Saturday, September 03, 2005

Linux: Freespire--Linspire 5.0 for Free

If you haven't seen Slashdot recently you might have missed this, and it is a very limited time offer. Linspire (formerly Lindows1) is offering their distro, Linspire 5.0 for free download through Labor Day:

I have never been a big fan of Lindows, they made some outrageous claims early on and their "run as root" security model seemed to me to be as bad as another big name desktop OS. I felt they were opportunists at the time jumping on the Linux bandwagon. They've stuck around though, and I don't think they still make the wild claims they once did.

At any rate, they were smart to base their system on the reliable Debian code, it gave their click and run application base a huge number to choose from, and they have turned downloading those applications into a business model of sorts. I have not been following them, so I don't know how successful they have been over the years, but I'm confident that Linspire 5 will be far and away a better distro then the last time I looked at the OS. We shall see. There claim to being The World's Easiest Desktop Linux is pretty bold, in the face of such standards as SuSE, Mandriva (formerly Mandrake), and the more recent addition, Ubuntu.

The really interesting thing (to me) about Linspire is the inclusion of proprietary multimedia applications2 :

One of the main differences between Linspire and other Linux distros (Mandriva, Ubuntu, MEPIS, etc.) is that Linspire does include a lot of legal and paid-for 3rd-party licenses for things like mp3, Java, Flash, Quick Time, Windows Media, Bitstream fonts, Real media, music, etc., and this is all pre-loaded, tested and ready to use.
Of course you can legally install many of these applications on most other Linux distros yourself as well, but sometimes getting them to play nicely with other applications can be a real trick. Another point of interest in this regard--I believe these 3rd-party apps includes a licensed DVD player. (Please... do NOT get me started on how stupid it is that we aren't allowed to play our legally purchased DVD's on whatever player we damn well please. That is a topic for another day.)

The servers were slammed last night when I was trying to process the order for downloading "freespire" but I persevered and got through to the official bittorent link. With so many interested individuals running the torrent (thousands in the swarm) it didn't take very long to get it downloaded. I will leave my bittorrent client running as a seed until the free Linspire offer expires .

Anyway, if you are interested, be prepared to keep retrying to get the order processed. Hang in there, because once you get on the torrent you're set...

If anyone is interested, the modified source code for GPL portions of Linspire is available via ftp at:

Note: this link was provided by Linspire upon finalizing my order for Freespire. In other words, it's an "official" source code site.

1They started out as Lindows, until Microsoft made them change their name--ironic in the fact that the same type of issue brings us to this free offer today. It appears that a fellow built his own distro from the Linspire sources and called it 'Freespire'. This name was too close for comfort for the Linspire folks so the Freespire project has been renamed Squiggle.

2Non-Free Applications which would ease the transition of home users from a Microsoft OS environment to Linux but which GNU purists would certainly frown upon. Claims on both sides of that debate have merit but they are beyond the scope of this post.

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