A Date with Freespire September 14, 2006Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, First Impressions, Linux, Other Distros, Working on Linux.
I spent most of my free time yesterday flirting with Freespire.
I started the 1CD download in the evening and within 2 hours I had a Freespire CD. I was quite excited because I liked the concept of Linspire, it was one of the first Linux distros I tried, partly because I felt I needed an easy distro to begin with. When I used it, I think it ran so well that it became the de-facto standard of what to expect from a Linux distro. Linspire and Xandros were two such systems that I tried early on, which for me set the bar. The problem with Linspire then was that it was a Live CD… and I wanted a harddisk one. Answer Freespire.
I decided to load it on my Desktop, because currently I’m basically happy with my SUSE 10.1 on my Lenovo (I’m currently using it for writing this).
My Desktop is an assembled piece with AMD Athlon 64bt proc. and a VIA chipboard. I’ve really struggled to find any distro that recognises my graphics configuration… only Mandriva has been able to pass the test, which is why it is my prefered Linux distro on that machine.
Anyway, back to Freespire… I expected a 30-45 minute install, but with my SUSE experience, anything could be possible. I started the install at about 9:00pm and to my surprise the installer said it needed only 10minutes!!! to install the entire system.
I was really impressed that it took Freespire only about 15 minutes to load entirely on my desktop
Extremely impressed by the claim I did my best to enter all the preferences as fast as I could, so that Freespire couldn’t blame ME for slow working. The partitioning was easy to use because I have done this before (I always use the expert sign). But I feel that Linux distros should get used to the fact that they won’t always be the exclusive install and shouldn’t make erase full harddisk as the default option.
Well, I knew what I was doing, and once started, Freespire actually took about 12 minutes. I was very impressed. So, within 15 minutes I had a new OS on my desktop, that even seemed to recognise my graphics card… (though I haven’t checked that yet).
Then began the problems. I tried connected to the internet and it just wouldn’t. I tweeked every setting I knew, I correctly put in all the IP address details etc. But it still would not work. Eventually I noticed that the connection setting would actually briefly (and I literally mean for about 1-2 seconds) seem to connect (green signal) and then it would disconnect again. I thought it might be a firewall problem, but when I put it off/on/almostoff… nothing worked. I know that the DSL was working… but freespire was not.
In the end, by about 10:00pm, I decided to give up and try later.
I was extremely disappointed to not being able to test out the system according to my needs. But more importantly, I felt frustrated by the limited options available. I could find no way of trying various modem combinations, etc. And I just had to accept the limited troubleshooter tools available there.
I know I could use this machine to log on and find the solution, but 1. who has the time? And 2. the internet is something that SHOULD work simply, ask Ubuntu… they get it right every single time!
Anyway… the fact is that I will not be sticking around with freespire for too long. I’ll keep the CD as something to introduce someone to Linux with, but this experience was too disappointing for an easy-to-use distro.
I’ve already downloaded (finally) Ubuntu 6.06.1 and will be giving that a test run soon.
And I might as well, give Freespire the long kiss goodbye.
My impressions are more personal. For those wanting a more studied look at Freespire I would recommend this article. It’s written in a Windows XP friendly manner, and thus helpful for starters. Title of article: Free Agent: The Latest Free Linux Freespire is the new, cost-free alternative from Linspire. How well does it compete with the likes of Ubuntu’s Dapper Drake?