I've verified firsthand that the $260 systems sold at Fry's preloaded with Linspire perform terribly, mainly because they are short on RAM. They only have 96MB of RAM available (32 MB being taken up by video). Starting OpenOffice takes 90 seconds! Only six of those seconds are spent executing code; the rest are swapping due to lack of RAM. OpenOffice itself wants over 100MB of RAM, but only manages to hold onto about 25MB of RAM, as measured by top.
While OpenOffice is struggling to get enough RAM to load a file, lots of moderately useless processes are happily chewing up RAM. For instance, the modem driver sucks up 2MB of real RAM, even when the modem is not in use. Also, the click-n-run daemon sucks up 6MB. Turning those both off when not needed might significantly improve performance.
But really, if Lindows performs so terribly because of lack of RAM, they should simply prohibit Linspire from being preloaded on machines with less than 256MB RAM.