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Linspire to be based on Ubuntu

By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on February 09, 2007 (8:00:00 AM)

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Yesterday, Linspire and Canonical issued a joint announcement that Linspire would begin to base its distributions on Ubuntu rather than Debian, and that Ubuntu users would be able to use CNR to install proprietary applications and drivers, starting with the Feisty Fawn release.

Linspire will begin basing the Linspire and Freespire distributions on Ubuntu beginning with Freespire 2.0, which will be based on the next release of Ubuntu, Feisty Fawn. Feisty is expected in April, and Freespire users will start seeing preview releases based on it sometime in the first quarter of the year, with a final release in the second quarter after the release of Feisty.

Kevin Carmony, CEO of Linspire, says that this move is not sudden development. Carmony says that he met with Ubuntu founder and Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth "three years ago or something" and started the process of thinking about collaboration. In the meantime, Linspire had joined the DCC Alliance (DCCA) (originally "Debian Common Core Alliance") and had announced that it would base its distribution on a DCC release.

However, that never happened, and Carmony acknowledges that the DCCA is not really relevant at this point. "It's never been formally addressed, but there hasn't been a lot of momentum there." Carmony also says he's "more of a fan" of letting the marketplace create standards, which Ubuntu has done, where the DCCA failed to take off.

Linspire is just the latest distro to switch from Debian to Ubuntu, though it may be the highest-profile distribution to do so. Ubuntu has become popular for derivative distributions, and a number of projects that were originally based on Debian have moved to Ubuntu. The first high-profile switch was MEPIS, which announced a switch almost one year ago to the day.

Since MEPIS has already gone down this path, I asked MEPIS founder Warren Woodford about his experience making the switch, and whether moving to Ubuntu presented any drawbacks. Woodford seems pleased with the switch.

"Using Ubuntu has worked well for us, primarily due to the package pools remaining stable and the new releases coming quickly.... There have been no disadvantages from using Ubuntu instead of Debian, except perhaps that the public perception in some circles seems to pigeonhole us as just a knockoff of Ubuntu, not worth looking at, because we must be the same as Ubuntu, which is, of course, 1,000% wrong."

Are other distros in talks with Canonical? Steve George, Canonical's director of support and services, says that Canonical is in talks with other vendors, and says, "I think you'll see some announcements next week about other people using us as a platform."

Effect on Debian?

One might wonder whether this is having any adverse effect on Debian, with Ubuntu gaining additional downstream users that (at least theoretically) may channel energy into Ubuntu rather than Debian. I tried to get Debian Project Leader Anthony Towns to comment on the announcement, but Towns did not reply to requests for comment in time for this story.

Woodford's comments suggest that Ubuntu is eclipsing Debian. "I think Mark has done a masterful job of nudging the community into a more pragmatic point of view. More and more the Debian community is becoming the Ubuntu community. New people coming in are allowed to have diverse opinions about open source software. The hardcore purists are sticking with Debian, but five years from now, they may be about as plentiful as 1970s MIT hackers."

Carmony says that it's "hard to say" whether the trend favoring Ubuntu will have a downside for Debian. "Even with Ubuntu, a lot of work with Ubuntu still starts at Debian.... I think it's just a matter of where developers put their emphasis, and now there's a lot of good work with Ubuntu. It's good for open source and good for Linux.... No matter where that focal point is, it's good that there's a focal point."

Shuttleworth says that there's "always been a slight tension between Debian and its derivatives," but says that Canonical invests "a lot of time and effort in collaboration with Debian, which many other derivatives just don't have the resources to do.

"Of course, that interface is never friction-free, but it exists, and we constantly work to maintain and improve it. My hope is that folks that derive from Ubuntu will benefit from that effort, because work they do in collaboration with us stands a reasonable chance of making it into Debian if it is of general interest."

CNR in Ubuntu

Linspire opened up CNR last month, but Ubuntu is the first distro to announce support for it. The CNR component will not replace Ubuntu's standard package management utilities, but will instead be an additive component to the distro, according to George.

Shuttleworth says that there has been demand for CNR from the Ubuntu community. "We've watched the discussion in the Ubuntu Forums and it's clear many people want the CNR service, so I'm thrilled that Linspire is making it available to Ubuntu users now."

Carmony says that users will have two options. One will be to use the customized CNR software provided by Ubuntu, and the other will be to download a "plugin" from Linspire which will provide a "pure CNR experience." The customized version is unlikely to be available by the Feisty release, so users will have to start with the "pure" CNR version from Linspire.

According to Carmony, Linspire isn't paying Canonical support or engineering fees for building Linspire and Freespire on Ubuntu. However, he says there will be revenue sharing when Ubuntu users buy software through the CNR Warehouse. "With CNR users can buy DVD players, CrossOver Office ... the margin in that [sale] we share with the vendor."

Shuttleworth says that the terms are confidential. "There are some distributions with which we do have a commercial relationship, and others where we do not. We do work hard to be open to work with noncommercial partners, and of course Canonical is only a small part of the overall Ubuntu community now. Nevertheless, some distributions that derive from Ubuntu do tap into our expertise and technology on straight commercial terms."

It will be interesting to see how beneficial the switch is for Linspire. Woodford called the decision "a big leap of faith for Linspire."

"They have to let go of their old business mentality and go with the flow of open source. With a Debian base, they used to repackage everything to be incompatible with Debian. I suspect that Mark insisted that they stop doing that. With CNR they are opening up their code, which means that anyone can potentially use it to compete with them. That takes some cojones, or maybe it's an act of desperation. I am not in position to say which it is."

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on Linspire to be based on Ubuntu

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Click'n'run

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 10, 2007 07:50 AM
CNR (Click'n'run) will allow the sheeps to use Linux too. Once we have the sheep aboard, world domination is just around the corner.

Though, it is important to not forget about out values of freedom and openness.

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it's "feisty", not "fiesty"

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 10, 2007 08:17 AM
it's "feisty", not "fiesty"

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Slackware

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 10, 2007 11:09 AM
Slackware will rule the day eventually!!!

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Re:Slackware

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 10, 2007 05:54 PM
keep dreaming and one day you will wakeup

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Re:Slackware

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 01:14 AM
Right on. Although I do like Slackware, even I admit it's not ready for mass-adoption. OpenSUSE, Kubuntu and the upcoming Fedora 7 KDE are much better suited to this task.

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Codecs and drivers and world domination

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 02:31 AM
If I understand correctly, Linspire/Freespire comes with legally licensed proprietary drivers and codecs. Does this mean then that Ubuntu users will be able to use these legally as well?

That would be an improvement for Ubuntu, since new users could have a working system out of the box,
and even more experienced users wouldn't have to hunt down 3rd-party repositories to get these pieces of software. Though it is bound to be controversial, Shuttleworth and Carmony seem to be doing precisely what Eric S. Raymond argued is necessary for GNU/Linux to achieve world domination. (<a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/world-domination/world-domination-201.html" title="catb.org">http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/world-dominati<nobr>o<wbr></nobr> n/world-domination-201.html</a catb.org>)

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Re:Codecs and drivers and world domination

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 05:23 AM
Apparently Ubuntu users can use CNR to buy some proprietary codecs and this purchase includes a license that allows the buyer to install and use the codecs legally on their computer.

However, I'm not sure if you are allowed to install the codecs on more than one computer. The similar license that Fluendo currently sells doesn't allow this.
<a href="http://applications.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/01/26/1534206&tid=39&tid=13&tid=11" title="linux.com">http://applications.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/0<nobr>1<wbr></nobr> /26/1534206&tid=39&tid=13&tid=11</a linux.com>

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I don't think that there is a charge for codecs?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 06:26 AM
One of the things seems to be that the codecs will come with no charge (the same as FreeSpire has the codec ablity, if you want that version).

So - Microsoft must have given LinSpire a loose loop, or a deal on a napkin as some like to say, for LinSpire to be able to share those codecs (might be tied to having CNR on the desktop, I don't know, but heck, the CNR icon is no big deal).

What is a big deal, is that this deal certainly must be putting the shakes on things in Redmond. Bill Gates was once wondered why folks in South Africa needed free software (seemingly a bit perturbed about Ubuntu and it's pledge)!

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Of course there will be a charge for codecs

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 12, 2007 10:14 AM
I don't believe that Linspire would give the codecs without payment. CNR isn't about sharing, it's about selling stuff and making a profit. It's not charity, it's cold hard business.

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Re:Codecs and drivers and world domination

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 09:15 AM
Lindows got a four year access to the WinCE MP9 codec stack courtesy of the USD20 Million buyoff. The deal dies in 2008, but they were given permission to distribute until then. You WILL notice that nothing newer than MP9 is available from Lindows.

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Gwenview still does not have Kipi Plugins!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 10:33 PM
The one thing I can say about Novell SuSE is that it generally was not half baked, before served.

Pick any of the last 3 or 4 *buntu releases, and you will find problems here and there.

For example:

I have been using Gwenview with *buntu as a barometer of sorts, and for at least the last 3 releases, there still, is not a complete KIPI plugin option (you gotta go to other sources), and with the Ubuntu "other sources" when you find the KIPI plugins, and install them, you will discover that they are incomplete, and lacking the total complete KIPI version of tools for Gwenview to run like it should! But, to get the Kipi Plugins, you have to pull some of your teeth (newbies should not have to experience this) and you still don't get what you need (so you wonder why you took the time to pull those teeth).

With SuSE the Gwenview Kipi Plugins worked 100% out of the box (no fuss, no hassle)!

Makes one wonder with *buntu what else is lacking (detail wise)?

Is FreeSpire any better?

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Re:Gwenview still does not have Kipi Plugins!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 12, 2007 03:45 AM
You will find problems and bugs with any distribution. In any case, using Gwenview as an Ubuntu "barometer" is unfair, since it is a KDE application, and Ubuntu uses GNOME as the default desktop environment. KDE is supported by Kubuntu, which is a community-driven project.

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Re:Gwenview still does not have Kipi Plugins!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 12, 2007 04:02 AM
check your repositories... for Ubuntu.
before, you comment please!
what do you see, and what don't you see, and then if you try to install KIPI (eventually) do they work fully (repositories are managed by whom)?

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Support Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 12, 2007 01:11 AM
People would do well to support Ubuntu as it seems to be the one distribution which is getting most things right, especially marketing.

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Re:Support Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 14, 2007 09:23 AM
If Ubuntu is so great, why haven't they fixed their upgrade paths? A "clean install" should not be a necessary part of a dist-upgrade as it currently is.

If Ubuntu is so great why did it take them 5 releases to realize that it really _IS_ a good idea to default to vesa drivers in X to avoid the serious bugs in certain OS drivers?

No, Ubuntu is not great, they are just the flavor of the month.

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Linspire?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 20, 2007 03:26 PM
Uhh I looked at the screenshots about "how easy it is to use". And my first responce is to hell with that garbage distro. They charge you to use it, and ALL it is is a bunch of re badged programs, Ubuntu, Firefox, Gaim, etc. And they put their shitty names on it

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Hmm

Posted by: Administrator on May 02, 2007 03:16 AM
more distros?

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