Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Xandros / Linspire - Here Comes the Spin

In my blog yesterday, I shared how Michael Robertson had sold Linspire to Xandros without a shareholder meeting or any input from the 100 some-odd shareholders.

Today, Xandros' CEO, Andy Typaldos, did a Q & A (spin) about this deal.

I thought I'd add some additional "color" to some of his answers.

Q: What are the financial terms of the deal?
A: Like many private commercial transactions, the financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

Not even to the 100 Linspire shareholders? Robertson, all by himself, sells the assets of the company and doesn't have the courtesy (let alone corporate governance) to communicate with the shareholders? If this deal was good for Linspire shareholders, Robertson wouldn't be hiding, he'd be proudly explaining to customers and shareholders how great this is for everyone. I have a feeling it will take a lawsuit to sort all this out. Where is all the cash Robertson? Did you take it, squander it, or use some legal maneuver to get it and leave the shareholders with nothing? None of these speak very highly of you. Please, prove me wrong, and let the shareholders know where they go to cash in their shares (hopefully for at least $.50 per share, the price I offered you ten months ago).

Q: How many Linspire employees are coming to Xandros?
A: All of the engineering, support, and key sales staff have been retained, apart from a small number of administrative and related resources, given redundancy with Xandros in a number of such areas.

Linspire had a round of layoffs recently. I spoke with one of the employees who was laid off, and he told me that Linspire was down to eight employees total. Anyone can do the math to see that's not a lot of engineering talent Xandros will be gaining. All the best talent has already left Linspire.

Q: Will Linspire CEO Larry Kettler and other Linspire managers be joining the Xandros management team?
A: Yes, Larry Kettler will be joining our executive management team as VP of Business Development.

Of all the hundreds of employees involved with Linspire over the years, there are only two I'd never do business with again...Michael Robertson and Larry Kettler. Larry was the weakest executive at Linspire, a total "yes man" (which worked out ideally for Robertson these past ten months).

Q: How many employees are on the combined payroll?
A: Xandros has been on a fast growth path for the last couple of years; has an aggressive headcount and revenue growth plan at this time; and is currently in heavy hiring mode. We believe that at this point Xandros is already the third largest Linux Company in the world, and that we may already be the largest private Linux Company in the world.

Spin speak for "not many." As I said, Linspire was apparently down to eight employees, and I know Andy likes to outsource to India. It's unlikely he will ever answer this question directly.

Q: Will Freespire continue to be maintained as an open source project?
A: Yes.

Check back on this in six months. Xandros has never had a free, community distro.

Q: Will Xandros maintain separate Xandros and Linspire/Freespire lines of desktop products?
A: Pending further planning, at this point both product lines will be maintained.

Check back on this in six months.

Q: What will happen to existing Linspire/Freespire users?
A: No changes are planned

Check back on this in six months.

Q: What, if any, desktop technologies from the two companies will be combined?
A: No plans are developed yet in that regard.

Further strengthening my belief that this was a cash grab for Robertson and a press release move for Xandros to raise money.

Q: What are the total sales and profits for the combined company?
A: Since Xandros is privately held, these figures are not publicly disclosed.

Click here for an idea as to the answer to this question.

Q: What are the benefits to Xandros from this deal?
A: It provides Xandros with advanced CNR technologies and Linux expertise. It also enlarges the Xandros customer base and support network.

Linspire has shrunk to relatively no customer base (see link in last question) and gone from nearly 100 employees at one time, to apparently now, just eight.

Q: How does this acquisition affect existing Linspire and Freespire customers and brands?
A: We believe that it will help them, by making them part of a larger community of Xandros users, and by providing them with the support of a large, global, full-product Linux solutions company, with larger product and technology footprint, and greater development, support, and financial resources.

"Larger Xandros community?" Linspire/Freespire probably have more users than Xandros, but that's not saying much. (Note: If an Eee PC user is a "Xandros user," then I'm sure Microsoft would be interested in that. Andy, are the Eee PC users covered under the patent agreement between Xandros and Microsoft?)



Anonymous said...


I corresponded with you when you were still at Linspire and always admired how hard you worked for that company, being active on a myriad of forums and trying to put Linspire's message across to a demanding audience such as the one made-up by the FLOSS community.

While companies such as Mandriva or Red Hat and distributions such as Debian which have always had a clearer open-source mandate have always been my choice, I still respected the work you did at Linspire because I believe you were honestly trying to move the Linux desktop to where it needed to be.

Now I now that you also have a moral backbone and that is a hard thing to find in today's business world. The fact that you are standing up to your former employer and are being as candid and as clear as you are about what went on behind close doors at Linspire is refreshing and awesome.

You have all my respect.

Chris and Em said...

As Linspire's CFO for five years and Board Of Director for approximately two years, I want to go on record in support of Kevin Carmony.

Kevin's character is in good standing with me and every other ex-Linspire executive that I'm aware of. He speaks the truth and was the best CEO that I had ever worked for. He was the reason that so many employees stayed and remained loyal as long as they did, under brutal circumstances.

If any reporter wants to get to the bottom of the Carmony/Robertson dispute, just talk directly to ANY of the past executives or employees of Linspire and you'll hear the same common theme of respect and confidence in Carmony. Even Robertson once sent an email to Carmony saying that "You are the best CEO I have ever had."

This was ONE time Robertson was right!

Nathan said...

I can't express how sad this whole situation makes me. I remember when I visited the Linspire offices in 2005, and things seemed to be going well at the time (met KC, as well). Kendall and all the other crew were pretty upbeat about everything, and development was moving right along.

Flash forward to today. I haven't been following that close, the merger of the Linspire and Freespire forums led to my gradual relaxing of my participation, and eventual changing of personal direction, I hadn't been watching what has been going on lately. I had known that you left Linspire, Kevin, but I wasn't aware of the tensions that had developed.

I still support some of the projects that MR started, but even now, I'm starting to see that those are waning.

Disappointing developments for all.

Anonymous said...

to paraphrase "fake steve" when the rumours of microsloth trying to buy out yahoo first surfaced...this is like taking the two who finish last in a race, tying their legs together, and hoping somehow they will run faster in the rematch. get real. linspire and xandros are both d.o.a and have been for awhile. check out the user forums. dead dead dead. nobody has held the funeral yet, but neither company is a factor in the os sphere. corporate linux is down to 3 players...red hat, novell, and mandriva. mandriva is next to fall because they simply cannot compete w/ red hat or novell.

Anonymous said...

How strange. Xandros and Linspire were two of our (Lycoris') primary competitors back in the day, and of the two Linspire seemed to be the stronger. Xandros, after all, had basically stolen $1m from Linspire and was being sued for the return of the money. Plus Robertson had managed to grab some huge settlement from Microsoft, and I seem to recall the insurance company as well, although I don't remember the details of the latter lawsuit very well.

This was before Xandros went into server-land and around the time Linspire was at its best, the 4.5 - 5.0 days. But somehow, Linspire really stagnated after the fantastic version 5.1. And not long afterwards, the staff exodus began.

At Lycoris we never really topped our success with Desktop/LX Amethyst Update 2, and our competitors gradually replicated all of our better ideas. Meanwhile, we we stuck in this huge engineering hole trying to go to kernel 2.6 and KDE 3.x. I suspect -- though it would be interesting if you could confirm this, Kevin -- that similar things happened at Linspire, although at a later date.

Anonymous said...


You seem pretty passionate about this (though some commenters on OSNews described you as 'bitter'). When disagreements among developers or with users happen in the open source world, be they commercial or just about the design of the software, it usually results in a fork of the project. I don't know if you've got a role in any other distros at the moment, but why not take Freespire (and if legally necessary, change the name), or start a new one? Do what you want to do with it. Make it a commercial one, or just commercially back a free one. Go back to a pure Debian base, or do something completely different and base it on Fedora. I use Mint, at the moment, and being based on Ubuntu it's very stable; both in a good and bad way: sometimes the software is behind the eight ball, in the name of stability. I think there's a gap in the market for an extremely easy to use distro based on bleeding edge technology (though Fedora is slowly getting there, hence why a Fedora base wouldn't be a bad idea). If you (or anyone else) established an extremely easy to use distro fitting that description, I'd definitely give it a try, at least. Xandros, in my experience is slow and buggy, and behind on features. It's just going to crash and burn now (not that it was a very important distro to begin with. If Xandros weren't on the EEE, some other distro would be), so that leaves a vacancy in the market. Anyway, I'm beginning to ramble so I'll try and wrap this up concisely:

Don't just grumble about it from the other side of the glass. If you think Linspire customers and shareholders have been screwed over, give them somewhere to go.

Kevin Carmony said...


You mentioned Novell, Red Hat and Mandriva. I'd say the three survivors are Novell, Red Hat and Ubuntu. Ubuntu is doing more all the time in the corporate space, and will survive and continue to thrive. As the only Debian-based distro of the three, I believe it actually has advantages over Novell and Red Hat. I agree as well that Mandriva will likely not survive.


Kevin Carmony said...


Here's what I can confirm and tell you as to what happened at Linspire, from my perspective as it's President and later CEO...

Linspire did a lot of great things, I think. Nvu, Lsongs, Lphoto, CNR, etc. However, Linspire made one very serious mistake, which was the first thing I tried to remedy when I became CEO, but it was too late...we didn't have a free community version. So, we had nothing to compete for the early adopters and developers with, and Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora cleaned our clocks. (Xandros made the same fatal mistake.)

The VERY FIRST thing I did when I became CEO was announce Freespire. Unfortunately, it was too late, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora had already taken the lead and momentum with the core community and developers, and we could never get it back. As good as Freespire became, commercially, it just couldn't compete because others now had the lead.

We did, however, have one wonderful thing still, CNR. My plan all along was to migrate away from the distro business by dropping our commercial version of Linspire and opening up Freespire 100% and making it a true community owned and run distro (for both users and OEMs), and then the company would focus commercially on CNR.com.

This is why I: 1) made basic CNR free, 2) open sourced the client, 3) opened CNR up to more distors, 4) spun it off on its own site (CNR.com), and most importantly, 5) partnered with Ubuntu. This partnership would help us have a stronger baseline for the Freespire distor, and a much larger channel for CNR with the Ubuntu users. Unfortunately, when I left, Linspire just started doing everything wrong and in ten short months was a royal mess. I'm not at all surprised that Ubuntu has never officially used or endorsed CNR, and that partnership is dead.

So, Linspire was left with a distro for which they had stopped putting any resources into, a community they ignored (how many posts did Larry Kettler or Michael Robertson have in the Freespire forum???), and CNR that really was only being used by the handful of Linspire and Freespire users. Partnering with Xandros will not solve a thing. Linspire's hope was with STRONG AND MEANINGFUL partnerships with Ubuntu, Red Hat and Novell, not this insignificant one with Xandros!

I don't think any of the three leading companies will ever do anything with Xandros or "Linspire," and I agree with those who have posted that Linspire + Xandros = Who Cares? As a Ubuntu user for some time now, I can tell you that Ubuntu COULD use CNR for handling commercial applications, but I don't blame them for not trusting the Linspire management.

I'm not saying I did everything right when I was CEO, but I will say I have disagreed with every single thing Linspire has done since I left. I still had high hopes for Linspire ten months ago, but when Robertson turned down my offer to buy it, I lost all hope. I had little confidence in Robertson, and it looks like my fears were well founded.


Kevin Carmony said...

"Don't just grumble about it from the other side of the glass. If you think Linspire customers and shareholders have been screwed over, give them somewhere to go."


I stopped using the *spires several months back when I could see the company was being run into the ground. Once Robertson refused my offer to buy control away from him, I lost all confidence, and eventually I moved to Ubuntu, which I love. I've written a few posts in my blog about my involvement there.

If I were a *spire user, I would suggest they consider doing what I did and move to Ubuntu. Likewise, Ubuntu should welcome them into their community with open arms. There are things Ubuntu can learn from them, and I think it would be great to have that thinking enter into the Ubuntu community.

Another great option for the *spire users is Mint, which is basically doing what Linspire should have been doing these past ten months.

I wouldn't recommend that they stick with Xandros or the *spires. Maybe Xandros will prove me wrong, but I know the leadership there pretty well, and I don't have any more confidence in them than I did in Linspire. I'm much more impressed with what I see happening at Mint, Ubuntu, Red Hat, and Novell.


Anonymous said...


I completely agree with you that Larry Kettler is a horrible person (ok- it seems like you are saying that anyway). The thing I have to wonder is did releasing Freespire or open sourcing CNR and making the basic service no-cost hurt the business at all? I still don't know where the money was coming in from that you claim. Other than saying the company was profitable when you left. It seems like you might be overstating some things a bit. For instance I suspect the company had about 70 employees at its height unless you did allot of hiring sometime between 2005 and when you left. Since you let allot of people go before you left it would seem to me that you didn't have much room to do allot of hiring in that time. I can understand overstating it a bit if you are. This is after all very heated.

I think you were right that the fact Linspire didn't have a no-cost version earlier did harm its prospects. Even though you might not have gained anything from the community I thought it was dumb to piss on it (this was at least partly or mostly MR). What I would have done differently is setup a free distribution /w essential codecs available through some central repository. Then make it seamless for the users to acquire them. Ubuntu has recently (8.04) done allot of integration work regarding connecting the media player to acquiring any needed codecs. The same is true from the web browser.

Right or wrong the "root" issue shouldn't have been done. MR being right or wrong didn't matter. It was something that only obtained bad publicity. A better solution could and should have been to integrate a GUI as Mac did for programs that needed to be run.

The PR wasn't bad yet it was ruined by MR and the interactions with the free software community and other technical communities participating. Even if these community did nothing for Linspire it doesn't look good to anger them. I haven't seen many actions Linspire took to make things easier to use that couldn't have been resolved in a better manor.

In allot of ways I think CNR wasn't that great. The benefit of CNR was in its repository. Xandros Networks did some things better than CNR. For instance in its basic mode it didn't show libraries when you searched for applications. Things like this would have made Linspire better. They were never integrated.

Most of what Linspire did I duplicated in a better fashion over the years. I didn't duplicate applications like Lphoto, Lsongs, etc though. These application never really made it to the point where they satisfied the needs of the users anyway though. I have not released a distribution or CNR type application publicly even though I almost complete swaths of the same basic thing in a better way over the years. The thing is you do need to support it and as a single person I can't do that without being employed full time. This is where I get off saying that Linspire didn't sync the deal because of the people working on it.

Carmony: What did Linspire do since you have left? It seems like they haven't done anything at all. Is that what you are referring to? Larry's failure to do anything at all?

I'm still tempted to release something. I know I can do it since I've done 99% of what needs to be done. I'm about to release another similar project I'm working on that covers a large portion of what needs to be done targeted at a different audience. It is a light distribution with things like VM integrated targeted at MS Windows users although not basic users. It is more of a tool than an actual distribution right now. After that maybe I will do what needs to be done. I just don't know how much longer I can go on without a real paycheck since I'm unemployed for all intensive purposes. Unless I pick up a job with one of these distributions at which point my initiatives probably will fissile out due to time constraints. I have a job now that just doesn't pay-but I work very little which gives me the time to actually put a decent distribution together that is easy to use.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your analysis, Kevin.

Quite frankly I'm not sure that there's much money in the short-to-medium term for something like CNR.com. Every distro worth its salt is pushing off into the enterprise space. Hell, we even tried to at Lycoris with the short-lived takeover of SME Server, an initiative I spear-headed (what a let-down that was!). You can see the dichotemy when you consider that most home-based Linux users are accustomed to "free as in beer" (see popular distros: Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora), while Red Hat - which couldn't care less about the consumer dollar - has successfully renewed its top 25 business contracts with a 50% increase in value.

In my opinion, a successful distro makes its way into the enterprise via the enthusiasts and early adopters, of whom some are decision makers who then take a TCO/security/whatever business case to their workplaces. As you say, this makes something like a functional Freespire community critical, but I can't see much more than peanuts (relatively speaking) being made in homeuser-land.

The genius of Linspire was that it attracted paying home users - and quite a few in its heyday - through its fantastic marketing and reasonably functional product. I suspect that the problem was that once they got used to Linux, a lot of the users discovered they could get roughly equivalent functionality for free. Then when the company began to refocus -- and Freespire failed to take off in a big way (too late, as you say) -- they moved away. Businesses will pay for ongoing support and SLAs etc, but enthusiasts (especially when there's no updated versions)?

Although I don't really know why they'd want what's left of Linspire, I'm interested in the future of Xandros. The CEO says that they are the largest privately held Linux company in the world, which considering that Red Hat, Novell and Mandriva are all publicly listed wouldn't be hard, but still. On the business side, they've got Scalix - and its loyal band of paying customers - and they're branching out into heterogenous management, which is something that could be quite lucrative. On the consumer side, there's the contract with ASUS, although if scuttlebutt is to be believed that may not last (a pity, because Xandros is the best Linux distro out there for ease of use IMHO), so they may be in trouble there. A commenter on OSNews noted that Xandros might want to use CNR to deliver additional features to the eee platform; maybe that would be a hit (not sure though). I was also wondering whether they might try to turn it into a heterogenous management platform ala Red Hat Network. What are your thoughts on this?

On a different note, I disagree about the survival of Mandriva. They have a lot of French government contracts and some North African ones as well; I think they should survive for the forseeable future, albeit as a second-tier distro. They are also pooling their resources with Turbolinux so there are some greater economies of scale.

Kevin Carmony said...

To answer the questions from the two posts up...

I believe Linspire maxed out at around 85 employees. When I became CEO, I cut way back so we could get to profitability. We were down to around 20 employees before I and the other executives left, a much better size for us to sustain profitability.

We had a very profitable year when I left. It was a combination of having brought our burn rate way down and some big partnership deals.

I completely agree with you about the "root" issue, as did pretty much every employee at Linspire. This was just one of many examples of Robertson's ego hurting the company. Rather than giving users what they wanted (the option to run as users, not default to root), he wanted to prove them wrong. Me and all the employees had to deal with this constantly in the forums, etc. I changed this first thing as CEO.

From my experience, Robertson had nothing but disdain for "the community." He likes to cater to them publicly, as if he's some champion against Microsoft, the record labels, etc., but all I ever saw him want to do was make a buck off the community (I saw this same disdain from him towards artists at MP3.com). I don't begrudge him for wanting to make a profit, we were a commercial company, and I too wanted to be profitable, but Robertson is particularly two faced in this dept, IMHO. He makes a habit out of killing golden-egg-laying geese.

As for what have they done since I left...I WISH they HAD done "nothing," but it was worse than that. Above and beyond their inability to do anything of note, they also upset employees and partners with their actions. They have completely ignored the 100 shareholders. Just like Robertson upset the open source community, so too has he upset employees, shareholders and partners.

As for releasing something yourself...just don't be naive. It takes millions of dollars to support a distribution. Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc. didn't get to where they are without millions having been invested.


Anonymous said...

kevin -

i almost mentioned ubuntu, honest, but i just don't know what to make of them. they seem to have found a space in the corporate linux race, but primarily by accident. plus, they release updates far too often for a corporate distro.

i have no facts or figures to back this up, but my sense is ubuntu is no more successful in the corporate space than debian, fedora, or opensuse. maybe they're more successful than debian now, i haven't really followed linux goings on too closely for the past 3 years. i try to keep up on things, but i'm not as intense about it as i was when i first broke free of the microsloth cycle.

linspire was the very first linux distro i ever tried. remember the "linux shoot out" offer? well, i was one of the takers. used linspire for maybe a year total, but it just didn't cut it for me. used xandros for a couple of years, but again, in the end, it just didn't cut it for me. used suse for maybe a year or so as well, overlapping w/ some of the xandros period, but again, it just didn't cut it for me. dabbled in debian, fedora/red hat, lycoris, mandrake, mepis, novell the entire time...then i read this article that had me absolutely convinced powerpc and linux was the way to go. no question about it, powerpc was it. so i bought a powerbook w/ the intention of running yellow dog or the ppc version of fedora. had no interest in apple or os x at all. almost never booted into os x, but i figured i should just to make sure everything worked the way it was supposed to before i started struggling w/ linux again.

and that's when it hit me...i just traded all my maintenance and tweaking and fighting w/ windoze for dabbling and configuring and fighting w/ linux to try to get it to do what i wanted to do and be productive. i wasn't being productive on windoze, i wasn't being productive on linux (but i was having more fun at least), but i was almost instantly productive on os x, and having fun. so i never got around to installing any version of linux on my powerbook, 6 months later, i bought a powermac, and 6 months later apple switched to intel cpus. so much for that article i read, huh?

in any case, i guess i just don't see ubuntu as a corporate distro, even though they may be in the corporate space now. but ubuntu is not like any other community distro either. ubuntu is defintitely a linux survivor, and by default, so is debian. i hope both continue to be survivors as well. the more oses that survive will hopefully mean more open standards are not only employed, but required, and that to me is the real key to this entire discussion. no more corporate lock in, no matter who you are or what you choose to use. nobody drives the same car, and nobody will take the same exact route to get from point a to point b...and who cares? as long as they do arrive, and on time, does it really matter?

Kevin Carmony said...

You can find my latest blog on the Linspire/Xandros deal here.

Michael Robertson, Where's the Cash?

Anonymous said...

I've worked at Xandros for 3 years, and while you're understandably upset about how things went down with you and your departure from Linspire and Xandros' recent acquisition of Linspire, some of the things you're saying about Xandros are JUST NOT TRUE. I refer to your comments on one of Andy Typaldos' Q & A responses:

Q: How many employees are on the combined payroll?

Andy's response: Xandros has been on a fast growth path for the last couple of years; has an aggressive headcount and revenue growth plan at this time; and is currently in heavy hiring mode. We believe that at this point Xandros is already the third largest Linux Company in the world, and that we may already be the largest private Linux Company in the world.

Kevin's comment: Spin speak for "not many." As I said, Linspire was apparently down to eight employees, and I know Andy likes to outsource to India. It's unlikely he will ever answer this question directly.

My comment:

Xandros has been hiring MANY, MANY people over the past year, so much so that I can't even keep track of them all when they show up in the coffee room. AND the team in India has expanded as well. We're not just a small group, (Xandros wasn't small even when I joined 3 years ago), not by any stretch of the imagination. Kevin, you would be wise to curtail some of your inaccurate comments, because by doing so, you're only succeeding in damaging your own credibility. Please get a grip and get the facts right.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the LinuxMint team who trusted Robertson and Linspire enough to sign that CNR deal, they got screwed. I was going to include CNR in my distribution, PC/OS , http://pc-os.org but decided to wait and see how this deal works out. CNR was a great technology and if they had kept it up2date, Linspire would have still been profitable, the roles probably would have been reversed and we wouldnt have MP3.com part deux

Matt Hartley said...

@ Kim Vonder Haar:

I think I missed how Kevin got that wrong.

Kevin clearly said: "Spin speak for "not many." As I said, Linspire was apparently down to eight employees, and I know Andy likes to outsource to India. It's unlikely he will ever answer this question directly."

Kim said: "Xandros has been hiring MANY, MANY people over the past year, so much so that I can't even keep track of them all when they show up in the coffee room. AND the team in India has expanded as well. We're not just a small group, (Xandros wasn't small even when I joined 3 years ago), not by any stretch of the imagination. Kevin, you would be wise to curtail some of your inaccurate comments, because by doing so, you're only succeeding in damaging your own credibility. Please get a grip and get the facts right."

So here is where I am confused, Kim. Kevin was speaking to LINSPIRE employees being brought onboard, not the total number for Xandros. So how is he wrong here?

Kevin made his option clear, never stated anything inaccurate, so is it safe to assume that Kevin hit a nerve with you personally then?

I would agree that Xandros has done a ton of hiring lately. And to that I would say cool, you know how to hire people - yippie for that. But really, in the grand scheme of things, who cares of Xandros can hire people by the barrel?

Anonymous said...

You might be interested in noting the info (or lack thereof) on this deal at http://www.dealipedia.com/deal_view_acquisition.php?r=11909

Also you can get numbers for the respective companies on their profiles (linked from the deal).

Anonymous said...

Kim Vonder Haar: You know if it has really grown Kevin has a point about naming numbers. You would mention a number however much of an estimate it is even if it isn't exact. The 100 figure Kevin gave may be inexact although it is within realm of an idea of how big the company got under him. I think it is actually closer to reality than I initially thought too. He might be within 10 people or so over even though I think it still could be as high as 30 over. Either way- good enough to get an idea. I have no idea what Xandros head count is based on what anybody has said. Is it 10? is it 100? is it 1000? Give us a ballpark figure if it has really grown. What I know is that Xandros let many of its employees go years ago. I'm sure it has grown since that time yet I have no idea how much. Anything over 20 people would be growth since that time.

Kevin: As far as having done something I'm still at a loss as to what they did. Did they do anything related to CNR development? Did they rewrite it? Did they develop it further? Did they do something related to open sourcing it? You only announced the changes before you left if I'm not mistaken. I realize they upset allot of people.

I wasn't too pleased with my last encounter with Larry a couple months ago. He seemed as arrogant as ever. When I last talked to him and a few others at the office it seemed pretty grim. The funny thing about loosing all the talent is that he had an opportunity to regain some of it a few months ago. All I'll say is he screwed it up big time.

I have to say some of what Linspire had in 5.0 was excellent. The simple things are what made the difference. The wifi applet has yet to be beat for instance. It always worked perfectly. I'm not sure about 5.1 and I'm pretty certain 6.0 didn't have anything comparable. On other hand some of the apps like lPhoto and the like weren't stable until after the 5.0 release. The updates did make the programs work although they still lacked important features/not that easy to use/didn't work too well.

Regarding releasing a distribution. I did say that I probably wasn't going to due to money didn't I? I still think though that Linspire could have been more successful with fewer people. The company had more people than it could handle financially and not enough of the right types/right people in the core departments. I've never had to hire employees so I'm not in much of a position to really criticize. I don't know how hard it is to find the right people. I certainly don't know a ton. I can think of at least one right now. I can probably come up with another handful given some time. Then again I don't believe it would actually take all that many core people to do it right. You guys did it with a handful of people some of which I doubt I'd have hired. Maybe you could have spent some time recruiting? Or did you? I don't know. Maybe it wasn't them even that is to blame for the low quality. Trying to put stuff out on schedule is difficult as it is. If management interfered too much...

Robert B. Norton: You make an excellent point about every desktop flavor ending in failure. Linspire was the longest living distribution aimed at the desktop. That was my primary interest in the company. No matter how bad it was they were in it for the long run. This also meant they were one of the few that had any chances of success. Every company that has attempted to take MS desktop market share has ran into the same problem of thinking that uptake would be immanent. It won't be. If anybody recalls Corel jumping into the Linux biz many many years ago that was probably the closest we ever came to getting a solid set of commercial applications. This ended in failure, Redhat ended in failure, Mandriva (years and years ago) ended in failure, Xandros (come on, they started working on the server-obvious failure), and now Linspire. I'm sure others can think of other failures. The point is we have a pattern here. We interpret the "I don't want to boot MS Windows to do X" to mean "If it doesn't have application X I won't use Linux". People need to transition and people will use Linux /w MS Windows emulation when they need it. If you don't believe me all you have to do is look at Mac to see I'm right. We might have a smaller share of the market and we might not be able to do everything that Apple has. We can still do enough of it to make it a viable option if the business narrows down the market, focuses on an outlet (retail attachment services for instances), and supports it well (not this non-sense that was Mirus- yes I did BUY one, I'm that into this). Both sales guys and PC techs are trained to evaluate customers needs and they WILL offer a Linux solution as an attachment service if it were available. The catch is it has to be better supported than what has been done and it has to be sold this way to the retail giants since they are obviously the ones who make the decisions as to what services to offer. I have been surprised at how many new systems do support Linux well enough right now to offer many customers that option-that HATE MS Vista. A customer is generally willing to spend $60-90 just based on the advise of a sales rep-and allot of basic users come in asking for anything BUT Vista. I know this because I've been selling these Linux upgrades at this price point for months. Right now it isn't well supported- but if you did do a better job at supporting it you could sell it to many many more individuals given retail giant approval. The margin on this (i repeat from the other day) is 85%. The next highest thing is a warranty at 46%. If the companies sell nothing other than a computer they often loose money if it is on sale. If not on sale they make maybe $50. Given this info you can understand why they would be interested in having yet another PC Tech service to sell. If you can't come up with a business plan here you are an idiot.

I need to shut up and revise my two year old plan.


One last thing:

I think TurboLinux had some misleading numbers a while back. They claimed to have some huge percent of the Asian/Japanese market. If it were true that would be pretty impressive. I know the company has been around a while so I'm not surprised if they have carved out a niche in those markets. I just can't imagine it is as big as was once claimed. Mandrivia seems to be not much different. They floundered and rose again much smaller like allot of companies have. Linspire probably could have done something similar I bet had other people issues not gotten in the way without going into bankruptcy proceedings.

Kevin: What are you doing now? Anything interesting? I don't normally read the blog you have. I imagine you are probably sick of Linux at this point and would never invest in it again... even if people problems is why you left. Or would you given different arrangements such as being CEO again minus MR to get in the way?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, chaps.

Roberto J. Dohnert I have a thought re your post about Mint getting caught (and I love the look and the great desktop backgrounds they have - not that you should be sold anything on looks alone :D ) I have Cassandra on a laptop with 4 other OS's and its native XP Home as a demo machine I'm setting up.

Anyway there are choices away from CNR. I spent some time working as a tester with PC-BSD and their opensource downloadable client that would install .pbi's anyone can make given they have the technical aptitude is a concept worth considering.

Then PuppyLinux has gone through several stages in its one click concept too, also opensource and again anyone can make a dotpet or a dotpup.

So, as they say, "the world is your oyster". I looked at your product and, yes, I like its XFCE window manager with its uncluttered desktop :)

Best of luck, mate, from downunder.

Richard in Adelaide

Anonymous said...

Lot's of companies go through ups and downs, during the downs they get acquired or fall off the map. Linspire didn't take the later, and continues on under another Distro called Xandros. Xandros has a server line, a seemingly growth business with management packs, and is in bed with strange bed-fellows such as Microsoft. Having been personally close to similar situations and haing built commercial software products that I considred [my baby], and then watched the highest level senior management basically screw the pooch, I lament and there comes a point with everything is nothing but "sour grapes".

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Xandros wants CNR from Linspire for ASUS, and other OEM's. Linspire had no future, managers sell out, Xandros can gain from what they got.

Linux needs a foolproof, idiot-proof way of installing software from ISV's. I would like to see Ubuntu do this.

From a proud Ubuntu user.

Anonymous said...

"Check back on this in six months. Xandros has never had a free, community distro."

About 2 years ago they did have a free version but it was hard to find on their site.
When version 4 came out they stopped the free version.

Suchi said...

Anonymous said...

"Check back on this in six months. Xandros has never had a free, community distro."

About 2 years ago they did have a free version but it was hard to find on their site.
When version 4 came out they stopped the free version.

July 7, 2008 10:22 AM

i have tried and tested out linspire, as well as most of the other distros mentioned in the above posts, in my quest for a stable and usable business desktop over the years. xandros too.

for those who are interested, the latest xandros oce may be found here. fyi:



Anonymous said...

"corporate linux is down to 3 players...red hat, novell, and mandriva....."
Novell is a Microsoft "partner".


Kevin Carmony said...

I agree it's three, but Red Hat, Novell and Canonical (Ubuntu).


Anonymous said...

around a week or 2 ago i found this WONDROUS lovely distro called freespire 2.0.
after Mr.Gates took his XP ball & bat and walked from the playground of Microsoft, i decided that i was no longer going to use products from a company that forgot it needs to make what the clients want NOT force the clients to take what they dish out. what are they a pre-soviet union downfall state run industry?

i've been trying desperately to get puppy linux to run , but it won't on all my pc's (i homeschool my kids via the net & so have several older laptops all over the place.) and so help me GODDESS if nvidia keeps their crap up..well..i run off on a tangent..


so..freespire. absolutely lovely. hard to get used to but i like it. so now i read all this and go..HUH? DAMMIT!! freespire is the only , ONLY distro i have found that runs on all the pc's i've slapped that disc in!

so a few greedy, arrogant SOB's had to FUBAR a good thing? are they going into politics next?

*SIGH* so what do we, those of us who adore this distro do? as for xandross? it's gross! seriously..it's like linux decided to become the "PC" in the mac and pc tv commercials!! GAH! hell no!!

seriously..what do we do? ubuntu is awesome, i LOVE the xfce desktop..but it won't run on some of my pc's. *L* some of us haven't got a whole lotta Dosh to slap down on new tech every other week.

seriously, what do i do? where do i turn..

by the way..IMESHO!! CNR is an annoying piece of offal. i get more done better with synaptic package manager. yeah CNR has the "looks" but not so much substance. no offence. i's just..REALLY annoying...well ok to ME it is.

Shirlindria- THE Techno-Hippie Mom.

PS: you did what you could, at some point it were outa your hands. stand up, dust off, blow off the ego-boobs who Screwed it up for everyone else and do whatcha need to do.

the best revenge is to live well.

Anonymous said...

Well it's almostone year later, and there has been no new news about work on Freespire 5. Linspire is dead. Freespire is dead. And to some extent, even CNR seems to be dead (and morphed into the Presto Application Store).

Kevin Carmony said...

And it's been nearly two years since I left Linspire and the shareholders have yet to hear one word as to what happened to their investment.

Everything I've seen Robertson do the past two years has been nothing short of insanity, with all his companies. He's either very greedy and dishonest, or he's very incompetent. I personally believe he's both.

His companies all seem to have failed or are failing, while he spends his time assaulting former employees with lawsuits and false accusations.

You'll be hard pressed to find an investor, former employee, partner, vendor, or customer that has benefited much from having known Robertson.

Anonymous said...

Robertson sounds like he would have gotten along fine with Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. It really does seem that Linspire had an Enron-like collapse, only this time the crook has gotten away with murder so far. I do believe that one day Robertson will have to answer for his crimes.