Linspire is a Linux distribution that’s designed to be easy for Windows users to learn. In fact, the original developers used to call the operating system Lindows, before changing the name.

It’s been more than 10 years since the last version of Linspire was released… but a new version is out this week. Kind of.

The new version of Linspire comes from PC/OpenSystems LLC, which acquire the rights to the name, and not much else.

Linspire 7.0 isn’t based on the code for the older operating system. Instead, it’s a fork of Ubuntu Linux that comes with a set of open source and proprietary software pre-installed, including Google Chrome, Wine (for running some Windows apps), VLC, and perhaps most importantly, long term support. Linspire 7.0 will be supported until 2025.

The operating system does have something in common with its namesake though: it’s a commercial OS. You’ll have to pay $80 for a license, which gets you 12 months of email and phone support as well as some other perks and all updates released for that version of Linspire, but a license is only good for this version of the operating system. You’ll need to pay again if you want Linspire 8.0 or any other major release (if and when they become available).

There is also a free and open source version of the operating system called Freespire. Version 3.0 is out this week, and it lacks some of the software and all of the priority support that comes with the paid version. But it’s probably worth checking out before spending $80.

Linspire and Lindows before it never quite lived up to its promise, and desktop Linux has come a long way in the decade that this project has been dormant. So starting over with an Ubuntu-based operating system probably isn’t the worst idea in the world. But I do wonder how big a market there is for an $80 operating system that basically does what free software like Ubuntu can do with a bit of extra support when you could pay just a little more and get a Windows 10 license.

PC/OpenSystems does have some experience in the Linux distribution space. The company is already responsible for the Black Lab Enterprise Linux operating system, which will continue to be offered separately.

via Phoronix and DistroWatch

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9 replies on “Linspire rises from the dead (in name only)”

  1. Well, if they can make a desktop version of Linux that makes adding/updating/removing software as easy as in Windows, then they’ll be onto something. I’m running Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.2 with LTS and almost all the software in the main repository is ancient, and installing updates from added repositories is often a nightmare, if not outright impossible. Oh and one more thing, don’t waste years trying to make the desktop UI work like a mobile phone!

  2. OMG- this is hilarious. I did a short stint at Linspire back in the day and have a decent idea of what went wrong and I knew even back then how to fix it. Today I am the CEO of a company that basically did what Linspire should have done. The level of incompetency astounded me back then and it was no surprise when they went under. I predicted they had about six to eight months before the company would go under when I got offered a nice salary to come back and work for the company.

    Linspire had a fairly decent distribution at one time and I actually got started as a developer back in the day at Linspire. Critical issues that existed back then which Linspire attempted to solve just don’t exist today. Core applications aren’t difficult to install today. Click-n-Run was a worthy solution for its time even if it was never designed to my liking.

    Functionality such as commercial DVD playback software is just not in demand these days, floppy drives are extinct, AOL is dead, proprietary dial-up drivers aren’t needed, wifi adapters are a semi-solved problem, virtual emulation doesn’t require proprietary software, proprietary codecs for media playback aren’t a problem, Wine was long ago proven to be a poor solution, and who even shares files via a samba file sharing network these days? Peer-to-peer filing sharing software is also dead- but there are solutions to the problems that once existed- ie music and movies- but reality is those using file sharing software yesterday have moved onto Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify. For the die hard pirates there are streaming sites and Kodi running on dedicated devices. The need for things like Adobe Flash and Realplayer have long since died off. Programs like Quickbooks have moved to the web. What exactly can this new Linspire really offer within this realm?

    The commercial aspect was also a failed endeavor and the business model which would have worked was Click-n-Run. Sort of- it only worked once you scaled Click-n-Run up to the user base that Canonical had amassed for itself by the end of Linspire’s life. Around 2007-2008. Linspire had a contract with Canonical that the dick Larry Kettler who got put in charge after Michael Carmony left failed to follow through on. I left Linspire in 2005. Two years later I was almost hired back, but could not come to terms with them on compensation. They offered me a decent salary- but I had no faith in Larry Kettler and didn’t want to join a sinking ship. Which was funny because there were only about 20 people left which was about the right size. Only problem was they had basically lost every important person the company had. Canonical also hired away a few developers and they weren’t exactly people I’d want working for me anyway. There was a lot of incompetency to go around. I was actually told by one key developer the only reason they were using Linux was because it was easy to build off. He never cared about GNU/Linux and I was probably the most competent person at the company while I was there. Not that I’d necessarily have taken my own advice if had been in charge. I was fairly young- but ultimately I was proven right about pretty much everything in terms of where the company should go and later proved it. I founded what is today a very successful company that has made GNU/Linux much easier to use.

    The proprietary software was only ever holding Linspire back- not pushing things forward. Not that I think it was necessarily the wrong approach entirely when it came to third party components (DVD playback software, media codecs, etc). However certain things they did were outright wrong. They should NEVER have created a hardware database. It was a complete mess and it was what EVERY OTHER distribution did and it was always a failed solution. You can’t test hardware and then tell someone to go buy it because the chips and the hardware change. Your database ends up full of hardware nobody can get, doesn’t work, and much of it will stop working when you tell your customers that they have to upgrade to your new release. Yes- left and right people were buying replacement parts and then finding out six months later that those parts don’t work and the older release was discontinued and that they would have to upgrade. There was a solution to that and I recommended it- to no avail.

  3. This doesn’t look any more like MS Windows than a distro like Mint does.

    And is it really going to receive long-term support, or is it going to be abandoned when it fails to sell licenses? Because no one in their right mind would pay for an OS that “looks like Windows” when they could buy an actual version of Windows for around the same price.

    1. The business model doesn’t work- but I disagree with you on “no one in their right mind would pay for an OS that ‘looks like windows’ when they could buy an actual version of Windows for around the same price”. GNU/Linux has a lot of value and not everybody dislikes the look. The value add in GNU/Linux has a lot to do with stability and ease of use. Not the price of the software. A stable GNU/Linux distribution like Ubuntu is far easier to utilize with the proper hardware than a Microsoft Windows system. With GNU/Linux your hardware will continue to work so long as your purchasing hardware that is free software friendly. This is the mistake most people make and why many don’t like GNU/Linux. The problem isn’t GNU/Linux- it’s crappy hardware they try to use GNU/Linux on. With Microsoft Windows you will spend a lot of time fiddling with installing drivers and trying to make shit work. I stopped using Microsoft Windows a long time ago because it just sucked. Spending 40 minutes to install drivers is ridicules. My time is valuable. When I buy a printer I want to be able to unpack it, plug it in, and have everything detected and working out of the box. I get that with GNU/Linux and it’s something you’ll never have with Microsoft Windows. When I go to upgrade shit don’t fall apart on me either. It can if you install proprietary components- but I won’t. And as a result my user experience is amazing. I am running Ubuntu and not a 100% free distribution even though wholeheartedly support 100% free distributions and software. There are practical benefits to avoiding proprietary bull shit. Besides just serial numbers, activation hassled, discontinuation of support, incompatibilities that result, and other non-sense like that which should not exist.

  4. They should get into hardware and sell a complete solution. People who are used to fiddling with UEFI, Secure Boot, ISOs, partitioning, etc… are probably going to slam Linspire. New users would welcome a complete, supported solution. There are probably more people fed up with Windows, for example, than the combined number of actual Linux users by a large factor.

    One thing Linspire had going for it so many years ago was pizzazz and marketing. They did a good job selling their warez and their website (even back then) looked great – very professional, very user-friendly and inviting. The PC/OpenSystem guys (based on their website) does not instill confidence… looks like a free html 3.2 template from back in the day.

    1. There are already companies offering complete solutions generally speaking. The hardware angle is a good one if you understand how to solve hardware problems. The big problems with companies like System76 and Purism and the like is they’re committing frauds and/or shipping crappy solutions. ThinkPenguin does a good job, but there are not many ThinkPenguins around. Mini Free isn’t bad either, but they’re super tiny and it’s a super niche market due to the fact they sell refurbished systems. But the reason the systems are good in some respect is that they’re not dependent on propritary crap. The proprietary crap creates instabilities and when your hardware stops working (I’m looking at you System76) six months after you purchased it … well… that ain’t a good user experience. You won’t have that with Mini Free or ThinkPenguin. You will run into issues mostly with Mini Free due to the fact the systems are 10+ years old and refurbished. But so long as the hardware is functioning the hardware will be properly supportable by the mainline kernel and development community.

  5. $80 for a license? …For a fork of Ubuntu?
    i don’t know, but i think that might actually cause a Windows refugee to eventually sour on linux as a whole and go back to Windows.

    1. It’s not the amount that is the problem. My company pulls in a lot more than $80 / year from our customers, but they get a lot of value for it, and no we don’t sell the software or licenses, but we do ship with and are funding software development and a distribution or two (different markets, ie embedded distribution and a desktop distribution). The problem is they’re not going to give you anything of value and they don’t understand how to market the value if they do produce something of value. Free software has a $$$ value. Smarter people have figured this out including myself and we have built successful businesses and business models around it.

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