According to announcements this morning, enterprise Linux distributor Xandros will purchase consumer Linux maker Linspire, in a move that had been rumored for several weeks with little details coming from either company.
According to Xandros, the deal was officially signed on June 19, but it appears both companies tried to slip the announcement under the rug.
Linspire is a Linux operating system that closely mimics the basic Windows GUI and was most popular among low-cost Linux PC bundles offered in Wal-Mart and Fry's. But with similar product offerings from Ubuntu and Mandriva Linux, the company has had a difficult time as of late competing with other Linux distributions. The same features that were designed to help lure users from Microsoft Windows to open source Linux are now available in the more popular competing Linux distributions.
Though Xandros has lately positioned itself as a business Linux provider, its Linux distribution has, at one time or another, competed with Linspire and similar Linux flavors. It received the most publicity after being used in the low-cost Asus Eee PC notebook and similar product offerings.
In the agreement, Xandros will receive all of Linspire's assets related to Linspire, Lindows, Freespire, and Click 'N Run, and will change its name and trademarks after the deal is completed. Xandros will continue to create and market the Linspire and Freespire operating systems with full vendor support, while there are no concrete plans to merge the Linspire products into the Xandros OS.
Furthermore, Linspire's CNR.com -- a tool that allows users to run applications from other Linux platforms -- will also continue to operate under its own brand name in the future. This portal for downloading software from other vendors, including Debian, OpenSuse, Fedora, and Ubuntu, helped originally make Linspire popular after it was released. New Linux users can easily find and install Linux software without the headaches and strong learning curve that typically plague first-time Linux users.
Linspire's latest operating system release, Linspire 6.0, received very little publicity and lackluster reviews from reviewers. It also lost prestige among open source users after agreeing to a partnership agreement with Microsoft, which has signed several deals with Linux vendors over the past two years. Xandros also signed the patent protection deal with Microsoft.
The deal has not been well received by a lot of users in the Linux community, with former Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony also not happy.
"This will end up being a completely insignificant event for Linspire shareholders and the end for Linspire customers," Carmony said in his blog. "I predict this was done to: 1) help Robertson drain the company of its cash and resources...2) help Robertson save face by issuing a 'Linspire Acquired by Xandros!' press release, instead of living with the public humiliation that Linspire failed under his leadership. (Although, being out lasted by Xandros isn't much less embarrassing)... 3) Give Xandros a press release and perhaps some way for them to spin this to investors to raise money."
It was Carmony who got a press release in June 2007, after Linspire under his leadership became the third Linux vendor, after Novell and Xandros, to sign a patent covenant with Microsoft. At the time, he compared himself to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, though that aura apparently faded quickly. Prior to Carmony's tenure, Microsoft and the company were at odds with one another on account of its original name, Lindows, which Microsoft had argued was a trademark violation.