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Forget blondes, the men in wigs have all the fun

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aj+ column

I see that Microsoft's men with wigs are about to slug it out in the US courts with their oppos at Lindows.You may or may not have heard of Lindows - it's a version of the Linux operating system, which is really another easy-to-use version of Linux. It is also installed in computers that the US superstore chain Wal-Mart flogs to anybody who can stump up the remarkable sum of circa $200 (£125).Local boxshifter, Evesham, has apparently been quietly selling something similar for £250.

The Microsoft claim is that Windows and Lindows are essentially the same.

Lindows says rubbish; the word 'windows'cannot reasonably (although, bizarrely, it is) be copyrighted.And it has now been given permission to see all the papers in an old Microsoft case involving Apple's claim that it owned the rights on Windows-like graphic user interfaces (GUIs).Apple lost, not least because it had ripped off Xerox's invention of the generic GUI.Whatever, the effect of the legal delay is that Lindows now has at least until the end of the year to market itself furiously.

Meanwhile, printer company Lexmark has won its US Digital Millennium Copyright Act case against a toner cartridge cloner, Static Control Components, only to find itself, delightfully, facing an anti-trust suit filed by SCC.Hey, why don't we all just retrain as lawyers and have lots of fun for a change?

You can get Lindows from www. lindows. com for a not-cheap $99 (£62) but take a look at Cheeplinux at www. cheeplinux. com and the Linux Emporium at www. linuxemporium. co. uk for inexpensive versions of Linux.The smallest comes on a floppy; another, Knoppix, runs from a CD.

And what of Mandrake's Linux, you ask.After a lot of complaining I got a note from Mandrake's Deno Havlick, offering me a six-month membership of the Mandrake Club and trashing his PR people: 'Trust me, the stuff I put out is far better than our dumb PRs.'So there.

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