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Linspire recently said it will be using the Ubuntu Linux platform as a new base for all future versions of Linspire and its free version, Freespire Linux OS. But it intends to bundle the same proprietary software with Ubuntu as it does with its current version.
The company will also maintain the same Windows-like user experience by tweaking the desktop's look and feel.
Linspire's OpenOffice suite comes bundled with proprietary applications such as Windows Media and some hardware drivers. Like the Microsoft update site, Linspire also can push drivers down to desktops through OS updates. However, most new drivers come bundled on major releases. Right now, customers that purchase Linspire's digital desktop version will receive StarOffice 8 for free.
Linspire Five-O bundles a communication suite that comes standard with both desktop OSes. In addition to the standard software stack, Linspire arrives with media suites for photo editing, DVD/CD burning and playing. Linspire also comes with security tools such as VirusSafe and SurfSafe.
Setting up a printer with Linspire is simple. Linspire arrives with an intuitive wizard-driven menu for adding and configuring printers. Windows users will find the process easy.
Out of the box, Linspire can only open some Microsoft Windows and Office file types such as doc, ppt, xls and wmv. Unfortunately, Linspire provides a limited migration path from Windows to Linux. Aside from doing some file conversions, there is not much more VARs can do to migrate all Office files and macro objects into Linspire's OpenOffice. With the exception of SUSE, the other OSes in the review are in the same boat. However, Xandros takes a direct approach to running some Windows applications.
Savvy VARs can offer the StarOffice Enterprise product to expand the migration services of some Office applications. However, it is a lot easier for VARs to sell the Linspire desktop OS to customers that are using the basic features of Office and are not using third-party Windows applications that are critical to their businesses.
Linspire's Click 'N Run (CNR) automated software installation service, which now offers about 20,000 Linux applications, allows users to download and purchase applications remotely. The company says all the applications are tested on Linspire and Freespire and are designed to work right from the same site, without having to link to third-party sites to download dependencies.
The company made the CNR tool simple and powerful for Linspire desktop users. Each application has a description label and it is categorized for easy searching. By simply clicking on the green CNR button after selecting an application, the Linspire desktop will download and install it and place the application's icon on the desktop and in the menus. The company promises that the Ubuntu-based release will also be able to use CNR, which is one of Linspire's advantages in the market.
Linspire's partner program is free. The partner portal provides access to the software for evaluation, tools for testing Linux applications, hardware certification tools to certify motherboards and other components, marketing resources and training material, including product documentation.