A Review of LindowsOS 4.0
Posted Oct 16, 2003 19:07 UTC (Thu) by ksmathers
Parent article: A Review of LindowsOS 4.0
I think the reviewer missed many of the features of Lindows that I would have liked to know myself before installing LindowsOS 4.0. Certainly the installer is oversimplified, click-n-run is simple to use, and the installation easily lets you bypass creating a user account for running your software, but anyone who has minimal familiarity with Lindows would already know all of that.
My own experience is that Lindows is uncomfortable in many other ways that aren't immediately apparent on installing the system. Lindows is installed by default without any reference documentation or software build tools: no gcc, no ld, no as, no headers, no man pages. And installing e.g. gcc through click-n-run only installs enough of the compiler to compile, not enough to actually link an executable. The solution to this is to go to the 'Aisles' on click-n-run and find the Aisle of developer tools, and install the entire Aisle. This will try to upgrade your system to a full developer's system, but with the caveat that the Aisle was created for 3.0 and doesn't entirely work on 4.0.
Also annoying to me is that it is very difficult to find documentation on how Lindows decided to configure their system. Using Redhat, if you install kernel sources you'll get a complete configuration including the options that Redhat used to build their default kernel. Not so for Lindows which requires you to reselect every device already built before you can add the single new driver that you need to add.
Many programs on click-n-run are listed as 'untested'. When it comes to kernel modules, this is basically just a codified way of saying 'doesn't work'. Getting autofs or automount up and running on LindowsOS 4.0 took forever, again due mostly to lack of documentation.
Network configuration is also painful. If you are running your network using static configurations or NIS you will find that Lindows is very difficult to configure for those environments. I still haven't managed to set my domainname correctly on the machine I installed.
What Lindows does well is act as a non-developer, home computer operating system. Installing games, personal productivity software, movie players and the like are much easier than for Redhat, with click-n-run doing the brunt of the work. Just don't wander too far from the standard configuration.
Adding user accounts and running as non-root works reasonably well except for the default behavior of click-n-run to start up at login adding the need to type in your root password shortly after your user password. Luckily it is fairly easy to disable click-n-run on login, though not as simple as disabling the user training tool that starts up on first login.
There isn't a lot of information about configuring Lindows available online. What little information I found was in the Lindows discussion forums, but didn't include any discussions of e.g NFS. I only made a single attempt to contact Lindows help desk for more information with a problem, and promptly got a response indicating that I would be better off contacting the original developer. Since I knew that the original developer had already fixed the problem, I sent that back to the help desk and got a reply indicating that my message had been forwarded to the click-n-run team to incorporate the update. Lindows help desk is at least responsive if not always clueful enough to find answers without help.
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