What happens when you blend one of the most popular Linux desktop distributions, Ubuntu, with commercial software and codecs available right out of the box? You get Linspire, an interesting take on Linux desktop distributions. Unlike a number of desktop Linux distributions, Linspire does charge for the software. Once you register on http://linspire.com
, you can purchase the latest distribution and get access to an ISO you can download from the site. Linspire is based on the Ubuntu Linux distributions, but has made arrangements with a number of companies to include commercial software. With most distributions, once the initial OS is installed, you must dig around on forums or wikis to find out the secret series of steps to follow so you can have hardware-accelerated drivers and multimedia codecs, but Linspire's arrangements mean that multimedia codecs, third-party 3D video drivers, and a number of other interesting pieces of software like RealPlayer are all made available out of the box.
As you use Linspire, you can tell that this distribution has definitely set its sights on new Linux users, particularly those who are familiar with Windows. The user interface follows pretty standard conventions, and with all of the available software, new Linspire users might not even be faced with the issue of commercial versus open source software as it is all blended together, for better or worse. The end result is a cohesive blend of popular open source software like Firefox, with proprietary multimedia codecs ready to use without any legal gray areas.