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Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:36 PM EDT

Here's something nauseating. Linspire has announced at the 4th Annual Desktop Linux Summit their latest "We'd like to make money from the community's free stuff without honoring community values" strategy. They hope you'll help them compromise by contributing to Freespire, which the article describes as a "community-driven distro" that includes proprietary software. Um...what community is that? More mangling of the language to pervert and confuse -- Free Software isn't about proprietary drivers, bub. Here's how they try to inspire you to sell out, from the Freespire website:
Freespire is a community-driven, Linux-based operating system that combines the best that free, open source software has to offer (community driven, freely distributed, open source code, etc.), but also provides users the choice of including proprietary codecs, drivers and applications as they see fit. With Freespire, the choice is yours as to what software is installed on your computer, with no limitations or restrictions placed on that choice. How you choose to maximize the performance of your computer is entirely up to you.

Ah, the mermaid's beguiling melody. "Think only about yourself. Think about all the fun you can have if you compromise. Think about convenience, not freedom, not ethics, not your neighbor. Don't think about the consequences."

You can be free by giving up your freedom. Right. They claim to be offering the best of free and open source, but in reality you get neither. Free Software wouldn't spit on this idea, frankly, and as for Open Source, proprietary codecs, drivers and applications are not Open Source or open in any way. So, it's a compromise, a kind of evolutionary hybrid freak baby. Just license from the proprietary closed source bullies and you can watch your DVDs on Linux without any further hassles. Neato, Linspire. Except for one detail: If I wanted proprietary, frankly, I'd just use Apple or even Windows over Linspire or "Free"spire, as they cynically named it. You will be able to get from the Linspire folks a version of "Free"spire without any proprietary applications, if you wish.

Say, what was in that Microsoft-Linspire secret settlement, anyway? Is this some kind of plot to kill off FOSS? Because it surely could.

Here are their noble goals:

The decision to include proprietary software in Freespire does not solely revolve around the end-user. Carmony outlined that Linspire hopes that the added functionality will be a bigger draw for developers outside of the Linux community to take another look at Linux as a tool they can use and develop for....

There is also the possible side effect of getting more development work done on open source versions of proprietary software featured in Freespire. "If you give users and developers a choice between the NVIDIA driver and an open source version of that same driver, and they discover that the proprietary version has better performance, that could spur the open source development team on," Carmony said.

In the long run, Linspire hopes that by introducing proprietary software now in a desktop Linux distribution, the ultimate goal of achieving more market share will be reached.

Ah. Market share. Of course. The "ultimate goal". As for that spurring-the-developer-on baloney, you know perfectly well the impact will be to drop the Open Source version instead. Ah, the mists are clearing. First, the closed source companies refuse to provide drivers for FOSS. The community figures out a way around the blockade, but it naturally isn't quite the same experience. How could it be? Then Freespire sets it up so you can compare the two, and if you care only about your short term practical gain, which do you choose? Do you think those companies will ever provide drivers for FOSS if you compromise like that?

If you take a look at Linspire's S-1 filed just after the settlement with Microsoft, you'll see they list Windows as their primary competitor, not Red Hat or SUSE. There's a significance to that. Part of what happened in that litigation was that Microsoft claimed then-named Lindows was distributing copyrighted Microsoft Windows Media technology without a license. The settlement agreement included that Lindows would rename itself Linspire, and they'd stop using those files and Microsoft agreed to grant Linspire "limited four-year, royalty-free licenses to certain Windows Media software components" to include in Linspire's products. And in "Free"spire, you can watch DVDs, but you have to cross their palm with silver first:

However, users will still have to pony up a few bucks (or download libdvdcss) to watch their DVDs on Linux. Freespire won't ship with software to allow DVD playback, though Carmony says users can buy it through Linspire's Click and Run (CNR) service.

See, this is what happens when proprietary folks who are not from the community show up prospecting for gold. They can't change their thinking, which is that they want to make money by hook or by crook. Freedom for you is the last thing on their minds. They know you want Open Source, so they'll do that, but the freedom part isn't on their radar at all. And if you help them, they will in time ruin everything. Frankly, I believe that may even be the plan.

Somebody may be hoping that we'll sell out so we don't have to put up with inconvenience, but selling out freedom for an iPod or to watch a certain movie...well, put it like that and you can see, it's not such a good deal for us, only for them. The ability to postpone gratification is one of the definitions of adulthood, and the proprietary folks, and the pseudo open companies that attach themselves to them like barnacles, hope we are not adults. I see Linspire as the mermaid who will pull freedom under the water, if you listen to their beguiling song.

The ironically named "Free"spire will be available in August, and as to why it's taken them so long to do "Free"spire, here's their thinking:

A free version of Linspire has been a long time in coming, Carmony said, but there's a reason why his company has waited until now to implement the project. Simply put, Linspire did not feel the market was ready for a community-driven distro that included proprietary software. Over the span of the company's lifetime, Carmony explained, the community's negative reaction to using proprietary software has softened quite a bit. He also feels that limiting features to promote software freedom for freedom's sake is actually eliminating choices for the end users.

They think they've seen enough members of the community willing to compromise the community's values that now this will work, in short. I hope it doesn't. If ever it was clear that Richard Stallman was right to argue that openness and pragmatism are no match for freedom, ethics and community values, today is the day.

Instead of pressuring nVidia and other companies to provide drivers for Linux, Freespire will just license the proprietary ones right now. What's the difference? You get to use the drivers, don't you? Well, if you'd like to know what could happen next if everyone goes that route, may I suggest you read "Linux in a binary world - a Doomsday scenario" by Arjan van de Ven, written last December and which you can find in the Linux-Kernel Archives:

Linux in a binary world

What if.. what if the linux kernel developers tomorrow accept that binary modules are OK and are essential for the progress of linux.

a hypothetical doomsday scenario by Arjan van de Ven

the primary assumption in this scenario is obviously not going to happen, but all assumptions that follow are based things that are true in some form or another, but of course the names of the "innocent" have been omitted.

On December 6th, 2005 the kernel developers en mass decide that binary modules are legally fine and also essential for the progress of linux, and are as such a desirable thing. At first, the development process of the linux kernel doesn't change much other than a bunch more symbols getting exported, and EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL removed.

Within 3 weeks, distributions like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE's SLES distribution start to include a wide variety of binary modules on their installation CDs. Debian renounces this and stays pure to the cause, as do other open distributions like Fedora Core and openSuSE.

The enterprise distros don't just NVidias and ATIs modules, but include all the OEM vendor "fakeraid" modules and the various wireless, winmodem, windsl and TCP-offloading modules as well,. However, unlike NVidia and ATI, most of the binary driver vendors do not provide their drivers in a "glue layer" source form, they provide only the final binaries.

Several hardware vendors that have been friendly to open source so far, see their competitors ship only binary drivers, and internally they start to see pressure to also keep the IP private, and they know that they haven't used some features of the hardware because their legal department didn't want that IP in the public. As a result they perceive their competitors binary drivers to be at a theoretical advantage, or at least their own drivers could be at an advantage if they were also closed, because they then can use those few extra features to be ahead of the competition. By February 1st 2006, about half the hardware vendors have refocused their internal linux driver efforts to create value adds in the binary drivers they will release in addition to the open drivers that already exist. Some vendors even openly stopped supporting the open drivers because they don't have enough resources to do both.

March 1st. All the new server lines from the top tier hardware vendors come out with the next generation storage and network hardware. This hardware comes with binary drivers for the last 2 versions of RHEL and SLES distributions, and these drivers are already integrated into the February refreshes of these distributions. One of the storage vendors releases their driver in a .o + glue layer format, the others doesn't bother and only releases binaries for these two distributions. Two of the network card manufacturers release an update for their open source driver to minimally support the new cards, the others don't. Consumer hardware is largely unaffected; most consumer chipsets standardize on AHCI for SATA storage and keep the existing feature sets in networking chipsets.

April 1st. 2 of the consumer chipset makers have upgraded their chipsets to include a new and exciting audio feature that enables enhanced DVD playback, but unfortunately this caused them to deviate from the 'standard' i810 audio hardware interface. One of them releases a binary driver for a handful of distributions, the other doesn't consider linux relevant for the desktop and hasn't bothered to do a linux driver yet.

May 1st All of the server class hardware you can buy requires at least one but usually 2 or 3 binary modules to operate. While some of these modules are available in blob+glue form, several are only available for RHEL3, RHEL4 and SLES9 and sometimes the newly released SLES10. Linux users will have the choice of 4 kernels for these servers at this time, but no hope to run a kernel on these servers. The Ubuntu people are very upset and are trying hard, with varying success, to get drivers available for their distribution. Due to this lobby success, about 50% of the servers can be used with the Ubuntu kernel as well.

June 1st. A huge flamewar, the fourth on this topic since January, happens on the linux-kernel mailing list. Users and some developers are demanding that the kernel adopts either the existing RHEL or the SLES module ABI. Investigation shows that this is not possible, and the thread turns into a discussion on designing a new ABI versus freezing the existing one. Many kernel developers feel that the existing ad-hoc ABI is not suitable for freezing and that a new ABI and API, designed such that it can be kept stable more easily is the way to go, while others say that this takes too much time and then won't help for the next 2 years until RHEL and SLES have adopted this ABI, and at least demand an immediate freeze of the ABI so that the upcoming RHEL5 release maybe uses it, and thus gets drivers written for it. Users generally use RHEL or SLES for production servers, and clones like CENTOS which have released binary compatible kernels.

July 1st. It's increasingly hard to run linux without binary modules on most new consumer PCs. While a year earlier people would have to give up 3D acceleration for this often, now even 2D doesn't work without binary drivers, nor does networking (both fixed wire or wireless) or sound. For half the machines there is not enough linux support available at all, while 20% use ndiswrapper like translation layers to run the Windows sound and networking drivers. The Debian project, unable to run on most machines now, is losing massive amounts of users to Ubuntu and Ubuntu-Debian hybrids. Debian-legal and various other project lists are impossible to read by people not interested in this particular flame-topic. Most of the vendors who kept their open source drivers at least somewhat updated have basically stopped doing so.

July 14th. Linus declares the kernel ABI stable but also splits off a 2.7 kernel and declares that the 2.8 kernel will have a different ABI. In practice, only people who held on to their old machines can assist in the 2.7 development, since none of the vendor drivers, not even the ones who still have a blob+glue construct care about the 'too rapid' moving development tree.

August 21st. A serious security flaw is found in the 2.6 series, which turns out to be a design flaw in a key sysfs API. Fixing this flaw would require to break the module ABI and practically all modules out there, while not fixing this flaw leaves a potential roothole open. A quick fix is made available under a CONFIG_ option, but users who need binary drivers have no choice but leave their systems vulnerable. Flamewars on lkml flare up again that say Linus made a mistake in freezing the existing ABI rather than creating a new one designed to be frozen. 2.7 development has mostly stagnated and a patch is proposed to have 2.7 have the 2.6 ABI again, reverting several key VM subsystem improvements and Ingo's realtime patches.

August 26th. A precooked exploit for the security hole hits bugtraq, and has been sighted in the wild as used by various rootkits. A php exploit uses it to go from the httpd user to root. Users are putting pressure on module vendors to release modules for the new ABI, and several actually do so in the next three weeks. Others, mostly in the consumer area, say that the hardware in question is no longer sold and that they aren't going to spend any time or effort on drivers for it.

Now this scenario may sound unlikely to you. And thankfully the main assumption (the December 6th event) is extremely unlikely.

However, and this unfortunately, several of the other "leaps" aren't that unlikely. In fact, some of these results are likely to happen regardless; witness the flamewars on lkml about breaking module API/ABI. Witness the ndiswrapper effect of vendors now saying "we support linux because ndiswrapper can use our windows driver". I hope they won't happen. Some of that hope will be idle hope, but I believe that the advantages of freedom in the end are strong enough to overcome the counter forces.

In response, Andrea Arcangeli wrote:

I am convinced that the only way to stop the erosion is to totally stop buying hardware that has only binary only drivers (unless you buy it to create an open source driver or to reverse engineer the binary only driver of course! ;).

For example if a laptop has an embedded wirless or 3d card not supported by open source drivers, buy a laptop without any wireless card or without 3d, instead of buying one with the not-supported hardware without using it (I can guarantee there are still laptops that requires no 3d binary only drivers and no wirless cards drivers, even for the winmodems you can choose the ones supported by alsa). We literally have to refuse buying those cards with binary only kernel drivers.

Every time we buy a piece of hardware with binary only drivers we admit that the binary only driver vendors are doing the right choice for their stockholders. Only when we refuse to buy it, we can make a slight difference. When we don't buy hardware without open source drivers, we send the message to the shareholders that the management is causing them a loss.

Linspire invited Rob Enderle to be one of the speakers at their conference. I think that says it all.

I know some of you will point out that other distros also include proprietary applications and drivers. My Mandriva has a separate CD just for them, in fact. But they don't push them as a plus. They provide them for those who don't mind using them while we wait for a better solution, but they don't base their business on the idea that Linux needs proprietary stuff and we should all stop striving for a completely free distribution that does everything we need and be "practical" in order to gain market share. I hate to break it to the prospectors for gold amonst us, but market share isn't at the heart of what the real FOSS community is about, and if you want those guys to code for you, you'd better cut it out.


Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom | 1145 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: Sawdust Bytes on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:45 PM EDT
So everyone can see them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Sawdust Bytes on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:46 PM EDT
With clickable links.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's the point of this article?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:52 PM EDT
The market will decide. If you're right that Linspire are removing the
positives from their offering, while retaining the near-Microsoft pricing, then
they'll wither and die. But proselytizing here achieves what? Pop quiz: how
many Linspire customers or potential customers read Groklaw?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:54 PM EDT
Sad to say, there are many people who'd just think this was handy, and not care
a jot about the freedom issues. I speak here of the vast majority of computer
users who know nothing of open source (of which there are many millions, even if
we like to pretend there isn't).

If he got AOL installed on it I know several people who'd jump at it without a

I try to get my students to use Linux for assignments, citing higher quality
software, and pointing out that since I don't use windows, I'm more likely to be
able to offer advice on problems if they are using linux /foss tools.

If I just stated that they should use the software because of the ideology
(which I happen to be a firm adherant of), I doubt I'd get anywhere. Most of my
students are win32 addicts, and a shocking amount don't even know that linux
exists until I tell them, or have no idea about the kind of software that's

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: Jude on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:21 PM EDT
IMO, one of the reasons a lot of companies don't offer source code for drivers
is because they're scared to death of patent infringement lawsuits. I suspect
that some of them are knowingly infringing, and are keeping the source secret in
the hope of avoiding discovery.

Whether or not the patents should have issued in the first place is another

[ Reply to This | # ]

Easy solution
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:38 PM EDT
... is: don't buy their packaged Linux. Use RedHat or SuSE or Debian or Ubuntu
(depending on whether you want a commercially supported Linux or a more
stringently free version).

No problem running DVD either. It's easy to setup VLC or Xine or mPlayer with
libdvdcss, and get every thing you want.

It's too bad they sold out to Microsoft. They had a chance, blew it, and are
not relegated to sucking up to Bill. Not a pleasant thought at all and not what
I'd do.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Easy solution - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:07 AM EDT
  • Easy solution - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 08:49 PM EDT
"Free" and "Open"
Authored by: FrankH on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:40 PM EDT
Linspire's use of the word "free" has echoes of Microsoft's use of the
word "open".

Double-plus ungood.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Obey Me And Be Free!" --No. 6, The Prisoner, "Free For All"
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:42 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

This is the reason I'm leery of buying things from IIRC, it is
from the same guy who runs Linspire. The idea that my money will help this guy
makes me want a Pepto Bismol milk shake.

When I was first looking at a Linux distro, having tried my hand with SuSE and
found it to be not so scary, Linspire (having just changed from Lindows) was
pushed on me because of its familiarity. It even had apps for things like
Quicktime and that. But a tour of several things about Linspire arched my

1) Linspire sells its software on eBay because people sold earlier versions and
they wanted people to get the most recent one, the best quality purchase. I
know there's nothing stopping, say, IBM from selling its stuff on eBay, either.
But when they claim to be doing it not to make money, but for the good of the
community, but with auctions determining the final price, something seems a I can't put my finger on it, I just can't reconsile it.

2) One guy I know who builds computers bought Linspire because the web site
said (at the time) it supported SATA drives. Turns out it didn't, and when he
went to the site, the reference to SATA was removed.

3) It took me a while to find a computer of mine that could run Linspire
(trying to install it on this computer resulted in a hang during the kernel
compilation). This was when Novell said they wouldn't be doing a personal
version of SuSE anymore, so I thought I had to find a new distro. Linspire
seemed like it was sticking its hand out for money every time I turned around.
Cross promotion is one thing, a hard sell is another. Is it any wonder I went
with the pro-grade SuSE?

By way of contrast, TurboLinux gave me the option of buying a licensed DVD
player, included on a seperate disc if I wanted it, nothing said I had to buy
it. IIRC, that is how the GPL says it is supposed to work--you want to include
proprietary stuff, go ahead, but you have to give people the option to pass on
it if they want. The motherboard I use is a bit odd, and TL (like the majority
of distros I tried) had some problems. But had it worked, I would have gladly
bought that DVD player software.

3) This was the big one--the whole Freespire project that Linspire stifled.
I'm sorry, but what gave them the right to call their product
"Lindows" and talk about freedom, but shut down someone doing
something similar, and using arguments they fought against (confusion in the
marketplace, etc.)?

My Linspire experience was very brief. I'm glad I didn't have to euthenize my
computer to erase the stain, just wipe the drive. Still, I came away from the
experience thinking that the Linspire folks use open source the way politicians
use the American flag. When pols are worthless, ineffective, or even criminal,
they wrap themselves in that flag to rally people around and disguise their
shortcomings. Linspire seemed to rally around the whole Linux thing to disguise
the fact that they wanted an OS but didn't know how to do it themselves, so they
took Linux, made it just GPL enough, and ran with it. I seem to recall Caldera
tried that. Didn't work for them, either. The used software shop I go to has
sold out of every Linux build it had, from a Debian to a Red Hat 6.5 to a Corel.
Except those Caldera distros. Those are still there....

To quote They Might Be Giants, "You don't shake the devil's hand, then say
you're only kidding."

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:47 PM EDT
PJ. Looks like Biff is at it again.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linspire is a great distro
Authored by: GreenDuck on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:55 PM EDT
Linspire 'just works' in much the same way as a mac. Unlike a mac, you get a
full office suite, tons of games, etc. For people who care about money or
piracy, that's a huge benefit.

In some ways, Linspire is even easier to use than a mac, since it includes lots
of nice graphical tutorials and always targets the most basic user. It is
cheaper too, supporting virtually all budget x86 hardware. Updating it is
easier than a mac too, since click'n'run handles that whereas on the mac it only
updates apple's components.

I tried putting someone on ubuntu once, and they couldn't use it because it was
too complex. I then put them on linspire and they had no trouble. That tells
me that linspire has picked a target market and is doing an extremely good job
of competing with that market. Since that market is dominated by windows rather
than by RedHat, the users don't care about propriatary software.

Now, I haven't refuted any of PJ's arguments about freedom, I simply ignored
them. Some people just want a cheap distro for computer novices that works
well. Freespire is exactly what they're looking for. No confusion over binary
drivers, no confusion over deCSS, no confusion.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You are dead wrong
Authored by: PolR on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:59 PM EDT
Ethics isn't important? Would you do business with a crook? How much money would
you entrust him? Would you eat in a restaurant that has been found guilty of

Ethics is what makes you someone others can trust. In the case of the FOSS vs
closed source debate, ethics makes the difference whether or not your supplier
will try to lock you down to his software, deliberately building costs into
migration paths that favour him and not you the customer.

FOSS doesn't play those games. This is why ethics is a major differentiator
worth putting forward loud and clear. If you care only about the economic
argument, please consider that billions of dollars hinge on this ethical debate.
Look no longer than Microsoft's profits.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why so harsh?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:00 PM EDT
Linspire has been a good citizen, contributed to projects, etc, for a while. OK,
they try to make money with their distro, OK, they've marketed it aggressively
on preinstalled systems for a while ...

but to bash them this badly for trying to establish a free base (wasn't that
debian, anyway??) ? That does not sound like groklaw's usual style. I am sorry.
Unless there is something I don't know, an apology might be in order.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Linspire is not evil - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:05 PM EDT
  • Why so harsh? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 28 2006 @ 12:55 PM EDT
Dumb Article
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:01 PM EDT
What linux distributions don't support NVIDIA or ATI drivers in some form or
another? Which ones don't support any codecs or DeCSS for DVD playing? MP3
support? It's free software. You know, Free as in Freedom? The worst that
they can do is not ship the stuff by default and make you install it yourself by
hand. However any such distribution with a vibrant enough user community will
have this process automated by third parties who want to use the stuff anyway.

This is really about the transformation of software to services and the
distributions all trying to be more like Debian. In the old days the commercial
distributions made money by selling little plastic disks in boxes. But that
model doesn't compete particularly well with distributions that are freely
available online, update well, and ship low cost/free CDs (and make them
available to burn yourself). This is particularly true as broadband becomes
more ubiquitous and the time required to update online drops. So the
shrinkwrapped box companies have been trying to reinvent themselves as online
"community" distributions with a more stable 'supported' version on
the side for enterprises. We saw this first with Redhat and Fedora, then with
OpenSuse, and now Linspire. I'd speculate that Linspire is feeling pressure
from Ubuntu as that's what the Freespire thing appears to be targetted at. I
also expect Ubuntu will squish them given it's first mover advantage in that
same marketplace.


[ Reply to This | # ]

This is outrageous
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:24 PM EDT
Never in the time I have been reading Groklaw, since almost the beginning, have I ever seen a post so rude and offensive. I will say one slightly favourable thing about the troll, he manages to work his malice efficiently, with very few words. But you do not address a lady like that, ever.

PJ, please blow away this entire thread.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Where is Andrea's hardware?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:27 PM EDT
I know there used to be (was?) a HCL, but it never seemed to actually have all
the hardware that was supported, etc (back in the day, I was just running with
what I had, and it worked fine even though not on the list). It seems to my
memory that different linux vendors had different HCLs. Where do you look
anymore to find hardware that's fully supported by open source drivers? Like if
I want to buy a laptop, where do I look up models that Dell sells to decide
which I would buy, wipe, and install linux on? I know that maybe 90% of the
hardware would work, but what about, for example, the modem?

How do I find out that the hardware I'm using is pure? How do I find a soundcard
that will really work with linux *and* have open source drivers? I don't follow
hardware so much, but last I knew (or maybe I didn't), ATI and nVidia both
didn't run well (at all?) with 3d accel unless you used their proprietary
drivers. Is there another card maker for vid adapters that I should be using to
be linux pure, but still have a neat-o display?

Maybe this is a really simple question and there's already a huge list out there
that I don't know about. Or maybe there are a lot of published hardware
purchasing best practices that I just haven't seen... While I do of course agree
with Andrea's comments and the ideals of the community, how do I apply them to
my hardware purchases effectively? It's been a while since I've seen a penguin
on soundcard packaging :( I'm not trying to troll, I really do want to know
where I should be going to get this info. I run linux on my desktop already, but
if I upgrade or build a new one, of course I want my purchases to be the right
ones. For example, I currently do use the binary nVidia driver. What choice do I
have? I'm not aware of one that works. For example, I tried playing tuxracer
without the linux nvidia driver a number of years ago and it was unplayable.
Literally. Maybe it's much better now... but if it's not... what other choice do
I have now?

Please share the links/resources/whatever... and hopefully PJ would like to add
these guides or alternatives or whatever to her entry. Identifying a problem is
one thing, but if there's already an answer out there, then that would be far
more helpful for her to post. :) Thanks!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:30 PM EDT
Wow, PJ, I have to say that this went more than a little over the line.

"Freespire" just honestly acknowledges a dirty little secret of Linux
users -
that they will install and use unlicensed closed-source technologies whenever
it benefits them, despite publicly waving the flag of "freedom". It's
rare to
find someone *not* using the binary-only nVidia and ATI video drivers, or
libdecss, and MP3 encoders and decoders. At the moment, they're breaking
the law and/or violating copyrights and patents. One can certainly make the
claims that these intellectual property protections, particularly software
patents, are excessive, but they are, for the moment, the law.

Freespire is just giving people a way to do what they're doing anyway
*legally*. It's the computer equivalent of giving condoms to sexually active
high-schoolers - they're going to have sex anyway, might as well give them
protection. At the moment, they have no choice but to take substantial risks.

As someone else mentioned, Linspire has been quite generous in their
financial support of open-source projects. There is a *lot* of lore
surrounding Linspire - it might be a good idea to examine these myths to see
how many are actually true.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lots of trolls about....
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:31 PM EDT
Foir the last few days there has been a far greater and more unpleasant amount of trolling than usual. Something big is happening, somewhere. Maybe it is because Novell are clearly on the offensive, with a good case, which should be sufficient to leave a smoking Caldera in Utah. Or maybe something else.

But just recently they seem to have become very rude and offensive. A sign of desparation, perhaps? Now would it be a spurious correlation if perhaps another delay to a new piece of vapourware Vista was announced shortly?

Whatever, I expect that you will read about it first on Groklaw.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: jsusanka on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:35 PM EDT
what linspire genius came up with the idea of rob enderle

why didn't they just cut to the chase and invite bill
gates, steve ballmer, and darl mcbride.

it's the same thing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: rm6990 on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:46 PM EDT
I'm sorry, but Linux is unbearable without at least some proprietary least for me. Hate to break it to you, but not everyone can use
all open source software.

For school, I am required to use Flash, plain and simple (I do course work
online, on the school's webservers). Which is more important to me, flunking the
class just so I don't have to install Flash, or to just install Flash and pass
the course? Take a guess which one I chose. The teacher would laugh at me if I
said "Sorry, can't do this assignment, I don't believe in proprietary
software", before slapping an F on the assignment.

I like playing games, espescially 3d ones. I install Nvidia's drivers, and I get
much better performance. I'm not so worried about having one proprietary driver
that I'm willing to get rid of one of the things I enjoy doing with my

Am I unethical? I wouldn't think so, I just want to use my computer the way I
need/want to, and if that involves using proprietary software, well so be it.

I'm not saying I don't support free software, but I'm not willing to get less
accomplished with my computer just to support it. That's my thoughts anyways.

This attitude bewilders me. The position of the community basically is
"Well, we know some people need to have proprietary software, and sometimes
it is difficult to install, but god forbid someone should bundle it to make it
easy for grandma, we'll shun you until you go out of business". News flash,
Red Hat and Novell both provide proprietary software. Novell calls their stack
mixed source. Just the other day, Novell's CEO commented that most customers
don't want an all open source stack, hence their name for their stack. But,
since Novell is bashing the brains out of SCO in court, we'll just ignore all of
that. Talk about double-standards....Linspire is providing 3rd party proprietary
software for conveniance for their customers, while releasing almost all of
their own software as open source (Lsongs, Lphoto, Nvu, etc), whereas Novell
writes their own proprietary software and in some cases markets that software as
the benefits of their Linux platform. Where are the articles bashing Novell for
slapping the word open on everything, while including proprietary software? I
must have missed them.

Oh, and by the way, Linspire didn't name Freespire. It was a community project,
already named that, that Linspire took under their wing, plain and simple.
Freespire started out the same way CentOS did. Linspire didn't name anything,
all they did was not change the name once they began maintaining the project.

I think this is a wonderful thing, and at least a good start. Congrats
Linspire....even though I probably won't use it anyways.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Message to the new astroturfers and trolls
Authored by: PJ on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 08:57 PM EDT
You must be new. Please read our comments policy.
I left this comment only because I want you to see what is
violating the policy in your comment. Then
I'll nuke it, once you get the point.

Also, be aware that deliberate trolling and obvious
astroturfing gets nuked on Groklaw, and if it becomes
a pattern, you'll get blocked. No one here is interested
in those games, and we can figure out who is who.

Just so you know. I give folks a lot of rope, and it's
rare that it goes that far. But I feel it wouldn't be fair
not to inform all the new astroturfers and trolls that
have recently shown up on Groklaw that this is how
it is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why I'm carefull what I run
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:07 PM EDT

I did an evaluation of Linux Distros. After trying Fedora, Mandriva, Linspire,
Ubuntu, and Kunbuntu I settled on Kubuntu. Partly it's the freedom issue. Partly
it's compatibility - my desktop, my work laptop, and my daughter's Mac Powerbook
can all run the same OS, and it's the only way I could do that.

Of course I only found out I could do that after I'd made the decision from a
freedom standpoint...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Didn't Eric S. Raymond want Fedora to take the same road?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:14 PM EDT
Maybe Eric S. Raymond had more luck with the Linspire people than with the Fedora people? It appears to me that he posted extensively on the fedora-devel-list in March and April, starting with Fedora's way forward, trying to persuade the Fedora Project to go down the same road that Linspire/Freespire would seem to be taking. The Fedora developers told him repeatedly that this was not part of the mission of the Fedora project.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They should have based it on BSD
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:19 PM EDT
It is perfectly feasible to base something that resembles a Linux distro, and works equally well, on FreeBSD or even OpenBSD, complete with KDE etc. (I have two machines here, one Open and one Free, which are basically Linux lookalikes, to the extent of the stuff that I have bothered to install anyway. Both run KDE.) That way, they can even make the kernel (not any GPL stuff) completely closed and proprietary, as long as they include the copyright notice.

It would of course be a bad thing to do, unfortunately the BSD licence freely allows unethical behaviour such as exploiting someone else's work without any return, but at least if they used BSD they would avoid further pollution of the Linux kernel.

the real way to prevent most of this nonsense is to keep up pressure on all hardware manufacturers to either produce FOSS drivers themselves or publish their interface specs (which need not disclose proprietary hardware details), and let them know that they are losing sales otherwise. The directors of these companies are responsible to their shareholders, to maximise benefit to them, and if they lose X% of sales due to no support for Linux (where X is a number currently estimated to be somewhere between 3 and 10, and increasing), then they are clearly failing in that duty.

[ Reply to This | # ]

that Microsoft-Linspire secret settlement
Authored by: Boundless on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:27 PM EDT
> Say, what was in that Microsoft-Linspire secret settlement,
> anyway? Is this some kind of plot to kill off FOSS?

My impression at that time was that Lindows was in the
driver's seat on that. They were about to get a jury
trial on whether the term "windows" was generic and
unprotectable, and were almost certain to win.

MS gave them whatever they wanted to drop it. If MS
asked for anything in return, it was likely silence
on the matter, and the destruction of evidence supporting
Lindow's position.
IANAL - Barratries not included.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pandering to the GPL religious zealots!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:32 PM EDT
>Both are competing against M$

I feel to see how the GPL is competing with Microsoft. Freedom isn't a race,
it's a condition.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Am I missing something here?
Authored by: McMartin on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:33 PM EDT
How is this actually different from what Gentoo or even Fedora does?

(Gentoo is almost entirely source-based for everything, and is extremely
flexible -- their package database, however, also includes links to a large
number of closed-source or even commercial applications so that you may manage
everything through the same interface. These include not only the nvidia
kernels, but even large binary applications such as Sun's JDKs, and commercial
software such as Quake 3.)

(And if anyone's thinking of using this opportunity to declare Gentoo the
Enemies of Freedom Everywhere too, I would like to politely remind them of the
earlier article here on Groklaw about the Kororaa/Xgl LiveCD, which was
well-received and Gentoo-based. Not only that, that very LiveCD was even using
the closed-source nVidia modules.)

I'm also not sure how this even violates the spirit of GPL, since it seems like
they're doing three things at once:

(1) Charging a fee for the act of transferring a copy of GPLed software.
(1a) Making a purely-free version available as well.
(2) Performing what I believe is called "mere aggregation" with
proprietary stuff, which the GPL explicitly shrugs its shoulders at.

As I read it (IANAL, natch), (1a) isn't even required by the letter of the GPL,
though I can see arguments that the spirit pretty much mandates it.

But, as I noted at the top, I don't see what they're doing that's substantially
different from Gentoo or Fedora, both of which are undeniably upstanding members
of the community, and both of which make closed-source installation of things
straightforward and integrated with everything else.

(I'd also like to pre-emptively reject the argument "Gentoo and Fedora
don't do it by default." Gentoo doesn't do *anything* by default, which is
its primary selling point. Using the closed-source nvidia drivers instead of
the open-source ones is a matter of typing two more words into the install

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 09:44 PM EDT
I've been a long time reader of Groklaw and I have to say that I find this
article somewhat appalling, and unlike other articles on this site, poorly

Freespire existed prior to the involvement of Linspire, and Linspire, whilst
having a different business model do actually give back to the community at

So have we gotten to the point now that it's our-open-source-business-model is
better than your-open-source-business-model? I thought there were still larger
problems like SCO/MS in the woods.

[ Reply to This | # ]

My name is Doug and I'm a Proprietary Driver User
Authored by: kawabago on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 10:55 PM EDT
I have to use the nvidia driver to get TV-OUT working so I can watch DVD's and
Myth TV on my big screen. Since hardware manufacturers fix design mistakes in
their drivers, they don't want to open source them to let their competition know
where their weaknesses are. For this reason they will probably always need some
sort of binary only code to serve this function and protect their trade secrets,
technology etc. I am willing to allow them that much but if a competitor comes
out with an equivalent product with open source drivers, that will get me to

Oh the shame I bear every day, while I'm watching the big screen and skipping

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 11:12 PM EDT
Between this article and the doomsday piece, it's becoming increasingly clear to
me, as a more-or-less typical user of many operating systems, that it is not
only important to choose FOSS and encourage vendor support for FOSS drivers
whenever possible, but it is also important to be willing to give up the
short-term advantages of using proprietary software (such as binary linux
drivers for video or wireless cards), if the use of such software will damage or
limit our future freedom to choose.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 11:51 PM EDT
The replies to this article makes me sad. For what it's worth, I care about
freedom, that is why I switched to GNU/Linux from AmigaOS back in the day. I
don't know why people think they speak for me, and I'd rather they not, I will
make my own choices, thank you very much.

Best Regards, Per Jensen

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
Authored by: electron on Monday, April 24 2006 @ 11:53 PM EDT
I'm not convinced that it is a bad thing to produce a distro that has both
closed source and open source software together.

All the basic stuff, and much of the advanced stuff is, of course, Open Source.
But there are also things that do require a licence to be purchased before one
has the right to use it, such has closed source software.

And if people want to purcase licences for that closed source software then good
on them. Not all closed source software is bad. I mean, Photoshop (for example)
is very good software indeed that would be a killer application if it were
ported to Linux.

That said, I use SuSE Linux, and have no closed source software on my computer.



"A life? Sounds great! Do you know where I could download one?"

[ Reply to This | # ]

I didn't know which thread to join so here's my own
Authored by: Brian S. on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:01 AM EDT

Do I understand "Free and Open"? - I like to think so.

Do most of the world? - No, only the educated and those who are familiar with the arguement.

About Linspire - What is their market?

People who've heard that a thing called Linux is cheaper than Windoze. Ubuntu must be an African tribe and a Fedora is a type of hat. People who want to point and click and it just happens because they don't understand computers.

I think Linspire have got it right - Compromise? Maybe.

Otherwise they could go out of business - One less "90%" open source company to take on the Empire.

About hardware - $5 billion up front for the fab before you sell your first one or courtesy of Alan(UK) from OT in the last story - The Lexra Story

Unlike software, hardware costs money and competition in video cards is cut-throat. How many video card manufacturers last 10 years? What happened to S1 - some say they're making a comeback. nVidia walked all over Righteous. ATI tried to walk all over nVidia. Give me back that old Hurcules. Get IBM to Open up Cell so Microsoft can have it free for Windoze? It won't happen until they've made their investment back plus some. How many billion?

Or as Gerry Sanders of AMD said "Only real men have fabs"

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:03 AM EDT
Instead of wringing our hands over companies supplementing Linux with
proprietary software maybe we should be wringing our hands over the Linux
developers for not giving us and them real alternatives. The Apache folks
faced the same hurdles and triumphed. Where are their Nvidia counterparts?

[ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:08 AM EDT
    Oh dear, it looks like I have a problem.

    You see, I use binary and proprietary stuff. I use Skype
    because my friends aren't network engineers who can be
    trained to understand the complexities of SIP. I use Adobe
    Acrobat Reader because it lacks the bugs of existing free
    software solutions. I use RealPlayer - because there's no
    other way to watch RealVideo. I have all those naughties
    that Linspire are putting in their distro.

    Looks like I completely flunked the freedom purity test. I
    obviously hate freedom and want everything about Linux to
    die. Boy, should I feel bad.

    Richard, is that you?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:19 AM EDT
    Obviously PJ is not using _any_ of the following:

    * NVIDIA or ATI graphics drivers for 3D graphics (or the
    Koroaa live CD)
    * Knoppix or derivatives (loadsa proprietary stuff there)
    * MP3 decoders or encoders
    * Any serious multimedia decoders/encoders
    * Anything based on Xine
    * Flash player
    * Skype
    * Adobe Reader (maybe PJ has a special bug-free version of
    xpdf or something)
    * Any kind of DVD player
    * Any wireless card with an Atheros chip in it
    * Any wireless card that requires NDISWrapper
    * Any builds of Firefox or Thunderbird downloaded from (they contain proprietary "talkback" software)
    * Opera

    If you can tick all of those boxes with PJ, then feel free
    to flame Linspire. If you can't though, then
    congratulations. You live in the real world! :-)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ethics in choices we make.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:56 AM EDT
    Actually, I do put as much ethical thought into my vehicle (used & devoid of elaborate & fragile gimicks as I must maintain it for as long as possible) & fuel (Exxon/Mobil can forget it, Citgo is good) as well as my computer, cobbled from cast off pieces (excepting the hd - nobody throws useful hd's away). My distro I buy, from a company that plays FLOSS fairly (SuSE & Mandrake/Mandriva so far). Ethics _should_ be more important than any other criteria.. certainly more important than money. You can always get another dollar.. But you can't replace the world..


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Free verses Open
    Authored by: Morosoph on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 01:04 AM EDT
    I'm really sorry to say this, because I really love Groklaw, but this kind of issue reinforces Richard Stallman's point about Free Software being called "Free", rather than "Open Source".

    The concept of Open Source - a development methodology - is not in fact under any great threat by mixing and matching development models: it's "efficient" when it's "efficient", and remains a choice for developers. Convenience is an absolutly reasonable excuse for the Open Source crowd.

    It is Free Software that is under attack, and because of this free/open distinction, I find it a real shame that Groklaw persists in using the term "Open Source" when it really should use the word "Free".

    Tim Wesson.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why the venom
    Authored by: syphax on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 02:18 AM EDT

    I was quite surprised by the tone of this article.

    I've never tried Linspire or Freespire; Debian, Ubuntu etc. work just fine for

    But what is Linspire doing that's so wrong? Trying to make money from Free
    software? What's wrong with that? From what I can tell, they've put money back
    into Free development. Mixing proprietary software and Free software? What's
    wrong with that, if you respect all licenses in question? Yes, you are trading
    convenience for freedom, but sometimes that's (gasp!) desirable or even
    necessary. In RMS-land, maybe not, but sometimes, for some of us, getting
    something done requires some compromises.

    I can't say that Linspire/Freespire are good or bad for the Linux community, but
    they are certainly not the devil incarnate. Can't we keep a big tent around

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Fraudulent argument by Linspire
    Authored by: ak on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 02:18 AM EDT
    "If you give users and developers a choice between the NVIDIA driver and an open source version of that same driver, and they discover that the proprietary version has better performance, that could spur the open source development team on," Carmony said.
    That is a fraud. Carmony certainly knows that NVIDIA is not providing the required documentation to create such Open Source drivers.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Thanks PJ!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 02:47 AM EDT
    While I think that it's safe to say that your opinion on this subject didn't get
    unanimous approval, it did generate a lot of well-reasoned responses from the
    community. And isn't that when Groklaw is at it's best, when a lot of your
    readers feel obligated to share their thoughts with the group? This subject
    isn't unique to Groklaw. It's been going on for some time on message boards and
    mailing lists all over the net, but with a few exceptions, the *quality* of
    arguments here is probably the best I've seen.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why not taking a different approach?
    Authored by: AJWinterer on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 03:10 AM EDT
    OK, we now know that NVidia and ATI don't care about open source, even if they made some money from selling their hardware to users that run FOSS. Money and ethics don't mix well...

    But FOSS has a long history of "if there is no free / open product, we create one" stories. At least with graphics cards there could be another one. Check out this project:

    Never trust a smiling cat.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freedohs (Lindohs + Free)
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 03:27 AM EDT
    I salute your courage in making this post, PJ. Many people in the Linux
    community itself would strongly disagree with the things you have said, and I
    might have numbered myself among them. Instead, you have given me something to
    think about.

    The right way to use a computer isn't always the convenient way. The same goes
    for promoting the right way to use a computer. Sometimes you need to really look
    at the bigger picture.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Slippery slope, to the advantage of Linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 04:00 AM EDT
    Please, don't badmouth Linspire just for including proprietary drivers along
    with open-source ones. It looks like there's a method in this particular

    Look at who the distribution is aimed at: it's mostly people that would want
    their OS to Just Work, not developers or even not advanced users. Giving them
    exactly that increases awareness about Linux among ordinary people, increases
    number of people who can use Open Source applications. This target group won't
    pay for developing Open Source graphics drivers or DVD code anyway. But it will
    surely benefit Linux by a kind of viral marketing. "My friend uses Linux
    and it works great so why shouldn't I try?".

    They're providing the ordinary people with a useful tool, and providing Linux
    with more market share and public awareness. Oh, and they sponsor some open
    source projects by the way, like gaim, contrary to what you seem to have accused
    them of.

    The downside is that they allegedly discourage the development of Open Source
    drivers by providing a closed alternative. I doubt it's the case, though, at
    least, not more than other distributions that include the very same kind of
    drivers. You've got a point (if the trend continues, we're going to only have
    binary drivers for everything), but only if the phenomenon becomes a trend, and
    so far, it doesn't.

    First of all, it's not like their distribution is going to dominate the market.
    Even if they take 50% of the "newbie market" (which I doubt), the rest
    of the market is still able to sponsor the development of open drivers.
    Especially when forced to by a competition from Linspire's closed ones.

    The second thing is the snowball effect. By sponsoring other projects, they're
    freeing up other developers, so that they may try to develop new drivers. By
    providing the Linux community with more target audience, they encourage new
    developers, be it OSS or proprietary ones, to work on Linux stuff. And the pool
    of software to write is limited, so maybe instead of writing yet another vi
    clone, some of these new developers will actually become interested in driver
    development (although, the current problem with OSS community may be less
    related to the lack of potential developers and more to notorious mismanagement
    in many projects, which puts off some developers).


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Wol on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 04:19 AM EDT
    Be thankful you don't pay as much as us ... £1 a litre ...

    For those who's metric/forex is challenged, that's about US$8 a gallon...


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Let me see if I have this right...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 04:41 AM EDT

    Let's see. What we mean by "freedom" is that people are to be denied the choice of using proprietary software when they want to.

    And here I thought that freedom was about giving people choices, not denying them choices.

    But wait. Freedom is about giving them choices.

    Oh, I get it. Any choice they want, so long as it is the choice I made for them.

    Whew! For awhile there, I was concerned.

    By the way, what religion is this?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 05:20 AM EDT
    Nice article PJ.

    Must have hit a nerve with all the trolls about. That or the high tide has
    driven them out from under their bridges.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Linux has blobs everywhere
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 05:29 AM EDT

    Do you think that this is the only Linux distro doing this?

    You are deluded::

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Free software is much more than linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 05:58 AM EDT
    In fact, I hope that free software will enter the society by the applications
    field. Only when a majority of people is running openoffice in their windows
    systems (and firefox, and mysql, and gimp) the society will be ready to switch
    to linux.

    From this perspective, is good that people not willing to switch to a really
    free systems (such as linspire customers) at least use a system prepared to run
    free software.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Hauppauge WinTV
    Authored by: Winter on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 06:32 AM EDT
    "Hauppauge WinTV card working on SuSE."

    Please keep us informed about that one ;-)

    I am trying to get it working on a Shuttle with Ubuntu (k7).

    Everything seems to work, except that the cx88x modules won't load. An eror
    about different versions. But the modules won't compile from source. According
    to the forums I looked, I just have to say 'modprobe cx88x;modprobe cx8800; and
    it works. AAARRRRRGGGHHH

    I am becoming really desperate, as I have had everything else working. So I have
    wifi, ivtv and mythtv without a TV :-(


    Revenge, Justice, Security, and Revenge, chose any two.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Ideology and Pragmatism
    Authored by: Ruidh on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 07:02 AM EDT
    There's this tendancy in the Open Source world to make judgements about software
    based on ideology instead of based on how well it works and how well it

    I understand the problems with closed and proprietary drivers -- you can't
    recompile them to run on different processors, you can't fix them and you can't
    learn very much from them. All valid criticisms and all reasons not to use them.
    Andrea Arcangeli's comments about not supporting closed spec hardware are also
    important to note.

    But sometimes, you need to get something to work. Many times, it's a miracle
    that the hardware manufacturer is supporting Linux with even a closed source
    driver. Should that effort not be encouraged?

    We fall into this trap of judging: open good, closed bad. When we make that our
    primary and controlling value, we put ideology over pragmatism when both need to
    be in balance. Nvidia's proprietary driver, with it's GPLed shim layer
    interfacing with a closed source, binary blob is undoubtedly not a violation of
    the GPL. Despite the FSF's *opinion*, linking does not a derivative work make.
    Nvidia has a right to make and distribute it.

    All my comments on this site are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A note to the pragmatists
    Authored by: PolR on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 07:08 AM EDT
    A note to all those that are OK with proprietary software because they work

    In 1983 when Stallman initiate the GNU project FOSS didn't exist. There wasn't
    even an OS to start with. If Stallman adopted the "pragmatic" attitude
    he would have purchased some proprietary OS and be done with it.

    It is the constant refusal of proprietary software that allowed FOSS to exist.
    One of the points of PJ is that if we allow hardware makers to force proprietary
    drivers to us, FOSS can be destroyed.

    For those that don't see the point of freedom, remember that FOSS exist only if
    we have the right to modify the code and distribute the changes. Take away that
    right and FOSS cannot exist anymore.

    Remember that Microsoft has the power to sign drivers for Windows. Hardware
    makers that can't get their drivers signed and bundled with the OS will be at a
    tremendous disadvantages. How easily hardware makers will get their drivers
    signed if they make open source versions do you think? I may wear my tinfoil hat
    to tight, but it looks like a topic for the antitrust battles of the future.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 07:17 AM EDT
    Sorry, I don't do links but go here:

    Freespire wasn't supposed to be, is no more.

    Yeah, got my nomex underwear on. I can already hear the theories.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A practical issue
    Authored by: Alan(UK) on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 07:44 AM EDT
    I want to specify a system (the entire system may be replicated many times) comprising a server and four clients.

    The clients (and possibly the server) will be running Ubuntu. At the moment a Shuttle SK21G for each client seems suitable. The problem that I have is that I do not know to what extent the manufacturers of the various sub-systems actually support Linux.

    Now my question is very simple: Where can I find a list of manufacturers who actively support FOSS. Thinking here of everything from motherboard chip sets through to network hubs and printers.

    There seems to be no end of sites which tell you how to make X hardware work with Y distribution despite the complete non-cooperation of the manufacturer. Likewise you can find sites which will tell you that hardware Z is well supported by its manufacturer.

    But what I want is a comprehensive list of which manufacturers are worth giving my business to.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Open source zealots
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 08:40 AM EDT
    >Wow, you make Stallman sound friendly and pragmatic...

    Stallman is actually friendly and pragmatic.

    Online legend has it that he is some sort of dogmatic rock, and this perpetuates
    itself, without people actually reading what he wrote.

    For example, most people have never read the interview where he said he would
    actually use windows, under circumstances.

    All Stallman ever does is try to lead an ethical life, and speak about why he
    thinks his approach is ethical. He leaves it up to the listeners to draw their
    own conclusions about that.
    Most people feel intimidated by all the questions he asks (himself) because they
    never considered their own conduct that way.
    This makes them feel like they have been handed down moral guidelines to live
    by, and that makes some of them angry.

    >Stallman may be holding the flag of freedom and principles, but (technical
    merit apart), it's people like Linus with their warmth and balanced approach
    that form the core of the open source movement.

    Warmth and balanced approach ?

    Linus is actually the one that regularly shoots off his mouth and uses abusive
    language in public.
    A lot of flaming can be directly attributed to the way the message is brought.

    The controversy that Stallman generates isn't in his person or his speeches,
    it's in the unwillingness of people to genuinely ask themselves hard questions,
    to which they might not want to hear the answer.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 08:44 AM EDT
    "We'd like to make money from the community's free stuff without honoring
    community values"

    The community values are enshrined in the GNU license.
    If Linspire uses GNU software and can make the source code
    available - they are complying with the license and therefore
    feeding back to the community.

    If they choose to put in into electronic hotdogs or create
    a money making venture with it then that is their business,
    good luck to them. If that helps people wean away from
    Windows then I think that they are helping us all there too.

    As long as they make the source available they are working
    within Stallman's vision of open source software, it would
    be nice if they open up all of their code but consider this:
    They payed to develop their own bits and they are
    entitled to keep those bits private. Where they used other
    peoples work in GNU software, they are not.

    Driver code is also typically a minefield of patent and IP
    issues - quite often the choice for drivers is nothing
    or closed source..

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: philc on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 08:56 AM EDT
    Binary drivers are not inherently evil any more than the source is good. Evil
    takes advantage of people or hurts people, its not computer technology its the
    people involved in making it. Until FOSS and especially Linux caught on the vast
    bulk of software was (and still is) closed source. Was all of it evil? I don't
    think so. How about the evil SunOS, AIX, HP-UX Tru64 Unix, OS/2, Irix, all evil!
    Get a grip. The companies have good and evil attributes, not the products. Just
    like any human endevor there are good and bad players and over time society
    works out who is who.

    In a Linux world, binary drivers are a burden to the company that produces them
    and to the people that use them. There is not a lot to recommend them. The
    vendors have to keep up with the kernel and users have to go find them and hope
    they work. A truly sad state. The vendors somehow think that they are protecting
    something really valuable. All they are doing is anoying their customers. They
    often think its valuable because of how much they spend on the drivers and don't
    bother to think how much they could save by releasing the source. If you are in
    business to sell hardware and give away the software, what sense is there in
    closed source?

    The problem with freedom is you have to give people the freedom to do what you
    don't think that they should. Just like you are free to use FOSS, they are free
    to release binary drivers. You are free to not buy their products. You can't
    force them to stop just because you don't like them. They are not inherently bad
    or evil either. Its useless to rail against them. Its productive to help them
    find ways to see the light.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Fear vs. Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 09:11 AM EDT
    I am a big fan of Groklaw in general, but I think this article strays a bit far
    into fear territory. And that is the same thing that inhibits the very freedom
    which PJ espouses in the first place. Companies keep their IP private out of
    fear. Companies like SCO use fear to make you pay them money. So using a
    nightmare scenario as a basis to undermine a product seems a little (but only a
    little) hypocritical.

    FOSS should not be about fear. It should be about things doing what you want
    them to. The underlying assumption is that freedom will make it more possible
    to get the software to do what you want. But since we have to deal with
    hardware, we want that to work too. So this tack in itself does not seem
    adequate grounds to dismiss Linspire.

    Nor should seeking "market share" be immediately cast in a bad light.
    I think witnessing SCO at work has trained you to be a little too cynical.

    There are probably plenty of good reasons not to go with Linspire, or even to
    wish them well in their recent endeavors. But I think you've picked the wrong
    elements to focus on in this case.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Fear vs. Freedom - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 03:23 AM EDT
    I have long suspected Linspire of being a Microsoft agent
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 09:30 AM EDT
    Linspire (like Xandros, CodeWeavers, NVidia, ATI, and some others) seems intent
    on getting Linux users hooked on proprietary software, and/or Microsoft
    "standards" and protocols.

    In Linspire's case, there have been many clues (though, unfortunately, no

    First, there was the silly lawsuit over the name "Lindows". Microsoft
    seldom attacks directly via the courts, preferring, instead, to use industrial
    sabotage, secret deals, and proxies, like SCO. But when it came to Lindows,
    Microsoft started a lawsuit that they knew they were bound to lose, even to the
    point of putting the Windows trademark at risk. It seemed to me that Microsoft
    was working to provide Linspire with publicity, and to set Linspire up as a
    "Microsoft killer", in order to suck in the anti-Microsoft element,
    which they assume includes most Linux users (admittedly, it includes me).

    Then, Microsoft and Linspire settled the lawsuit, with Microsoft paying Linspire
    a large sum of money, in a way that, again, made Linspire look like a company
    that had defeated Microsoft, instead of one that had just received a large

    Then there was WalMart's selling of Linspire PCs. That could have just been a
    case of good marketing, but it's what happened next that struck me as
    suspicious. When an outcry arose over the choice of Linspire, with its
    proprietary hooks, WalMart announced that they would also offer Mandrake.
    WalMart carried through with this, but they ended up offering Mandrake in a
    similar fashion to the way Dell offered Linux desktop PCs. When you went looking
    on the WalMart website, Linspire was featured prominantly on the front page,
    while it took a fair amount of searching to find the offer for a Mandrake PC,
    not to mention the fact that it was $100 more expensive than a
    similarly-configured Linspire PC.

    Add to this the fact that WalMart continues to carry Windows PCs at competitive
    prices, indicating that Microsoft took no steps to punish them for offering
    Linspire, plus the fact that when other PC sellers offer Linux, it is usually
    Linspire, despite that distribution's unpopularity compared to other more-free
    distributions, not to mention the stream of pre-Linspire articles in
    Microsoft-friendly publications, and, for me, a picture starts to emerge.

    That picture is one of Microsoft trying to manipulate the Linux market into
    accepting various proprietary software and protocols -- software and protocols
    that would eventually give Microsoft a way to control the majority of Linux
    users, using morally-corrupt offers to compromise their freedom, as in this

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    PJ, I Disagree With You
    Authored by: Prototrm on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 09:41 AM EDT
    At the risk of being called a troll, or starting a flame war, I feel compelled
    to put my two cents in.

    I don't think this is as serious a situation as PJ suggests, mainly because it's
    not the first time a major distro has supplied proprietary bits pre-installed
    into its Linux offering. A very good example is Suse 10, which I'm currently
    using along with XP (Suse = home, XP = work). When I downloaded the ISO I had a
    choice of the free version or the non-free version. I downloaded the non-free in
    order to save myself time.

    You see, I was going to install all those proprietary drivers and tools
    *anyway*, so I didn't think it such a big deal.

    If people install those drivers and tools anyway, I don't see a great deal of
    difference in a disro offering them pre-installed. That's the first reason I
    don't think this Freespire is such a big deal.

    The second reason is that, as at least one person pointed out, Linspire isn't
    very good to begin with. It takes a very dim view of the end user's abilities,
    and rather than make constructive changes to Linux to improve things -- changes
    that would, because of the GPL, become available to the rest of us (a big maybe
    there -- in all likelihood, we wouldn't want it), they remove the bits they
    think would be confusing. Bad idea. I tried Linspire 5.0 out of curiosity using
    the bootable CD, and gave up on it after about 5 or 10 minutes. I don't like
    their philosophy, and I don't like their implementation. Linspire/Freespire
    isn't anything to be concerned about.

    I guess the other thing I disagree with is the apparent hostility towards
    non-free software. Yes, in a perfect world, everything would be FLOSS, and we
    wouldn't have any hardware or driver issues, but those issues *do* exist, and we
    need to deal with them. Things are improving, slowly, but they *are* improving.
    A few weeks ago, I purchased a Linksys wireless card for my desktop (WMP54G, for
    those who are interested), expecting I'd have to use Ndiswrapper to get it to
    work. To my surprise, Suse 10 recognized it right away, and all I had to do was
    configure the security. This support happened in spite of the fact that people
    could use the Windows drivers to run the Broadcom-based cards Linksys sold

    FLOSS is about freedom. Sometimes free people make decisions you disagree with,
    but that's democracy for you. We have to be free to make even the bad choices.
    Putting roadblocks in the ability of Linux to use proprietary drivers and
    software would, I think, be a bad idea. Thankfully, no one is suggesting it go
    that far. But I think the temptation is there, from some of the comments I've
    seen on various web sites. FLOSS needs to keep to the middle ground, and let the
    bits fall where they may.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: bryhawks on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 09:52 AM EDT
    I am not a fan of the linuws-linspire-freespire desktop but I do tend to give
    them the benefit of the doubt. I use Fedora Core and Suse pretty exclusively.
    Both offer easy solutions to install proprietary software.... I can use yast or
    yum respectively and just put them in front of a command and bingo! I have that
    nvidia driver. I personally don't see an issue with a company that made the
    hardware offering a driver for it. A hardware vendor that is willing to make a
    linux driver is just a bonus, after all when we spend hours to get a machine up
    and running its nice not to have to develop, compile, compile and compile some
    more just to get a thing to work.

    I do agree that proprietary formats for things is a bad idea, example wma or mp3
    or Apples... I also agree that making a person pay for free and open software is
    wrong. Thats spurs confusion and the unfair needing to buy different software or
    hardware to listen to the music you purchased already.

    We have a strange club that we geeks belong to!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Someone get out of bed on the wrong side?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 10:44 AM EDT
    "Linspire has contributed millions of dollars in direct funds and contributed code to several open source projects. With very few exceptions, all code that is developed by Linspire is contributed back to the open source community. Linspire is also the lead maintainer for important projects such as Nvu, Lsongs, Lphoto, and an important contributor to other projects such as Mozilla Firefox, Gaim, Reiser FS, and many others." - Wikipedia - giafly

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Open source zealots
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 10:46 AM EDT
    I always thought RMS sounds very friendly, as a friendly idealist in fact.

    And Linus himself doesn't seem to agree with your portrayal of his warmth and balanced approach

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: hdw on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 10:57 AM EDT
    It's a bit hard to say how's 'unethical' or 'against the community' when it
    comes to accepting closed binary blobs of software.

    It ranges from:
    All software should be sold in protected and safe binary blobs and anyone who
    tries to reverse engineer or even look for a bug in them are criminal thugs (aka
    the Microsoft way).

    All software should be open and free to be used, examined, modified and
    distributed in any fashion I feel like, including selling it as binary blobs
    (not really anyone at all, even if Theo preaches it).

    There's always been a 'pragmatic' middle road that accepts the use of binary
    blobs unless there's a better way to get it work, but don't tell anyone that you
    use it.

    The only difference that this distro brings is that they're publicly stating
    that they're pushing the blobs, states that it's a good thing and even charges
    for it.

    I have to say that I find it hard to decide which one unethical and which one is

    My firewalls, servers, and workstations are free from blobs.
    Using Firefox, Tbird and others compiled from /usr/ports.

    Also meaning no 3D stuff, no Flash/shockwave, limited streaming video, limited
    pdf handling and yucky UTF support.

    The good thing, except from feeling warm and fuzzy inside, is that I've got very
    little support to do, just upgrade every 6 months and it's just rolls along.

    The bad thing is that impossible to get anyone else to use this setup and I have
    to use a play PC with XP installed to play games (behind another firewall layer
    together with the kids' computers).

    I could of course replace this by installing some random linux distro and accept
    to install blobs on my workstation.

    I simply fail to see what the *inspire people are doing wrong that the other
    blob installers don't.

    For me it's simple.
    Accept to buy and use undocumented hardware and thereby accept binary blob
    Accept to use secret/undocumented fileformats and thereby accept binary blob
    software (as in flash for instance).

    Or reject it and live with the effects.

    If you include blobs in your distro or if hand 'em over on a separate CD isn't
    much of a difference.

    If you promote 'em as a good thing or ship 'em as necessary evil is still the
    same thing.

    // hdw

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: OrlandoNative on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 10:59 AM EDT

    Like some others, I'm not entirely sure of the point you are trying to make

    As I see it, all they are doing is allowing you (or anyone else), to obtain and
    use whatever software you want or need - regardless of whether it's 'free' or
    'open' software, or proprietary. Or a mix. Not unlike most other distributions
    also allow... ...the 'club' or 'sale' versions of most Linux distributions
    contain non 'free' applications, after all.

    So, I don't see how you can decry Linspire, yet not say a peep about the CD's
    from Mandriva, Red Hat, or even SuSE.

    The MECHANISM may be a bit different, but the end result is the same.

    Free software conveys no freedom if one is as locked into it as a proprietary

    Personally, I think offering a person a choice *IS* the best and 'most free'
    way of doing things.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: mjr on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 11:00 AM EDT
    This article has, predictably, spawned a lot of controversy. I just thought to
    throw in my two cents in by noting that actively standing up for software and
    file format freedom is quite necessary. PJ deserves thanks for doing her part,
    even if she wasn't as politically correct as possible in doing so.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Misframing the argument
    Authored by: RagnarokNemo on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 11:34 AM EDT
    I think I've got it figured out why so many people are upset by this article,
    and have started crawling out of the woodwork to post their confusion as to the
    nature of the whole free vs proprietary debate. For the most part, everyone
    who's upset is saying, "but X distro also offers proprietary
    solutions." That's fine and good, but what PJ seems to be arguing (and I'm
    sorry if I'm putting words in her mouth that she did not intend) is that
    coupling open source software with proprietary drivers, codecs, etc., may be
    POSSIBLE, but it is not the correct way to go forward and keep the freedom of
    the Linux movement.

    See, just like the "Linux in a binary world" hypothetical projection,
    if the community accepts binary drivers as a reasonable compromise between open
    software and proprietary hardware vendors, then ALL hardware vendors will
    consider the point closed, and will continue to create their closed drivers. If
    this happens, the chance of having a totally open-source driver that can compete
    on merits with a totally closed-source driver is nil. That's right -- nil.
    Because nobody will use it, and nobody will have the motivation to try to create
    an equivalent open-source driver.

    Even if someone DOES take on the Herculean task of trying to support all the
    features that the closed driver does, that's like trying to hit a moving target
    -- and you can't just hit it once, you have to hit it EVERY TIME IT MOVES. Look
    at how many video cards ATI and NVidia put out in a given year, and how many new
    features each of them have. Each of these features are called from a common
    interface, since it's the software that generally makes use of this hardware
    (see ATI's Catalyst drivers), but if Linux programmers who don't generally have
    a lot of money or time to devote to doing so have to reverse-engineer it all,
    every time, then they're worse off than their competitors who are willing to
    shell out the dough to reverse engineer the hardware and software at great cost
    to know what they did in a short period of time.

    The only real answer to this problem is NOT to embrace closed drivers, is NOT to
    provide a stable ABI/API so hardware manufacturers can just give us the blobs,
    is NOT to allow them to use blob+glue or NDISwrapper as an excuse or a way of
    proclaiming themselves as "supporting Linux". And it's certainly not
    to create a distro that is designed to offer any of these as the
    "solution" to the problem, because in doing so you sacrifice the
    freedom of any of the free software you use (which is what PJ seems to be upset
    by, and rightly so!).

    The answer, ultimately, is for hardware manufacturers to provide interface
    specifications for their hardware. I mean, really. If you buy a device, and
    aren't given instructions on how to talk to it because of some "secret
    sauce" argument, then you aren't really the owner of that device.

    Keep your hardware proprietary, I don't care. Just tell me how I can make my
    hardware interface with your hardware, and I'll darn well make my own drivers.
    If not me, then other Linux hackers will.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Embarrassing Mud Slinging
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:11 PM EDT
    The most embarrassing mud slinging I have seen on Groklaw. All of the
    commercial Linux offerings have proprietary drivers in them otherwise most
    people's machine would not work with Linux. SuSE, RedHat, Linspire and all of
    the other folks who are trying to solve some's real problems have to do this.
    Saying that you should have bought different hardware is just not a practical
    argument for the average PC user. Stick to law and leave advocacy to those who
    are informed enough to not insult the intelligence of the average PC user.

    Offering a Free version of Linux that supports the commonly unsupported hardware
    that most PC users have today is not a disservice to the open source community.

    Telling folks that they cannot watch movies, legally, on Linux should be a
    source of embarrassment not a badge of success.

    Making things work in spite of some severe handicaps put on the open source
    community by hardware vendors is the best that can be achieved in some cases.

    Linspire is trying to make Linux usable where it would not be otherwise. The
    logical response is to thank them for their continued support.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Eric Damron on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:39 PM EDT
    I for one don't agree with the philosophy of “proprietary software must never
    touch open source.” I do agree with choice. The ability to choose all open
    source, all proprietary or a mixture. Morphing programmers who choose to
    develop proprietary applications that run on Linux into some kind of evil sub
    creatures who have sinister hidden agendas is just plain wrong.

    There are truly evil corporations in this world. I believe that Microsoft is
    one of them. Not for wanting to sell software but for using dirty tricks to
    unfairly destroy competition and suppressing Open Source. Lets not paint all
    proprietary software vendors with the same brush.

    I don't use Linspire but I don't have a problem with their selling proprietary
    software that runs on Linux. The fact is that due to some really terrible laws
    the only legal way for a person to play DVDs on a computer in the United States
    is to use code that is protected by these laws. So if you want to stay within
    the law you must use software that has been licensed. That's just the way it
    is. So either you make a stand and say to the movie industry that they can keep
    there DVDs or you pay money to use a proprietary decoder and stay within the

    Is there anything “evil” about selling a proprietary decoder to be used on an
    open source operating system? No. The evil is in the unjust laws that force
    people who want to be law abiding to have no other choice if they wish to play
    the media on Linux.

    I have purchased proprietary games for Linux and enjoy playing them. Should my
    choice be taken away from me? Personally I want to see the day when I can walk
    into a software store and find all of the hottest new programs available for
    Linux users. That doesn't mean I want an end to Open Source. I believe that it
    is not an either/or choice. I also contribute monetarily to several open source

    I believe that Linux is a platform that can support both open source and
    proprietary applications. Let's not remove that choice.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    it all just comes down to this:
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 12:44 PM EDT
    Linux is not ready for the desktop. Plain and simple.

    The issue stated here is that there is that people are using proprietary
    drivers/interfaces and the reason stated numerous times here is that there
    simply is no working alternative (flash, 3d accel, etc) in the F/LOSS world.
    Calling people unethical and telling them that they're bad for simply wanting to
    not be left behind doesn't really help matters at all... shout as loudly as you
    want, but until there is an alternative, it makes absolutely no difference when
    anyone wants or needs to get things done on a PC. There's no reason that someone
    should stop playing their games and code anymore than PJ should stop writing her
    blog and code (a gamer could easily have the same experience with coding as
    her). If there was, why isn't PJ coding? Doing QA? She's as much of the problem
    as anyone since all she's doing is complaining and not contributing anything.
    That was the whole (conveniently ignored) point of F/LOSS: if you don't like it,
    you can change it.

    So we have two choices:
    1) Use windows... or Apples...
    2) Use a "dirty" linux install

    I use the second choice. I'm not a MS employee trying to keep the competition
    down. PJ's done a very effective job writing a Windows advert - if you read
    between the lines, her basic message was that linux isn't being developed fast
    enough and that you have to use something else if you want to enjoy the things
    that everyone else does. Either you go back to 1995 or you be ethical: not both.

    Perhaps for a small subset of users, a "pure" linux distro will work
    on very specific and carefully purchased hardware. But for a general purpose
    desktop... for people that need to buy a prefab 'cause they can't build it
    themselves... for people with families... for people that want to play games...
    for people that want to surf the media web... for people that have to deal with
    the non-F/LOSS world... PJ quite emphatically says that linux is not ready for
    the desktop.

    There goes our secret. :(

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    From Wikipedia
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 01:11 PM EDT
    A quotation from Wikipedia first posted in another forum:

    "Linspire has contributed millions of dollars in direct funds and contributed code to several open source projects. For a company of Linspire's size, their contributions have been quite admirable. With very few exceptions, all code that is developed by Linspire is contributed back to the open source community. Linspire is also the lead maintainer for important projects such as Nvu, Lsongs, Lphoto, and an important contributor to other projects such as Mozilla Firefox, Gaim, Reiser FS, and many others."

    Linspire bad, bad, bad!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    And the judges decision is...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 01:11 PM EDT

    PJ, you got this one wrong. Sorry and all.

    Reading the posts I see fair amount of support for you as a person, but little
    for this particuler stance.

    Now me, I respect you, but I disagree with strongly. I eagerly await the next
    SCO vs IBM article though.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    PJ thank you for this analysis
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 01:14 PM EDT
    It's great to see someone with your ability to communicate explain this to the
    rest of us. I think there other people who see the same concerns and have
    similar visions - but their writing come across as too religious(Stallman) or
    technical (Andrea Arcangeli) for most of us to really absorb.

    Your ability to bridge the worlds of F/OSS philosophy, technology, and business
    communication are priceless -- and IMHO at least as valuable as your ability to
    bridge the legal/technical communities.

    Excellent article; and I need to read it again, but I think you've convinced me.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Free as in freeway?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 01:51 PM EDT
    In an ideal world, you could drive at full speed on the freeway. In the real
    world, other people's equally legitimate freedom to use it too will slow you

    And in the real world, other people have the right to keep their software
    source code proprietary too... please respect their freedom of choice. It's not
    wrong, even if it doesn't fit in with your own wishes and even if it impedes the
    adoption of your own vision.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 01:52 PM EDT
    My name is Duane Maxwell, and, until very recently, I was an employee of
    Linspire (I left to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity). While I'm not in
    position to speak officially on behalf of the company, of course, I'm familiar
    with a lot of the history of the company and the decisions that led to the
    Freespire project.

    First off, let me say that any suspicions that Linspire is a tool of Microsoft
    just plain nonsense. Anyone that's any conversation with Michael Robertson
    in the topic of Microsoft would find that out very quickly. Several of his
    software intiatives are direct attacks on Microsoft's core products - one can
    argue about how successful, qualified, or practical they are, but the
    motivations behind them are pretty clear.

    The "secrecy" of the "deal" with Microsoft is par for the
    course of any out-of-
    court settlement, as PJ *has* to know - however, in this case, the terms are
    conveniently completely disclosed publicly in Lindows IPO filings. Other than
    the Windows Media codecs, which Lindows was as surprised as anyone to get,
    my understanding is that there is no other licensing, secret or otherwise,
    between the companies.

    Lindows settled with Microsoft for practical reasons - it was trying to IPO, and

    Microsoft was very much in the mood after their interlocutory appeal in the
    US of the genericness of the Windows trademark didn't go their way. While
    Microsoft had had some limited success getting preliminary injunctions by
    forum-shopping in Europe, losing the trademark in the English-speaking
    world, particularly the US, would have been a disaster for them.

    I don't know any details, but I believe that Linspire also attempted to obtain
    additional protocol documentation under the terms of the EU settlement, but
    was either unsuccessful or unhappy with the terms, leading to Linspire's
    involvement with ECIS. I see here that some people think that Linspire is a
    Microsoft mole in ECIS - that's just too silly to even try to rebut.

    All the software Linspire produces themselves, with the sole exception of the
    CNR client, has been released under the GPL or LGPL. With the Freespire
    announcement, CNR is *also * added to the mix. Pretty weird for somebody
    trying to undermine Open Source.

    There were, without question, some mistakes made in the early days of
    Lindows. I think they thought that WINE was farther along than it was, and
    the Linux applications weren't. After pouring a lot of money into WINE
    development, they realized that was a dead end, and started becoming a
    Linux company instead. Unfortunately, those early pronouncements by
    Lindows about "running all Windows software" have stuck. WINE, of
    has evolved since then, but at the time could not be used in a serious

    There's no question that Linspire as a company falls into the
    "practical" camp
    in the rather broad spectrum of ideologies related to F/OSS.

    Its stated focus has been to switch users from Windows to Linux, and make
    that transition as easy as possible. In order to do that, Linspire has licensed

    the technologies to preserve the legacy investment of files that the typical
    WIndows user is familar with. Linspire has found that a typical user is open
    to switching if there are viable alternative applications, but will *never*
    if they lose access to all their files. One of the largest barriers Linspire has
    the lack of functionally identical Quicken/Quickbooks replacements.

    Linspire also believes that "switching" can't work as a business if it
    replacing Windows on an existing machine - that will never scale beyond the
    tech-savvy. It believes that this war will be won by displacing Windows on
    the machines in the stores - they've invested heavily in getting Linspire
    preinstalled on machines in the retail channel. However, many of the builder
    partners treat Linspire, as they would any Linux distro, as a loss-leader, and
    many of them ship with Linspire on admittedly anemic hardware. Linspire
    itself has little to no control over that, any more than Microsoft does.

    On the open/closed-source debate, there's no one here that's not running a
    machine with proprietary software in it somewhere - the BIOS, the firmware in
    your CD drive, mouse, keyboard, even the microcode in the processors
    themselves are all closed source.

    I know that Linspire would vastly prefer that there were F/OSS alternatives for

    everything they ship, because it would mean that they wouldn't have to pay
    license fees and put limitations on redistribution of their own product, plus
    they'd be able to fix bugs. A lot of Linspire's internal engineering efforts go

    toward coralling a lot of these drivers into working and playing nice with each

    other. However, at the moment, the practical choice is ship with it or simply
    concede the market to Microsoft. They have made some investments in
    trying to accelerate development in some areas, but there are many things,
    like 3D video drivers, where the mountain is too high to scale on their own.

    As others have pointed out, Linspire's attitude toward the inclusion of
    proprietary elements is the norm, rather than the exception, for the
    commercial distributions. Freespire is just extending that into a gratis

    I expect that I'm not changing any minds here - those that believe Linspire is
    evil will continue to think that no matter what I say. However, I can tell you

    definitely that Linspire is not a front for Microsoft in any way, shape or

    Pamela, I'd encourage you to get Kevin Carmony on the phone and talk to
    him. You may not ultimately agree with either him or Linspire, but it might
    help to clear up what I believe to be a lot of misunderstandings.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why we need more distro's like Ututo
    Authored by: dyfet on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 02:22 PM EDT
    Ututo is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when focused on freedom. There are no proprietary drivers or non-free code found anywhere in it, even so called "firmware" for binary only network cards that other distro's have chosen to do. Yet, here we have a completely functional desktop distribution nontheless.

    I do agree with some here that perhaps PJ has been unduly harsh in singling out Linspire, but my reason for objecting is that there are many other so called "free" distributions of GNU/Linux do not offer full freedom either. However, this is an issue very worth considering, and it is worthwhile that it has been brought up.

    Who is hurt when users accept the convienence of a binary or proprietary extension in a GNU/Linux distribution? Everyone who is denied the freedom and leverage to demand that all drivers come with documented interfaces. All users who fear that similar "Binary" only drivers may in the future be used to house and enforce Digital Restrictions Management. In short, it hurts each and every GNU/Linux user, and every current and potential user who yearns for and wishes to live in freedom.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 02:48 PM EDT
    I am of multiple minds about binary-only drivers. On one hand, I have no
    problem with a binary-only driver that comes with an add-on peripheral (such as
    the label printer I bought). It is just part of the nuts-&-bolts of the

    I do have a problem with binary-only drivers for hardware that is already in my
    machine and for which I am expected to pay additional money for.

    Face it, I am a competent C programer with 30 years experience, but I don't
    fancy myself ever messing with a device driver that works.

    If a vendor wants to accept the legal, moral and financial responsibility of
    mainntaining his own software, fine. Everyone has the right to be stupid, even
    if it cost them money. Open Source allows unpaid eyeball and brain power to
    help defray the support costs, but you can take a pass on that if you like.

    What I won't stand for is being held up for drivers for hardware I already
    legally bought and paid for just because it was sold under the MicroSoft Tax
    instead of being directly purchased from the vendor.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Distros, Proprietary software and proprietary glue
    Authored by: PeteS on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 03:48 PM EDT
    I know others may have made this point, but I want to to clear something up.

    1. Applications

    I use Linux and I run proprietary software on it (in my case, very high end
    hardware design tools). Would I prefer an open source alternative? Sure. But for
    my needs, those alternatives are not there yet. However, that's not what this is
    all about. There a hundreds, if not thousands of binary applications for Linux
    that are used regularly.

    2. Glue
    This usually means drivers.
    For the most part, drivers are open. If not, the manufacturers do anything from
    nothing to a fair amount. I have commented extensively on just why manufacturers
    of high end (particularly graphics, but there are others) ICs keep their drivers
    secret - and it's not only patent concerns.
    For the uninitiated, I'll recap:
    A driver is the keys to kingdom for really high end hardware. It details
    specifically what must be done at the programming level to get the best (or the
    required!) out of the hardware to perform it's task. When a hardware
    manufacturer comes up with a completely new piece of hardware (offload engines
    in particular), the driver gets the task of implementing it.

    As the manufacturer may well have spent tens of millions (this stuff is very
    expensive when implementing chips) on the development of that piece of
    equipment, they don't want an unethical knock-off artist to get those clues and
    clone it for a tenth of the cost and no R&D.

    Look at the incentive - the hardware manufacturer wants to make a profit. If
    they spend 5 million developing a new gizmo, they would like to make more than
    that selling it. If they give it away and someone makes it cheaper, most will
    buy the cheaper version. So the designers spent all that money and now someone
    else reaps the profit (and even the break even). That just ain't gonna fly.

    Now, that's not to say I don't support open hardware - I do. I have considered
    starting a company that makes completely open hardware (and therefore completely
    open drivers), but hardware has costs that software simply does not have. There
    are many considerations here, and although I would love to make completely open
    hardware, I would like to know I would at least make enough to put bread on the
    table :)

    Indeed, I regularly release verilog to do unusual things I have found necessary
    so others will gain the benefit of it.

    However, we should note that for many functions, even 'open' hardware might need
    extra hardware to abstract internal hardware (that may be patented for
    instance). Let's say I design a simple PCI Express <-> multi USB adapter.
    To get the actual specifications (so I know I am compliant) I have to pay for
    those specs, and in some cases I have to agree to hold the information
    confidential. I might be able to make a wrapper (so I need another onboard
    processor increasing the costs).

    Note that I must be a realist. There are many pieces of hardware (at the IC
    level) that require NDAs merely for the datasheet, but sometimes that piece of
    hardware is necessary to implement some things (any Dolby surround system comes
    to mind).

    If I sign an NDA for a chip and then put a wrapper around it, I can release the
    whole (because I am not exposing the proprietary interface), at the expense of
    performance (an intermediate layer) and support of the community (because they
    don't get access to the underlying device), but that is, in some circumstances,
    the best that can be done and stay within patent laws.

    Note there are some things one simply can not implement without falling afoul of
    patent laws (especially in hardware) so one must either license it or buy a
    device and put a wrapper around it (because the internal interface can not,
    contractually, be exposed).

    So there's a long way to go - first, we have to give hardware manufacturers a
    reason to go open - and while there are unethical knockoff artists around,
    that's going to be very difficult.

    So - do I live with proprietary drivers? Yes, because I must at present.

    Do I think it can get better? Yes.

    Will it? Certainly I do some for that, but I am sceptical of the big


    Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Bogus From The Start
    Authored by: Simon G Best on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 03:51 PM EDT

    From the Freespire front page, entitled, "The Freedom of Choice":-

    Freespire is a community-driven, Linux-based operating system that combines the best that free, open source software has to offer (community driven, freely distributed, open source code, etc.), but also provides users the choice of including proprietary codecs, drivers and applications as they see fit. With Freespire, the choice is yours as to what software is installed on your computer, with no limitations or restrictions placed on that choice. How you choose to maximize the performance of your computer is entirely up to you.

    (Emphasis mine.) Firstly, they make it sound like such freedom of choice doesn't exist unless it's provided by the vendor. Secondly, they make it sound like users don't have that same freedom with other Linux distributions, and the like. These are both falsehoods. First, such freedom of choice exists before an operating system is even installed. Second, I don't think there's any Linux distribution (or even a pure GNU distribution) that in any way, shape or form removes or diminishes that freedom. So, either Linspire don't know what they're talking about, or they're seeking to deceive. Either way, their words are not to be trusted - and this is just from the first paragraph!

    I also note that "community-driven" has obviously become a buzz-phrase.

    Looking at their FAQs, I notice such phrases as "legally obtained 3rd-party proprietary offerings" (from question four). In question six, they say, "Freespire offers legally licensed support for: MP3, DVD, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI drivers, nVidia drivers, Adobe Acrobat Reader, proprietary WiFi drivers, and so on. However, if you prefer, you can choose the version of Freespire which is composed of only open source code and contains no proprietary software whatsoever." Doesn't that suggest you get a lot more with proprietary software? Question eight does suggest you get a lot less with pure FOSS: "However, for those who prefer to use only open source solutions and don't need legal support for MP3s, DVDs, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, and so on, the version of Freespire that is 100% open source provides an excellent alternative as well."

    They do keep banging on about the 'legal' stuff, as in question seven: "A big portion of the world is turned off by Linux, because it doesn't legally support things like MP3, DVD, Java, Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime, etc., out of the box. Asking millions of people to throw away their iPods (or other favorite MP3 player) or to not legally watch DVDs on their computer, is just too much to ask for most users." So, if we watch DVDs, or listen to MP3s, with other Linux distributions, we might be doing something illegal?!? Oh, the Fear! The Uncertainty! The Doubt! I'd better play it safe, and choose Freespire. After all, it's all "legally licensed", and the like.

    Question thirteen, "How is Freespire different from most other community-driven open source Linux distributions?", caught my attention. "Freespire doesn't limit choice by cutting off proprietary codecs, drivers and applications", they say. Given the question, that must mean that "most other community-driven open source Linux distributions" do "limit choice by cutting off proprietary codecs, drivers and applications." It's simply not true. (Can anyone name even one Linux distribution that "[cuts] off proprietary codecs, drivers and applications"?) Another alleged difference is "Frequent, on-going updates and release cycles via apt-get or CNR, rather than waiting months between releases". Such answers do not give me the impression that they're being entirely honest.

    Question seventeen, "How is CNR different from apt-get?", says that CNR "Allows you to buy commercial programs, such as StarOffice, Games, Accounting programs, Crossover Office, Cedega, DVD Player, etc." Well, it's getting silly, now. The idea that I can't "buy commercial programs, such as StarOffice," etc, without something like CNR on my system, is plainly incorrect. But, of course, it still misleadingly suggests that it's not possible to install/use such proprietary software on Linux systems that only have apt-get. (Similarly, I'm using an RPM-based system, but that doesn't mean I can't install non-RPM-packaged software.)

    So, in summary, they do clearly seem to be trying to give the impression that:-

    • other Linux distributions won't (necessarily) allow you to use proprietary software;
    • you get a lot more with proprietary software (and a lot less with just FOSS);
    • and, possibly, that using other Linux distributions might be legally risky.

    If they're trying to associate proprietary software with misinformation, including FUD, they're going the right way about it.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    In my opinion, this is not good journalism.
    Authored by: BrianW on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 04:34 PM EDT
    I know you're outraged, but you need to keep your journalistic wits about you.

    First of all, you didn't finish the "market share" quote. Kevin
    Carmony went on to indicate that the purpose of taking market share away from MS
    was to gain influence with the manufacturers and better persuade them to be more
    Linux-friendly. While the merits -- or even honesty -- of this strategy are
    certainly debatable, it's far from the capitalistic piggishness you suggest.

    Second, we all know how indignant you became (and justifiably so) when you were
    accused of being in cahoots with IBM, without any evidence, and without anyone
    contacting you for the facts. Yet you have alleged that Linspire is has joined
    MS in a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.

    Did you contact anyone at Linspire before making this allegation?

    Do you know of, or are you in possession of facts that justify your allegation
    of conspiracy?

    Linspire revealed the terms of their settlement with MS in their IPO documents.
    What evidence do you have that justifies your allegation that there's more to
    the settlement than what they've revealed? Does that evidence suggest a secret
    agenda to undermine our freedom?

    After checking the Linspire community forums, it's obvious that they heavily
    disdain Linux distro bashing -- something that can't be said for any other
    distro community I've visited. They simply refuse to be engaged in the distro
    wars. MS is Linspire's one and only enemy, and the only competitor from whom
    they want to steal market share. In their eyes, any distro that accomplishes
    this is helping the cause. It didn't take much research to find this out, and I
    applaud Linspire's philosophy regarding MS and other distros, even if I don't
    necessarily care for their methods. Accusing them of conspiring with MS is, in
    my opinion, a little outrageous.

    I'm used to your articles being meticulously well-researched, but this one falls
    far short of your usual excellence.

    I appreciate your coverage of SCO v. The World, and look forward to the next

    (Please forgive typos. I'm doing this on my phone with an intermittent
    "I" key, and my glasses aren't bifocally enough for me to proofread

    #define IANAL

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Interesting name.
    Authored by: polymath on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 04:51 PM EDT
    Perhaps it Conspire would be a more accurate name. As in confidence game and conspiracy.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 04:58 PM EDT
    Dear Naysayer,

    I appreciate your take and input on this matter. I know that not everyone will
    agree with this approach, but then what idea does everyone agree with? (You
    can't please all the people all the time.) What you should know, however, is
    your view is in the very small minority of the reaction to Freespire. You have
    to understand that we involved around 100 people, from all areas of the
    technology, Linux and open source community, when formulating the Freespire
    project. This approach has been vetted out with the top VIP's in this space, and
    the vast majority are incredibly supportive of the idea and know it's the right
    approach at this time. The founder of Debian and may key open source developers
    and devotees are serving on the Freespire Leadership Board.

    You have to also understand that I have spent the last 5 years trying to promote
    Linux to Dell, HP, Gateway, the largest retailers, and directly to consumers.
    They all say, "Thanks, but no thanks." Until Linux can get even close
    to the functionality of Windows, they're not interested. (Heck, I'M not
    interested!) You can't expect the world to 1) stop using their DVD players,
    iPods, favorite hardware, watching Flash and QuickTime videos, etc. nor can you
    expect them to spend even one second installing something to do that. You may be
    willing to download things, install them, etc., but the average computer user
    will say, "No thanks. Windows does this just fine." (As would I.) They
    will then keep using Windows, and that does nothing to help promote open

    I have a life. I don't have time to go around hunting for drivers, codecs and
    applications, nor do I like illegally using other people's stuff. If there
    wasn't Linspire around, I'd just use Windows myself, because I don't have the
    time, energy, desire, or willingness to "learn" how to make all those
    things work. There are DOZENS of pieces of proprietary software in
    Linspire/Freespire. If you think I'm going to spend time installing all that,
    getting licenses, etc., just to get close to do what Windows already does, you'd
    be wrong (who has time for this:
    []). Again, I've been doing this for 5 years. I can tell you, 98% of
    the world has NO interest in Linux as it is today. You fall in that 2% that will
    bother with stuff not working without tinkering, but the other 98% doesn't want

    So, you may feel we're hurting the open source movement, but I'd say your
    approach has already been tried and is well represented. It hasn't worked. Linux
    will never gain much market share beyond the techies, geeks and hobbyist, if it
    doesn't JUST WORK! There are plenty of distros doing what you're suggesting, and
    Dell just rolls their eyes and says, "Yea, right, as if we're going to sell
    a computer that doesn't work as well as it would with Windows just to support
    the religion of open source." 98% of the world doesn't know or care about
    open source, or Linux for that matter. They just want to buy things that work.

    We have to get more people exposed to open source, using Linux. That's the best
    way to grow open source.

    Let's look at Firefox for example. One choice Firefox could have had, was to
    ONLY be available for Linux. That way, open source fans could have said,
    "Neener, neener, we've got Firefox! We've got Firefox! You can't have it!
    You need to move to open source Linux if you want it." Wouldn't that have
    been a good idea? Wouldn't that have helped the open source movement, rather
    than Firefox embracing the proprietary world of Windows? No! Firefox has exposed
    millions of WINDOWS USERS to the beauty of open source. But Firefox had to play
    in their world to do that. The vast majority of all Firefox users are Windows
    users. This is true for Linux as well. We HAVE to play to some degree in the
    WINDOWS world, or you'll never expose Linux and that world to open source, as it
    is just seen as unusable.

    I wouldn't even recommend Linux to my friends or family, if I had to say,
    "Oh, and just go here (
    []) to get Flash, Java, Windows Media, Quick Time, MP3, DVD, etc. to
    work." My friend would just look at me funny and say, "No

    As I said, I knew some would feel this was a bad idea, but you should know, your
    reaction is in the minority. I have received acknowledgment that this is a GOOD
    idea from hundreds since the announcement. When I presented Freespire to several
    hundred people at DLS, all I heard were big rounds of applause. Freespire was a
    big hit, and I saw most heads nodding in the audience with "it's about

    So, we'll have to agree to disagree on this point. The time is right for Linux
    to JUST WORK! We get you don't approve, but for every person we lose, there will
    be hundreds of Windows users who will now give Linux and open source a look.

    As for making money...Linspire has invested around $35MM into open source Linux.
    We're not profitable, so no one is making any money yet. =)

    Kevin Carmony
    CEO, Linspire, Inc. (but more importantly...a computer user that wants Linux to
    work and be able to share it with my friends.)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Once again FOSS eats its own young
    Authored by: Carla Schroder on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 05:05 PM EDT
    PJ, I hope you don't fall any deeper into the FOSS
    tendency to eat its own young. As other posters pointed
    out, every Linux distribution supports the used of closed,
    proprietary drivers. They just don't make it easy like

    Linspire is a decent FOSS community member. They give
    back, it's not a one-way trip. Even more important, they
    are doing a very important thing that none of the major
    Linux vendors are doing: pushing into the retail consumer
    space. Can you name a single major Linux vendor who has
    succeeded in putting Linux computers on store shelves?
    Only Linspire. Not Red Hat, not Novell, none of the big
    friends of the penguin like IBM or HP. Not a single one.

    The more entry points into FOSS, the better. There are
    FOSS apps for windows- are you going to criticize them for
    running on an impure platform? Do
    you criticize non-FOSS clients that use Linux servers? I
    hope not. Because the more ways there are to introduce
    people to FOSS, the more people will use it and learn
    about it. Insisting on absolute ideological purity is
    counter-productive. Criticizing people for using the
    'wrong' Linux is just plain stupid, and a great way to
    chase them away.

    Let's be honest here- do you really support widespread
    FOSS adoption, or deep down in your heart do you want it
    to be available only to the "right" people?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Binary drivers vs. open-source drivers
    Authored by: FamilyManFirst on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 06:10 PM EDT
    Okay, somebody please enlighten me, because I just don't see a solution.

    Hardware vendors like NVidia and ATI make their money by making better, faster hardware than the other guys. Often, they incorporate hardware features that (they think and hope) their competition doesn't have. Many of these features, however, are unavailable unless there is driver support.

    Now, I'm no driver tech, so perhaps this is where I crash and burn. However, it would appear to me that drivers built for specific hardware reveal an awful lot about the hardware in question. Thus, publishing an open-source driver would be tantamount to openly publishing your hardware design specs. That's just not going to be done, ever, for basic money reasons.

    I understand Arjen van de Ven's concern and I share it. Heck, for that matter, IIRC, the GPL was born of Stallman's frustration over a broken binary printer driver. However, if my description above is correct, I also understand the hardware vendors' concerns. So, somebody please tell me, how do we get open-source drivers without compromising hardware vendors' legitimate trade secrets?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Einhverfr on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 06:12 PM EDT
    <i> Is this some kind of plot to kill off FOSS? Because it surely

    I personally think that the only way Microsoft could possibly kill FOSS would be
    to change the legal landscape such that FOSS could not exist. Fortunately we
    have much larger companies like IBM on our side.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    sandbox it and all will be fine
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 10:49 PM EDT
    This won't do for video drivers, but...

    In general, the solution is to sandbox things. Wrap up the
    codec so it can't connect to the net or even observe the
    passage of time. Feed it compressed data on its stdin or
    via shared memory, and receive uncompressed data in a similar
    way. Linux has a "seccomp" feature for this which blocks
    all but 4 system calls.

    You also need a perpetual, irrevokable, transferable license.

    Now you've made a black box. It's like a PCI board or
    a CPU opcode. You feed it data, and get data back.
    Nothing sneaky is allowed to happen.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What's so bad here?
    Authored by: mobrien_12 on Tuesday, April 25 2006 @ 11:33 PM EDT
    I don't really have an objection in principle to having some proprietary stuff
    on my PC alongside my Free software. I have Acrobat reader installed, and still
    use Free pdf readers.

    I do not like the way Linspire is hawking this Freespire is hawking this with
    "How you choose to maximize the performance of your computer is entirely up
    to you." Ummm yeah. It always was. I do think PJ had it straight when
    she called it get freedom by giving up your freedoms.

    I've bought proprietary Linux software. I've bought Caldera's official
    OpenLinux, which came with some Proprietary software. Some of it was useful,
    including StarOffice (which was/is proprietary). I've bought Applixware and the
    full blown version of Wordperfect... both fine programs in the days when the
    Free Office programs were not that great and StarOffice wasn't that good either.

    You know what? I can't use any of it anymore. All the proprietary stuff was
    compiled against libc5, and apparently it's very difficult and actually
    sometimes dangerous to try to bolt it on a modern distro. What a pity.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: mtew on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 01:26 AM EDT
    What you say makes a lot of sense from a logical and ethical point of view. I will not be buying {Lin|Free}{spire|dows}. I have in the past bought Microsoft OS products. I have a copy of Windows for Workgroups that I upgraded, three copies of W95 OSR2, a couple copies of W98, all of which I purchased and installed on various machines for varying lengths of time. My daughter was given a machine with W95 installed. I have purchased but never installed one copy of XP, I very much doubt that I will be purchasing another copy of any Microsoft OS product in the future.

    Many more of my household machines run various versions of Red Hat products. The only real problem I have with Linux is that there are not always drivers available for my ancient hardware. I'd be much happier with open source drivers than the propriatary drivers that lock me into older versions of Linux when I have to use them. The same is true of the few other propriatary products I use. So I am well aware of the posibilities and problems associated with mixing F{L}OSS and propritiary software.

    Therefore I have to agree with what you said.

    However the tone of what you said and your phrasing is as bad as or worse than me at irrational worst. It is too late to retract or (better) to rephrase what you said, but next time you find yourself this angry, PLEASE put what you have written aside for an hour or two before posting it.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    How to get Drivers for Linux -revB
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 04:15 AM EDT

    Yes, volume. Driver availability requires volume. Volume requires driver availability. But how to break the deadlock? ility.php

    The Linspire Hardware Manager is EXACTLY what desktop Linux needs. An easy way to find Linux-compatible hardware.

    What else? Support for games? You can add Cedega for Windows gaming.

    Better usability? Already coming along.

    Congratulations to Michael Robertson and Linspire for helping us bring Linux to the masses. See it as complementary, not a threat.

    (There will always be a pure open-source option. True freedom will only come with "Open Hardware" in any case. How can you ensure black box hardware does not connect to the internet if you live in city-wide wifi zone?)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A proposal (Groklaw is not Slashdot...)
    Authored by: dp on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 04:59 AM EDT
    Groklaw has been very good at discussing issues of software and law. But when it
    comes to other issues, things start to degenerate (accusations of trolling, of
    religion, etc. and on all sides of the issue). This reflects badly on Groklaw,

    We all agree that it is PJ's blog so yes, she can write about whatever she
    wants. Of course, once in a while, it will be an issue that divides the

    What I would like to suggest is to change the way the comments are handled on
    issues like the current one (rules on articles on software and law, like the
    lawsuits would remain as they are).

    One: anonymous posts are not allowed. This would eliminate many real trolls and
    also accusations of trolling (some people here seem to define trolls as any
    anonymous poster that do not share their opinion).

    Two: inflated arguments are not allowed. Linking PJ and RMS ideas to a religion
    for example. Or accusing those who choose to run closed-source software to have
    ethical issues. And many other similar accusations. These posts, on both sides
    of the polemic, should be removed.

    In other words, rule two is about agreeing to disagree and try to have a
    civilized debate.

    Three: I would also suggest to clearly identify articles that are subject to the
    new rules (if this porposal is implemented, of course ;-)

    Furthermore, in the future, it might be a good idea to get two opinions in the
    article. Say for example, a debate on GPL vs. BSD licenses. Although I'm in the
    GPL camp, I would like to hear what the BSD camp is saying.

    The main advantage I can see of such a solution would be to continue to appeal
    to the whole open-source community at large (with all its internal divisions and
    debates - which is a good thing, if we were all thinking the same way, the
    community would not be alive!). And PJ could still continue to write her (some
    time) controversial opinions without risking to create a backlash against
    groklaw (and more important, a backlash against our united effort to defend
    open-source software from legal attacks).

    D. Prevost

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Drivers, DRM and compromise
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 05:02 AM EDT
    It seems like a lot of people is willing to use a driver for a graphic card.
    Maybe because such a driver is non-intrusive in daily use.

    Do a Google search on intel drm open source, and you will see why proprietary
    binaries concerns some of us a lot. We simply want full control of ALL the data
    on our computers. NO COMPROMISE.

    A little irony: I guess Microsoft don't like DRM on Linux either. It will make
    Linux a very strong competitor for content released under DRM (think TiVo and
    other gadgets). So Microsoft trolls who advocate for proprietary binaries in
    Linux have a little problem here.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Linux in a binary world - Driver issues
    Authored by: luvr on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 06:37 AM EDT
    "I am convinced that the only way to stop the erosion is to totally stop buying hardware that has only binary only drivers"

    I would love to do so, but I need some guidance here. It's not like I will be buying any new hardware all too soon, so I'm really just looking around, trying to prepare for later.

    My most important question involves graphics cards; currently, all of the computers in the house use nvidia graphics cards. For 3D acceleration, I need the binary-only driver from nvidia. While I find that a little unfortunate, I had never really considered it too much of a problem - until, some time ago, I read an interview (I think it was in the LinuxFormat magazine) with someone from nvidia, who said that they really did want to be as open as they could afford to be (fair enough), but that they couldn't afford to open-source the accelerated driver, because that would expose the weaknesses in their hardware designs, and it would, thus, put them at a competitive disadvantage. (He even stated that it really, truly wasn't primarily an intellectual poverty issue.) Gulp... Binary-only just to hide the shortcomings, eh?

    Ever since, I have been wondering if there are any graphics cards available for which a full-featured open-source driver exists?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Are they in violation of GPL?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 08:35 AM EDT
    If there's a violation of spirit, rather than letter of GPL, would that be
    covered by GPL3?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Speak for yourself
    Authored by: ak on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 02:39 PM EDT
    JeffS wrote:
    we use computers for work or play, not to espouse our ideals.

    Speak for yourself.

    I use computers to "espouse" my ideals.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 03:03 PM EDT
    Here is a copy of the email I sent to Pamela...


    I'd like to have a phone conversation with you, if you're willing. You harshly
    attacked the Freespire project, and I have never had the chance to speak with
    you about it. Your objections would carry more weight if you could say you have
    spoken with me personally about this. I'm always an email or phone call away
    from any and all press (I have spoken with dozens from the press before and
    after the announcement, and I'm certainly happy to talk with you). Freespire
    has been received in a very positive way from the vast majority of people I
    spoke with (big applause from the DLS crowd).

    Here are just some of the groups who had personal input into Freespire before we
    launched it: Dell, HP, Intel, IBM, Debian, KDE, GNOME,,
    Mozilla/Firefox, nVidia, ATI, TrollTech, Codeweavers, Transgaming, and many
    others, nearly 100 individuals in all. So, this project was very well vetted
    and represented, to the endorsement of many.

    Are you open minded to talking with me on the phone about this?

    Kevin Carmony
    CEO, Linspire, Inc.
    kevin at Linspire dot com

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Sugar Coated Bullets
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 03:58 PM EDT
    Chairman Mao called them "sugar coated bullets". He was referring to
    the Western culture icons of Coca-Cola, Disney and the like and how they would
    subvert the Revolution from the inside. They were tools of a culture war,
    bullets if you will, fighting against the purity of Communism.

    Linspire can be seen the same way. By providing a Linux distribution that is
    FOSS, then with legally licensed tools to deal with their existing proprietary
    content, they get their foot in the door of Middle America.

    The article here is one of the "all or nothing" trolls of the
    Revolution. You're either with us, or against us! Right?


    Leading someone from the Dark Side over to freedom means taking one step at a
    time. The first step is usually replacing MS Office with Open Office; AIM/MSN
    with GAIM; IE with Firefox and Outlook Express with Thunderbird.

    The next step is the big one, replacing Windows with Linux. Unless their
    existing content will work with Linux, they will never take this step.

    That means DVD, MP3, WMV, Quicktime, PDF, Java and Flash must all work. PDF and
    Java are the easy ones, with Flash not far behind. The other three are
    "easy" but not always legal, especially in the U.S.

    I've had plenty of success in migrating people away from MP3 to OGG and FLAC and
    from WMV/Quicktime to XviD, but they NEVER would have left if it meant going
    cold turkey.

    Freespire gives them a way forward to freedom, a well lit path down to the base
    of the mountain.

    This article gives the impression PJ would prefer the quick way down -- a quick
    shove off the cliff with a hearty "its for your own good"!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Ms. Laura Didio?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 04:09 PM EDT
    >This is a sad day for Groklaw and PJ. Please, PJ, return to your
    >reasonable commentary style, and leave over zealous, religous, all or
    >nothing commentary to the loonies.

    Doesn't this sound like her? Maybe you should also compare everyone in the FOSS
    community with a bunch of suicide bombers (the same way she once did this)?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

      "Why you shouldn't use the Library GPL for your next library" by Richard Stallman
      Authored by: ak on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 06:01 PM EDT

      From the text Why you shouldn't use the Library GPL for your next library by Richard Stallman:

      Proprietary software developers, seeking to deny the free competition an important advantage, will try to convince authors not to contribute libraries to the GPL-covered collection. For example, they may appeal to the ego, promising "more users for this library" if we let them use the code in proprietary software products. Popularity is tempting, and it is easy for a library developer to rationalize the idea that boosting the popularity of that one library is what the community needs above all.
      But we should not listen to these temptations, because we can achieve much more if we stand together. We free software developers should support one another. By releasing libraries that are limited to free software only, we can help each other's free software packages outdo the proprietary alternatives. The whole free software movement will have more popularity, because free software as a whole will stack up better against the competition.
      Since the name "Library GPL" conveys the wrong idea about this question, we are planning to change the name to "Lesser GPL." Actually implementing the name change may take some time, but you don't have to wait--you can release GPL-covered libraries now.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 06:05 PM EDT
      ... for language reasons (as well as spreading FUD).

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Today, Linspire showed its true face
      Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 11:04 PM EDT
      I'll be honest. I never respected Lindows/Linspire for their conduct. Their
      pricing model is hardly different from that used by the SCO group, and, for that
      simple reason, we could never become friends. But on the back of my mind, there
      was always a hope that, if not friends, we, at least, can become allies with
      them so as to pursue the same goal, the one RMS had outlined.

      Please don't get me wrong. No one is perfect, and mistakes are possible to
      make. But what do you, as a good citizen, do after making one? That's right.
      You admit it, apologize, promise to change your ways, and do actually change

      Again, correct me if I am wrong but, for the last two days, not a single word
      they said on this site or anywhere else
      resembled an apology even remotely. Instead, Kevin
      began by publicly insulting RMS and then proceeded by bringing in such a crowd
      of trolls that, at one point, fortunately not for very long, Groklaw started
      looking a little bit like the "Rants and Raves" section at Graigslist
      for some major city like New York.

      But now that the attempt to crush Groklaw has itself been crushed, it is ever
      perfectly clear that your GNU/Linux days are over. Do you seriously hope anyone
      in their right mind will deal with you after all the names you have called on PJ
      and after some of your slaves suggested to "put morals on the back
      burner"? Or maybe your desire is to sneak past everyone so nobody would
      see? Well, guess what. You've been exposed. Your assult has been defeated,
      and your evilness has been revealed early in the game. Have you heard this
      expression -- "forewarned is forearmed"? Yes, this is about us! The
      Free Software community has always striven for higher values and morals, and you
      chose to learn this hard truth the hard way.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Kevin & PJ take a valium - this is not an either-or situation
      Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 26 2006 @ 11:45 PM EDT
      First, Kevin, relax. You don't have to make PJ happy.
      Your goal is to increase Linux marketshare, and you deserve congratulations for
      your terrific efforts so far.
      - making the Linux user interface easier.
      - getting Linux onto the shelves of bricks-and mortar stores
      - making buying Linux-compatible hardware an order of magnitude easier(one of
      the prime Linux turn-offs).
      - making sure the price paid for switching to Linux is as low as possible (in
      terms of being able to do what you are used to doing with your computer)

      It is in recognition of these efforts that my next computer will be from a
      Linspire partner (though I may double-boot with Debian ;).

      Now PJ, you are right to keep up the fight for purely free software. You are not
      Kevin's target consumer. Grow your own following in parallel with Kevin's. We
      need as much help as we can get.
      Why? Because while you are busy attacking someone who doesn't impede you from
      doing your own thing, there are real forces that will impede Linux from running
      anywhere but a Windows virtual machine.
      A Windows-only PC:
      DRM-only video monitors:

      You advise us to boycott proprietary drivers. But an effective boycott requires
      market share. Your strict approach will never get the kind of numbers Kevin's
      will get. But we still need you to defend our freedom.
      -by making sure that a free and open operating system is available.
      -by making sure that big companies cannot create a legal or technical
      environment where there is no hardware for that free OS to run on.

      Finally a word of caution. By concentrating solely on software, you are ignoring
      the fact that the lines between hardware and software have been blurred. The new
      Trusted-Security TPM hardware that is being installed ON EVERY PC, WHETHER YOU
      LIKE IT OR NOT, could make the whole argument moot someday. Because they are
      actually PROGRAMMABLE microcontrollers, though their function is primitive as of

      The point is that black-box closed hardware implies lack of control of the
      owner, as with closed software. Now add the UNCONTROLLED DATA PIPELINE INTO YOUR
      HOME THAT IS CITY-WIDE WIFI. This is the infrastructure that is equivalent to
      not being able to stop a complete stranger from walking into your home and
      rummaging through your filing cabinet. AND being authorized to do so by law

      The only conclusion is that we need to stop fighting each other, and start
      coming up with a standard for open hardware.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
      Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 01:24 AM EDT

      You have my email address and phone number. Most credible sources use them.
      I'm the most accessible CEO you'll ever come across. I have thousands of public
      posts, and my email and phone number are widly published. Why so anti-social?
      Pick up the phone and I'm happy to discuss any topic with you at anytime (or
      with anyone for that matter).

      This will be my final post (I only made 4 others). I'm happy to discuss
      things...but let's do it in person.


      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
      Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 08:47 AM EDT
      A buddy of mine pointed this out. PJ and Groklaw only attack competitors of IBM.
      Nor does that crystal clear perception and dogma ever seem to apply to IBM or
      Novell. If PJ were truly a journalist wouldnt these 2 companies be fair game as
      well? What are you telling me IBM or Novel hasnt violated the spirit of freedom
      It's all clear now. The corporate shill has been outed. Red Hat Novel IBM all
      get to have a free ride at Groklaw. Funny thing is I bet those companies are
      quietly disconnecting fromt he crackpot network here.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      • DELETE THE PARENT - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 12:37 PM EDT
        • DELETE THE PARENT - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 02:59 PM EDT
      • Easy does it - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 28 2006 @ 09:18 PM EDT
      A lot of people "couldn't care less" in that case
      Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 11:31 AM EDT
      Including people like a lot of the Linux kernel developers themselves, including
      Linus, who use and have used proprietary tools, such as BitKeeper.

      And who are you to judge them?

      How about doing something *constructive* instead. Doing constructive things
      (like writing software together) is what the real FOSS community is built on,
      not zealotry and self-righteousness.

      I've written plenty of GPL code. And yes, I have chosen to run some proprietary
      programs on my machine. I guess that means I "couldn't care less"
      about freedom according to you.

      And who are you to pass judgement?

      Real community aren't built on excluding and berating those you think are
      outside it. They're built on constructive contributions.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Over 1000 comments; time to move on
      Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 11:50 AM EDT
      Over 1000 comments; time to move on.

      I think this topic is worn our.

      Ron - Anon

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      The Smell of Astroturf
      Authored by: Simon G Best on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 12:21 PM EDT

      Reading one (or some) of the more recent (astroturf-smelling) comments, I imagined asking the author, 'Can you not smell the astroturf here?' Then I remembered: people usually can't smell themselves.

      That's the thing. Astroturfers, and the like, don't realise how much their 'contributions' 'smell' of astroturf, or whatever. I could, of course, list some of the astroturf indicators, but I'm not keen to help them improve their methods. Instead, I'll just mention that it reminds me of the old cliche, 'Some of my closest friends are gay.' And when they react the ways they do to those who call them on their astroturfing, trolling, etc? Why, they just add even more to the stench! To those of us who really have been reading Groklaw for quite some time, it's all too familiar now.

      But the astroturf isn't always necessarily intended to fool us. Perhaps it's intended to fool others - possibly with our reactions and responses to the astroturf, trolling, etc, as part of their plan?... Ah, the joys of tinfoil millinery :-)


      [ Reply to This | # ]

        Thinks Bubble
        Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 03:56 PM EDT
        .......which large corporations are most likely to want Linspire/Freespire wiped
        off the map?

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        • Thinks Bubble - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 07:46 PM EDT
        Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
        Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 06:09 PM EDT
        Hrm, well I'm a bit late on this topic, but there's a few things that I'd like
        to mention. Sorry if these points have already been brought up.

        Linspire does sponsor several OSS projects, gaim (IIRC) and nvu to name a
        couple, so I don't think the entire organization is completely off base. Kind
        of in the same way that Sun provides a good very good thing with support to the
        OOo project, but at the same time makes strange decisions like the CDDL

        It seems like companies have several factions warring inside of them at any one
        point in time, even one as relatively small as Linspire. What I find odd is the
        company's site proclaims the distro as "The world's easiest desktop
        Linux", yet invites a rather obvious shill like R.E. to speak at the
        desktop summit that it sponsors / organizes.

        I'm not going to label Linspire as the next MS crony just yet, but at the same
        time, I think there needs to be some better planning on their part as to who
        participates and who is invited to speak at these events.

        It's one of those strange quirks about companies, they can do some good things,
        but at the same time pull some rather boneheaded moves on other fronts...

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        A Collection of Links on this subject.
        Authored by: Brian S. on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 07:59 PM EDT

        Notes From the DLS
        Scott_Ruecker on Apr 25, 2006 1:58 PM

        The big news from Linspire is the creation of "Freespire". A free version of Linspire, more info later. I just talked to Linspire's PR Person, Heather. I think I got the hook-up for an interview with Kevin Carmony, Lispire's CEO... LXer

        But the interview isn't on this link

        Linspire: The Revolutionary Linux

        By Carla Schroder..... LXer

        Desktop Linux Summit finale.... Newsforge

        from Newspicks

        Linspire inspired to launch Freespire

        Free linux with a twist.... The Inquirer

        Mandriva betas CNR-like download service

        Mandriva Linux's premium-service members now have exclusive access to the beta version of a new online catalog/download service that makes identifying and installing new software simple for even a novice Linux user, the company announced April 25.... Desktop Linux

        Low-cost, multi-user desktop PC upgrade goes Linux

        NComputing says its Xtenda X300 kit has previously been used with Windows hosts in some 80 school districts in the U.S., but that it will market the product with Linux in the global education market. It has already signed up South African distributor Yellow Penguin, which will sell and support the product under Linspire Linux.

        The X300 kit comes with Linux PCI bus enumeration and display drivers that are currently closed source, although the company hopes to open them before year's end, according to Emilio. Also included is free management software that has a graphical installer and supports "many Linux distributions," including Linspire, Ubuntu, and Debian, among others.... Linuxdevices


        inspire will be releasing two versions of Freespire, one described as "99% open source" and the second completely open source. Linspire made its name by shunning the ideal of pure open source, opting rather for a system that just works – whether that requires proprietary software in the mix or not. Now purists can get a taste of Linspire without compromising on their high ideals, and the rest of us get access to the large amount of proprietary software in Linspire's repository, CNR (Click and Run). And your DVDs will play, too.... Tectonic

        Linspire Announces Freespire Distribution Slashdot

        These links are not meant to be inflamatory.

        It's what the outside world are far.

        Brian S.

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
        Authored by: TerryH on Friday, April 28 2006 @ 05:26 AM EDT

        I'm afraid I have to side with the folks who regarded this as too harsh, PJ.

        The fact is, there does need to be a core of people (including me, BTW) who insist on using 100% free software including drivers, and who will do the necessary research and careful purchasing to get hardware that allows it. I'm a real hardliner about this when it comes to my own system.

        But it doesn't have to be everybody. If we're 10%+ of the market, and very over-represented on the high-end of the marketplace (as is likely), then we win. That's more than enough bread and butter for hardware manufacturers to chase.

        The Open Graphics project, for example, is doing just that. I've signed their survey -- I'll pay up to $200 for a card that "Just Works" with 100% free drivers and full Verilog specs.

        My mother (who is a fairly intelligent woman, but not particularly computer skilled) would not be able to figure this stuff out on her own. She's running Debian because I maintain it for her. Nevertheless, there is a fair amount of proprietary software that she wanted installed (Flash, Real Media, etc). She didn't need proprietary drivers, because I built her computer for her, and did the same research on that.

        IOW, I am a pre-installed Linux computer manufacturer. At least for my near and dear. ;-)

        But it's a lot of work. And not every grandma in America has someone like me to build and install their systems for them. Most of them will just use Windows because it's easy. We'll be very, very lucky to ever get desktop Linux out of the single-digits that way.

        OTOH, if someone (maybe Linspire, maybe not) makes it easy for those people to switch, then that adds some leverage to what we're doing. We can sell 'em on the FSF platform after they've already seen and used Linux. That's really how you do it, after all: people have to see that the free software methodology WORKS.

        Because most people (even today) are starting from the premise that it CAN'T work. They are so certain of this that they accept all the problems of the proprietary software industry, and swallow that it's just inevitable that it should be that way.

        I agree that there's some pretty questionable FUD in the speeches you quoted -- it's entirely fair game to call foul on those points. But the principle of Linspire is not something I can take exception to.

        I think the free software message needs to stay on the positive side: freedom is an ideal and aspiring to maximize it is a Really Good Thing. But turning from that to "You are a Bad Person because you haven't maximized your freedom enough", is slipping over the Dark Side, IMHO.;-) Don't be the kind of zealot who hates his weaker allies more than his blood enemies -- you can get really lonely that way.

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        "It's like deja vu, all over again"
        Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 29 2006 @ 08:59 AM EDT
        Hi, first post here after lurking for all these years...

        When I first came across this subject (via a link from LWN), my initial reaction was, "this time PJ has certainly crossed the line". Until now I have largely ignored Linspire, knowing it's not a distro for me, but at the same time silently applauded their name fight against Microsoft and their approach of offering cheap pre-installed retail PCs. thus directly attacking Microsofts OEM monopoly.

        However, after following this debate, and particularly Kevin Carmony's responses, the whole thing gave me an unpleasant feeling of deja vu.

        Acting on my gut feeling, I googled a bit for another certain (former) Linux distributor, and came across this.

        Sounds familiar? Now I certainly won't accuse Linspire of planning to become another Caldera, but the similarities are uncanny.

        So thank you, PJ, for a timely wake-up call, even if the form perhaps was a bit provokative for some. That company certainly needs to be watched more closely, even if I still give them the benefit of doubt. Keep up the good work.

        To the Linspire representatives here I want to say this: It doesn't pay to kill (or alienate) the goose that lays the golden eggs. Or, to use a language you understand: Alienating the FOSS community will hurt your bottom line in the long run.

        Anonymous Coward

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        PJ, please moderate your criticism against Lindows
        Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 29 2006 @ 08:04 PM EDT
        PJ, I am startled by your strong words against Linspire. I do not subscribed to
        that and I believe that you are using your power to move people in the wrong
        direction. Criticizing the use of binary modules on one hand, is the decision of
        the people. Therefore freedom to decide. And you are criticising their freedom.
        On the other hand, Linspire is an excellent company that is making its way
        through windows users, and paving the way for them to explore less frendly-user
        (I mean for windows users) distributions. Lets not start shooting to ourselves.
        This thread should have never ever existed in the first place. You should
        appologize, PJ. Not everybody agrees with you 100% in that post. LOng life to
        Lindows. Long Life to Linux.

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        I disagree. An anti-zealot's rant...
        Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 02 2006 @ 01:10 AM EDT
        Sorry, but this is the first Groklaw essay I've read that I think
        is really unfounded. (The rest of the analysis here has been pretty amazing).

        Actually I don't disagree with the initial gripe (but hey, IBM and RedHat
        are also riding on the backs of open source), but the overall impression
        of the rest of the story and especially the subsequent discussion is a bit

        We start with an unlikely hypothetical scenario that could turn out bad,
        but somehow it's used to justify the idea like any current use of proprietary
        stuff is vaguely immoral (speaking of an an overall impression of
        the discussion here).

        That's a logical fallacy.

        We live in a world with shades of gray. Open source isn't "pure
        it's just slightly more good than the alternatives. Somewhere sometime
        there will be an unethical developer that contributes stolen code
        to Linux, and somewhere there is another one that abuses his/her spouse.

        And we are not the sole judges of what is good. That's a dangerous path.

        I believe that the extremist group within linux is Linux's worst enemy,
        by far. Sadly, they're the people that always end up in the press.
        We need a zealous anti-zealot movement! There really are people
        who want to use Linux because it's (mostly) better software,
        not because of imposed moral principles.

        If you don't like Linspire, just don't use it. (I don't either, by the way).
        Each person is free to make a Linux distro that is so pure that only
        they can use it, but there is no need to campaign against other choices.

        Despite the good aspect of open source, on the whole OSS tends to be a
        follower rather than a leader.

        I *want* commercial companies to support linux. I *want* to have the
        choice. And particularly, I don't want someone else arguing
        or campaigning to remove my choices.

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        Freespire: A Linux Distro For When You Couldn't Care Less About Freedom
        Authored by: raindog on Tuesday, May 02 2006 @ 05:02 PM EDT
        OK, first off, I do have a lifetime "Click-n-Run" membership over at by virtue of having contributed money to their legal defense fund a
        couple years ago when I apparently had way too much money lying around.

        That said, I've never really trusted Michael Robertson or the companies he's
        started. My partner uses Linspire 5 on one of the four machines we have in the
        house because Mandriva and Kubuntu wouldn't install on it (it's a cheap, tiny
        laptop that came with Lindows preinstalled for $777 back when cheap, tiny
        laptops normally sold for over $1000.) He likes it, but even he (who believes
        the appearance of any command prompt is indicative of an error having occurred)
        has told me he doesn't feel Linspire is really Linux.

        Here's the point of my post, though: that Lindows laptop is getting long in the
        tooth, won't even play nice with any 802.11g cards we've tried, and is abysmally
        slow. He wants to jump from its 12" screen to a 17" screen, and he
        wants to be able to use it to watch DVD's or whatever movies he decides to
        download. It needs a DVD burner and 802.11g built in. Essentially, it needs to
        be a middle of the road desktop replacement... not a high end gaming laptop, but
        something bigger and more powerful (he has a 900MHz Via CPU and no 3D) than he's

        We found two candidates, a Dell and an HP, both around 1500 bucks, both with
        Nvidia chipsets (having rejected Radeon Express out of hand in other notebooks),
        and an Intel Pro wireless chipset that has a free as in freedom driver that's
        not incorporated into the kernel of any mainline Linux distribution yet....
        including Dapper or even the new Linspire release of a couple weeks ago.

        That's the best case.... EVERY other laptop we've found has a wireless chipset
        for which you need ndiswrapper plus a binary-only Windows driver, and either
        Nvidia or ATI video, both of which require proprietary drivers. So I'm looking
        at having to compile a kernel for him to use the network on either of these
        notebooks, as a best case, which means an incredible headache (yes, tweakers,
        compiling a kernel is an incredible headache) every time a new kernel security
        patch comes out, to say nothing of the Nvidia kernel modules.

        I started to go off on a tangent about software here, but in the interest of
        wrapping this up quicker.... I dare ANYONE to find me a laptop with a 17"
        screen, DVD burner, wifi and 3D support that doesn't require proprietary
        software to run to spec.... that is, one that doesn't require either ethical
        (from the point of view of the FSF) compromise or functional compromise. (We
        don't care about the modem, so we'll even let you pick one with a Winmodem.)

        We'd pay up to $500 more than these Dell or HP ones to get a laptop that will
        fully run with the default installation of Mandriva, Ubuntu or even Linspire. I
        can get one from Emperor Linux for $1300 more, with Mandriva preinstalled. But
        if we wanted to pay almost $3000 for a laptop, we'd be sucking it up and buying
        a 17" Macbook Pro.

        As far as I can tell, it simply can't be done with any current offering. Never
        mind "buy one without 3D and wifi", as Andrea suggested; those just
        don't exist anymore.

        And he has already (blessedly) rejected the notion of running Windows XP, which
        I floated as a last resort. Unlike some people, we don't consider running a
        proprietary Nvidia driver or legally murky video codecs to be equivalent to
        packing it in and running Windows, just a major inconvenience.

        Suggestions from the church of RMS?

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 02 2006 @ 09:16 PM EDT
        I have been a lurker on this site for years. I have learned so much about the
        law and open source in general and specifically about the entire SCO situation.

        I have never posted before as I never felt I have enough knowledge to comment
        any subject. I am here to learn.

        This particular article seems to be somewhat of a departure of what I think the
        intent of the site. It is not really the message but the tone. I don’t have
        enough knowledge to comment on the message, but the tone seems to be
        harsh. This is true both in the article and in the comments in this section. I
        think this is true regardless of the validity of the message.

        The message is fine, the manner it is delivered is perplexing. I will vote with
        my feet and visit the site less often.

        [ Reply to This | # ]

        • IMHO - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 02 2006 @ 10:15 PM EDT
          • IMHO - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 03 2006 @ 02:14 PM EDT
          • IMHO - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 06 2006 @ 11:17 AM EDT
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