A follow up to Lindows 2, an popular Linux distro that was released in 2002, lets see what has changed in this version. It’s also an operating system that’s a pain to search for since both Google & Bing think it’s a type and keep correcting it to Windows.
The install process is typically the same as before, with the install being booted directly off the CD
Upon bootup we still get the same selection process.
Desktop, not much has changed, but when clicking the Lindows menu we see a slightly altered font The menu itself holds the same layout as the previous distro, with bundled programs being placed in their own category to make organizing much more easier. Not all applications will install into this folder, Simcity 3000 for example creates its own games directory instead of using the one located in the game folder. This can lead to confusion as you have two of the same folders unless the user manually changes the directory upon installation.
It also means whilst the menu looks relatively tidy, it will become cluttered as more applications are installed.
Click-N-Run applications are present, although there are no major changes, with only a few minor updates. Netscape browser comes as the default internet browser which is the exact same version as the preious release.
Missing from this build is the Microsoft Office viewers, with only the basic Text editor remaining in the Business & Finance category. I guess Redmond brought out the lawyers.
The KDE file manager is modeled after Windows Explorer which should make it familiar to switching users. Konqueror version 3.0.1 is used.
When software crashes in Lindows, a crash handler comes up explaining what has happened.
Since there isn’t much that’s changed compared to Lindows 2, let’s see what period-correct software we can use.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri – Seems to work well, installs successfully and the opening FMV plays with a bit of stuttering probably because of the CPU chosen. I do wonder if these early Linux games were well-optimized or just quick and dirty ports. There is a bit of slowdown at the start of a level which could be an issue with no graphics acceleration with the video card chosen ( S3 ViRGE)
Civilization Call to Power – Installs and works fine, this game seems to be less demanding than Alpha Centauri and runs a lot better.
Descent 3 – Installs fine, but when running it prompts you to insert disc 2 which is not recognized after mounting in 86Box. Clicking Ok seems to launch the game but the graphics are pixilated. Had to hard reset the VM to get back into the desktop, After rebooting the game loads and plays the opening FMV, but still has blocky graphics.
SimCity 3000 – Still non-functional
Star Office – An office suite by Sun Microsystems that installs and runs perfectly. It’s very similar to Microsoft Office or IBM Lotus SmartSuite in that it bundles a word processor, spreadsheet software and slide show into one package. The interface tries to mimic Windows, there’s even a start menu present, along with a taskbar.
Postal – Installs and works fine but the menus run too fast. The demo sequence starts after 3 seconds meaning you need to quickly navigate the menu. Quitting the game seems to cause a graphics error.
Wordperfect – Installs correctly and appears in the application. Upon launching it shows a message advising not to run the application as root, and another in relation to a missing font server. Unable to progress past this point, even after a reboot it refused to run due to this missing font server.
Soldier of Fortune – Installed and ran fine, but required a CD key. I think this is the first time I’ve used Linux software that requires a CD key? Performance isn’t good, it runs so slow on this VM at nearly 1fps. Checking the readme file indicates it needs some sort of 3D accelerator, I guess it’s time to add a Voodoo card but I figure the CPU that we have (AMD K6 233Mhz) isn’t enough to cut it.
A simple-to-use Linux distribution designed for the Windows migrant, with a familiar user interface to make them feel at home. Built on the KDE user interface and introducing an early form of an App Store, it would be one of the more popular distro for its time but would eventually lose its userbase to Ubuntu or Fedora.
Install was done using an 86box virtual machine, since these old Linux distros have issues running on more modern hardware. For memory give it as much as the virtual machine supports, generally 256MB or higher will ensure a smooth experience. 86Box Version 3.6 Motherboard: AOpen AP53 Processor: IDT WinChip 2 200Mhz Video: S3 Vision968 Sound: C-Media CMI8338 Network: Realtek RTL8029AS
Install was started from the boot floppy which comes with the operating system, as many motherboard of the era has not mastered booting from the CD-ROM drive just yet.
When the install menu appears, a wizard-like interface is used to guide you through the installation process. You are presented with the opportunity to configure the install, and to set a user password. Once completed, the system will prompt you to reboot.
Post – Install
Booting up the system will land you at a boot menu first, giving you the option of booting into a recovery mode, if you choose the regular mode. The login screen will appear, here you enter the password that you created during the install.
A logon splash screen, seems various components of the OS are not even initialized yet.
Here we are at the desktop, which looks similar to your average Windows desktop install.
This was an attempt to bring an app store-like interface to the Linux desktop by offering applications that could easily be downloaded and installed to the user’s PC. This would consist of commercial applications and free software (Both gratis and price). The portal has long since been discontinued, so software can no longer be obtained this way. Modern Linux distros introduced something similar like the Ubuntu software center and the elementaryOS store which offers paid for apps. All of these are designed to increase the software support of Linux, and to allow for an easy way for the user to install software.
First impressions are that it’s a bit cluttered, compared to a clean Windows install with various icons placed on the desktop (like the individual drives that were detected during startup) and a few sponsored applications like EarthLink. Still its clear to the end user which applications does what, and there are shortcuts to the internet browser that can easily be accessed, along with the email client.
Like Windows, there is a taskbar at the bottom of the screen which will hold currently open programs. This can be customized and additional panels can be added. One example is a resource meter that lets you see your systems memory and processor usage in a realtime graph (like task manager embedded into the taskbar, Like Windows, you can right click on a running application on the taskbar to minimize it, or shade it. What this does is shirk the window to just its title bar, similar to what the classic MacOS does. I’m not sure what benefit this has over just minimizing the window, but I feel its intended for Mac users who may prefer that method. You can also send a program window to another screen, or desktop. Like many distros, this supports having multiple desktop panels that can be switched through easily.
Installed software can be accessed using the start Lindows menu, which looks a lot familiar to a certain operating system. Whilst it’s good to bring a familiar interface, it does feel like a rip-off of sorts. Plus this was already outdated, as Windows XP debuted the previous year with its revised Start menu, although it could be configured to show the classic start menu instead.
Clicking on the time will bring up the date, along with a mini calendar.
Lastly to the left is a series of icons that will bring up various menus and software applications. The large ‘L’ icon will bring up the equivalent start menu where programs and settings can be accessed. The yellow life jacket-looking icon will bring up the help menu and the blue file cabinet icon will bring up the file explorer window. Other icons will act like the quick launch feature from windows, and applications can be pinned easily for convent use.
A submenu on the Lindows menu, this is the Control Panel of the operating system and is sorted into subcategories.
Login Manager: Part of the KDE Control Module, lets you create and manage user accounts and the appearance of the login screen. You can change the background, the font of the login window, the greeting message and the type of session to use (which will often be kde3) There are also options for auto login, similar to what TweakUi could do for Windows NT
File Manager: Change file extension associations and the appearance of the file browser window. You can set folders (directories) to open in a new window
Look & Feel: Change various settings in relation to the appearance of the OS. Includes the wallpaper, the screensaver, mouse cursor and the installed fonts. Very similar to what can be done within Windows. At lot of the built on styles can be set to mimic various other operating systems to make the interface more familiar to the user.
Network: Configure options such as TCP/IP and Samba file sharing. Appears to have basic WiFi support, possibly only 802.11a/b given the age of the operating system.
Peripherals: Options for the Monitor, Mouse, keyboard and Printers. Again similar to what Windows offers where the colour depth and refresh rate can be set for the monitor, the type rate and layout for the keyboard and scroll wheel settings for the mouse.
Personalization: Appears to the miscellaneous settings like accessibility and the region of the install. Also has a shortcut for the command console.
Power Control: More useful for laptops, lets you set the low battery notifications, and the energy usage. Can also set the monitor and HDD standby times
Sound: Adjust the volume and system notification sounds
Web Browsing: Similar to network, but has options for proxies, cookies and cache. Most of this only applies to the Netscape browser.
Advanced Settings: Options for Midi, Audio CD IO and Mixer, could these not have been included under Sound?
Software can be accessed using the start Lindows menu which looks a lot familiar to a certain operating system. Whilst its good to bring a familiar interface, it does feel like a rip off of sorts. Plus this was already outdated, as Windows XP debuted the previous year with its revised Start menu, although it could be configured to show the classic start menu instead.
Audio & MP3
CD Player: Typical CD player that uses the analog CD audio line for playback.
KreateCD: Some sort of CD burning applications, of limited use since 86Box does not emulate a CD burner.
MP3 Player: A typical MP3 player with the Mac OS X Aqua-like interface of the era. Works well with modern MP3 files even if the interface is a bit hard to read on the count of the text being too small. Supports the use of playlists and can play files from a remote network server. Appears to be a variant of XMMS 1.2.7
Business & Finance
Microsoft Office Viewer: Office 97 viewers actually come bundled with the operating system and look to be the actual Windows version that is included. Possibly this is running under a Win32 wrapper such as Wine. Either that or it’s a very well-made knock off, even plagiarizing the copyright notice from Microsoft.
Text Editor: Your typical notepad-like text editor, based on Kwrite 4.0
Battleship: A multi-player battleship client
Mines: Minesweeper clone
Poker: Some sort of poker game, I’ve never played poker so I have no clue what to do here
Potato Guy: Not really a game, more like a kids activity where they have to drag the different parts in order to dress up, similar to Mr Potato Head where you have to give them eyes, ears and hats.
Tron: Tron game inspired by the movie, similar to the version included in Mandrake 7
Address Book: This opens the Netscape address book, here you can address contacts that are presented as ‘Cards’ which can then be saved.
Instant Messenger: Again this uses the Aim component of Netscape browser, which will sign onto the AOL instant messenger service.
Internet Dial-Up Tool: Connects and starts a dial up connection, intended for users who are using a dial-up modem which were still common back in 2002. This is a rebrand of the kppp utility.
Mail: Opens the Netscape client, which incorporates a mail client.
Multimedia & Design
Image Viewer: KDE Image viewer
PS/PDF Viewer: KghostView 0.13.1 – standard PDF viewer
Video Player: aKtion 1.99 – Video file player, supports AVI/Quicktime MOV/ MPEG MPG and FLI/FLC files.
Archiving Tool: Ark v2.1.9 – An archive utility to create or open archive ZIP and tar archives, along with RAR archives
Clipboard Tool: Klipper – Runs in the background and allows you to manage items copied to the clipboard
There are various other utilities like the Console, Floppy Formatter, KDE Help Center, KDE System Guard and the Network Share Manager
Third Party Software (Wine)
Wine comes integrated within the operating system which is supposed to provide some sort of Win32 compatibility. In practice whilst it runs the included Office viewers, experience with other Windows software is very poor, if not horrendous. With many graphical glitches and programs closing for no reason (possibly crashing in background).
I did attempt to run a set of popular Windows software that was commonly used when this operating system was released (2002) like MusicMatch, Also tried to use a few CD-ROM titles like Adi, and Microsoft Encarta. When switching an ISO image within the emulator, the virtual machine has to be restarted before it will see the new disc. Trying to browse the CD-ROM directory results in a list of garbled file names. I’m not sure if there’s a specific command that I’m supposed to run when swapping the CD image but its defiantly annoying having to reboot the system each time a new CD-ROM is inserted.
Third Party Software (Linux)
So I tried a few Linux games and applications that were also released in the period, these are actual ports of Windows games that were released for Linux in general.
Quake 3: Installed but did not run, would not even load in software rendering mode.
Simcity 3000: This also refused to run after install. I tried switching video cards just to see if that was the issue, but no luck.
I seem to remember experiencing the same issues with Corel Linux, but I put this down to the distro being too old to work. It’s possible a component is missing that is not installed but the setup program.
Postal: This one actually works… barley. I can get the game to appear but its not much playable with the window not filling the entire screen and the game running at a slower speed.
If a program becomes unresponsive, you can open the Terminate Application program, which is used to force close applications that become unresponsive. This is not without its problems, since clicking everywhere will terminate the process associated with it, even when you click on the taskbar or the desktop which will make it difficult, if not impossible to open applications. It seems like very poor design but I guess they didn’t think the user would find a terminal list of process appealing, still it means the user could accidently terminate a critical system process by accident, without any confirmation.
KDE Control Panel
A few themes come bundled with Lindows, with additional themes to be downloaded
A collection of screensavers that come with operating system, like Windows you can set a password to unlock after a set amount of time. There are 21 screensavers that come included.
The shutdown process is similar to Windows, where you click on the applications menu, then shutdown. A menu will appear, giving you options to restart, enter standby mode or shutdown your PC. Upon shutdown, the system will close all running GUI programs, will drop down to a command terminal and eventually display the shutdown complete screen. If your PC is ACPI aware, the PC may turn off automatically.