they see fit. With Freespire, the choice is yours as to what software is installed on your computer, with no limitations or restrictions placed on that choice. How you choose to maximize the performance of your computer is entirely up to you. Linspire also pioneered CNR Technology, which provides free access to all Linux software through, allowing one-click installation from over 20,000 software programs, packages and libraries. Free to use, both free & commercial software is available at (

For more information please contact:

Linspire, Inc.
858-587-6700 ext 183
858-587-8095 Fax


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