One open-source project dies while another is reborn: Linspire vs. Chandler

The undercurrent of Linspire's and Chandler's respective failures is an inability to market to the consumers that would buy their wares.

You may have noticed late last week that Linspire was officially retired. Or perhaps you didn't. No matter. Given Linspire's rocky history with the GPL and its inability to get traction with consumers, it's an unsurprising move as Xandros seeks to consolidate its assets.

Of perhaps more note is the fact that the Open Source Applications Foundation finally released version 1.0 of its Chandler program. Glyn Moody tries to put a happy face on the release, but the fact is that it's several years too late. It was a good idea back when it was launched but, as Glyn writes, as a "very definite, but *abstract*, idea" it failed miserably.

Note to other open-source projects: "Abstract" worked for Picasso. It won't for you.

Perhaps the lesson in both Linspire and Chandler is just how hard it is to build a strong consumer-facing business. For those who pooh-pooh Microsoft's success as "mere marketing" I have a suggestion: You need to get into this "mere marketing" business. It has a way of driving adoption. It matters.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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