Freespire 9.0 is Xubuntu 22.04 but with the latest Xfce 4.18 desktop environment and OnlyOffice office suite by default.
Let me start with some history for those unfamiliar with what Freespire is. Freespire’s roots lead back to Lindows, an easy-to-use Linux-based operating system with excellent Wine integration and easy application support. However, the distro was renamed Linspire after a Microsoft lawsuit.
Then, Freespire derived from Linspire as a free desktop-oriented Ubuntu-based Linux distro powered by Xfce, composed mostly of free and open-source software. Nowadays, the project is sponsored by Linspire, a commercial desktop-oriented Linux distro owned by PC OpenSystems LLC.
Yesterday, the Freespire development team announced the release of the brand-new Freespire 9.0, so let’s take a brief look at it.
Freespire 9.0 Highlights
In truth, there aren’t many things to say about this new release. Although the fact that the previous Freespire 8.2 release was over 11 months ago, v9.0 doesn’t shine with any significant new features. So we can sum up everything in two words: Xfce 4.18.
Based on Xubuntu 22.04, Freespire 9.0 releases with the latest version, 4.18, of the lightweight Xfce desktop environment. Under the hood, you’ll find Linux kernel 5.15.
Including OnlyOffice 7.2 as the default office suite, rather than the commonly used LibreOffice elsewhere, is an interesting move by the developers. Other client apps include the usual Firefox 103 web browser, Thunderbird 102.4 mail client, GIMP 2.10.30 image editor, Rhythmbox 3.4.4 music player, Transmission 3 torrent client, and so on.
However, there is a general sense of inconsistency in how this distrо has developed. For example, while the previous major Freespire 8 release strongly focused on integrating various Google apps such as Docs, Drive, Calendar, News, and so on within the OS, there is no trace of them in Freespire 9. Also, whereas v8.2 used Plasma 5.18 as the desktop environment, Xfce is used here.
In other words, it is hard for a distribution to gain followers if every new release surprises them with a change of direction. So, I can’t see why anyone would choose Freespire 9 over Xubuntu 22.04, on which it is entirely based. Things would have been different if the developers had at least removed Snap and relied on out-of-the-box Flatpak integration.
Furthermore, including some in-house developed tools would have made a minor impact. There are, however, none in Freespire 9.0.
Anyway, if you’re a distro-hopper, you might give Freespire 9.0 a try. Links to download the installation ISO images are at the bottom of the official announcement.