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Linspire 6.0 desktop Linux released

A bit later than expected, the troubled Linux distributor Linspire finally released the next version of its commercial desktop Linux: Linspire 6.0.

This is Linspire’s first commercial release in more than two years. Like its earlier versions, Linspire 6.0 continues to focus on ease of use and bundles proprietary software where there are no viable open-source alternatives, providing improved hardware, file type and multimedia support, such as MP3, Real, Java, Flash, ATI, nVidia, Wi-Fi, and many others. This distribution is also the first commercial Linux release to incorporate Microsoft technologies. These include Windows Media, True Type Fonts and Open XML translator. These enable OpenOffice users to open and edit Microsoft Word .docx, and Open XML-formatted documents.

Linspire pioneered the default incorporation of proprietary software and drivers into Linux with its Freespire 1.0 distribution in 2006. Since then, Freespire 2.0 has arrived. Linspire 6.0 is based directly on Freespire 2.0.

Linspire 6.0 is the first desktop Linux operating system to bundle the CNR (Click and Run) Client beta, providing one-click access to thousands of open source and popular commercial applications such as Sun’s StarOffice, Parallels Workstation, Win4Lin, CodeWeaver’s Crossover Office, TransGaming’s Cedega, commercial games and others. CNR was to be made available to numerous Linux distributions. Sources close to Linspire, though, say that this plan is still a long way from fruition.

“Today we continue the Linspire tradition by offering the choice of a better overall experience for users new to desktop Linux,” said Larry Kettler, president and CEO of Linspire. “Linspire 6.0 further bridges the gap between open source and commercial software, combining the best from each into a single, easy-to-use, familiar and productive operating system.”

“If you are genuinely interested in finding an OS alternative, Linspire 6.0 will show you how far desktop Linux has come,” continued Kettler. “We have put everything into this latest commercial release to make it our most complete offering to date.”

Linspire 6.0 begins with Ubuntu 7.04 as its foundation. It uses KDE 3.5.6 as its primary desktop interface. The KDE look has been tweaked to look and feel, the company claims, like the Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows interfaces.

Like most Linux desktops, it includes the most popular open-source desktop applications such as Firefox 2.0.0.4, Thunderbird 2.0.0.4, and OpenOffice 2.2. The distribution’s applications tend to be one small step behind the leading edge of Linux application versions. This Linux also includes Linspire-sponsored, open-source software such as Lsongs and Lphoto.

Version 6.0 is also the first commercial offering from Linspire to provide customers with extremely controversial Microsoft patent covenants. In June of 2007, Linspire and Microsoft entered into a broad interoperability and technical collaboration agreement to facilitate interoperability between Windows and Linspire, which included intellectual property assurances. The company states this agreement promotes customer choice and strengthens the bridge between the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, has recently rattled the patent saber at Linux again. Other Linux companies such as Red Hat and Canonical, even ones such as Novell that also have patent deals with Microsoft, deny that Linux, or its users, have any need for Microsoft intellectual property protection.

Linspire itself has been troubled recently by internal turmoil. Long-time CEO Kevin Carmony left Linspire in July. Other company officers left at about the same time. More recently, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, snapped up two of Linspire’s best workers.

Linspire 6.0 is also a distribution, which may not have a consumer market. The distribution is available immediately via digital download at the site for $49.95. Freespire, however, has all the same functionality and costs nothing. There is also a paid support plan for Freespire. This plan uses a “per-incident” costing approach so there’s no easy way to directly compare the twin operating systems’ prices.

A version of this story first appeared in DesktopLinux.

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