Lindows: Windows for losers?

There's been a lot of press lately about Lindows, a new operating system that purports to run both Linux and Windows applications. Much of the press ink is devoted to a lawsuit from Microsoft Corp. alleging trademark infringement. When will Microsoft learn that being in the courtroom is not in its best interest? In the courtroom, Microsoft's record is worse than the Carolina Panthers - and they've lost 15 in a row!

Lindows isn't actually a product yet; it's not even a demo or eval (but you can sign up to be notified when the evaluation is ready). It's raising the ire of many Linux supporters because while it's based on the open source Linux operating system, it includes much that is proprietary. Company founder Michael Robertson (who made his money with MP3.com) says it's necessary to have proprietary parts in order to drive a business model that includes corporate profits as an incentive. That won't go down too well with the aging hippies of the open source movement, either.

People who have looked at Lindows say it works by abstracting the Windows API calls from applications (such as Microsoft Word, for example) and translating them into Linux API calls. That's very similar to the method used by WINE, a much more ambitious project that is attempting to build an abstraction layer that will allow most Unix implementations to run any Windows application. WINE is also open source. Check it out at http://www.winehq.com Also, folks who've tested Lindows report that it has a long way to go. For example, Word will run but not all of its menu choices will function.

The Lindows product page is also interesting: http://www.lindows.com/lindows_products.php On it, the developers tout:

* You'll notice that much of your Windows information that you depend on (such as your e-mail and Web favorites) is ready to go at in your LindowsOS e-mail program and browser. (Boy, do these folks need a good editor!)* Even your wallpaper is copied from Windows to LindowsOS!

Wow! It can copy your " favorites " from Internet Explorer (any browser can do that) and display graphics files!

According to Robertson, Lindows will sell for about US$100 per seat when its released. That's not much of a savings, is it? Certainly not compared to WINE, but not even when compared with Windows 9x/ME/XP.

This looks like a real loser, a place where a guy with more money than sense can spend his time and fortune. If you want an alternative for Windows applications, look at WINE. But if you really want to run Windows applications, run them on Windows!

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Dave Kearns

Computerworld
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