Today Linux desktop manufacturer Xandros acquired Linspire for an undisclosed amount. Xandros will also be keeping existing engineering, support, and key sales employees and long-time Linspire employee and CEO Larry Kettler will be joining the Xandros executive team as the VP of Business Development. While Xandros didn’t mention their total employee numbers Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos claims Xandros to be the third largest Linux company in the world after the acquisition. Former Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony has some harsh criticism of the deal on his blog.
According to Typaldos Xandros and Linspire have had talks at the CEO level over the years about the possibility of a combination given their historically similar Debian-based roots and complementary product lines. Such talks accelerated in late 2007 and culminated in the current agreement.
Linspire once gained notoriety when they were known as Lindows until eventually settling with Microsoft under an agreement to change their name and to accept a estimated $24 million to transfer ownership of Lindows. As of today Lindows.com still points to Linspire.com I suspect as part of a legacy term of the deal.
Since then Linspire has done some interesting things on the desktop with their Linspire distribution which has always enjoyed billing as an easy-to-use distribution. Their Click-N-Run (CNR) Warehouse supports the one-click install of free and proprietary software as well as media codecs to allow users to legally run proprietary media formats and DVDs on Linux. They also have extended this functionality to support many popular Linux distributions including Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Freespire and had announced plans to support both Red Hat and SuSE Linux distributions.
At one time Linspire had a very heavy push into localization of not just their operating system but the open source applications they support using a collaborative platform to allow community users to contribute their translations. They also were a big sponsor of open source software including Nvu (an HTML editor), Lsongs, and Lphoto that roughly compared to the Apple iLife suite.
Linspire also maintains an open source project, Freespire, a free Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Freespire is the community driven project for Linspire, much in the same way Fedora is the community project for Red Hat. Freespire will continue to be maintained as an open source project post merger.
Xandros is one of the more established Linux distributions evolving originally from Corel Linux popular in the late 1990s. Since then Xandros has growing steadily landing the gig as the Linux OS of choice for the AsusEee.
In June 2007 Xandros announced a broad collaborative relationship with Microsoft. Shortly thereafter like Novell they took some heat from the open source community. According to a Xandros’ Typaldos the Linspire acquisition was not influenced either way by the Microsoft :
Xandros has always planned to continue increasing its product portfolio, and Microsoft understands and respects our strategy in that regard. On whether Microsoft was consulted, Xandros is an independent company and consults internally with its board, management, and advisors, and not with outside parties in making decisions.
The Linspire acquisition brings a lot of value to Xandros including the CNR technologies and Linux expertise. Specifically the CNR technologies now allow Xandros to tap into other Linux distribution user bases. It also enlarges the growing Xandros’ customer base.
Last year Xandros shortly after announcing their agreement with Microsoft, Xandros acquired Scalix, an open source messaging platform to broaden their server offering.The main thrust from Xandros recently has been their Open Bridgeways product. At the Microsoft Management Summit in April they announced a beta of Open BridgeWays a systems management product that provides cross-platform management for many enterprise platforms, including Xandros, Red Hat, Solaris, Debian, Novell and Oracle. Xandros BridgeWays Management Packs help extend the capabilities of the Microsoft System Center to heterogeneous environments with Windows, Linux, and Solaris.
Xandros legacy on the desktop included Windows interoperability. Through partnerships with Win4Lin and Codeweavers they ran Windows applications. Also as evidenced with signing a deal with Microsoft it makes sense that they would continue to focus on interoperability. Now with the Linspire deal they have a even stronger story of interoperability not just with Microsoft but other Linux vendor.
[One interesting side note when I mistakenly typed www.freespire.com in doing research it resolves to Carmony’s new company, DatingDNA.com looks like Kevin speculated on some domains that were ]