Linspire 6.0 with Microsoft Technology and Intellectual Property Assurances

Oct 10, 2007

Linux distributor Linspire has just released version 6.0 of its commercial operating system.

Linspire 6.0 is based on the free Ubuntu distribution and adds applications, including proprietary software and drivers, through its CNR (Click 'n' Run) software warehouse. In an announcement the vendor states that this is the first commercial version of its product to include Microsoft technology and intellectual property assurances. The free community product, Freespire 2.0, was released in August and contained proprietary programs and drivers. More than two years have passed since the last commercial release. In this time, Linspire has been through many changes, including the migration of the code base to Ubuntu. This change has now been completed in Linspire 6.0.

The Microsoft technologies included in Linspire are Windows Media, True Type fonts, and the Open XML translator. More proprietary software is used for MP3, Java, Flash, and in the ATI, Nvidia and WiFi drivers. Linspire made waves with its harsh criticism of the GPL version 3. The Linspire CEO at the time, Kevin Carmony, published an open letter saying that proprietary drivers were indispensable for a successful Linux operating system. His successor, Larry Kettler, picks up this thread in promoting the latest version: "Linspire 6.0 further bridges the gap between open source and commercial software, combining the best from each into a single easy-to-use, familiar and productive operating system."

In its announcement, Linspire points out that Linspire 6.0 includes "intellectual property assurances" from Microsoft. In June 2007 Linspire joined the ranks of Linux enterprises who concluded a cooperation agreement with Microsoft. Although interoperability between the two operating systems is quoted as the main motivation for the deal, Linspire explicitly refers to the controversial intellectual property assurance clauses in which Microsoft guarantees not to sue Linspire users for infringements against Microsoft patents. The Novell agreement from 2006 contains a similar clause which has been a source of many discussions version since. The Free Software Foundation, FSF, added a so-called “Novell clause” to GPL v3 in response.

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