Practical Technology

for practical people.

Linspire’s CNR to go multi-Linux, remain free


Linspire announced today that it plans to expand its CNR (“Click ‘N Run”) digital download and software management service to support multiple desktop Linux distributions beyond Linspire and Freespire, initially adding Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu, using both .deb and .rpm packages. And, the standard CNR service will remain free.

CNR was developed by Linspire in 2002 to allow desktop Linux users to find, install, uninstall, manage, and update thousands of software programs on their Linspire-based Linux computers.

Previously available only for Linspire and Freespire desktop Linux users, the CNR Service will begin providing users of other desktop Linux distributions a free and easy way to access more than 20,000 desktop Linux products, packages and libraries, a Linspire spokesperson said.

Support for different Linux distributions will begin in the second quarter of 2007 via a new website, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu will be the first supported, with others planned to follow.

Even as the Linux desktop has made strong advances in usability and capabilities, the difficulties of finding, installing, and updating software — with each distribution requiring its own installation process — has remained one of the most commonly cited complaints among desktop Linux users. With more than five years of development behind it, Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony hopes that CNR will now normalize these tasks for the most popular Debian- and RPM package-based distributions.

Carmony stated, “The CNR Service was designed to solve the complexity of finding and installing desktop Linux applications, as well as educating the world about all the quality Linux software available. It only made sense to expand our successful CNR Service to additional desktop Linux distributions and their users. CNR will normalize the process of installing software across most of the popular distributions, something Linux really needs to gain mainstream adoption.”

CNR, which became a free service last August, will remain so for all the distributions supported, Carmony added.

Linspire also said in August that it would release the CNR client under an open source license later in the year. Since then, according to Carmony, Linspire has completely redesigned, updated, and enhanced the CNR technology to support multiple distributions — both Debian- and RPM-based, Carmony said.

At, users of supported distributions will be able to search for applications by title, popularity, user rating, category, function, and so on. An open-sourced plugin for each supported distribution will provide the one-click installation functionality. Not only will the new, multi-distribution CNR system support different distributions, it will also support various versions within each supported distribution, Carmony said.

According to a Linspire spokesperson, the new multi-distribution CNR technology will standardize the installation process for users of multiple Linux distributions without requiring a new or altered packaging system. CNR uses standard .deb and .rpm files, while shielding the user from the complexity of these packaging systems. Application developers can continue using their same packaging methods (.deb or .rpm), and various supported distributions can continue with their normal release management practices.

By building CNR around existing packaging systems, tens of thousands of existing Linux applications are immediately available via the CNR system. According to Linspire, CNR adds both server- and client-side intelligence that overcome the traditional dependency challenges presented by current packaging systems, but without the need for altering these ubiquitous systems. will also allow give users of multiple distros the opportunity to purchase commercial products and services, such as “legally-licensed” DVD players, Sun’s StarOffice, Win4Lin Pro, CodeWeavers’s CrossOver, and TransGaming’s Cedega. CNR’s commercial software offerings currently span various categories, including media playback, personal and business productivity, finances, virtualization, development tools, and games.

The spokesperson also said that CNR would allow users quick access to multimedia codecs and hardware drivers, bringing one-click support for MP3, Windows Media, Quick Time, Java, Flash, ATI and nVidia graphics, and so on.

The new web site is now active with an informational placeholder where users can learn more about the plans for the multi-distribution CNR.

A version of this story first appeared in DesktopLinux.

Leave a Reply