You might know Lindows as the company behind an aggressively marketed OS based on Linux and KDE. Indeed, LindowsOS is shipped on certain Wal-Mart PC offerings and the company has won huge contracts for LindowsOS machine deployments. You might also know Lindows as a sponsor of the ever popular KDE-Look.org community site.
Well, Lindows was in the Netherlands on Dec 8th to show its support in a situation where a certain large software powerhouse has apparently been attempting to intimidate local LindowsOS resellers. Sure enough, KDE Dot News took the chance to meet Michael Robertson for
an interview and chat about KDE and Lindows. Wait a minute. Was that Konqi in one of those pictures?
KDE Dot News Interviews Lindows CEO Michael Robertson
What role does KDE play for Lindows?
How is a 60-person company going to compete? We need allies. There is a very low cost
development team out there who are helping us. We need KDE to be successful because we are
very dependant on that project.
What were your reasons for choosing KDE over other available desktops?
It has a more familiar UI than GNOME. It is more comfortable for a Microsoft user.
We are very happy with the rate of speed at which KDE develops. I admire the KDE team.
What do you like most about KDE.
The pace at which the project is moving. Also its desktop friendly features.
But most importantly we like the community behind KDE.
What do you like least about KDE.
We would like to use exclusively KDE applications because that would give us the most
consistent interface. For example File-Open dialogs in OpenOffice are different with the
one found in Mozilla or the standard KDE "File-Open" dialog. We need consistency!
We need integration!
Mozilla is a richer experience than Konqueror (at least back
then when we made some choices about which browser to use in LindowsOS).
There are always going to be other projects. Does the KDE project replicate
efforts? KDE does not always have the best application. So we need more integration.
Could you tell us somewhat more about the work that Lindows has done to
integrate KDE in their products? Has this been a difficult process?
Not that difficult, it is pretty easy to make changes. We invested some time during our
3.0 release to implement changes we could easily adapt to newer future KDE versions.
So this is very generic code. Our technology has to make it easy to incorporate new
How does Lindows support the KDE community?
We currently support all our open source partners at www.msfreepc.com.
We support KDE in as many ways as we can. All code will be published back to the
community (except for Click-N-Run). A lot of changes are not feature changes but more
or less "default features".
How are we going to help KDE? We will look at sponsoring projects on a case by case basis.
We bring marketing to the KDE community, often overlooked by technical people. By building
marketing channels, building resellers, this will make KDE stronger. Marketing and business
development are major obstacles preventing widespread KDE adoption. There are definitely
no technical shortcomings of the KDE desktop. It is not just about technology but from shifting
style in the business of software. From
selling packaged software to selling services.
But what is the impact of KDE on the economics? How is KDE going to impact 90% of the world who use KDE but don't give back to KDE? KDE will
impact the business of software. For desktop linux software to gain wider adoption, it needs support of
OEMs, resellers and retailers. The economics have to make sense for
these companies to invest their time, resources and shelf space. There
must be a way for them to generate profits from it. The problem with
saying "all software is free" is that it removes the economic incentive
for these companies to work with desktop linux and they will not support
LindowsOS is going to move
the industry. We want to move the business to a service model instead of a package model.
We are basically selling you the delivery of software instead of the different components.
We are working directly with motherboard and laptop manufacturers to let the LindowsOS
work with that hardware. I believe it needs some successful software companies based around
KDE who are willing to make investments with hardware manufacturers.
Look at KDE in a broader vision. Verifying software is one thing, but "hardware validation" is the
key. Once the hardware IS validated you also need retailers.
LindowsOS recently announced a large deployment in Canada, can you tell
more about that?
We have deployed 30.000 desktops. These are so called webstations similar to
Knoppix, which is very easy in maintenance. They were impressed with LindowsOS
and decided to go with us.
What kind of users is LindowsOS targeting?
We target the mass market. By that we not only mean the home user but also small
to medium sized business. Basically anyone who is cost conscious.
How do users switching from Microsoft Windows to LindowsOS perceive
We have hands-on experience. All our staff are using our own distribution (we eat our own dogfood). So when
they are working with LindowsOS we have a good notion of how some former MS users perceive
We have hired several power users who are keeping good contact with the community. These guys
interface with insiders (like Beta testers) and they get info from these insiders about
how they perceive LindowsOS.
Where would you like to see the future of KDE go,
and what new features would you like to see in future releases?
We encourage KDE to look at incorporating services in KDE rather than
standalone applications. We think the future of OS is based around services.
The lines between operating systems and services will blur. People are using (Internet) services. Those
services need to be incorporated in the OS. So how does KDE make sure that it
interacts better than any other desktop environment out there?
Some people have been predicting a Linux breakthrough on the desktop
for some years now. Do you think 2004 is going to be THE year?
I think I have to say "yes" because I run a Linux company. We are missing
a key thing: "retail distribution"! When retail distribution happens that will
be the time things will really take off. I don't know about 2004. I think so yes?
I noticed that the old man Bill featured in
Lindows latest commercial.
Do you still expect to get a Christmas card from Bill this year?
If I get one, it will have 2 lawsuits stapled to it.