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Third-Party Installations

The third obstacle Lindows must help its users overcome is that of obtaining and installing third-party programs. While the base operating system provides the average user with the basic text editor, MP3 player, and calculator, most people want access to office applications, games, and other popular programs. This is where Lindows truly shines.

As previously stated, the Lindows CEO recognizes that people want more than a piece of software; they want an experience—preferably a good one. To meet this goal, Lindows has created a system designed around locating, obtaining, installing, and using an impressive collection of free programs that are managed through a program known as Click-N-Run.

Click-N-Run is a revolutionary idea that keeps the users as far away from the installation process as possible. If you want a new program, all you have to do is click the CNR icon, which takes you to a web site full of programs to download. To test this, I selected OpenOffice, GIMP, and Xine. These three are among the most popular and advanced programs for office productivity, graphical manipulation, and movie viewing for Linux-based operating systems.

After about 20 minutes of waiting for the files to download over my ADSL connection, and another 4 minutes waiting on Click-N-Run to install the new programs, I was finished. In other words, I only had to click a little CNR logo next to the desired program and everything was done for me!

While this is a great feature for the complete novice, I wanted to see what would happen if I stepped outside the controlled Lindows environment. To test this, I found streamripper online at SourceForge and downloaded it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this program, streamripper allows you to "record" streaming MP3 music from online sites such as Digitally Imported, SHOUTcast, and so on.

After downloading the compressed file containing the code for the program, I attempted to run the configure script that probes my computer for required programs and creates another script to create and install the executable. Unfortunately, I immediately got errors regarding a missing compiler, and the program didn't install. Since this wasn't completely unexpected, I decided that I would test the CNR program once more and install GCC (a common Linux-based C compiler).

Once I installed GCC, I reran the configure script; streamripper compiled and was installed successfully. However, this small issue caused me to consider the problems I would have if I wanted to install a larger package not provided by CNR. In short, Lindows includes nothing by way of support for manual installations. As demonstrated by my previous driver issue, a user would have to track down all the dependencies (required files and programs) and ensure they were installed. In other words, while Lindows does a good job in keeping its OS easy to use, that simplicity becomes a hindrance to more experienced users.

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