August 30, 2006

Linspire offers free CNR service to users

Author: Lisa Hoover

Linspire announced a major change to its Click N' Run (CNR) Service today. For the past five years, Linspire has required users to pay an annual subscription fee for CNR, ranging from $20 to $50, but will now be offering CNR basic service at no charge.

Users of Linspire, and the free version, Freespire, will now have access to "One-Click" software installs, uninstalls, and updates. According to Linspire officials, one goal of CNR is to make installing and managing open source software easy for users of all experience levels.

"CNR saves everyone time and makes all Linux user more productive," says Larry Kettler, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Linspire. "Even the most advanced Linux users sees the value in CNR as they search skeptically for a unique Linux application or package in the CNR warehouse, find it and with one click download and install it so they can get to work."

The company is also using the move to increase the number of people who use Linux as their main operating system.

CNR offers overs a wide variety of Linux software that Linspire and Freespire users can install, manage, and update. The CNR Warehouse offers more than 2,000 packages, ranging from desktop enhancements and browsers to Web authoring and developer tools. Optional proprietary packages like CodeWeaver's CrossOver Office, Win4Lin Pro, a DVD player, and several commercial games are available for an additional charge.

The company plans to continue offering a "Gold" level service at $49.95 per year, which will include discounts on proprietary software, priority technical support, and other perks. Security updates will be offered to all users, regardless of service level.

To receive the free service, Linspire and Freespire users simply create a free account using a valid email address. Customers who purchased the Basic CNR Service within the last 60 days will be automatically upgraded to the Gold Service at no additional charge.

Linspire officials say removing the fee for the Basic CNR Service also removes barriers to the accessibility of Linux software. Company officials also say the move is due in part to the success of Linspire's "CNR Gold" service. According to Kettler, "Because of the strong demand for the commercial 'click and buy' applications and premium services such as 'CNR Gold,' etc., we can now afford to give away the basic CNR service at no charge."

The move also puts the company on par with free Linux distributions that already offer free access to large software repositories. Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Gentoo, and many other Linux distributions provide free access to updates and new packages using tools like APT, Yum, and Synaptic.

Linspire also says it plans to release an open source version of the CNR client, CNR7, later this year as a means to encourage software developers to create more applications for the Linux desktop. The CNR Warehouse will also be updated to include new products, updates to existing products, and an enhanced user interface.

"As great as CNR is today, CNR 7 and the new Warehouse will take it even further," said Kettler.

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