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Is Linux really the operating system that will replace Microsoft Windows? Replace Windows, no, but definitely an alternative. To be honest, until recently I was not a Linux fan. I tried installing several versions (if that is what they are called) without success. With my experience at building computers and installing operating systems, I think that with a little more persistence I could have completed those installs. They weren’t completed after several attempts because I felt that no effort was made to facilitate a reasonably simple and trouble free installation. The instructions were inadequate if they existed at all. I am not a programmer. In my work I help people with limited computer skills, I am not interested in software that requires programming knowledge. I look for operating systems and software that is geared to the consumer with limited skills.
Open source code may be important to computer users with extensive skills but it is not my main concern. I want software that is well written and supported by people who are constantly creating patches to resolve the difficulties encountered by consumers. Until recently I hadn’t run into a version of Linux geared to the main stream consumer. A company name Redmond has moved in that direction. A recent Redmond incarnation name Lycoris has unveiled a Linux version that addressed the consumer with limited computer skills.
Desktop/LX Linux is an excellent operating system that sells for $29.95 with a nice CD and instruction package plus helpful support. I decided to give Desktop/LX a try on an old HP 233 MHz Vectra Pentium unit that I had at work. It had only 32 megs of RAM and a 2 GB hard drive with Win 98 loaded on it. This fell a little short of the minimum specs that call for a Pentium with at least 64 megs of RAM and recommends a 300 MHz Pentium with 128 megs of RAM. I don’t normally ignore minimum specs but I decided to push the envelope with this version of Linux.
Since I didn’t have any unallocated space on the hard drive and I did not want to lose Win98, I used Partition Magic to reduce the size of the Win98 Partition and left 1200 megs unallocated. I used Windows Device Manager to prepare a list of my hardware as instructed and then placed the CD in the computer and restarted it. If you are installing Linux on a unit with an operating system, you have to go into the setup and make certain that the CD comes before the hard drive in the boot order. In this case the computer was already setup that way.
Linux set up the unallocated partition and installed itself without a hitch. It was able to identify my hardware including the NIC card and was completed and ready to go promptly. I entered my network settings and was able to connect to my network and surf the web easily. It even found a print driver for the HP laser printer.
In addition to a complete installation, the computer now has a boot loader that allows me to choose either windows or Linux and boots to Linux if I don’t make a choice promptly. I noticed that the system was extremely slow, much slower than Win98 on the same machine. It was obvious that more memory was needed. So, the recommended specs are a good idea. I wasn’t going to upgrade to a 300 MHz processor, but I did have the memory. After increasing the memory to 128 megs it immediately became faster than the Win98 system.
I like the interface as it is clean and user friendly. In addition to an excellent browser (mozilla/netscape) it also comes with a nice office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application plus a drawing program. It also brings more than a dozen great games. At just 29.95 plus $5.95 shipping for everything, it is a great bargain. You can acquire an old PC like this one for nearly nothing. Then just add memory and Desktop/LX and have a nice small office computer with web integration.
If Lycoris Desktop/LX is an indication of what the future holds for Linux, I think Windows will have some serious competition very soon. Right now Desktop/LX is already an excellent operating system for someone who wants to surf, use email and do very productive work. It is perfectly adequate as long as you don’t have to create Office compatible documents.
For more information on Lycoris Desktop/LX Linux, check out their website at: http://www.lycoris.com . There you will find Desktop/LX Linux for only $29.95. They also have some nicely equipped PCs and laptops preloaded with Desktop/LX for very reasonable prices.