Saturday, February 16, 2008

Linspire's CNR.com - Bye Bye Linux, Hello Microsoft Windows!

When I was CEO for Linspire, I started work on CNR.com. The goal for CNR.com was to become the central repository for all desktop Linux software for all of the most popular Linux distributions. I wanted to move heavily in this direction, because CNR was the one area where Linspire had a technological and branding advantage, and was also the one area where Linspire could actually make money. I knew most users were going to be running one of the other more popular desktop distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, etc.), so I set about shifting resources away from the Linspire and Freespire distros, and into CNR.com.

A key part of this strategy was our alliance with Canonical (Ubuntu). This was important for both our distribution and OEM businesses (shifting away from Linspire/Freespire to Ubuntu) as well as for our upcoming CNR.com business. I knew we'd need a close associations with Ubuntu for CNR.com to be successful.

Unfortunately, since leaving Linspire, it appears the Ubuntu relationship is on the rocks. As a Ubuntu user myself, I'm not surprised. I think the smart thing for Ubuntu would be to simply utilize their own systems, rather than point users to CNR.com, which is what it appears their plan is. I know since I switched to Ubuntu, I haven't even bothered trying CNR.com. The built-in software management system Ubuntu has is a better experience, and all they need to do is add a commercial piece (easy enough for them to do), and they'd have little use for CNR.com. (Ubuntu has hired a couple of ex Linspire employees who could certainly help in this regard as well.)

As you can see from Alexa, Ubuntu has completely dwarfed Linspire in the Linux business.

It would appear Linspire has figured this out as well and sees the writing on the wall, and that without Ubuntu, CNR.com will fail.

I say this because, I noticed when you now visit Linspire's CNR.com site while running Windows, instead of finding thousands of Linux software programs, you will now find a bunch of AJAX applications. This is a typical Michael Robertson move. He's figured out he's lost the Linux game, and my guess is he'll try to salvage what Linspire has built by turning CNR.com into a directory for AJAX applications, perhaps in an attempt to prop up his AJAX business. I predict by year end, the Linux applications are gone all together.

So much for CNR.com being "The easiest place to get Linux software." It's a shame Linspire was unable to keep a good relationship with Ubuntu. It clearly made the difference between success and failure for CNR.com.

Kevin

27 comments:

Jay K. said...

Kevin, it certainly is a sad thing - to see the death of Linspire. That is what I foresee as being inevitable and what I believe you are graciously alluding to. It is not just CNR.com that is going to fall. Linspire has nothing to offer that is not available elsewhere.

Perhaps at one time, Linspire was a dream come true for many users who just wanted a computer experience similar to Windows but without the threat of viruses and spyware that so plague Windows machines. I know that is why I made the switch.

I found Linspire way back when - before you stepped aboard as CEO. It was good but never good enough. Definitely not great. It has the potential to be what Ubuntu quickly became. But Linspire had issues that hung over the user experience like a dark storm cloud.

Now there are numerous distributions that offer what Linspire once did. But with the exception that - everything works. Codecs and such can be downloaded after install or in some cases are included in the install. Thank you PCLinuxOS.

Kevin, you give CNR.com a year before it transforms into an AJAX entity. With the numbers you presented from Alexa, do you really think it will last that long? Seems like all the good people at Linspire are jumping ship. The sign of a pending disaster.

I respect and admire you Kevin. Perhaps I should give Ubuntu a try. Tried it some time ago but didn't quite like the Gnome experience. Maybe things have changed.

Keep posting - and I'll keep reading. :-)

Jay K.

Kevin Carmony said...

Jay,

I have been pleasantly surprised with GNOME, but if you're not, there's always Kubuntu.

I agree, Linspire has little to nothing to offer these days, and with key people having left Linspire and now at Ubuntu, you will see Ubuntu fill any holes Linspire was did.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

Kevin - Good on you for making the attempt to break America into the Linux world with the CNR concept. Too bad the execution rolled out so slow and clumsy.

I used Linspire years ago, but switched to PCLinuxOS, then Ubuntu, and ultimately Linux Mint. I'm happy to donate to projects like Mint vice paying for programs like Linspire and Xandros (don't get me started on Xandros).

Thanks for all of your contributions to the Linux mission and God speed on all your future endeavors.

Gary

LinuxGamer said...

Hey Kevin,
I hate to say it, but I would have to agree with you. CNR has been in Alpha/Beta for over a year now for Linux, but they have taken the time to get that Ajax junk up on the CNR side if they see you have Windows.

Nice to see they are spending their time and resources on the customers they already have. Ah well. I think there were some good ideas that came out of Lindows. I would say it has been going down hill since the settlement with MS and the name change.

I think the Ubuntu thing was not the best OS to offer CNR to, as they have the most resources to create something similar themselves. I personally think they would have been better off offering it to some of the smaller or noncommercial distros out there like Mepis, PCLinusOS and Mint. Or even possibly offer it to some of the distros that do not have a handy tool like apt to work with like Slackware.

Anyways, good luck to you in your future endeavors. It was nice to have met you while Lindows was still going strong.
Travis Birt

Eric said...

There were two things that Linspire offered: easy installation (even preinstallation) combined with ease of use for basic tasks, and legal access to Windows media codecs.

With each new release of distros like PCLinuxOS, Mint, Ubuntu, Mepis, and others, Linspire loses any advantage it had in ease of use. If anything, the others are easier to use now.

With Flash becoming popular, the Windows media thing is largely moot.

PAUL said...

i INSTALLED Ubuntu when i was waiting for linspire 6 and as soon as linspire 6 was here Ubuntu was history, you have got to be kidding or maybe you just know Ubuntu is the side of the bread were your butter is, but it doesn't hold a candle to linspire as far as user friendlyness go's. Sorry you left but i can see why your not with linspire anymore.

Jean Azzopardi said...

Mr. Carmony, I remember your posts on ubuntuforums.org regarding CNR and Ubuntu, and personally I thought that it wasn't a good idea in the first place, given that Ubuntu already has the tools to install applications freely and easily, without the bulk of an extra application.

I never tried Linspire, but then I am against making Linux work and look like Windows. Linux is Linux.

And IMHO, Micheal Robertson is jumping from place to place like a kid in a candy store. He has plenty of new ideas, plenty of cash, but doesn't follow up very well.

Kevin Carmony said...

Jean,

I think CNR.com (the web site, not necessarily the client) did have something to offer Ubuntu and other distros (friendly directory, community, screenshots, charts, commercial applications, reviews, etc.) but for it to really succeed, Linspire needed a relationship with Ubuntu, which from what I can tell, no longer exists.

As for Robertson jumping from thing to thing, you've got him figured out. Jack of all trades...

Kevin

Anonymous said...

I agree that Linspire is probably dying, there is simply no need any longer for a commercial distro which isn't even better than the others.
For instance, how is CNR better than openSUSE one click installs?
However I am of the opinion that the main cause of Linspire demise is its move to Ubuntu: how much need was there for yet another Ubuntu derivative? Until Linspire was Debian based, it could keep its own personality, Debian is a metadistro and it has never caused the undoing of a derivative.
A commercial distro based on Ubuntu is a total nonsense.
Sergio1704, AKA Daniele, Linspire (disappointed) life member.

andrew said...

One of the few reasons I would have used CNR at all would be to get licenced codecs for DVD play back.

Now Dell sells laptops (and desktops) with Ubuntu preinstalled with the legal codecs.

Now that some major OEM's (leonovo, Dell) are starting to release systems with Linux and codecs, I cant see any advantage to the CNR model.

Andy said...

I have no clue why Linspire are still operating after 6 years without producing anything of value. (I imagine CNR still doesn't work properly.)

kevin said...

I don't know how Linspire worked after they became another Ubuntu based distro, but i do know this.........CNR should have been named CNB for Crash N' Burn. Linspire was my first stab at using linux and fortunately I was so driven to not use Windows, that I persevered and tried other distros and found out linux operating systems actually work well. I don't have an ounce of sadness that Linspire is dying, good riddance. It was hands down the worst linux OS I tried, and I tried a bunch of them.

Mike said...

Jay K,
It is sad that Linspire has taken the path that it has.
Personally I prefer the KDE desk top as it sounds like you do.
Kubuntu lacks in a lot of areas but there is a good Ubuntu based Distro called Linux Mint.
I have recently switched to it because I feel that Linspire 6.0 will be their last release and I wanted to get use to something different before the inevitable happened.
Currently Linux Mint has released their newest KDE Beta3, which means the next release will the the general for Mint KDE 4.0.
Be sure to get the KDE 4.0 because Mint has a 4.0 that uses Gnome.

URL for Mint 4.0 Beta3
http://distrowatch.com/?newsid=04717

Back to the business at hand.
Why does the title say Hello Microsoft Windows if Kevin is using Ubuntu?

Mike said...

Jay K,
It is sad that Linspire has taken the path that it has.
Personally I prefer the KDE desk top as it sounds like you do.
Kubuntu lacks in a lot of areas but there is a good Ubuntu based Distro called Linux Mint.
I have recently switched to it because I feel that Linspire 6.0 will be their last release and I wanted to get use to something different before the inevitable happened.
Currently Linux Mint has released their newest KDE Beta3, which means the next release will the the general for Mint KDE 4.0.
Be sure to get the KDE 4.0 because Mint has a 4.0 that uses Gnome.

Back to the business at hand.
Why does the title say Hello Microsoft Windows if Kevin is using Ubuntu?

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I think the Linspire project had a lot of great ideas, and I think Michael is an idea machine. As I see it the problems were twofold:

1. Community
2. Relationships

Though the Linspire and Freespire groups did have communities, to be honest with you they were not very well known outside of the community itself. I think the first mistake there was made way back in the Lindows.com era when Lindows.com sold access to the software before it was even a complete reality. That was a tough pill to swallow that I have reason to believe had an adverse effect on the future communities, even after the excellent start with Freespire. I honestly thought that was going to catch on and accelerate development, but it didn't and things really fizzled then.

2. As far as relationships go, you are right, but I see those relationships not only between companies - in order to establish revenue flow, but also in relationships with would be partners in the community.

As you know in the Linux community, people can get pretty polarized about one thing or another. Some people who used to love SUSE, for example, will have nothing to do with it because of the Novell-Microsoft relationship. In Novell's case, they had sufficient critical mass, both in the OpenSUSE community and in the enterprise corporate space to overcome this, but even so, such things tend to hamper growth.

In the Lindows.com case, Michael got a lot of press with the whole Lindows naming thing but was unable to capitalize on it enough to really make a difference. Not enough business relationships were established, and the community was very small compared to any of the top five efforts.

To summarize, I think you need both relationships and community, but unless you are really strong in one - as Ubuntu was from the beginning, you had better have a solid business plan or your efforts are doomed to fail.

In spite of some really neat ideas, I am afraid this is what happened in the case of Linspire.

I want to keep track of what you are up to. I think you have your head screwed on right and it has always been a pleasure chatting with you! ---Brian Masinick, Concord, NH.

Kevin Carmony said...

Mike,

About the title...I wasn't saying *I* was saying goodbye to Linux and hello to Windows, but rather, that the CNR.com site was doing that.

Kevin

Kevin Carmony said...

Yes, Mint Linux has certainly replaced Freespire/Linspire as the popular distro with codecs. At Distrowatch, Mint is consistently in the top 5 these days, with Freespire in the high 20's and Linspire in the high 50's.

Kevin

Mike said...

Ah. Ok sorry about that Kevin.

So, I might not be following here so let me ask to be sure I am.

You feel that the CNR.com work will be going to Windows and away from Linux?

Just want to be sure I am following that right.
And I hope it does not. It would be a pity for it to go that way after all these years of work in trying to make something good for Linux in opposition to Microsoft.

Chakkaradeep said...

Kevin,

If you also notice in Cary's reply, he has told that its taking time becoz there aren't enough people to work on it. This is not a reason to be given out. I know distributions where very small team works on it but yet do wonders! Either those said enough people at Linspire are not talented or they dont plan things right.

I really feel sad for the *spire users.

Kevin Carmony said...

Mike,

I noticed they had added a bunch of AJAX applications to the CNR.com site (that's what inspired this blog, when I saw that). I saw a post by Cary that this was a great idea for Linux. I'm just not buying that.

How does it help Linux to have Windows users, by default, not even see the Linux applications when browsing the Warehouse? Seems if they're trying to promote the vast library of Linux applications, they would want Windows users to be able to browse them, but by default, they don't.

Kevin

Mike said...

I feel sorry for the spire users as well. Partly because I was instrumental in getting several people to use it, and one computer shop to buy it for their PCs.
They never sold one copy. Made me feel bad, there are a great many other Linux distros that they could have used that would not have cost them a thing. Instead they bought all those copies from Linspire and they are going no where.

Had Linspire done things right they could have made a real difference.
Lindows was the distro that broke me of Windows, and Linspire was a leap in the right direction after.
But it was just not enough.

Now there are distros that have quarterly updates released that are way beyond Linspire in almost every way.
Mint for example.
Have been using it for a short while and I like it better than Linspire already. Things are easier to use and figure out.

I wish Linspire all the best, but I will not be recommending it any longer.

SO....What have you been doing with your self since you left Linspire?

Kevin Carmony said...

Mike,

I spent a lot of time on the Mitt Romney campaign when I first left Linspire. I am also the CEO for www.datingdna.com and a few other things (www.kevincarmony.com).

Kevin

Anonymous said...

I guess they are trying to make money and cater to their target audience.

I am pretty sure you defended other money making efforts like Ooof, comparesoft,and so forth. Why is it any different now?

Kevin Carmony said...

Ooof and Comparesoft were Michael Robertson ideas, not mine. Few at Linspire, myself included, believed in them.

I have no problem with Linspire trying to make money. I wish they would. They certainly did when I was there. I left them with a very profitable year. I didn't even say there was anything "wrong" with them changing the model of CNR.com to Windows, I was simply pointing out what to expect, and that it was a shame they didn't take care of the Ubuntu relationship.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

As a voice from the Past KC, I can honestly say now more than ever I aggree with you. It was the relationship between Linspire and Ubuntu that showed promise. You and I may not have seen eye to eye on the issue, but even in my own hindsight, I would say that I aggree with you. Sadly those running the show over there are doing just what Stallman himself stated in saying...

"No other GNU/Linux distribution has backslided so far away from freedom. Switching from MS Windows to Linspire does not bring you to freedom, it just gets you a different master."

--KingBahamut

Anonymous said...

Well, if you thought the relationship with Ubuntu was "on the rocks" I guess this announcement was a kick in the pants, eh?

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/cnrcom-releases-beta-cnr-client-for-ubuntu-804,354504.shtml

Bitter much?

Kevin Carmony said...

That was done independently of Canonical or Ubuntu. That's my point. This SHOULD have been done WITH Ubuntu, not done alone by Linspire.

Most Ubuntu users, myself included, will find Ubuntu's built-in software installer is superior to CNR.

Kevin