After I commented on my Linspire experience the other day, Kevin gave Ubuntu Linux a try and recommended it. It’s definitely the equal of Linspire, though I don’t care for the default color scheme as much, and has a couple of extra points in its favor. First, it’s completely free. Not an evaluation version, not a CD-only version – the whole thing is free. Second, the bootable CD download includes Windows versions of several apps including Open Office. Sure, I had already downloaded Open Office, but now I have a CD that I can demonstrate Ubuntu Linus, Open Office and several other things. Linspire has the advantage of coming preinstalled on those $498 laptops, so if it’s time to buy a new laptop for less than a refurbished or off-lease Windows laptop, the Linspire systems make sense. I suppose you could build a (more powerful) “whitebox” notebook at a cost of $1200+ and install Ubuntu, but spending an extra $700 to avoid paying for the operating system seems kind of silly.