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Can Linspire Still Feed on Ubuntu (or Debian) Linux Codebase?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Linspire, Microsoft, Xandros at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Earlier this week, just less than a couple of months after their seemingly-friendly deal, Microsoft betrayed Linspire. There are more questions to be raised and implications to discuss.

Setting aside the fact that Kevin Carmony took a cheap shot at folks like Mark Shuttleworth (his supplier) with his “pirates” remark, what might be the punishment?

Microsoft has disavowed any GPLv3-licensed software. Ubuntu will be moving toward the new toolchain, which is GPLv3-licensed. Linspire needs Ubuntu, which is the core on which it builds its products. If Linspire carries on adopting Ubuntu as its codebase or even falls back (some would say “forward”) to Debian, any “patent indemnification” will then be rendered moot.

Let’s admit that we only came to this realisation when we read a comment from a very shrewd person who seems to be intimately familiar with Linspire matters. Here is what he had to say about Freespire:

What a complete and utter crock. There IS no 100 percent free version of Freespire because it was KILLED by Kevin Carmony. Several prominent “community” members gave the distro a two-fingers-up and moved on to klikit Linux after KC signed the pact acknowledging unspecified patent infringements. The newest Linspire has an EULA worthy of Microsoft, and there IS no “community” to make Freespire “community-driven.” Freespire is the red-headed stepchild of the parent Linspire (perhaps Lindows will make a resurgence now that Carmony is in bed with MS.) Avoid, shun, discourage use of this distro wherever and whenever possible.

The very same person was very well aware (and critical) of the fact that Linspire used to game DistroWatch ranks and got caught by Ladislav, the Web site’s maintainer. Additionally, the Linspire EULA only permits the user to install the software on one PC. It certainly teaches you a thing or two about Linspire and their source of inspiration. They used to go by the name “Lindows” before a settlement with Microsoft.

Xandros has not been mentioned in relation to GPLv3 yet. There was no announcement from Microsoft. The abusive company only spoke about Linspire, but the deal with Xandros is virtually identical. Since Xandors does not maintain its distribution purely by itself (it has some proprietary component to latch onto it, just like Linspire, which ‘repackages’ Linux), how does it fit into this debate? Do the same rules apply? Is a Xandros betrayal imminent? Statements from Microsoft have already rained on Novell’s and Linspire’s parade. It is obvious that there is more to come.

Say No to Mono

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  1. barney said,

    July 20, 2007 at 4:51 pm


    Who cares since everyone knows the MSFT patent stuff is all a lie and holds no water. Linspire wanted to renew their codec license and Microsoft forced them into also signing a meaningless IP protection license too. Same as Novell and same as Xandros. Only Novell had a deal where Microsoft sold coupons for the others software and they stopped that for all the others.

    So, the MS IP protection stuff is all just being used to spread FUD to business users that they should worry and stay away from Linux. And if anybody gives credit to the hollow claims of protection, all they are doing is helping Microsoft in their plan to keep businesses away from Linux while Vista crawls slowly out of its hole.

    Oh, and about Linspire not allowing more than one PC installation. That could also be explained by the possible deals they had with Microsoft for including their codecs in Linspire. You know, the codecs Linspire got along with the $20 million they got from Microsoft so Microsoft wouldn’t lose their trademark on the word “Windows”.

    So there it is.

  2. Brian said,

    July 20, 2007 at 6:21 pm


    Linspire/Lindows is on the way out anyway… Does anyone actually use it? The only PCs I have ever seen it on were sitting on a shelf in the way back collecting dust at Walmart. That statement that KC makes about those distros “limping along” well, he was looking in the mirror. So my guess is he needed to money to retire in Tijuana just across the street from him or to fund the Hack Xbox 360 competition.

    You really do have to love these guys for all the ilk that comes out of their mouths… Can someone please get KC a giant bib to wipe his chin?

  3. Ian MacGregor said,

    July 20, 2007 at 7:28 pm


    Microsoft betrayed Linspire? What did you expect from Microsoft? They’ll find a way to do it to Novell and Xandros before it’s all over.

    I spend my free time helping people switch from Windows to their choice of Linux distribution, 200+ people and businesses so far – and one of those businesses had 29 machines. The day a Linux company signs any deal with Microsoft is the day I drop their distro from those that I offer to people who want to switch – and I’ll bet I’m not alone.

  4. Zaine Ridling said,

    July 20, 2007 at 10:56 pm


    Good points, but am I the only one who thinks that Novell sucker-punched Microsoft and stole their millions? Novell forever co-opted itself, but they had to know that GPLv3 would dissolve any perceived gain that Microsoft thought it had obtained through the Novell patent deal. Meanwhile, Microsoft is out millions (a drop from their bucket of billions), and they’re left with nothing but spewing FUD as desperately as George Bush trying to convince Americans that “progress is being made” in Iraq.

    I presume I’m ill-informed, so please correct me.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 20, 2007 at 11:09 pm


    Zaine, Novell opened the floodgates to plenty of FUD (recall May 14th), soon to be followed by more deadly deals. This site should no longer be called “Boycott Novell”, but it’s the Novell deal that triggered something much bigger that Microsoft has planned for the past 3 years when the SCO attack vector lost its luster.

  6. Sum Yung Gai said,

    July 23, 2007 at 6:29 pm


    @Zaine, I don’t believe that Novell had the GPLv3 in mind at all. Remember that it was *because of* the MS-Novell agreement that the GPLv3 was modified to poison such deals. RMS stated so when he said that it was a good thing that the deal came along while there was still time to do something about it in the next GPL version.

    Also remember that, just after the deal was announced, Eben Moglen had a talk with Craig Mundie informing him not to go through with it, warning him, “I can change the rules” and that he (Mundie) wouldn’t like the result. Moglen told him, “he knew what was going to happen with GPLv3, because I told him exactly what I was going to do if Microsoft continued forward with this.” So Microsoft was duly warned. Look at them squirm now.

  7. Jose said,

    July 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm


    >> Good points, but am I the only one who thinks that Novell sucker-punched Microsoft and stole their millions?

    Nice try Novell Employee #2376, but Novell is not getting off that easy.

    >> Novell forever co-opted itself, but they had to know that GPLv3 would dissolve any perceived gain that Microsoft thought it had obtained through the Novell patent deal.

    And Microsoft didn’t? Please.

    Novell employees, being the good Linux soldiers they are, will help convince Microsoft there is value to the deals and progress is being made. These Novell soldiers will help Novell go down with the MS ship so that MS doesn’t panic that much and thinks they are destroying a Linux company. Then with Novell and their poisonous bridges to Microsoft eliminated, Novell employees that stayed to the end until they lost their jobs will be admired and respected (sort of like mini-martyrs). There will be job openings a plenty for them. But these people will have to stay with the sinking ship and they better not sell dotnet and the “joys” of Windows/Vista to those not yet caught in the trap/net.

    I doubt many of the Novell employees will prove to be brave sacrificing Linux soldiers able to keep their double identity to their end. For those that do, they will be rewarded in ways money can’t reward.

    Here’s hoping 2376 won’t let us down.

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