Linspire Offers $50 Linux OS for Free

In response to confusion surrounding a free variant of the company's desktop Linux operating system, Linspire is giving away digital copies of its OS until September 6. The move is in response to the emergence of Freespire, which used the source code from Linspire but removed licensed third party and copyrighted content.

Developer Andrew Betts had put together Freespire as a side project, but the distribution was submitted to as a bona-fide release. After discussions with representatives from Linspire, Betts agreed to change the name of his package and temporarily settled on Squiggle.

"The name implies a "free" copy of Linspire, which of course it is not. The very things that were taken out of Linspire for Andrew's project are in fact some of the very things that make Linspire, well...Linspire," the company said.

"One of the main differences between Linspire and other Linux distros (Mandriva, Ubuntu, MEPIS, etc.) is that Linspire does include a lot of legal and paid-for 3rd-party licenses for things like mp3, Java, Flash, Quick Time, Windows Media, Bitstream fonts, Real media, music, etc., and this is all pre-loaded, tested and ready to use."

Linspire is no stranger to naming conflicts. The company, founded by former owner Michael Robertson, was originally known as Lindows. Microsoft filed suit claiming the name was a rip-off of Windows, and Lindows became Linspire in a $20 million settlement.

With the interest in Freespire, Linspire has decided to offer its distribution free of charge. "We thought it would be fun, for all of those who were looking at this project to experience a true "Freespire", to give away a free digital copy of Linspire for a few days!" the company said.

Linspire normally costs $49.95 USD for the digital downloadable version.

Interested parties can obtain a coupon for Linspire from a special Web site setup for the promotion. Officials ask users to be patient, as its servers are being inundated with requests for downloads.

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