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Jason
2005-02-28, 09:08
Well there are two sides to every encounter like this one, perhaps someone
from Slim Devices will respond. All I can say is that Slim has spent an
enormous amount of time developing the Slim Server and now is seeing it used
in multiple competitive products. While this is completely allowable by
terms of the GPL you would expect these companies to at least give some
credit to the folks that have spent thousands of hours developing this
software.

It's companies creating competing products built on the backs of the folks
doing a GPL project that gives open source software a bad rap in the
industry and stunts the development of open source software.

My corporation is struggling with the idea of making some of our software
open source, but we definitely have concerns about someone repackaging our
software and then selling super cheap knockoff hardware to go with it,
stealing our market.


_____

From: discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com] On Behalf Of Michael
Robertson
Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2005 10:59 PM
To: discuss (AT) lists (DOT) slimdevices.com
Subject: [slim] MP3beamer Questions and Answers


I've seen several questions about MP3beamer (http://www.mp3beamer.com) on
the list I thought I'd address.

Q: Is MP3beamer just re-badged slimserver?
A: MP3beamer is a suite of products. The server component of MP3beamer does
share some code with slimserver but it is a different product with some
unique features. Some of the unique features are ability to stream songs
with remote iTunes listeners, auto-rip CDs, one click installation and
setup, control application, UPnP support, and remote syncing. You'll find
screenshots of most of these at: http://mp3beamer.com/screenshots.html

There are actually several pieces of software which make up the MP3beamer
experience. MP3beamer comes with Linspire, an ultra-easy desktop Linux
operating system which makes it easy to setup and maintain a MP3beamer
machine. Linspire installs in about 5-10 minutes and makes MP3beamer
installation a very quick process via CNR (click-n-run). See:
http://www.linspire.com/cnr Also included is Lsongs, an easy to use music
manager for Linux which has been tuned for automatic ripping and seamless
interaction with MP3beamer. MP3beamer Sync is a super-useful utility which
allows a remote user to sync their song collection from MP3beamer to a
remote machine for offline playback.

Q: Is MP3beamer GPL?
A: Parts of MP3beamer are GPL. Parts are based on Slimserver. There are some
parts which are not GPL, specifically code licensed from a 3rd party which
we do not have the rights to GPL.

Q: Is the source code provided for MP3beamer?
A: Yes, for those parts which are GPLed. MP3beamer was constructed with some
assistance from Linspire engineers. You can read about Linspire's support
for open source initiatives here: http://info.linspire.com/opensource/

Q: Do you charge $79 for the software? Is that permissible under the GPL?
A: Yes, it is permissible to sell software under the GPL. Read here for more
information:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney

MP3tunes sells MP3beamer hardware for $399 and is a full PC, but it's about
1/3rd the size of a desktop machine which makes it a good size for a music
appliance. It runs Linspire and includes access to all the software for
MP3beamer. If customers wants to install on their own machine, they can
purchase the MP3beamer suite of software for $79. This includes Linspire
which is $59 program plus MP3beamer server software, Lsongs and MP3beamer
Sync so I think it's a good value. There are definitely things that
MP3beamer can do which slimserver cannot which if those features and one
click install have value to people makes it a good price. If those features
don't have value and people don't mind setting up their own machines, then
it's not a good value.

Q: Will MP3beamer work with Squeezebox?
A: Yes.

Q: Why isn't the Squeezebox listed on the MP3beamer site as a recommended
hardware device?
A: There are several reasons.

1) We're targeting MP3beamer as a mass market product. This means we
emphasize easy of use and low-cost. While definitely not as expandable,
there are some devices like the Linksys and SMC units which are less then
half the price of Squeezebox unit ($125 vs $279) which is critical to reach
the mass market with the music appliance concept. And some units like
Linksys even have speakers which make them standalone boom boxes which is
ideal for our target market.

2) We have yet to put up a the complete list of devices. A more
comprehensive list of devices will go on the MP3beamer web site this week
with another dozen or so hardware units which should work with MP3beamer.

3) I like Squeezebox. In fact, I bought 8 over Christmas time and gave to my
executive team as gifts. I called up Slimdevices asking if we could work
with them on MP3beamer project. My multiple calls and emails were finally
returned after 3 weeks, but unfortunately it was an absolutely awful meeting
and I don't use those words lightly. I laid out plans for our product. I was
very abruptly told that Slimdevices had no interest in working with us. They
said they were working on other things for next few months which they could
not tell me about and they had no time for us. When I asked if we could get
demo units to showcase with MP3beamer at the Desktop Summit trade show (see:
http://desktopsummit.com), I was told 'No'. I asked for marketing literature
I could hand out I was also rebuffed. Then I called a couple other companies
and got a much warmer response and they gladly sent us units to demo and
literature to pass out. Still at the conference I brought in my own personal
unit so there would be at least one Squeezebox on display at the show.

I have a history of rooting for and supporting the underdogs against big
competitors. But in this situation for the reasons cited above, I decided to
focus our attention on Linksys and SMC units which is probably the best
decision given our target market and the events outlined above.

-- MR


Michael Robertson
michael (AT) linspire (DOT) com Read the latest Michael's Minute here
<http://www.lindows.com/mm>

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