Linspire recently announced a free version of their popular distribution, appropriately called Freespire. Though early in testing, we take a hard look to see if this will be a distro you should be considering.
As we can see from the first shot of the desktop, Freespire is based on a modified version of KDE. It includes a special K menu button, and also quick access to lock mode or system shutdown. Apparently it’s such a heavily modified environment, that they wanted to stick to a version that’s over a year and a half old.
One thing you will notice though, is that Freespire automounted my OCZ thumb drive, and threw an icon for quick access on the desktop. You can double click the icon to copy files over, with ease. The OS will auto umount the drive so you are good to go.
One thing I did want to do, since my NIC and USB sound were not working, was recompile the kernel. I quickly found out that the kernel source is not included though, which makes sense to a degree as most people should never need to touch it. But, if I wanted to recompile with those modules, I would have to download new source code and recompile everything manually.
I have to wonder why they have chosen to use outdated software here, but at least it’s stable. The kernel we have is 2.6.14, and X is 6.9. Both of these are 9+ months old. I suppose the mind set is that Freespire is not meant for a strong Linux user, so nobody should need updated software?
The entire theme included is well done, except for that foolish looking replacement K menu logo :)
All of the menus are translucent and add a modern feel. As you can see, the menu has been simplified a great deal, but the bases are still here. Catering to the Windows crowd, all of the programs installed are listed through the Run Programs submenu. Here, everything is categorized for easy finding. If you are connected to the internet, there will be a CNR submenu under each of the categories, which lists recommended applications.
If you run dial-up, Freespire includes many tools to get you started. If you don’t use one of the listed services, KPPP is there to get you connected.
I had figured that since Freespire catered to Windows users for the most part, that double clicking “My Computer” would reveal something similar to SUSE 10, but not so. Here you will have quick access to your documents, mounted drives and your network.