A DNR for Linspire’s CNR

By | 2007/02/10

The Ubuntu Blog inspired me to write some of my thoughts on the recent announcement between Canonical and Linspire on the Click-N-Run (CNR) technology. After reading the press release and the commentary at Desktop Linux a few things stand out to me.

The first thing that really stands out to me is the description of what the CNR technology is. After reading it it has redefined for me what CNR stands for: Copy-N-Run.

Taken from the press release:

Linspire pioneered CNR Technology, which allows Linspire users access to thousands of software programs, each of which can be downloaded and installed with just one mouse click. The thousands of software titles available in the CNR Warehouse (http://www.linspire.com/cnr) include full office and productivity suites, games, multimedia players, photo management software, accounting tools, and more.

Does anyone think that sounds exactly like APT or RPM systems? If I recall I can visit Add / Remove or Synaptic / Adept to install over 20,000 packages with “just one mouse click“. I’m used to the other OS claiming they pioneered technology, but this? C’mon!

My next question about this deal is simply “How does this benefit me or us as the Ubuntu community at all?” Easy installation of programs? Already got it. Access to commercial or non-free software when needed? Already got it. What I see here is Linspire deciding to jump on board the biggest and fastest growing software communities and basically reselling the packages that others get for free. Yeah, CNR has a yearly fee. The screenshots on that page (here and here) crack me up. Looks to me like they’re comparing software from pre-APT days (APT was released in 1998!) to their system which is simply a rip off of other package management programs.

I may be pretty harsh here but I just call it like I see it. Linspire is the only one benefiting here. I say DNR to Linspire’s “Copy-N-Run”.

21 thoughts on “A DNR for Linspire’s CNR

  1. xabbott

    Wow, way to be clueless. CNR has always been a front end for apt. What is an “rpm system?!” RPM is a package type not a package manager.

    Add/Remove in Ubuntu doesn’t list every package.

    Synaptic is functional but not comparable to what CNR is trying to achieve. You can’t even use Synaptic on a default install and get all your codecs.

    All the things you already have require additional repos or time on the terminal which is not acceptable for the typical user. Not to mention the legalities of getting codecs and/or fonts. Also if I am not mistaken Freespire has CNR for free.

    I’ve never used Lin/Freespire but I do think spreading fud is bad. This post along with a few others I’ve seen show had bad Planet Ubuntu is getting.

  2. Johannes

    I thought the goal of CNR was to sell (proprietary) software. So you can by multi media codecs with one click, like a iTunes for software. It would be a cool idea when independent software developer can sell their software over CNR.

  3. TDP

    What I see here is Linspire deciding to jump on board the biggest and fastest growing software communities and basically reselling the packages that others get for free.

    I’ll admit my own cynicism, but c’mon. You’re an Ubuntu developer (?) and are miffed by another organization jumping aboard the Ubuntu train….It makes one understand why some Debian folks have been see wearing “F*ck Ubuntu” t-shirts.

    You obviously understand how reliant Ubuntu is on Debian, so please be more careful with your rhetoric.

  4. foncu

    I totally agree with you. I recently wrote an article (in spanish) on the same plot. I might be suspicious, but I don’t see a good future for this agreement.

    Provided that Linspire could have developed anything using ubuntu as a base without this agreement (because ubuntu is free software), I wonder what other surprises this agreement will bring for us, ubuntu users.

  5. ozp

    what are the benefits?
    for you none

    for a regular user:

    more eye candy
    even more easy

    This tool is getting where the future is: web

  6. pirast

    As CNR ships proprietary software, does it use DRM? Is CNR going to be shipped by default in Ubuntu?

    For me, those would be real killer-arguments against Ubuntu and Canonical. I mean, Canonical has the right to make money with Ubuntu but then they should please do so supporting or selling Ubuntu and not integrating third party applications.

    The question that I ask myself is: “Is Canonical evil?”

    I mean,
    Launchpad is closed source in order to compete with Red Hat and other Linux vendors [1]
    Mark does a lot of FUD against Red Hat, who contribute a lot to the FOSS community (also on the upstream side) which Canonical does not do.
    Ubuntu kills Debian by taking it’s packages to universe, modifying them and not contributing back (there would be other ways fixing bugs in Universe, for example, fixing bugs in Debian and then syncing).
    Rosetta destroys upstream translations: Some nice users think “Hey, let’s translate this application / change some string” and translate it using Rosetta. The translations do not have any quality and upstream does not receive the changes. In most cases, Ubuntu gets bad translations. Yes, I already posted that and a possible “fix” to Rosetta-users ML.
    Dapper-commercial: Canonical surely gets money for doing d-c and not few. It fears me that one single company can say “Hey, let’s make a dapper-commercial repository and let’s ask our developers to modify gnome-app-install in a stable release so that it automatically adds a new repository on Canonical server”.

    This and some things that I can’t remember are the reasons for not contributing to Ubuntu anymore on the side of fixing bugs. Though, I will still use it as my OS, since it is the best one I ever used. I think that since Canonical is the financier of Ubuntu, they can drive it the way they want. But it does not strength the trust me (maybe the community) if they do such things.

    [1] http://charismacode.blogspot.com/2007/01/powers-and-repositories-ubuntu-and.html Over time, it will be open sourced. Right now we compete with Progeny and Red Hat and other companies, so we need to have a unique offering to do so effectively, and that’s Launchpad.

    [2] http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/77

    Some links about that:

  7. ssam

    i think CNR is older than gnome-app-install. it also has far more features, screenshots, reviews, tip jar, and pay for software.

    have a read of http://cnr.com/ and look at the screenshots

  8. az

    If I hear another dumb comment about CNR, I’m gonna scream.

    “This and some things that I can’t remember are the reasons for not contributing to Ubuntu anymore on the side of fixing bugs”

    For all you people who can’t figure this out, let me spell it out for you.

    No one will ever point a gun to your heard and force you to use Linspire software channels to run Ubuntu.

    CNR is a package manager and a client to certain software repositories. It has recently been open-sourced. If it’s better than the other package manager frontends and if Ubuntu wants to start using it, great. That does not mean that the software will start to be non-free.

    Secondly, Linspire has found that they make more money by providing the service of distributing software than just building and shipping a distro. Great! They want to follow the path of charging for their services to the end-user.

    This is different from the Canonical/Ubuntu model which charges for services and support but provides the software for free.

    So, if a user wants some software that you are not able to get legally for free (w32codecs, for example) Linspire can sell it to you. That’s all. You don’t *have* to.

    Nothing in providing CNR to Ubuntu users prevents them from running a non-free system, and vice versa, there is nothing wrong with Linspire selling stuff to Ubuntu users. There is no problem here.

    In fact, in the case of dvd playback and w32codecs, unless you pay the royalties, it is illegal to install and use them on your computer. I’m sure it’s quite the hassle to pay for each and every relevant royalty, unless you get someone to re-licence them for you. Without paying those royalties, it is difficult to set up an Ubuntu computer in, say, a library where people will expect to play dvds and certain media formats that Ubuntu simply cannot ship.

  9. weeber

    The reality is that ubuntu doesn’t benefit so much in this agreement. The CNR tecnology is a weak tecnology compared with apt, but the benefit from it is that the codecs that you download through it are *legally* installed on your machine, remember that in some countries play an encrypted DVD in linux is ilegal.

    I don’t like the ubuntu-linspire deal but Linspire could base his distro in ubuntu without a deal of any kind, so in the Mark’s position I would do the same: a deal that even if the benefits are apparently nothing, ensure the distro’s image over the internet.

  10. bvmou

    The CNR deal is completely brilliant for reasons that are being missed in this discussion. This is not about ease-of-use. It is actually a clever COVER for the free (libre + $) spread of hostage “intellectual property” with fewer restrictions than currently exist, I am surprised no one sees this. If you go into a cafe and see someone booting into OS X from a Toshiba laptop, you can be sure some “intellectual property” has been violated. Sadly the same is the case for Linux user in the United States watching a DVD on anything other than Linspire.

    Now Canonical announces a deal whereby a legal channel will be open – and here is the masterstroke – IT WILL TOTALLY NOT MATTER IF ANYONE USES IT, THE GOAL WILL HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED. Whatever ridiculous trade group “owns” the algorithms for A/V decompression will be left with cap in hand, because now Canonical can put free decompression software on non-US servers, and point the US lawyers who harass them to the Linspire deal, which is a historical fluke we should be grateful for and exploit the hell out of. And there will be no physical, forensic difference between the “legal” and “ilegal” versions, so the mere existence of a legal version will effectively legalize all the Banditti in America. Of course, Shuttleworth cannot say this openly, but he is bright enough to know what he is doing, his career has been one jiujitsu on US IP insanity after another.

    “Ease of use” is a canard, and it is fair to be mystified if that’s what you think Canonical is after. That isnt what Canonical is after.

  11. Aaron

    For me, an above-average Ubuntu user, the reasons not to use CNR are ethical reasons.

    First, I find it wonderful that there is a service to use and install proprietary and patented codecs legally. Apt does not provide this.

    However, the reason *I* use Ubuntu, is so I can break the chains of such software. I want to encourage developers to develop open standards, and I want the media industry to support them.

    Using CNR keeps this from happening by supporting developers to continue producing closed patented applications and codecs. While I may have my fix to watch WMV videos or play MP3s, I am not doing anything to support the use of open protocols or codecs.

  12. bvmou


    The .mp3 patents expire in 2010, this is transitional. And given that 99% of DVD content is proprietary, it doesnt make too much sense to insist on watching locked-down content in a pristinely open standard. I agree with your goals but they are more likely to be furthered by things like the CNR deal. The point of the CNR deal is not to get users to pay, it is a US-specific attempt to undermine the effectiveness of proprietary standards, as I outlined above. No one will actually pay, but everyone will benefit, it is like FUD in reverse.

    The best example is the Ipod, where only a small fraction of the music on a given device is “legal”, but the main distribution channel (Apple) remains free and clear because its official stance is to support the “owners” of the “intellectual property.” Ipod sales are driven by the ease of supporting shared content – they would go out of business if they only played Apple’s FairPlay content. CNR will be like our FairPlay, it will legitimize the spread of free stuff, and give us tremendous cover, despite the fact that no one will use it.

  13. Pingback: Siberia » Blog Archive » CNR v2

  14. luptinpitman

    Didn’t seem so insidious to me. Looks like a pretty portal to what is already available. Web interface to apt/synaptic with pictures and text along with the ability to purchase software (and devices if I read the press release correctly). Seems like another “Automatix sucks cause you don’t need it” type argument. I can plainly see the value to the surge of newbie users flooding into the Linux fold. Sounds like a good thing to me…

  15. aaron

    awesome screen shots, do you have any that are actually readable? nice fud.

  16. Ubuntu user


    At least the recently open-sourced CNR promises to make installing the packages as easy on Fedora as, say, openSuse or Ubuntu.

    One huge, great, big repo. I fell in love with ‘buntu because it had so many packages not easily seen in many other distro 3rd party repos. Gpar2, NZB, Klibido and others, for example.

    With CNR we should have access to all the codecs, mplayers, decoders and stuff in ANY participating distro without needing to dig out repo urls and keys, or needing to nano/gedit the repo and conf files.

    Sounds good to me – I hope they add support for RHEL/CentOS/StartCom. We’ll see…

  17. Pollywog

    I have used CnR in both Linspire and Freespire and it is nice but I still prefer APT. Freespire allows users to use APT if they prefer it.

  18. Scott

    I’m amazed at how many don’t get CNR.

    First of all, APT is just a front end for DPKG. Synaptic in turn is a frontend for APT..

    What you get from CNR are either Debian packages (which Ubuntu utilizes along with Debian, Linspire/Freespire, MEPIS and several other distros, or RPMs which are utilized by many distros.

    And guess what? You can download and install Debian packages from all over the Internet and you install them without anything but DPKG. There is no APT involved.

    What’s nice about CNR is just like downloading software for Windows, you can get good information on the software (including Screenshots) and then just download it right there (think download.com).

    I don’t see why people are getting ail up in arms about this.

    It can do nothing but benefit the community.

    And even better, CNR offers commercial as well as no-cost software. You get the best of both worlds. And most of what they have is GPL.

    Personally, I think it’s great. For me, it won’t replace APT (or it’s front-ends) but it’s a nice alternative. I plan to use both.

  19. Paul

    I used Linspire and CNR for several years. It does have an advantage in that you can legally obtain all the proprietary media codecs that are otherwise illegal in the United States and not have to worry about getting caught. CNR is good for beginning Linux users who would not know the first thing about updating sources.list. CNR also allows the user to easily buy proprietary Linux based programs and games (yes there are some). CNR also has “isles” where you can store/recall your favorite programs that you want to have installed on all your PCs.

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