Lindows.com has fixed a date for the "General Release" of its operating system software, promising that Lindows 3.0 will be available from mid-November. The company also announced that Hewlett-Packard and other companies will be sponsoring the Desktop Linux Summit next year.
Lindows, which aims to directly challenge Microsoft's Windows on consumer PCs, is already on sale on some PCs from Evesham in the UK and from retailer Wal-Mart's US Web site, and can also be downloaded from Lindows.com's Web site. LindowsOS 3.0 Membership Edition, as it is called, will be the first time the software is easily available for purchase on an installation CD-ROM.
The Membership Edition will also include a second CD containing a feature called Click-N-Run Express, speeding up installation of some of the more popular applications from Lindows.com's Click-N-Run Warehouse. Click-N-Run Warehouse automates the process of downloading and installing applications, and is a revenue earner for Lindows.com, because users must pay an annual subscription fee for access. But some applications -- such as Sun Microsystem's StarOffice -- are too large for modem users to conveniently download.
The Click-N-Run system has come in for some criticism from the open source community, because users are paying for access to software that is for the most part itself free of charge. SuSE Linux, for example, costs less than Lindows and comes with several CD-ROMs containing thousands of applications.
Lindows is a distribution of the Linux operating system, which is based on an open-source licence that requires it to be freely available for modification and redistribution. Most Linux applications also use open-source licensing.
The Membership Edition will sell for $129 (£83) plus shipping and handling costs on Lindows.com's Web site. The price includes the two CDs, manual, a year's membership to the Click-N-Run Warehouse and access to a downloadable copy of the software from Lindows.com's site. Those who only want the download will get a $10 discount.
Those who have been part of the Insiders testing programme -- at a cost of $99 -- will be able to purchase the package for $20 plus shipping and handling. The Insiders programme will be ending next month, according to Lindows.com.
Lindows.com said that Codeweavers, HP, Lycoris, MandrakeSoft, Sun, SuSE and Ximian will be sponsoring the Desktop Linux summit on 20-21 February in San Diego. The company also said that "key political and open source community advocates" had confirmed their intention to attend.