Linspire: The Revolutionary Linux

Posted by tuxchick2 on Apr 25, 2006 7:11 PM EDT
Lxer; By Carla Schroder
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Pamela Jones unfairly raked Linspire over the coals with this article, Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom. PJ, when you're right (which is most of the time) you're awesome, and when you're wrong you're awesomely wrong. Here is why.

Linspire is on store shelves

I can't emphasize this enough. Linspire is on store shelves at MicroCenter. MicroCenter is a small chain, about 20 stores, but it's an actual brick-n-mortar retail outlet. People can walk in and see Linux computers. OK, I know some problems have been reported; nevertheless it is a major coup.

You can mail-order a Linspire computer from Wal-Mart, which is not the same as being able to walk into the store and buy one, but nevertheless there they are at a major mainstream retailer. They used to be stocked in the stores. I don't know why they stopped. But there they are, side-by-side online with toothpaste and DVDs and socks and all those regular-people-who-are-not-Linux-geek things.

I cannot emphasize enough how huge this is. Linspire is the first Linux vendor to break into the retail consumer space with actual computers running Linux. This is a direct shot at Microsoft's dominance of the retail chain- we all know that the foundation of the company is all those PCs with Windows pre-installed. We've been saying for years that challenging Microsoft means getting Linux preinstalls into stores. Well now it's happening, and what's the reaction? On Groklaw, pure bile. This makes no sense.

Here's something else for all of the Linspire critics to think about: Linspire is the only Linux vendor to take on Microsoft from its inception. Linspire was born as Lindows, with the sole goal of poking Microsoft in the eye.

Linux Chickens

Novell touts its SUSE Desktop, but you don't see it in any stores. IBM, the great Friend of the Penguin is a no-show. HP is doing a lot of good Linux things, but not at the retail store level. Dell is making Linux desktop noises, but I'm not holding my breath, we've heard that one before. In fact if you do a search for Linux on you see amusing things like "Unix to Linux and Unix to Windows Migration." You won't find "Throwing Off Your Windows Chains." Nope, none of these big tough companies are challenging Microsoft- they're plundering the corpse of Unix. With all of their resources and clout, they're too chicken to take on Microsoft.

Bringing More People to FOSS

The more entry points to FOSS, the better. Firefox and FOSS apps on Windows are nice, though I wonder how often they cause people to go "Hey! This is so cool I need Linux too, and I think the ideology is teh hawt!" We need computers in stores running Linux, so that people can see them and touch them and buy them and take them home. They need to be good-quality computers with everything working out of the box. They need to sit side-by-side with Windows and Apple PCs, just like any other product where you a dozen different brands sitting on the same shelf. They need to be bundled with printers, scanners, PDAs, and other peripherals that are well-supported in Linux.

PJ doesn't like Click N Run. No problem, use apt-get, it works fine on Linspire. She doesn't like all the proprietary stuff that Linspire packages, like video drivers, wireless drivers, and Web browser plugins. So she can try the 100% Free-and-free version of Freespire. No nasty proprietary code at all, and no nasty asking for money.

The more people we have buying Linux computers, the more clout we're going to have for getting vendors to support Linux directly and with open drivers. Sitting in our little Linux ghettoes and grumbling about the injustice of it all hasn't accomplished much, has it. The masses have not rallied to our cause- because they don't even know we exist.

Any Dope Can Whine

But it takes a special effort to build something worthwhile. You don't like the direction Linspire is taking? Then put your talent where your mouth is and help make it better. For better or worse, Linspire just may become the face of Linux in the consumer space. No one else is even trying. We need to cheer it on, not tear it down.

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial; Groups: Linspire

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Carla is awesomely short-sighted and wrong grouch 79 6,087 May 2, 2006 6:01 AM
Jones Fears Too Much Freedom Will Kill Linux straypackets 5 2,607 Apr 29, 2006 3:32 PM
Inaccuracy on Linux being on store shelves. GrueMaster 0 2,308 Apr 27, 2006 8:33 AM
I am with you on that. dukeinlondon 0 2,303 Apr 27, 2006 1:18 AM
Linspire involvement in X? libv 0 2,165 Apr 26, 2006 7:18 PM
I agree with PJ qcimushroom 5 2,697 Apr 26, 2006 7:13 AM
The lack of OEM vendors incinerator 0 2,196 Apr 26, 2006 5:38 AM

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