Interview with Kevin Carmony, CEO of Linspire
DW: Kevin, thank you very much for your time. The Freespire announcement came as a surprise to many in the Linux community. Can you tell us what prompted the launch of a free edition of Linspire and why do you think this is the right time to announce it?
KC: I just hit my one-year anniversary as CEO for Linspire, but I have been with the company since the beginning, employee number one, and we're just hitting our 5th year. Wow! It's hard to believe I've been doing this for that long! We've had a fun and interesting history, starting back in the "Lindows" days, but we've had a lot of success and accomplished much. Today over 350 OEMs sell computers pre-installed with Linspire Linux and retailers such as Wal-Mart, Fry's, Micro Center, Target, and Sears are selling these computers.
We've learned a lot during the last five years, and two of the most important lessons were: 1) the open source and Linux community needs Linspire, and 2) Linspire needs the open source and Linux community. We've known the latter for a long time, and we started the Freespire project internally about two years ago. However, I think the timing is now right for us to do what we're trying to do with Freespire. Had we tried this a few years ago, I think a larger part of the open source community would have not understood why we were offering proprietary software as an option in the core distribution. Today, the vast majority not only understand this need, they welcome it. When I announced this at Desktop Linux Summit to hundreds of people, I didn't hear a single "Boo!" or "Hissss!" from anyone, but I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement and heard a lot of applause.
DW: I guess you had discussed the idea with Michael Robertson (the founder of Lindows and Linspire). What was his reaction? Does he still take an active interest in Linspire or has he moved on to other projects?