Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Testdriving Freespire Beta2 (Build 0.0.76)

Filed under

The folks from Linspire/Freespire released their latest beta for public testing on July 25. Freespire is the open source version of the commercial proprietary Linspire distribution. Freespire offers users a chance to run the user-friendly great-looking system without an initial purchase. One can choose to purchase extra and proprietary software if desired, but Freespire is a complete system itself. Tuxmachines tested this latest beta to see how it's doing.

When one boots the system they are give a chance to start the installer or boot the system as a live cd. I believe this is the only system I've tested that does it this way. The installer is great looking with it polished buttons and check boxes and its beautiful background. The live cd boots up in a silent mode by default behind a really tasteful splash screen. Hitting escape will bring up the verbose mode, which scrolls white text over a background almost identical to the silent splash - minus the progress bar. It's wonderful little touches like this that make this distro feel very professional.


When booting as a live cd, one is presented with some configuration options such as timezone and sound then auto-logged into the KDE 3.3.2 desktop. It has lots of great looking touches such as the really pretty wallpaper of various blue hues in a whispy wavy pattern. The Kmenu button is a another customized addition looking very much like the kbfx offerings that have become so popular. Freespires version has a cool icon and the word Launch on another blue background.


In the menus one can find at least one application for the various common computer tasks. Most are open sourced KDE applications customized with fantastic icons and a great windec. Some are newer versions while others are beginning to become a bit outdated. For example, Firefox and Thunderbird are while OpenOffice is 2.0. Also in the menu are some configuration tools, system utilities, and help links. Missing from the menu is a system installer. One must boot that option at the boot screen.


Basic hardware detection was good and performance was surprising even from the live cd. Nvidia proprietary drivers are included and multimedia support is good as well. I could play any of the commonly downloaded video formats such avis, mpegs, or even bins. There was a Macromedia Flash player as well as Real player too.


It is quite obvious that CNR is a big factor in the Freespire releases. Linspire was once considered an almost evil element in the Linux community. It was likened to Microsoft in many ways. This was due to their using free open source software, customizing it, and then releasing their system for a fee. The kicker was they didn't release any of their work back into the open source community. First revising their initial plans of supporting Windows applications and then finally releasing an open sourced version of their system helped alleviate this ill will. However, the roots are still visible in CRN. Click and run is their software package manager of sorts, but it requires a subscription fee to access the repositories. Most of the applications in this repository derived from the open source community. Thanks to cpd747 for pointing to the faq that states there are repositories available and accessible through the apt-get from the commandline. Yet it still feels very much like Freespire was born to sell CRN, not that trying to make money is a bad thing.


The CRN software itself appears to be easy to use, however I became turned around or started moving in circles when trying to use the 15 day free trial. This free trial consists of only five applications. One is this desktop weather gdesklet. Others include Frozen Bubble, Sticky notes, and Mahjongg.

So in conclusion, I think Freespire is a wonderful system for the new windows convert who doesn't mind a modest subscription fee to use the CRN Warehouse. The CRN software seems easy to use. The system is really great looking and that's an important factor. It's a bit disappointing that the KDE version and some other applications are a bit outdated. However, the menus are laid out logically and applications are named for easy identification and use. The live cd performance was above average and one could only expect better with a hard drive install. Overall it was a nice professionally polished system.

The Release Notes state there will be two final releases. One will be "the regular, complete version, comprised largely of open source software, but which also includes proprietary codecs, drivers and applications for an enhanced, "out-of-the-box" user experience." The other will be the "Freespire OSS Edition - This version removes any software that isn't licensed as open source. This version will have limited functionality, as it will not, out-of-the box, support MP3, Real, Java, Flash, QuickTime, Windows Media, ATI drivers, nVidia drivers, etc."

More in Tux Machines

KNOPPIX 7.7.1 Distro Officially Released with Debian Goodies, Linux Kernel 4.7.9

Believe it or not, Klaus Knopper is still doing his thing with the KNOPPIX GNU/Linux distribution, which was just updated to version 7.7.1 to offer users the latest open source software and technologies. Read more

CentOS 6 Linux Servers Receive Important Kernel Security Patch, Update Now

We reported a couple of days ago that Johnny Hughes from the CentOS Linux team published an important kernel security advisory for users of the CentOS 7 operating system. Read more

Games for GNU/Linux

  • Why GNU/Linux ports can be less performant, a more in-depth answer
    When it comes to data handling, or rather data manipulation, different APIs can perform it in different ways. In one, you might simply be able to modify some memory and all is ok. In another, you might have to point to a copy and say "use that when you can instead and free the original then". This is not a one way is better than the other discussion - it's important only that they require different methods of handling it. Actually, OpenGL can have a lot of different methods, and knowing the "best" way for a particular scenario takes some experience to get right. When dealing with porting a game across though, there may not be a lot of options: the engine does things a certain way, so that way has to be faked if there's no exact translation. Guess what? That can affect OpenGL state, and require re-validation of an entire rendering pipeline, stalling command submission to the GPU, a.k.a less performance than the original game. It's again not really feasible to rip apart an entire game engine and redesign it just for that: take the performance hit and carry on. Note that some decisions are based around _porting_ a game. If one could design from the ground up with OpenGL, then OpenGL would likely give better performance...but it might also be more difficult to develop and test for. So there's a bit of a trade-off there, and most developers are probably going to be concerned with getting it running on Windows first, GNU/Linux second. This includes engine developers.
  • Why Linux games often perform worse than on Windows
    Drivers on Windows are tweaked rather often for specific games. You often see a "Game Ready" (or whatever term they use now) driver from Nvidia and AMD where they often state "increased performance in x game by x%". This happens for most major game releases on Windows. Nvidia and AMD have teams of people to specifically tweak the drivers for games on Windows. Looking at Nvidia specifically, in the last three months they have released six new drivers to improve performance in specific games.
  • Thoughts on 'Stellaris' with the 'Leviathans Story Pack' and latest patch, a better game that still needs work
  • Linux community has been sending their love to Feral Interactive & Aspyr Media
    This is awesome to see, people in the community have sent both Feral Interactive & Aspyr Media some little care packages full of treats. Since Aspyr Media have yet to bring us the new Civilization game, it looks like Linux users have been guilt-tripping the porters into speeding up, or just sending them into a sugar coma.
  • Feral Interactive's Linux ports may come with Vulkan sooner than we thought
  • Using Nvidia's NVENC with OBS Studio makes Linux game recording really great
    I had been meaning to try out Nvidia's NVENC for a while, but I never really bothered as I didn't think it would make such a drastic difference in recording gaming videos, but wow does it ever! I was trying to record a game recently and all other methods I tried made the game performance utterly dive, making it impossible to record it. So I asked for advice and eventually came to this way.

Leftovers: Software

  • DocKnot 1.00
    I'm a bit of a perfectionist about package documentation, and I'm also a huge fan of consistency. As I've slowly accumulated more open source software packages (alas, fewer new ones these days since I have less day-job time to work on them), I've developed a standard format for package documentation files, particularly the README in the package and the web pages I publish. I've iterated on these, tweaking them and messing with them, trying to incorporate all my accumulated wisdom about what information people need.
  • Shotwell moving along
    A new feature that was included is a contrast slider in the enhancement tool, moving on with integrating patches hanging around on Bugzilla for quite some time.
  • GObject and SVG
    GSVG is a project to provide a GObject API, using Vala. It has almost all, with some complementary, interfaces from W3C SVG 1.1 specification. GSVG is LGPL library. It will use GXml as XML engine. SVG 1.1 DOM interfaces relays on W3C DOM, then using GXml is a natural choice. SVG is XML and its DOM interfaces, requires to use Object’s properties and be able to add child DOM Elements; then, we need a new set of classes.
  • LibreOffice 5.1.6 Office Suite Released for Enterprise Deployments with 68 Fixes
    Today, October 27, 2016, we've been informed by The Document Foundation about the general availability of the sixth maintenance update to the LibreOffice 5.1 open-source and cross-platform office suite. You're reading that right, LibreOffice 5.1 got a new update not the current stable LibreOffice 5.2 branch, as The Document Foundation is known to maintain at least to versions of its popular office suite, one that is very well tested and can be used for enterprise deployments and another one that offers the latest technologies.