Well, much along the lines of Red Hat’s Fedora and Novell’s OpenSUSE, now Linspire is starting of Freespire.
The new Freespire distro was announced Monday by Linspire President and CEO Kevin Carmony during his keynote address to Summit attendees. Freespire will be a Debian-based, community-driven and -supported project tied to the commercial Linspire distribution, Carmony outlined, in much the same way as Fedora Core and openSUSE relate to their parent commercial distros, Red Hat Linux and SUSE Linux, respectively.
But there the similarity ends and Linspire is being quite vocal in outlining the differences.
Much of what makes Linspire unique amongst Linux distributions is its focus on the desktop and the company’s willingness to incorporate fully-licensed versions of proprietary software and drivers that allow end-users to perform operations–such as viewing a movie on DVD media legally in the US–that might not be afforded to users of other distributions.
Linspire has legal licensed versions of the proprietary codecs, and its giving those along for free (beer) in Freespire.
Freespire is venturing into new territory by offering a free community Linux operating system that includes the option for legally licensed proprietary software pieces at its core distribution. Without this choice, desktop Linux’s market adoption will continue its slow creep toward mainstream acceptance.
Compared to other distros like OpenSUSE, that do offer proprietary stuff like Flash and Acrobat and Java, this is the first time a distro is giving away licensed versions of MP3 and other multimedia codecs away I guess. That’s what makes Freespire different I guess.
Linux has found broad acceptance on servers, but has met with resistance from desktop and laptop computer users for its lack of native support for hardware and multi media formats. Freespire addresses this hurdle by offering proprietary drivers and software as a choice, and giving desktop Linux users the option of "out-of-the-box" legal support for MP3, DVD, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI drivers, nVidia drivers, Adobe Acrobat Reader, third-party fonts, and so on. This is a significant first for free, community versions of Linux. Other Linux distributions do not include all of these pieces of proprietary software in their core, free distributions.
The distro is as yet unreleased. Since its based on Debian, I guess I will be giving it a try when its out. :)