07.04.08

Fear and Loathing in Digital Cornerstone Incorporated, Formerly Known as Linspire

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Marketing, Novell, SLES/SLED, Xandros, Xen at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In previous coverage of the surprising acquisition [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], we showed that not everyone was pleased. Well, it’s getting uglier now. The money-obsessed Kevin Carmony asks Michael Robertson where the cash is and also retaliates with this post.

Michael Robertson finally broke his silence about what the 100 Linspire shareholders can expect from the sale to Xandros. No, this didn’t happen in a shareholder meeting, but to a reporter. Apparently reporters matter more to Michael than shareholders.

There’s a video there, too. The tensions are seen by reporters too they pick up the issues.

The new company will be named Digital Cornerstone Inc. Financial terms of the deal were kept secret.

His comments follow bitter remarks made by the firm’s ex-CEO and Linspire shareholder Kevin Carmony, who revealed earlier this week that a deal between the two Linux companies was underway.

Carmony laid into the takeover by accusing Robertson of being a sell-out and abandoning a “sinking ship”.

Watch what Dana Blankenhorn said:

One outlet described the deal as Linspire founder Michael Robertson deserting a sinking ship, but others will claim that it was sunk last June when it agreed to join Microsoft’s “IP Protection Racket.”

In The Inquirer it’s summarised as: “struggling Linux distributions huddle together.”

So, it’s not so fruitful to sell out to Microsoft, is it? Others are hopefully watching this and learning from it. Deals with Microsoft lead nowhere. Remember what an Acer VP boldly argued in public, according to this good new article from Free Software Magazine.

Gianpiero Morbello, Acer’s Vice President of Marketing and Brand, interviewed by vnunet, said, bluntly, that Acer “has shifted towards Linux because of Microsoft”.

He didn’t elaborate but went on to say, perhaps more importantly, that “Microsoft has a lot of power” which could make things difficult for them but they were nevertheless “determined to develop the Linux market”. That’s pretty bold talk but as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We’ll have wait and see if they have the stomach for a showdown with Microsoft when the threats start to come. Perhaps they might start backsliding like Asus. In the real world, Microsoft has real power and it has never been slow or afraid to wield it when its commercial interests are threatened.

Further, says the same article:

The HP 2133 is another well spec’d contender but it chose to install SUSE, a Novell product that is being currently boycotted by many in the Unix community because of its link up with……Microsoft.

There are other new examples at arm’s distance. Remember the Xen story? Watch this new interview. Linux is not even mentioned. Wasn’t XenSource an open source and Linux-oriented software company before the Microsoft capture? Mind this bit:

GigaOM: But will Hyper-V compete with the Citrix server virtualization business anyway?

Crosby: You should look forward to interesting announcements of products to add value to Hyper-V. We’re going to sell into that footprint much like Citrix has always extended the use cases of Microsoft products.

Overall, the latest Xandros-Linspire move will go down in history as a bizarre one which is difficult to explain. It’s an indication of a total loss of direction.

As the famous saying goes, “Linux is not Windows.” Moreover, GNU/Linux cannot succeed with Microsoft’s help. It mustn’t depend on its fierce ideological rival. It’s a shame that Kevin Carmony failed on both counts and he may not realise that Linspire’s assets had been ‘sold’ to Microsoft before they were sold to Xandros, so it’s truly his own fault. He is now happy with the not-so-Windows-esque Ubuntu. What does that teach us?

“Based on years of conversations, I am convinced that part of the cause of the problem is the tendency to call the system Linux [Ed: let alone "Lindows"] rather than GNU, and describe it as open source rather than free software.”

Richard Stallman

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