Suit may delay Lindows shipment

A second preview version of the much-anticipated Lindows operating system shipped last week, but users said the latest implementation still cannot run Microsoft applications, the ultimate goal of creator, and few expect a final version to ship as scheduled this spring. The latest version has added new capabilities for streamlining software installation, as well as for viewing and printing non-Linux file formats.

The Lindows OS is based on Linux and a technology called WINE, which allows Windows applications to run under Linux. When it is ready for prime time, Lindows will offer a full-powered graphical desktop experience familiar to any computer user, says company founder, Michael Robertson, who also founded the music site,, but with advanced underlying architecture to ensure greater reliability.

The first preview was released earlier this year, and Robertson has been promising to launch the OS, carrying a price tag of $99, this spring. Robertson and his small crew might be forgiven for the current delay due to a fairly large distraction in the form of a lawsuit filed by Microsoft claiming the San Diego-based company is infringing on the giant software maker's Windows trademark. filed a motion to dismiss the Microsoft claim in January, arguing it has no presence in Washington State, where Microsoft is headquartered, and transacts no business there. Accordingly, the company asserts, the state has no jurisdiction over the company.

Last month (March), Chief U.S. District Judge John Coughenour made a preliminary ruling on the Microsoft suit, stating he has "serious questions regarding whether 'Windows' is a non-generic name and thus eligible for the protections of federal trademark law." In other words, Microsoft may not have exclusive rights to the name "Windows" because it is too generic. Some may remember a similar suit filed years ago by the makers of Miller Lite beer, who wanted to protect their designation of their low-cal brew.

Other new features in the second "Sneak Preview" version of Lindows include "Click-N-Run," described as an automated process for downloading and installing software. It centers on a section of the Lindows Web site Robertson says will ultimately contain a "warehouse of software titles," including Windows apps. The site currently lists several downloadable applications that will run on Lindows, including a word processor, spreadsheet creator and presentation manager. All of these apps are from KOffice, a Linux productivity suite.

The new edition also comes with a pre-installed Web browser called Konqueror. The browser comes with several plug-ins, including Flash, a digital music player, and software for viewing and printing Office documents.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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