Freespire is a free operating system based on Linux with KDE (Kool desktop environment). It is a full featured operating system that can be run from CD or alternatively installed on the Hard drive in it’s own partition.

Note that Freespire development has ceased, and that the text below refers to a version of Freespire that was released in 2007.

Freespire is Free version of Linspire (formerly know as Lindows). Here’s what you need to know about it:

  • It comes with Gparted as standard to help with setting up the partition for hard drive installation.
  • Once Linspire is installed in it’s own partition, you can run either Windows or Freespire on the same machine using the included boot manager.
  • The main features include a one click download & install function called “Click and Run,” multiple desktops, GAIM chat app, a built in system-level spell checker, Firefox 1.5, and Open office 2.0 (an MS office alternative).

Most of the operating system functions are where most of Windows XP users expect them to be with very few exceptions. Many menu items have similar (if different) names to their windows XP equivalents.

The responsiveness of most applications was on par with Windows applications when run on the same machine. The operating system was able to work with most of my hardware without any problems.

Differences between the free and paid versions: Nothing significant, in my opinion. The most notable differences are the tech support and audiovisual tutorials provided with the paid version. Other differences include some non open source drivers provided with the paid version.

I’ve done some research and it seems that although Freespire is not the most powerful Linux out there, but certainly it is one of the easiest to use and get into. You may be interested in Freespire if you:

  • Are curious about Linux, and would like to play with it without installing it on your hard drive (run from the live CD)
  • Would like to install Linux as a secondary operating system alongside windows
  • If you want a free operating system to run on a somewhat old machine (P4 with 2000 MHz and 512 ram).
  • If you want a free operating system, period.

Version tested: 1.0.13

Compatibility: P4 with 2000 MHz and 512 ram

UPDATE: Freespire is no more, but v 2.08 can still be downloaded here and here.  For more info, visit the Freespire page on Wikipedia.