Corel makes Linux almost nice

At long last, a new version of the operating system is changing all that. Unlike competing versions - and despite its unfinished state - the beta version of Corel Linux installs nearly hands-free. And if the features Corel promises for the final product (due in mid-November) come true, this new flavour of Linux may be nearly as easy to install and configure as Windows 98.

Unlike most other Linux products, Corel's version does not require you to test and tweak video settings for the graphical interface. You don't need to plumb the depths of drive partitioning either, and poring over the numbing catalogue of installation options is strictly optional.

You can progress from a bare hard disk to a graphical Linux desktop in four easy steps: type in a user name, choose a default installation, decide where to install it, and click an Install button. In minutes, you're nearly ready to thumb your nose at Bill Gates.

Not so fast

But first you have to configure things like printers, dial-up connections, and networking - just as you would when installing Windows. Getting these essentials working under Red Hat Linux or almost any other competing version means using Linux's collection of arcane command-line utilities and configuration files, a task that has driven more than one Linux newbie back into Microsoft's arms. Corel says its Control Center utility will consolidate most of these tasks in a centralised, Control Panel-like interface.

Despite some glitches, Control Center let me configure Samba, Linux's Windows networking clone, in only a few clicks.

Like many other flavours of Linux, Corel Linux is based on the 2.2.10 Linux kernel (a kernel is an operating system's core), and installs the Windows-like KDE graphical interface by default. But Corel has made many small improvements to KDE that will make it even more familiar to Windows aficionados. Besides making the Control Center changes, Corel has replaced the KDE file manager with Corel File Manager, a utility that displays drives, desktops, and network resources much as Windows Explorer does.

But while Corel is doing its best to smooth the move from Windows to Linux, it can't work miracles. The Linux kernel still lacks support for such common PC devices as USB, DVD, internal ISDN cards and Winmodems. USB support is likely to arrive sometime next year; there's no timeline for the other devices.

Free stuff

Corel Linux has the usual free applications, including Netscape Navigator and Corel's WordPerfect 8 for Linux. But it will ship sans Sun's free StarOffice 5.1, the office suite bundled with most shrink-wrapped Linux products. Corel plans to release its own office suite for Linux next year, but that one won't be free, and it won't be included in Corel Linux. In a unique role reversal, the suite will come with a free copy of Corel Linux.

What neophyte Linux users need is tech support while installing and configuring their software. Corel, like competitors Red Hat and Caldera, will bundle limited technical support. But even if that support is stellar, customers who pick up a copy at the local computer store should be prepared to sweat before they say goodbye to Windows.

Corel Linux was expected to ship in mid-November 1999.

Distributor: Corel

Price: $US49

Phone: 1800 658 850


Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scott Spanbauer

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?