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Freespire Linux: A Great Desktop for the Open Source Purist

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Linux
OSS

Quick. Click on your Linux desktop menu and scan through the list of installed software. How much of that software is strictly open source? To make matters a bit more complicated, have you installed closed source media codecs (to play the likes of MP3 files perhaps)? Is everything fully open, or do you have a mixture of open and closed source tools?

If you’re a purist, you probably strive to only use open source tools on your desktop. But how do you know, for certain, that your distribution only includes open source software? Fortunately, a few distributions go out of their way to only include applications that are 100% open. One such distro is Freespire.

Does that name sound familiar? It should, as it is closely related to Linspire. Now we’re talking familiarity. Remember back in the early 2000s, when Walmart sold Linux desktop computers? Those computers were powered by the Linspire operating system. Linspire went above and beyond to create an experience that would be similar to that of Windows—even including the tools to install Windows apps on Linux. That experiment failed, mostly because consumers thought they were getting a Windows desktop machine for a dirt cheap price. After that debacle, Linspire went away for a while. It’s now back, thanks to PC/OpenSystems LLC. Their goal isn’t to recreate the past but to offer two different flavors of Linux...

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As part of the research project on “The Interaction between Open Source Software and FRAND licensing in Standardisation”, a workshop was organised by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CONNECT) to present and discuss the intermediate results to date. The workshop took place in Brussels on September 18, 2018. I presented a set of observations from the research on the case studies performed as part of the project that are outlined below. Other speakers where Catharina Maracke on the issue of legal compliance between Open Source and FRAND licenses, Bruce Perens on “Community Dynamics in Open Source”, and Andy Updegrove on “Dynamics in Standardisation”. You may ask what the relevance of this debate is for the wider Free and Open Source Software community. The obvious answer is that to distribute software “without restriction”, the user needs all the usage rights associated with the program. While most FOSS contributors assume that this is naturally the central motivation for anybody to contribute in the first place, there is a long history of attempts to maintain some sort of exclusive control over a piece of FOSS code, possibly using other rights than copyright. Read more

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