April 19th, 2005, 12:11 PM
Playing with Walmart's Linspired laptop
My wife and daughter recently ordered for me Walmart's $500 Bal^nce laptop computer, which comes equipped with a Linspire operating system. I had some fun putting both the hardware and software through their paces.
Upon receiving the laptop, I immediately fired it up and tried it out. The Linspire system worked pretty well, but of course there were some missing programs. I connected to Linspire's Click N Run software service and tried to register my free 45-day CNR account. CNR may be useful and easy to use, but registering to use it caused me confusion and a feeling of stupidity. After several attempts and failure, I gave up. I probably could have gotten it done, but it was sure a lot of stress for something that I would probably not like. Besides, you don't have to register to use apt-get.
Rather than mess up the installed operating system, I installed a spare hard drive (easily done on Bal^nce), grabbed a SimplyMepis CD, and installed it to the laptop. 55 minutes later, it was working with all functions. I was able to add programs with apt-get immediately.
I loaded Wine, and installed EchoLink, a ham radio program for Windows, in just under 6 minutes. Everything just worked. I did have problems at first using my NetGear MA111 USB wireless device. Eventually it started, and now works flawlessly. I have no clue as to why it didn't work initially.
The laptop uses a 1G VIA CPU and comes with 128MB of RAM. Increasing the amount of memory might add to the performance, but it runs pretty well now.
The Bal^nce laptop seems to be of adequate quality, although the touchpad mouse is totally non-intuitive. (Is touchpad the only reasonable option for laptops?) Incidentally, I tried booting Knoppix 3.7 LiveCD on the laptop and it did not find the touchpad.
Do I recommend the Bal^nce? You bet. Do I recommend Linspire? I would suggest that a newbie might better answer that question, but I find SimplyMepis much more responsive to my needs. And it was easy to install on the Bal^nce laptop.
Jerry Sharp is an old retired telephone technician with too many Linux opinions.
Very interesting article. Quite a bargain and what is more it's based on Linux. Of course I think, the writer of the article is based in Linux and has a good background in Linux. That said, it sounds like a steal of a laptop.. especially for an entry level system.
April 22nd, 2005, 00:22 AM
Whoa... I almost thought it was written by you BB, wife and Daughter... (since when did BB have a child??)... Then i saw your comments at end...
I think Linspire is well on its way to making a more user friendly, linux based OS... it will be a real competitor to M$ soon enough, I think it is still in early adopter phase...
The article did highlight some nagging issues, driver problems for some proprierity hardware etc, but good review nonetheless.
--- 0wN3D by 3gG ---
April 22nd, 2005, 01:10 AM
I agree,I have used Linspire 4.5 on one of my systems and its a very nice O/S.I installed it in my athlon XP1800+ system and everything just worked.I was quite amazed.
Installation was easy,all hardware including my home network was detected with no configuration needed.It took a little getting used to but it was very much like windows O/S with the exception its significantly faster.I guess it takes up less system resources compareed to windows.
If it wasnt for the lack of support as far as programs i use and games i would stick with it.Until those days i still prefer XP over Linspire.