Client Profile - Linspire

About Linspire

Linspire Logo Linspire, Inc. is a consumer-driven company with the mission of bringing choice to computer users through new and extremely affordable computing options. At the core of Linspire is the Linspire operating system that delivers the power, stability and cost-savings of Linux with the ease of Windows. Linspire is easy to experience because it supports popular Microsoft Windows file types and because of its revolutionary CNR Warehouse.
Linspire, Inc. uses Mozilla in their Linspire distribution and invests substantially (through outsourcing to Mozdev Group Inc., other Mozilla consultants and through their own development efforts) to see the continued advancement of Mozilla, particularly in regards to usability. Linspire, Inc. contributes all code back to the Mozilla open source community.

Custom Mozilla Distribution

Mozdev Group was originally hired by Linspire to provide bug fixes and enhancements to their Internet Suite. Our relationship solidified and evolved into something very fruitful, with MDG recruited to work on other Mozilla projects that are integrated into the Linspire Internet Suite (More info...). Now MDG manages the Linspire Mozilla code tree, providing a stable and working branch for their custom Mozilla distribution. Code changes are tightly controlled and access is given to Linspire engineers to check out and package up for distribution using their Debian packaging system.

Projects

Here are some of the core software projects worked on by MDG and added into the Linspire Internet Suite. It is fair to say that these projects along with other smaller features mentioned later make this one of the strongest, if not the strongest, Mozilla distribution available today. Whether you want to store email messages on a server to be sent at a customizable date and time, have words spell-checked as you type, or make Web searching easier, it's all possible. There is something in here for everyone.

Realtime SpellChecking (As You Type)

On-the-fly spellcheck
Figure 1 : Spell check as you type

This is a much requested and sorely missing feature in Mozilla. Mozdev Group has implemented realtime spell checking. This works when composing an email and in HTML textareas on Web pages. When you are writing, if a spelling error is detected in the word, it is underlined in red and will remain so until you go back and change it. When changing, if you are stuck for a work or want to add it to the dictionary, all you have to do is context click on the word. A menu will appear with some spelling suggestion if there are any matches. If you write a lot and spelling is important to you, this is a very useful feature. The existing mySpell module was replaced as default by the ASpell spelling engine as it offers a better set of suggestions for misspelled words. The ASpell module was implemented as an XPCOM component, though it must be noted that the full realtime implementation is heavily integrated with the various source modules.

MailMinder

Mailminder Calendar
Figure 2 : Mailminder Calendar

MailMinder is a program that lets you trigger automatic alerts to individual email messages at a later time, such as when an appointment will take place or a deadline arrives. To do this, you forward the relevant message(s) to the server, specifying the date and time you want it returned to you. It can be used to control your inbox and stay on top of events. Features include:

Once you enable your subscription to MailMinder, all you have to do is set up your preferred options in the configuration dialog. You are up and running, and then you can start forwarding messages and previewing and retrieving them from the server. MailMinder is hooked into the Mail and News Tools menu for easy access, and you can forward a message conveniently from the message window or message context menu. Primarily a mail reminder tool, MailMinder can be used for many other purposes.

Hot Words Search

Hot Words searching is an innovative new technology that makes Web searching more accessible to users. There are two components of Hot Words -- Auto Marking and Hover-N-Highlight. Auto Marking is when the browser will automatically try and figure out words or phrases that may be of interest. It will underline these words with a green underline. By simply clicking on any of these Hot Words, a menu will appear that will present you with appropriate search options.

HnH With Hover-N-Highlight, if you pause your mouse over a word it will be highlighted and a menu will appear presenting you with appropriate search option. This is a highly customizable feature, with the ability to turn it on and off, change the highlight color, set the delay time before the menu appear, and turn on/off the popup menu. Hot Words is available in both the browser and email program, and it makes Web searching more convenient and useful.

Enhancements and Other Features

We have just covered some of the main projects that have been integrated into the Suite. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Accompanying these features in the distribution are a large amount of bug fixes and enhancements that make up the nitty-gritty functionality to maximize the productivity of the user. Here are just some of the highlights of what is available.

Email Send Mode

Mail Send Mode
Figure 3 : Mail Send Mode

Mozilla Mail already has the ability to delay the sending of a message until later. Linspire wanted to extend this feature and make it more useful and accessible to users. This is not just useful for working offline, but can be used to queue up a batch of messages and optionally review them before sending out. The idea is to introduce the idea of 'Modes' when sending an email. The first mode is regular 'Send Now' mode where the message is sent straight away. The second mode is 'Send Later', where messages are sent to the Unsent Messages folder for future sending. From there they can be manually sent out via an existing 'Send Unsent Messages' menu item, or sent automatically via a new customizable timer. Figure 3 shows the UI for switching send mode, a setting which persists across emails until changed. There are other UI hints for you to tell which mode you are in, for example the text on the send button changes. There is also an option to be prompted to send any unsent messages before Mail is closed.

Email Proxying

Email proxying, aka spoofing, means the ability to send and email on someones else's behalf, without having to use their computer. The Message Compose window was extended to include this feature. An item labelled 'Other...' was added to the From: address dropdown list, and when selected a window comes up allowing you to choose the email address to use (the proxy email), and the mail account from which to send it from. The recipient of the message will be informed not only of the the intended email sender, but also the actual sender who sent it on their behalf. So the modifed message header looks like this:

From: "linspireuser@example.net on behalf of joe@example.net" <joe@example.net> The Reply-To field is then set to the proxy address to ensure that the reply is sent back to the intended person.

Message Auto Relaying

Linspire Internet Suite has an Auto Relay feature that enables you to automatically forward messages to another address or account. To use Auto Relaying:

  1. Enable the feature in the Edit -> Mail & Newsgroups menu item settings, and enter an email address or multiple addresses where the messages should be relayed to.
  2. Create a Filter, with whatever rules you define, and set the action to move the incoming messages into the Unsent Messages folder.
  3. Set the Send Unsent Messages Timer so that messages are sent periodicaly to the relay address. You may also open the File menu and select Send Unsent Messages to send any messages in the Unsent Messages folder at any time.

This feature is useful if you want to keep your mail synchromized with other locations such as a cell phone or home/office computer. It can alternatively be used to keep friends and colleagues informed of certain topics.

Default Theme

UI Preview
Figure 4 : User Interface

Here is the default User Interface L-Suite on Marlin 5-O is shipping with.

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