RealTime IT News

Lindows Offers Free OS Download

What better way is there to drum up interest in your software after a shift in its brand name? If you're Lindows CEO Michael Robertson, you give it away.

At least, that's the reasoning he gave readers of his periodic mailing list Wednesday afternoon, after he announced that Lindows, the desktop Linux distributor, was changing its name to Linspire. The change was mandated by a court ruling that said it was too close to Microsoft's Windows trademark.

"Most computer users have never experienced Lindows, so we have a chance to make that all-important first impression," he told his readership. "We will work hard to make sure Linspire comes to stand for affordability and choice as well as ease of use."

The Linspire 4.5 OS is available only in bittorrent form for download for the next few days, according to Robertson's e-mail. He said the reason for the peer-to-peer technology requirement is to circumvent the normal centralized server/bandwidth strain caused by regular Web-based downloads -- "so our servers don't melt." In a jab at Microsoft, the online coupon code used to receive the $49.95 software for free is "lindows."

The offer is good for the next couple days, Robertson said, and can be downloaded here, which could prove difficult for people new to the bittorrent process.

It involves downloading and installing a bittorrent client application, downloading the 41 KB Linspire torrent file, then double-clicking on the torrent file to begin the download process. At press time, there were 455 people distributing the file, which would virtually guarantee fast download speeds.

On Wednesday, Lindows officials unveiled a new name for its flagship Linux-flavored operating system, Linspire, a change prompted in part by a $1,196 daily fine imposed by the Amsterdam appeals court in the Netherlands and continued lawsuits by Microsoft in other countries -- if Lindows did not comply.

Since Netherlands customers are able to access the Lindows.com Web site from the Internet, Microsoft lawyers argued, the company should shut down its site, too, and be fined for continuing to "operate" in the country.

Robertson said the company doesn't have the revenues to thumb its nose at the court fines and decided to make the name change from Lindows.

He calls the string of Microsoft suits -- in Canada, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden -- patently unfair, as the Redmond, Wash., software giant lost its trademark case in the U.S. courts. Microsoft contends the Lindows moniker (a combination of LINux and WINdows) confuses average users into thinking its a Windows product, and plans to appeal through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"In the U.S., we have the rule of 'double jeopardy,' which says you can't be tried for the same offense multiple times," he stated. "At about sextuple jeopardy, we had no choice but to select a different product name internationally."

Although the software is free, many of the applications that run on the OS aren't; Lindows is giving new Linspire customers a 15-day pass to its Click-N-Run (CNR) Warehouse, a repository of freeware, shareware and commercial software applications. After the 15 days, the normal $14.95 monthly subscription goes into effect.

Early Wednesday, the Lindows.com URL was still in operation; later in the afternoon, anyone typing in the domain name was redirected to Linspire.com.