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Canonical and Linspire Make a Deal 282

Posted by kdawson
from the consolidating dept.
Nate writes "Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, has teamed up with Linspire to share technologies between the two distros. When Freespire 2.0 arrives in April, it will use Ubuntu as its base, moving off of the current Debian. Ubuntu users will get access to proprietary software (DVD players, media codecs) via Linspire's newly opened Click 'N Run. Check out the press release and the obligatory FAQ."
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Canonical and Linspire Make a Deal

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  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:33PM (#17937704) Homepage
    Looks like someone has figured out that maintaining a distro is expensive.
    • by 0xygen (595606) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:04PM (#17938110)
      To be honest it is probably a good thing in the long run. A long term criticism of Linux has been the number of different distros leading to numerous ways of performing the same tasks.

      More cooperation between the leading distros will hopefully push for more commonality between the distros, especially if this means a way to include proprietary software.

      Hopefully some of the resulting technology may even end up as part of LSB or similar one day.
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:06PM (#17939030) Homepage Journal
        A long term criticism of Linux has been the number of different distros leading to numerous ways of performing the same tasks.

        Absolutely. Another perennial criticism of Linux as a desktop OS is the lack of proprietary codecs and software, which hamper its usefulness with regards to digital media in its default configuration. An operating system that can't play DVDs without some shady "wink, wink, nudge, nudge, here are the addresses of some mirrors in France," is a non-starter for most people.

        Hopefully, the collaboration between Linspire (who are one of the only distros that I know of, who actually license the codecs and thus can have a fully-functional, U.S.-legal distro out of the box) and Ubuntu (which seems to have the largest desktop userbase, and the most mindshare among users), will move Linux a little closer to parity with Windows.

        Windows zealots are always going to have something to use as an excuse for the inferiority of Linux; ultimately, their objections (and many PHB's) tend to boil down to "Linux is not Windows," and are really sham arguments used to justify a decision that's already been made. These people are not convertible. Linux isn't Windows, and shouldn't try to be; to attempt to make Windows more attractive to them is probably to damage it. However, there are a significant number of people 'on the fence,' without strong feelings for or against Linux, and who are kept from being more interested because it's perceived as too complicated or limited. Providing U.S.-legal media codecs in mainstream distributions -- even if this means knuckling under and paying royalties in the short term -- is an important step towards bringing those users onto a Free platform.
    • But distribution is...
  • Ubuntu / Debian (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Marauder2 (82448) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:34PM (#17937716)

    "When Freespire 2.0 arrives in April, it will use Ubuntu as its base, moving off of the current Debian."

    Um, last time I checked, Ubuntu was itself a Debian based distro which would mean that even if Freespire were to base itself on Ubuntu, it's roots would still be in Debian.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by earbenT (992594)
      I'm not sure exactly which Debian branch Linspire derives from, but if it's "stable," then there's a world of difference between that and Ubuntu.
    • Re:Ubuntu / Debian (Score:5, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:44PM (#17937848) Homepage Journal
      True, but Ubuntu differentiates itself from Debian in several ways. First off, Ubuntu is based on Debian unstable, and somewhat loosely based at that -- so much so that Debian's leaders have accused Ubuntu of deviating too far from the Debian release. Many Debian packages will work with Ubuntu, but not all -- many Debian packages are ported to Ubuntu by changing compilation options and, most importantly, specify dependencies differently. Ubuntu is a little more liberal when it comes to copyright and licensing -- Ubuntu distributes the proprietary NVidia and ATI drivers, for instance, and provides kernels with these modules pre-built and linked. Finally, Debian's goal is general-purpose distro that consists entirely of Free software, while Ubuntu's goal is to have desktop and server distros that are highly-polished and ready for the non-technical end user. Hence, the default menus and such differ signficantly between Ubuntu and Debian. So it's a bit disingenious to say that Linspire continue to be based on Debian.
      • Debian's goal is general-purpose distro that consists entirely of Free software, while Ubuntu's goal is to have desktop and server distros that are highly-polished and ready for the non-technical end user. Hence, the default menus and such differ signficantly between Ubuntu and Debian. So it's a bit disingenious to say that Linspire continue to be based on Debian.

        Linspire is pretty much a desktop that's polished and ready for use by nontechnical people now. It looks like Windows with "My Computer" and "

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Ubuntu distributes the proprietary NVidia and ATI drivers, for instance, and provides kernels with these modules pre-built and linked.

        My understanding, which may be hazy in spite of the fact that I've actually done this, is that you have to install the linux-restricted-modules package to install the nvidia-glx package. Don't know about fglrx, because I avoid ATI like the plague it is. I sold my last machine with ATI graphics and I don't intend to look back.

        Anyway I don't know the terminology but linux-re

    • "When Freespire 2.0 arrives in April, it will use Ubuntu as its base, moving off of the current Debian."

      Um, last time I checked, Ubuntu was itself a Debian based distro which would mean that even if Freespire were to base itself on Ubuntu, it's roots would still be in Debian.

      Um, last time I checked, nobody claimed that Freespire's roots would not be in Debian. Everybody knows that Ubuntu is based on Debian; the quote above does not dispute that. What exactly are you trying to say?

  • by sgtron (35704) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:38PM (#17937786)
    I don't want access to proprietary software and codecs. I run Linux to use free software. I want open codecs, and GPL'd DVD player software et. al.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:46PM (#17937878)
      Meanwhile, back in the real world...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:48PM (#17937896)
      Meanwhile, those of us not stuck in dreamland have to deal with reality. Proprietary codecs and software are part of reality, and thus, I'm happy that something is about to come along and make it easier to access them.
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:48PM (#17937910)
      And I want a pony.

      (Sorry, I had to. Yeah, I'm a jackass.)
    • by PingSpike (947548) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:50PM (#17937934)
      Then don't buy them off Click and Run. Seems simple enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chandon Seldon (43083)

      The Ubuntu developers have put a lot of effort into making it clear what is non-Free software so you can avoid installing it. The only exception is drivers that are required to make your hardware work, and it even will start popping up warnings about that... but you don't have any hardware like that, right?

    • by NSIM (953498)

      I run Linux to use free software. I want open codecs, and GPL'd DVD player software et. al.

      Don't hold your breath waiting for them.

      • I don't see why not. I use a Mac as my primary machine, but the media player I use for all videos, including DVDs [videolan.org] is GPL'd, and also runs fine on my FreeBSD box. The preferences UI is a bit rough around the edges, but apart from that it's a very nice piece of software. I can't remember the last time I ran across a video file it couldn't play.
        • by NSIM (953498)

          I don't see why not. I use a Mac as my primary machine, but the media player I use for all videos, including DVDs is GPL'd, and also runs fine on my FreeBSD box. The preferences UI is a bit rough around the edges, but apart from that it's a very nice piece of software. I can't remember the last time I ran across a video file it couldn't play.

          A GPL player isn't that big of a deal, the problem is the codecs, many of which are proprietary. On the Mac that's not such a big problem because the purveyors of tho

          • by Rashkae (59673)
            Not that big a problem at all either. In the case of ubuntu, all you need is to compile one little library for DVD's (you can, of course, add a repository and install something like Easy Ubuntu or Automatix, I think, is the new flavor. But myself, I always found .configure && make && sudo make install was easier)

            And as long as your using i386 Arch of Ubuntu, the windows Codecs are just as easy to download and install (look for Download's on Mplayer's site.), which works with Mplayer, Xine,
            • by NSIM (953498)
              I was responding to the original poster who said they would not install until they could have GPLd codes and players, what you've described is something different.
    • I don't want access to proprietary software and codecs. I run Linux to use free software. I want open codecs, and GPL'd DVD player software et. al

      That's your choice. Others just want a computer that works for them. They want to be able to legally play a movie, or like me use Photoshop to edit my photos. Though I have a desktop Linux PC I plan to get a Macbook Pro, then if I need to I can use Photoshop. Before I get PS I'll tryout different FOOS graphics apps but if they won't do what I want then when

    • by danpsmith (922127) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:47PM (#17939716)

      I don't want access to proprietary software and codecs. I run Linux to use free software. I want open codecs, and GPL'd DVD player software et. al.

      That's great, but unfortunately attempting to overthrow Microsoft in the market, if that's the goal for an OS maker or distro company (like it is for Ubuntu) involves actually getting some work done. People aren't going to settle for not being able to play DVDs and MP3s on their newly purchased computer with Linux, they expect things to work. If Linux has any chance of overtaking MS ever (which some could argue that it doesn't) the best strategy is to get these things working now, and perhaps transition people into open formats in years to come. Having people on a proprietary OS does nothing to help the cause of open source software, and demanding what you will never receive when you have no market share is not an effective strategy. If we want to change the game, we have to at least get on the court and compromise to some of their rules for the time being. After we've been playing maybe then we can demand changes.

      Think about it, a minor player with .5% of the market comes in and tells you "you have to give me this that and that" all of which will potentially cost you a lot of money. As a businessman do you:

      • A) Agree with their requirements to appease .5% of the market and potentially lose 10% (just a random number) of your company's revenue in a market.
      • B) Tell them to screw off.

      I'm betting you'd choose B if you are a good businessman. And that's the problem. You can't tell everyone you'll take your ball and go home if they don't play how you like when you don't own the ball. End users don't care about OSS or proprietary, they care that they can't watch their DVD of season 1 of oww my balls on their new computer, while Billy with the Windows PC next door can. Defeat those problems and maybe you have a chance with pre-installs.

      • by jonbryce (703250)
        Well you can't play DVDs on a newly purchased windows installation either, so what's the difference there?
    • Ah, the followers of RMS...while I agree with the goal, how exactly do you propose we get there without decimating entire industries?
    • And by all means, continue to use Debian. It's great for that. Since you're so big on freedom, please don't try to restrict MY freedom to get what ever I want out of my distro.
  • Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lnxpilot (453564) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:41PM (#17937816)
    It's nice to see.
    If we are to compete with the evil M$, we need cooperation between distros, not bickering.
    United, we stand. :)
    Sure, I have my favorite distro(s), but as long as it's not Microsoft, I'm happy.
  • by rabbit78 (822735) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:48PM (#17937900) Homepage

    So we get more ways to easier install proprietary stuff on that OS that was originally proposing to 'support free software'. Sigh. Can anybody enlighten me how Canonical is actively supporting and advertising free software? By pulling in more and more options for proprietary software?

    I know they argue that the lack of certain applications and / or drivers is hindering adoption of free software and there is certainly some thruth to it. Well, I don't know. I think as long as I have the choice to exclude the proprietary repositories I'll be fine with it. But I probably wouldn't encourage people to install Ubuntu first, like I did in the past, but instead point them to Fedora.

    • by schwaang (667808)

      But I probably wouldn't encourage people to install Ubuntu first, like I did in the past, but instead point them to Fedora.

      It's funny you didn't say RHEL instead of Fedora. I wonder why. Oh that's right, you have to *pay* for it. Does that mean Red Hat doesn't support FOSS either? I'm just so confused.

      P.S., I'm making a point, not baiting flames.
    • I know they argue that the lack of certain applications and / or drivers is hindering adoption of free software and there is certainly some thruth to it. Well, I don't know. I think as long as I have the choice to exclude the proprietary repositories I'll be fine with it. But I probably wouldn't encourage people to install Ubuntu first, like I did in the past, but instead point them to Fedora.

      Why wouldn't you encourage people to use software, whether an app, a driver, or an OS, that just works and allows

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:49PM (#17937914)
    Because with the CNR technology, Linux is closing the gap between Windows and Macs in ease of use.

    Give it time... it will catch on. RPMs are great but if you need XXX dependancies first to install something, people get confused (as I did). This is the best thing for Linux since sliced bread :)
    • by dodongo (412749)
      I never saw a reason to have sliced bread on my system, since I couldn't fill the dependencies for libtoast0.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cooley (261024)
      I tried both Synaptic and apt-get, but I just can't find this "sliced bread" package you speak of. I have also tried searching for "sliced-bread", "slicedbread", and "sliced_bread" to no avail. I'm confused, and I sure wish there were an easier way to find and install....
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:52PM (#17937970)
    No one will forced to buy anything trough Click'n'Run. It will just offer users who will want to use some commercial apps their way to do so.

    What bother me more is prioritary codecs. If they are Fluendo ones, I am fine, but if they are some thirty party hacks, sorry, I don't think Ubuntu should get involved in this.

    Anyway, interesting move. If it means that Canonical things more about commercial offerings, more power to them, because I would like to recommend some enterprise crowd to use Ubuntu instead of RHES/SLES, because I don't think very good about them.

    What I don't want to see either is Add/Remove and Synaptic gone. It would be very foolish.
  • by adrenalinekick (884201) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:53PM (#17937972)
    I'm starting to really like Kevin Carmony - the Linspire CEO. First the Desktop Linux Summit, then CNR for all major Linux distros, now this partnership with Ubuntu. Anyone else get the feeling that Carmony is taking all the right steps to setup linux as a viable alternative to M$?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xenocide2 (231786)
      How, By turning into exactly the thing we despise?

      Kevin Carmony has repeatedly demonstrated a preference for short term results, and reckless disregard for copyright law. That said, I find some justice the world -- he's now in charge of a company to fix the problem he helped cause with mp3.com. Perhaps we should enlist him to convince President Bush to be the US Ambassador to Iraq come 2008.
      • How, By turning into exactly the thing we despise? Kevin Carmony has repeatedly demonstrated... disregard for copyright law.

        For the record, those of us who hate copyright will not despise someone for disregarding copyright law.

  • This is it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegoldenear (323630) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @02:55PM (#17937996) Homepage
    This is what Eric S. Raymond was on about at Christmas, that this is what was needed to be the desktop of the future in a 64bit world. Remember ESR's Desktop Linux 2008 Deadline [slashdot.org]?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dr. Manhattan (29720)
      I have some qualms about the timeline in that essay. For one thing, I don't think the pressure will really be on until the "64-bit killer app" appears. (And if I knew what that app would be, I'd be writing it now and planning how to spend my millions.) It's hard to think what a typical desktop user (or even a "power user") would do that would require more than 4GB of RAM.

      And the computing market has become more diffuse and less desktop-centric. Game consoles, smartphones, web-centered apps... I think that

  • by darealpat (826858) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:01PM (#17938064) Journal
    It seems to me that the folks at Canonical are positioning themselves to be the distro of choice for users coming from Windows that have expectation of certain types of software, and are not averse to proprietary software, that is, the non hard-core linux users. By keeping themselves in the public's eye they stand a good chance of doing so.
    • Ah, but by default Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu et al do not ship with anything but Free software [ubuntu.com]. If you want things like Flash, media codecs, etc. you have to figure out how to set them up yourself, or use a helper script like EasyUbuntu [freecontrib.org].

      This is, IMHO, the biggest weakness in the Ubuntu/Canonical strategy -- they have two desires ("a distro for Linux newbies" and "a 100% Free-as-in-Freedom distro") that in many ways are diametrically opposed. (And I say this as a happy Kubuntu user.)

  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by DJ Wings (954277)
    ...I was debating over whether to recommend Ubuntu or Freespire to one of my classmates, but I guess I'll have to go for either Freebuntu or Ubire. Both are 1337er than *buntu and Freespire put together... Never mind, they're about the same as *buntu and Freespire put together.
    Plus, "Ubire" sounds like "Uber"...
  • Interesting (Score:2, Informative)

    by pionzypher (886253)
    I'd read a paper a while back that spoke of the need to provide legal and simple codec plugins for linux. The authors had mentioned that Linspire was in the unique position as the only linux distro with legal right to use wmf.

    The paper was Here [catb.org]
    The portion about Linspire was towards the bottom.

    To the authors: Congratulations and thank you for tackling one of the large hurdles preventing mainstream adoption.
    • by ESR (3702)
      And in answer to the implied question -- yes, I do believe the things Rob Landley and I wrote in "World Domination 201" helped this happen sooner. I know we influenced Kevin Carmony's thinking because he's said so, and we also know that Mark Shuttleworth read a draft of the paper.
  • by apharmdq (219181) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:52PM (#17938804)
    What a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that running Ubuntu with proprietary binaries is optional. They still have their restricted/universe/multiverse repositories, and so you make the choice of whether to include proprietary/unstable/etc packages. And that's what Linux is all about, being given a choice.

    If you want to support free software, just don't install proprietary packages. If you just want things to work as best they can, then having these extra options is a good thing.

    And honestly, if one is such a zealot for free software, why would that person be using Ubuntu anyway? Last I checked, it included the "controversial" Firefox browser, as opposed to something truly free, like Iceweasel.

    The point is that Ubuntu hasn't entirely been strictly free software for quite some time now. But their default setup is, (else why would people be using scripts like Automatix to install all the non-free stuff quickly) and they only offer the choice of using non-free packages. They don't force people to use it.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      And honestly, if one is such a zealot for free software, why would that person be using Ubuntu anyway? Last I checked, it included the "controversial" Firefox browser, as opposed to something truly free, like Iceweasel.

      That is so FUD it's unbelievable. You can do anything you want with Firefox source, you just can't call it Firefox. The very fact that Iceweasel even exists is definite proof that Firefox is Free Software.

      Maybe you realize this, and it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but maybe not.

      they on

  • Hmmm...this is a promising development. It'll be nice to have a convenient way of obtaining commercial software. My question, though, is how this will integrate with the package management system. I don't know much about CNR in Linspire. Are the programs distributed as .debs, or is the package tracking done separately (or not at all)? In other words, if I use CNR to install StarOffice, will it show up in Synaptic when I browse through my installed .debs?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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