Monday, March 19, 2018

Freespire 3.0.8 Released

Today we are pleased to announce the release of Freespire 3.0.8, the open source equivalent to Linspire OS, freely available to download and redistribute. Freespire OS 3.0.8 includes several bug fixes, application updates and usability changes requested by our users.

 One important change : KDE fans have requested it and now we have released an ISO featuring the KDE Plasma 5 desktop

Freespire OS 3.0.8 contains all previous bug fixes and system updates along with the following changes.

  • Kernel 4.13.0-36 
  • Chromium Browser 64 
  • Geary Mail Client (Thunderbird for Plasma) 
  • Remote Desktop access 
  • App Grid app store 
  • Calligra Office Suite (For Plasma) 
  • Abiword 
  • Gnumeric 
  • Clang compiler 
  • All security updates up to / including March 7, 2018 

Some corrected issues :

  • AMD proprietary installer - fixed 
  • System install from GRUB - fixed (although we do recommend installing from the live environment) 
  • Multimedia codecs can be selected in Ubiquity during the installation 
  • Replacement of the base_files issue has been resolved 

Some issues that we have run into but will be fixed at a later date.

  • KDE Plasma 5 ISO, the installer branding says Kubuntu 16.04 - we are working on a new system installer for all of our releases (not a pressing issue). 
  • All releases, when installing on a Mac if you have a removable drive i.e. flash drive or external hard drive connected, the installer will attempt to install GRUB on the removable drive. We are working on this issue - for now, disconnect all removable media during the installation. 
  • All releases. 2 TB HDD and larger won’t allow the system install, while we are working on a software fix, a temporary work around is to enter BIOS and disable RAID, and the system will install normally. 

Freespire 3.0.8 can be downloaded from our website; it will be available from in a few days. This posting will be updated at that time.



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Freespire 3.0.8 and Linspire 7 SP1

On March 19, 2018 we will be releasing both Freespire 3.0.8 and Linspire 7 SP1 (Service Pack 1).  Both these releases address issues several users have had with both distributions.  These include stability, compatibility and usability.  These are out of our planned releases but the issues people were having make it a necessary update.

Both releases will have some fixes applied that affect both and we will also be including the following features in both releases.

  • Both will have all security updates rolled into them
  • AMD proprietary installer issue has been fixed  
  • An issue some users are having with sound output when resuming from suspend has been fixed.
  • VNC remote desktop will be included. 

Freespire 3.0.8 will also utilize the greybird theme as default to differentiate it more from Linspire.  We know how much people love greybird and we thinks its an awesome theme too.  Chromium will also replace Firefox in Freespire per user request.  All help documentation has been moved on to disk.

Linspire will have a ton of fixes and requests from customers and clients. 

  • NetworkManager will be expanded for VPN and SSH capabilities 
  • Mobile Broadband has been improved 
  • Prepaid monitoring app so users who use prepaid mobile broadband base stations with a GSM card can monitor how much time they are using and how much cash they are spending.   
  • Improved support for ACER Intel based Chromebases and have improved the functionality of those devices including an installer bug which claims you dont have enough space on that device.
  • ICE SSB 5.2.7
  • LibreOffice 6.0
  • GIMP will replace Kolourpaint

Linspire CE 7 SP1 will also include a number of fixes to refine the experience customers have with that release including

  • Removal of unneeded desktop applications
  • Improved Chromebook support
  • Improved interoperability with the Chrome Administration Utility
  • ebook manager
  • Improved stylus support
  • Per request from our law enforcement clients; improved bio-metric support
Linspire CE 7 SP1 when installed on Intel based Chromebooks will also work with the Chrome charging carts.  We will be offering a couple of cloudbook offerings and those as well will be compatible with the Chromebook charging carts

Hardware wise we are working on a HDMI stick type system for users to take with them to hotels and other uses.

Current users will be able to update their core systems with the Update Manager and ISO images of Freespire will be released and an ISO will be made available for subscribers

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Building Linspire and Freespire

During the last few weeks we have gotten more questions on our build cycle; specifically, how do we build? How much work can possibly go into a “remaster” of Ubuntu? Well despite what you have read and what people say there is a lot more that goes into Linspire and Freespire than remastering. This is what happens when we build the distribution(s) :


The build hardware is not unique : a Dell PowerEdge T630
Hard Drive: 1 TB
RAM: 32 gb
Video Card: Matrox G200
OS: Build 14210 which is our own Gentoo based system
Other Software installed: VirtualBox

In the beginning 

Initially we download the Xubuntu or Ubuntu ISO; then everything is stripped out. No web browser, office suite, multimedia apps : no installed applications whatsoever. We add the common tools, package manager, text editor, build-essentials, and a few graphics elements such as themes, icons and wallpapers. This build produces an ISO image that’s 680 mb and runs in 260 mb of RAM.

The GUI 

Unity was originally going to be the GUI. We liked Unity and its ergonomics scratched every itch we had. After Canonical announced that it was discontinuing Unity development, focus switched to XFCE as the default GUI. We then decided on panel layouts and the look that we wanted to achieve. 

Bug research 

We then spend about 6 weeks looking at Launchpad and bug reports from our own customer base; we look into them, try to replicate them, and fix what we can. These results and any code we generate are submitted back to the individual communities. We track and document these bugs and during the testing phase we check to make sure that it was resolved or if the resolved bug breaks something else (regression testing).

Building the bytes 

At this time we start building our software. We look at the Ubuntu mainline kernels available and select the one that’s most compatible with packages and custom drivers that we want to include. At this point, we start building the base kernel that will eventually become Freespire / Linspire : 1 image installed it in its own VM, software being built on this image based on the custom kernel. This process takes about 2 weeks.

Starting to come together 

After we have 1). built our core GUI and 2). made kernel choices, we then generate test images. The ISO generated here is about 1.1 gb and runs in 320 mb of RAM. At this point the development diverges between Freespire and Linspire. The teams take this image and test it for a few weeks to make sure it operates correctly : no unusual bugs, benchmarking, etc. This same image is also installed on our testbed of 12 different machines selected from representative vendors to make sure individual hardware builds don’t experience major issues. These vary - server class systems, desktops and some test boards supplied by partners.

 Moving in day

After that process then comes the installation of packages. At this point we start installing things like web browsers (Chromium in Freespire, Google Chrome in Linspire), office suites, games, multimedia, codecs and other software. Some of it’s packaged, some is not and is injected directly into the system itself. As the libre build, Freespire is lighter and includes fewer components and is 1.4 gb; being more full-featured and containing more proprietary drivers and components, Linspire weighs in at a slightly heavier 1.9 gb. At this point both OSes are feature-frozen; meaning, afterwards there should be no major changes to the user experience.

Test, Test, Test 

Both builds are very heavily tested; which takes time because of the limited selection of machines available for our testbed. At this point many of the developers have upgraded to this new system build. Let’s go outside We ship our new builds out to the closed beta program for Freespire and ship Linspire to commercial beta testers and insiders. Customers and partners can also test and perform their own internal certifications. The teams use this time to collect bug reports and document problems that have been experienced. This is an extremely long process, generally taking about 3 to 4 months. At this stage we contact OEM’s and ship them the software so that they can test on their systems for future QA.

Fix er up 

We take the information that was relayed to us by testers and we fix what problems we can and we document the rest for fix later. What issues are chosen for repair? We prioritize the problems that we can replicate and that affected the most people. As other developers can attest to we all suffer the the “it worked last night “ phenomena. This step can take quite a bit of time depending on the number of issues that need to be fixed.

QA (Quality Assurance) 

At this point we arrive at Quality Assurance testing. We have a specific group that uses the products and gives their feedback. We use this feedback to improve the products and if we can include it in this release then we do it, if not and if it's something that will break the workflow of others we list it for possible inclusion in future releases. Quality Assurance testing is a complex stage as sometimes we disagree with the testers and at this point we try to find compromises

Public Beta testing 

We have arrived at public beta testing phase when all that has preceded has been said and done. Freespire is released to the public for testing, Linspire to our insiders, and in both cases we collect their feedback. We also send it to partners, resellers and customers who need to certify it against their own products, services and applications. Public Beta testing usually takes a couple of months and there are several revisions released (as necessary) until we’re satisfied and can announce a Release Candidate.

Go forth, my son 

After all the public Betas have been released and feedback received (at this point, usually favorable because of the rigorous internal beta testing and QA) the Linspire team has a general or Gold release; this is marketed as the finished product, and shipped to customers and users. Freespire’s Gold release is delayed for public download for two weeks and then PC/OS notifies the press and other marketing partners. These general releases are followed by what we call incremental releases.

Incremental updates 

Incremental updates don't go through the same rigorous testing and development phases as our general / major releases. With incremental releases we apply all application updates and security updates and perform a limited round of public beta testing where users can provide feedback and bugs reports.


So there you go. This is how our products are built. A little more involved than a simple remaster, don’t you think? Black Lab Linux undergoes a very similar development process, albeit longer, due to its use in high performance and development workloads. Right now, for the next versions of Linspire and Freespire, 8 and 4 respectively, we are in the very first stages of development and building the primary image. Our year is generally very busy and things happen to lengthen / shorten the development cycle : serious bugs and major issues, less serious issues and minor bugs. This is what’s involved in building a contemporary Linux distribution.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Upcoming: Linspire 7 Service Pack 1

On March 19. 2018 we will be releasing Linspire 7 Service Pack 1.  Linspire 7 SP1 will have quite a few fixes in it and and is an important update to Linspire and for our customers.

GUI changes

Not much is changing with the GUI.  Most customers have stated that they dont like the double stack panel so we changed that to where the taskbar is just a single row. We have refined and changed some of the icons and we added the Adwaita Dark theme.  We also have designed a new logo and updated it so its not so 2007.  The install icon no longer shows "Install Linspire 16.04" but rather just "Install Linspire"

Core Changes

Some of the things we have worked on is the core system include:

Newer kernel
Fixed the AMD proprietary driver install
All security updates
Removed the rest of the Xubuntu branding
Moved help docs from the web to disk
LibreOffice 6.0

Current users will be able to update via the Update Manager and an ISO download will be available for current customers who want an ISO image.  New customers can purchase from our web store.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Linspire Documentation and Help files released

Today we are releasing the Linspire and Freespire Documentation online for customers and users.  These packages include all docs in PDF format and we are releasing the source for customers, users and volunteers to help improve and add content as needed.





The Linspire Documentation will be included in the distribution going forward on disk


Xubuntu Documentation Project
Oracle Inc

Freespire released

Today we are releasing Freespire which is a bug fix and incremental release of the Freespire 3.0 series.  We also added some features and applications that users wanted us to include in the distribution.  With this release we fixed several issues.

  • We included the 4.13.0-32 kernel in the distribution
  • We added a few UI tweaks due to user feedback - The panel is no longer double layered and is single layered now with taskbar buttons grouping together for same tasks or multiple windows
  • We removed Gparted and included the Disk Utility which is a much friendlier and straightforward solution
  • We looked into an issue that a reviewer and one of our insiders claimed to have to where the "release notes" link in the installer was being redirected to an ad or survey site.  While we here in the US were unable to replicate the problem it appears to be a regional one and we took steps to correct the issue which this release does.  As of final testing today the issue appears to be resolved.  In future releases "Release notes" will be provided on disk rather than online
  • Instead of relying on our online help system we have provided a catalog of "Help" documentation which can be accessed via the "Help" icon in the application menu or /usr/share/freespire-docs/ we will be providing this documentation online as well
  • All security updates up until February 7, 2018 have been applied

Added Applications
  • Simple Screen Recorder
  • E-Book Reader
  • Inkscape
  • GNOME Games
  • GNOME Disk Utility

Removed Applications

  • Gparted

You can download the new ISO files from the following location

Linspire and Education

One of the things we are passionate about at PC/OpenSystems LLC and at Linspire is the education market.  We have made several inroads into this market when people said it was decently serviced by Microsoft, Apple, and Google.   We have had the privilege of working with many primary, secondary and college level institutions for a long time both in the United States and abroad.  We work with many recyclers and education only hardware providers a lot.  So today we are going to break down each release of Linspire and how it serves our education market.

Linspire - Linspire as everyone knows is a great desktop OS.  It is cost effective, secure, and functional in this environment.  With Linspire we bundle many applications including enterprise class software that many school systems find effective.  We provide them with a MS Office and Google Docs compatible Office Suite for free, easy to use networking, and tools to work locally or in the cloud.

Linspire Cloud - Linspire Cloud has been by far our most popular distribution sold in the education market.  With its focus on cloud based apps it has allowed educational facilities to utilize many applications they know and love and gave them access to others.  Linspire Cloud has the unique ability to allow users to utilize traditional desktop applications as well.  Linspire Cloud unlike Windows 10 is not a convergence OS, like ChromeOS its a cloud OS.  Linspire Cloud also allows users to re-purpose their older hardware as well as their unsupported Chrome devices.

Security - Because educational facilities have a lot of through traffic security is paramount.  Because Linspire and Linspire Cloud are based on Linux they are inherently secure by design.  On top of that we put in several access controls so that these facilities can manage user accounts, blacklist websites and content, and block malware and viruses.

Pricing - Linspire and Linspire Cloud are very competitive pricing wise with Microsoft Windows, ChromeOS and macOS.  Educational facilities get discounts and when they purchase systems they also get free copies of Linspire Cloud to refurbish and reuse older hardware.

We work very well withing the education market and we look forward to bringing more products and offerings to this market and to bring the value of security and open source software to educational facilities world wide.

For more information contact