Lycoris Desktop/LX Amethyst Update 2 operating system

The $US30 Desktop/LX distribution from upstart Lycoris demonstrates that Microsoft's monopoly on friendly OSes for the PC could be coming to a close. I looked at a late beta version of Desktop/LX Amethyst Update 2.

Installing a copy on my 500MHz Pentium III PC was easy. When finished, your PC starts Desktop/LX without rebooting. One catch: you'll need 700MB of unpartitioned space on your hard drive if you plan to install it alongside an existing Windows installation.

Desktop/LX is built atop the K Desktop Environment, one of two major competing interfaces for Linux. Icons represent your PC, network, and documents. The start menu is smartly organised into sections.

Desktop/LX offers Mozilla and KDE's Konqueror for Web browsing, both configured to support Flash, Java and RealVideo. The default e-mail client is Mozilla's, although KDE's native e-mail client, KMail, is available.

For office work, Lycoris has Koffice. Its apps can import Microsoft Office files but can't export them. Also included are Acrobat Reader, the Gimp (a Photoshop-like image editor), CD writing software, and a solid update utility.

Unfortunately, Desktop/LX lacks some important functions. Linux-based computers can sync with Palm PDAs, but Desktop/LX-based PCs can't. And if your digital camera is less than a year or two old, Desktop/LX may not talk to it, either. All of these problems can be solved, but unless you're Linux-savvy, you won't know where to begin. And that under­cuts the concept of a no-hassle Linux package.

The bottom line? Desktop/LX is a stable, friendly, and inexpensive environment for browsing the Web, sending e-mail, and working with office documents.

In brief:Lycoris Desktop/LX Amethyst Update 2(Beta software, not rated).

Friendly OS alternative, but not as fully-featured as Windows.

Price: $US30.

URL: www.lycoris.com.

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