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Enterprise Assessment Kit Fails to (L)inspire
Worth a Franklin and a Grant?
April 22, 2004
Lindows, Inc., which recently changed the name of their Linux desktop operating system from Lindows to Linspire, certainly knows marketing. Their original operating system name begged Microsoft to sue them, which of course they did, generating more free publicity than the small San Diego firm could have ever hoped to generate on its own.
Recently Lindows released the Desktop Linux Enterprise Assessment Kit, a software package ostensibly designed to allow IT administrators to evaluate the Linspire desktop Linux package from the comfort of a bootable DVD.
Unfortunately, this package feels more like a marketing evaluation copy and hardly worth $150 for the convenience of having several versions of the software packaged in one place.
You begin by popping the DVD into your DVD player and rebooting your computer. It doesn't matter what operating system you are currently using. When the system reboots, the Lindows splash screen appears and after a rather long wait of several minutes, the Linspire desktop appears.
From here, you can evaluate your computer's hardware compatibility by running the "Quick Hardware Test" to see if your computer is compatible with Linspire. I tested the evaluation on a fairly old Dell XPS R450, a Pentium II 450-MHz machine, and testing found my modem and sound weren't compatible, while I got a "limited" compatibility result for my video card, a grade I found curious considering the display looked just fine and I was able to view the operating system in 1024 x 768 resolution.
I was also baffled by the modem result because in spite of the finding, I was able to access the Internet. The sound really didn't work for whatever reason, meaning I couldn't hear the sound part of the multimedia presentations they offer as part of the package or anything else for that matter.
Being curious about these results, I clicked the View Details button for each finding, but the detailed text offered little insight into why the utility came up with these results, which is sure to frustrate a knowledgeable IT person who is, after all, using the kit to evaluate Linspire.
In addition to the boot version of the software, the kit comes with several ISO image files of various versions of Linspire including a developer package, a laptop package and some older versions of the operating system.
You can burn these to CDs and use them to install these versions on other machines, or to give members of your evaluation team, a valuable exercise for what it's worth, but certainly something you should be able to do with any Try and Buy software in the software marketplace.
The kit also provides a trial membership to CNR (Click �n Run), Lindows exclusive online warehouse of Linspire-compatible software. The documentation pamphlet that comes with the kit states that this service enables you to download and install software with single click, a useful feature I suppose, but when I last checked, I could download fully functioning copies of most software for free trials, and it doesn't exactly require a high level of technical proficiency. In fact, anyone with only rudimentary Internet skills could handle this.
In the end, this kit is basically a piece of marketing fluff disguised as commercial software. Lindows.com won't inspire anyone to switch to desktop Linux by making companies pay for a package they should by all rights be giving away as a promotion.
To their credit, there is a certain convenience factor in having all the software versions in one location, but any competent IT person could download trial versions of software, set up a partition on a computer (or have a test machine available for this purpose), and save the company $150. If Lindows, Inc. really wants to sell their version of the Linux desktop in the enterprise, I suggest they scrap the fee and give this kit away.