July 10, 2002

Lindows says OEMs are responding to "Builder Program"

- by Tina Gasperson -

Larry Kettler, the new director of Builder sales at Lindows, says the response to last month's announcement of the Builder Program "has been overwhelming." In an email letter, he says that many OEMs are preparing to launch LindowOS on "a number of computer system SKUs [stockkeeping unit]."
The Builder Program, designed by Michael Robertson's company, Lindows.com, offers original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a flat fee license to install LindowsOS on new systems. Microsoft charges computer builders a per-system fee.

According to Lindows, OEMs will be able to license the product for a flat monthly fee, installing it on as many or as few systems as desired.

"To join the Lindows.com Builder's Program, and become authorized to license LindowsOS on as many computer systems that you want each month, there
is a Membership Fee of $500 US, which includes your first month of licensing. Then, every month thereafter, you will be automatically billed a flat licensing fee of $500 US each month. That's it!"

The Free Software Foundation has been working with LindowsOS to bring it into compliance with the GPL, and has promised the company a rewritten, FSF-acceptable OEM license. The current OEM license states in part:

"Subject to the terms
and conditions hereof and only for the term hereof, Lindows.com hereby grants
to Licensee a nontransferable limited right and license solely to install the
Lindows.com Software Product in executable form on, or bundle the Lindows.com
Software Product with, Licensee Product(s) to make Composite Product(s) for
distribution and resale only; with exception to Section 19 regarding broader
rights granted for certain Software Programs in the Lindows.com Software
Product. This license does not allow or authorize Licensee to sell or resell
Lindows.com Software Products separate from the Composite Product(s)."

This language seems contradictory to the GPL, however, another section of the license states:

"To the extent the GPL requires that
Lindows.com provide rights to use, copy or modify a Software Program that are
broader than the rights granted elsewhere in this agreement, then such rights
granted shall take precedence over the rights and restrictions set forth in
this Agreement."

That clause alone seems to override much of the language in the very proprietary-sounding agreement, with terms like "trade secrets" and "confidential information" and " Licensee shall not: (i) distribute, transfer, loan, rent, or provide access to the
Lindows.com Software Product, except as provided herein; or (ii) remove or add any Proprietary Rights notice associated with the Lindows.com Software Product
without the express written permission of Lindows.com."

And while the GPL appears to take precedence over the statements that seem to violate it, are the OEMs going to know enough about the GPL to understand which parts of the "Builder Program" agreement they can ignore?

You can view the entire agreement here.

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