Freespire Combines Linux, Proprietary Programs

Linspire's new community Linux distribution will come with proprietary software already baked in.

Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony on April 24 unveiled Freespire, a no-cost version of Linspires Linux distribution, in his keynote address at the Desktop Linux Summit in San Diego.

Freespire will be a community-driven distribution, but unlike other Linux distributions, it will allow users the choice of downloading a version that is almost entirely open source or one that includes proprietary software, Carmony said.

The first beta release of Freespire will be made available for download in August, according to Carmony.

Including proprietary software within a Linux distribution has long been a hot-button issue in Linux circles. Arguments over how proprietary or license-restricted code can—and cannot—be used with Linux have been raging for years. /zimages/1/104592.jpg

Perhaps the most famous example was the use of Trolltechs Qt library in the popular KDE Linux desktop. It wasnt until Trolltech made the C++ library and related tools available under a dual-license plan, with a GPLed version for Linux and other open-source uses, that the heated debate over the issue finally subsided.

In recent years, Linux distributors have tended to make some proprietary desktop programs, such as Adobe Acrobat and RealNetworks RealPlayer, available as optional downloads. However, in the case of drivers—such as laptop Wi-Fi drivers—that work in closer association with the Linux kernel, distributors have generally avoided including them.

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