Home–>Documentation–>Freespire FAQs–>About Freespire and The Freespire Project
What is Freespire?
Freespire is a community-driven, Linux-based operating system that combines the best that free, open source software has to offer (community driven, freely distributed, open source code, etc.), but also provides users the choice of including proprietary codecs, drivers and applications as they see fit. With Freespire, the choice is yours as to what software is installed on your computer, with no limitations or restrictions placed on that choice. How you choose to maximize the performance of your computer is entirely up to you.
What does it cost to download Freespire?
Freespire will always be free to download and share with others at no cost. (But, that’s not why it’s called “Freespire.” More on that later.)
What does Freespire offer to the Linux world?
As Linux and open source software continue to grow, there may be times where one feels the need to use certain proprietary drivers and software, until suitable open source replacements are made available. Freespire combines the best that open source and free software have to offer (community-driven, freely distributed, access to source code, etc.), but also provides users the choice of including proprietary codecs, drivers and applications as they see fit.
What is the main, overriding philosophy of the Freespire project?
Freedom of choice. Freespire believes the user should be free to choose what software they want to run on their computer. The user should be able to easily choose from both open source software, as well as legally obtained 3rd-party proprietary offerings. For example, Freespire lets each individual user decide if they want to use OpenOffice (free, open source), StarOffice (purchased, commercial, proprietary), or any number of other office suite solutions. The choice is yours.
What is Freespire’s vision for Linux?
Freespire has a vision for Linux in eight main areas:
- Freedom of choice
- Easy yet powerful
- Exceptional “fit and finish”
- Linux for the masses
- Active community
- Worldwide language support
- Be a good citizen of the broader Linux community
- Serve as baseline for Linspire
Visit the Freespire Vision page to learn more about the objectives for this project.
So, is Freespire open source or proprietary?
Again, the choice is yours. There are two versions of Freespire available. The main Freespire version is approximately 99% open source, as it does include certain proprietary drivers, codecs and software in cases where there are no viable open source solutions yet available. For example, either out of the box, or through products in the CNR Warehouse, Freespire offers legally licensed support for: MP3, DVD, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI drivers, nVidia drivers, Adobe Acrobat Reader, proprietary WiFi drivers, modem drivers, fonts, and so on. However, if you prefer, you can choose the OSS Edition of Freespire which is composed of only open source code and contains no proprietary software whatsoever.
But won’t Freespire hurt the momentum of open source by offering the option of proprietary codecs, drivers and applications?
No, quite the opposite. To influence the future of computing to become more open, Linux must first expand its circle of influence by gaining a much larger user base. A big portion of the world is turned off by Linux, because it doesn’t legally support things like MP3, DVD, Java, Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime, etc., out of the box. Asking millions of people to throw away their iPods (or other favorite MP3 player) or to not legally watch DVDs on their computer, is just too much to ask for most users. The Freespire project believes in providing a free marketplace where the user can decide what software to install and use.
There are two approaches to promoting open source software: 1) avoid any use of existing non-free software, or 2) use some non-free software while free alternatives are being developed. The danger in the first approach is that people will not adopt the solution. The danger in the second approach is that free alternatives will not be developed fast enough because the proprietary alternatives are too compelling. Freespire takes the second approach for the most part. The first approach (an operating system that uses 100% open source offerings), is already well represented in the Linux marketplace, and Freespire salutes those who are representing that approach. Hopefully between their good work and the approach offered by Freespire, Linux will find its way to a much wider audience of mainstream users. Freespire also supports the first approach with their 100% open source version.
What type of user is Freespire best suited for?
As a free, community-driven distribution, Freespire should appeal to both users and developers who want to see an easier-to-use desktop Linux that, out-of-the-box, supports more hardware, software and media formats. However, for those who prefer to use only open source solutions and don’t need legal support for MP3s, DVDs, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, and so on, the OSS Edition of Freespire that is 100% open source provides an excellent alternative as well.
What does the name “Freespire” mean?
Most might think the name simply means a “free” copy of Linspire, but this is not necessarily the case. The name Freespire means much more:
- Yes, it’s “free” to download Freespire, but that’s just the beginning.
- Users are “free” to choose the software they wish to install and control how their computer behaves.
- Freespire believes in having a “free” marketplace of all software that can be easily installed.
- Freespire uses entirely free, open-source software where possible. That means you’re “free” to get the source code, change it, fork it, and do with it what you will. Even the CNR clientin Freespire will be open source.
- By combining the words “free” and “Linspire,” the name highlights the marriage of free, open-source Linux with the benefits of a commercial Linux operating system.
You can find a list of all the different proprietary codecs, drivers and software used in Freespire at the Summary of Proprietary Components page. Of course, if you install the OSS Edition of Freespire, no proprietary products are used. When installing software from the CNR Warehouse, you can find licensing information for each program on the software’s product page. Proprietary software will be clearly designated from open source software in the CNR Warehouse.
How is Freespire different from Linspire?
Linspire is known for its ease of use and consumer focus. Freespire, by comparison, is designed with the Linux community and developer in mind. The Freespire project is also the baseline for Linspire development, and is more experimental (read: at times unstable) in nature. Here are some example differences between Linspire and Freespire:
|Intended Users||Computer enthusiast, hobbyist or developer using Linux in a non-critical computing environment||Home, school, government, or business user looking for a stable, supported, and certified Linux OS|
|Cost||Free download||Must be purchased|
|Distribution Model||Digital download, CD and some pre-installed computers||Pre-installed on many computers, CD with retail box, or digital download|
|Development model||Linspire and Community Developers||Linspire|
|Release cycle||3 to 8 months||12 to 18 months|
|Stability||Bleeding-edge technology released early and often. More experimental, and at times less stable.||Stability more important than latest features|
|Configurable||More installation and configuration options||Defaults preset for ease of use|
|Developer tools||Includes developer tools by default||Developer tools must be installed with CNR|
|Software model||Mostly open source but with the option of proprietary drivers, codecs and applications or 100% open source||Mostly open source but with several proprietary drivers, codecs and applications by default|
|Multimedia & driver support||Out of the box support for MP3, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI, nVidia, and more||Out of the box support for MP3, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI, nVidia, and more|
|DVD Player||Legally licensed DVD Player available via CNR for a minimal cost||Legally licensed DVD Player available via CNR for a minimal cost|
|Application Management||Access to installing software from the Freespire pool using apt-get or CNR||Access to installing software from CNR (apt access in development)|
|Default Applications||Flexibility with default applications, using apt-get or CNR to add specific choices||Well defined set of default applications for the mainstream desktop user|
|Tutorials||Tutorials are not included by default but can be added with apt-get or CNR||Includes extensive, audio-narrated tutorials for ease of use|
|Cost of Updates||Freely available to all Freespire users||Available to those with a CNR Gold subscription. No charge for security updates.|
|User Support||Community or paid-for commercial support||Commercial end-user, channel and OEM support|
|System Builders/OEM Support and Certification||Limited OEM support with self certification of their hardware||Full support and hardware certification program|
See also the chart in the below question, How does Freespire relate to Linspire and the Debian Project?
Will Linspire drop their Linspire brand and/or OS?
No. Freespire is a community-based project that will ultimately help to improve the commercial version of the Linspire OS. Linspire will continue to polish and customize the commercial version of Linspire OS.
How is Freespire different from most other community-driven open source Linux distributions?
- Freespire doesn’t limit choice by cutting off proprietary codecs, drivers and applications.
- Optional CNR software management technology
- Attention to fit & finish, polish and ease of use
- Frequent, on-going updates and release cycles via apt-get or CNR, rather than waiting months between releases
- IRMA community translation manager, supporting dozens of languages
You can also learn more at What Makes Freespire Special?
Does Freespire run as root?
No. Linspire has always allowed you to easily set up passwords for Root, Admin (pseudo root) and User accounts. However, unlike Linspire where setting up a user account is optional, Freespire does this by default and is designed to be run primarily as a User or Admin (pseudo Root), and rarely (if ever) as root. Freespire and Linspire both have strict firewalls in place by default.
Is Freespire only for desktop computing, or can it be used for servers as well?
Initially, Freespire will be optimized for desktop and laptop computers. However, being a community project, it’s certainly conceivable that, over time, Freespire could evolve into a server distribution as well.
RPM or DEB?
Debian rules! ’nuff said.
What is CNR?
CNR is Linspire’s software installation, update and management program. You can learn more about CNR here
How is Freespire funded?
Linspire is the main sponsor of the Freespire project, but we do welcome user contributions and partner sponsorships. See Freespire donations for more details.
Who are some of the other main sponsors for Freespire?
These will be announced in the coming weeks and listed on the freespire.org website.
Why did Linspire start the Freespire project?
Linspire has been a long-time supporter of many open source projects, such as: Debian, Mozilla/Firefox, Nvu, Lsongs, Lphoto, libipod, ReiserFS, GAIM, KDE, KDE-look, Kopete, K3B, and so on. (Visit www.linspire.com/opensource for a complete listing.) Linspire wanted to extend that work to the entire operating system by creating a community-driven project to help us with our work. Work that goes into Debian, Ubuntu, Freespire, and so on, all finds its way into our commercial Linspire product line. Because Freespire includes the CNR technology, it will most closely mirror the Linspire model of software distribution and management, so we’re happy to support such a project.
How long has Freespire been in the works?
The Freespire project has been in the works for almost two years, and we’re excited to see it finally come to life.
Why did it take Linspire so long to come out with a community project like Freespire?
From the time Linspire was founded, about 5 years ago, they have been very busy laying the groundwork with the OEM and retail channels with their commercial, consumer-focused Linspire product. Linspire wanted to make sure that they had a sound and viable business model before exposing the community to another open source project. About two years ago, Linspire was satisfied with the success of their model, and started work on the Freespire project, feeling comfortable that they will be around for a good long time. Linspire is very excited to see the Freespire project finally being shared with the Linux community.
Wasn’t there a Freespire project released towards the end of 2005? Is this the same project?
Back in late 2005, Andrew Betts, a member of Linspire’s Insiders Program, did an experimental project of creating a distro based on all the open source Linspire code, but leaving out the proprietary pieces (MP3, Flash, Java, etc.). Ironically, he gave his project the nickname of “Freespire,” not knowing that Linspire had already started work on a same-named project. Andrew never intended for his project to become available for public consumption at that time, but it leaked out over the Internet to Distrowatch.com, where it was billed as something more than it was planned for. It created quite a stir at that time, and due to confusion over the term “Freespire,” Andrew changed the name of his project to SquiggleOS. Development has since stopped on the SquiggleOS project, and Linspire was never directly involved in that project. Before the launch of this Freespire initiative, Andrew was notified of Linspire’s plans and he worked with them, sharing his ideas for this project. Today, Andrew serves on the Freespire Leadership Board, and is thrilled to see many of the same ideas that he had for his “Freespire” coming to life in this community project.
What Debian branch is Freespire based on?
Freespire believes in using ?the best of breed? work from all worlds (Debian, Linspire, Ubuntu, other open source projects, etc.), but is mostly a direct derivative from Debian “Sid.” Freespire 2.0 is a derivative of Debian “Etch”.
Is Freespire a fork in Debian?
No. Like Linspire, Freespire is additive to Debian’s work. Even though Freespire will often be ahead of Debian with package releases, all applicable work on Linspire and Freespire are contributed upstream in an effort to keep us as closely in sync with Debian as possible. As Debian gets better, Freespire gets better, and as Freespire gets better, Debian gets better.
How does Freespire relate to Linspire and the Debian Project?
To see how Freespire relates to Debian and Linspire, view this slideshow.
Is Freespire KDE or GNOME based?
Initially, Freespire will be built around the KDE environment, but again, being a community project, it’s certainly conceivable that GNOME variations will emerge over time. However, it’s important to know that Freespire believes in using “best of breed” applications in the default distribution, so you will find both GTK and KDE based programs in Freespire, and you can swap applications in and out using CNR or apt-get.
Which hardware platforms and architectures does Freespire support?
Initially, Freespire will be available for the PC x86 platform. However, because Freespire is a community project, we encourage others to get involved in making Freespire available for other platforms and architectures as well, such as AMD64, Intel Dual Core and Mac.
When will Freespire be available for download?
Freespire 1.0 is now available. You can download it here.
How can I get involved?
There are a multitude of ways you can get involved and help make Freespire the best that it can be. For example, you will be able to help with translation work, documentation, packaging, coding, graphics, and so on. You can also help by making a contribution to Freespire or becoming a corporate sponsor. Visit the Community area to learn more.
Will Freespire be LSB compliant?
Yes. The Free Standards Group is already involved on the project and looks forward to working with the Freespire community to insure LSB compliance. (For more information on LSB, visit www.linuxbase.org.)
Does Freespire have a preferred development platform?
Yes. Freespire’s default development tools include python, C++, KDE and GTK libraries which are all fully added to your system when installing Freespire. Naturally, developers can choose to program under other platforms and using different tools, but this is the default development environment for Freespire. Developing with this platform assures smooth integration with the majority of Freespire’s other code. However, using CNR ?Aisles,? it’s easy to add additional development tools, as desired (Java, Gambas, etc.).
Does Freespire have an “Insider’s” program like Linspire?
No. Because Freespire is a community project, everyone can help with testing, have access to all releases, and so on.
Is the freespire.com website affiliated with Linspire of Freespire?
No. Freespire’s site is a “dot org,” not “dot com.” The owner of the “dot com” site is not anyone affiliated with this project or Linspire.