Freespire: Great Idea? Awful Idea?

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-05-04 Print this article Print

Opinion: Can you have open-source goodness and proprietary programs in one Linux distribution? Linspire says yes, but Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and others aren't so sure. (DesktopLinux)

Its a simple idea. Take the Linspire Debian-based Linux distribution and bundle it with every proprietary driver and program thats available for Linux. Ta-da, an instant Linux thats compatible with far more hardware and applications. The problem, of course, is that by combining proprietary software with Linux, youre also legitimatizing the use of proprietary programs with open-source.
To paraphrase Pamela Jones, editor of Groklaw, Linspires mangling of the language of Free Software can only pervert and confuse the open-source community and audience.
Click here to read more about Freespire. This could, according to some open-source developers, lead to a situation where the proprietary developers would call the shots. Eventually, this could cause Linux to recede into being just another minor, fragmented operating system. In short, welcoming proprietary software into Linux is like being a little-bit pregnant. You either are, or youre not. Others dont see it that way, though. Gordon Haff, senior analyst for research house Illuminata Inc., said, "Sometimes the folks over at Groklaw just need to take a deep breath and pop open a cold one. Youd have thought Linspire was making fur coats out of little kittens or something." Read the full story on DesktopLinux: Freespire: Great idea? Awful idea? Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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