Linspire Guide

Peter Kitson

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Sample Chapter From Linspire Guide
     Copyright © Linspire



Introduction

Linspire (previously known as LindowsOS) is an operating system targeted towards desktop users. It is based on Debian GNU/Linux.

One of the unique features of Linspire is a software installation system called CNR. The company behind Linspire, Linspire, Inc. have also developed several open-source applications including Lsongs, Lphoto, Nvu and PhoneGaim.

 

History


In 1987, a Dutch professor named Andrew S. Tanenbaum, wanted to teach his students how the internals of an operating system worked. He wrote a UNIX-like system from scratch and called it MINIX. It was designed to run on the Intel 8086 microprocessors, that had flooded the market. Most business users were running UNIX, and DOS, which were proprietary and/or expensive. If you bought a copy of Prof. Tannenbaum\'s book: \'Operating Systems: Design and Implementation,\' you would also get the 12,000 lines of source code (written in C and assembly language) to his operating system called MINIX. In 1991, Linus Benedict Torvalds, was a second year student of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki and a self-taught hacker. The 21 year old, sandy haired, soft-spoken Finn loved to tinker with the power of the computers and see how high the limits to which the system can be pushed. But all that was lacking, was an operating system that could meet the demands of the professionals. MINIX was good, but still it was simply an operating system for the students, designed as a teaching tool rather than an industry strength one. On August 25, 1991, this historic post was sent to the MINIX news group by Linus:

From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT

Hello everybody out there using minix -

I\'m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won\'t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I\'d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things). I\'ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40),and things seem to work.This implies that I\'ll get something practical within a few months, andI\'d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won\'t promise I\'ll implement them

:-)

Linus (torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

PS. Yes - it\'s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that\'s all I have :-(.

As it is apparent from the posting, Linus himself didn\'t believe that his creation was going to be big enough to change computing forever. Soon, the source code for this new operating system went worldwide via FTP sites at Finland and elsewhere.


The Growth of Linux


Proving all the warning and prophecies of the skeptics wrong, Linux has completed a decade of development. Today, Linux is one of the fastest growing operating systems in the history. From a few dedicated fanatics in 1991-92 to millions of general users at present, it is certainly a remarkable journey. The big businesses have \'discovered\' Linux, and have poured millions of dollars into the development effort, denouncing the anti-business myth of the open-source movement. IBM corp. once considered the archenemy of open-source hacker community, has come forward with a huge fund for development of open source Linux based solutions. But what\'s really amazing, is the continuously increasing band of developers spread throughout the world, who work with a fervent zeal to improve upon the features of Linux. The development effort is not, as many closed-sourced advocates accuse, totally engulfed with chaos. A well designed development model supervised by some maintainers is adopted. Along with this, there are thousands of developers working to port various applications to Linux. Commercial enterprises are no longer wary of Linux. With a large number of vendors providing support for Linux based products, it is no longer a \'do-at-your-own-risk\' thing to use Linux at the office. As for reliability, Linux certainly proved it during the nasty attacks of the CIH virus in 1999 and the love bug, a year later, during which Linux based machines proved to be immune to the damages caused by these otherwise quite simple computer viruses. Linux start-ups like Red Hat received a cordial response, as they went public. And even after the dot-com bust of the recent years, these companies continue to thrive and grow. With this added confidence, many large and small busienesses have adopted Linux based servers and workstations as an integral part of their offices.


The Rise of the Desktop Linux


What has been the biggest complain against Linux? Perhaps in the past, it was the text based interface which scared off many people from using it. \'Text mode gives total control\', some dedicated hackers and heavy users may explain. But for the millions of ordinary people, it also means a lot of effort towards learning the system. The existing X-Windows system and the window managers were not up to the general computer users\' expectation. Exactly this argument had always been put forward by dedicated followers of the Windows camp. But things began to change in the last couple of years. The advent of professional looking desktop environments like KDE (K Desktop Environment) and GNOME completed the picture. The recent introduction of these desktop environments, along with the Linspire have changed the general perception about the \'user friendliness\' of Linux to a great extent. Though hard-core users grumble about the loss of purity of the hacker-culture, this great change in the mindset of the common users has increased the popularity of Linux. Linspire is now leading the way. People everywhere can enjoy all the benefits of Linux, with the ease-of-use of Microsoft Windows. With the click of a button--in a beautiful, graphical interface--you can now install Linux software with ease.