As for striving to take open source mainstream, Typaldos said it's already in the enterprise, especially with regard to the management tool space. He noted Microsoft's System Center extensions that manage both Windows and Linux, and the fact that Xandros and Microsoft have agreed to build application management packs that run on the System Center. Also, Xandros is working with ASUS Eee on its netbooks that run Linux and Windows side by side.
According to surveys by Info-Tech Research, open source continues to move mainstream but primarily through supported subscription-type models like Red Hat and SUSE Linux. Currently, Red Hat ranks first with a revenue of 800 million to a billion dollars, followed by SUSE Linux with 400 million. "But as the market develops, there is room for another player here. Probably not room for three or four which is why Xandros bought Linspire," said Londini.
On the other hand, Linspire sees a financial benefit in the acquisition, said Londini, "which makes sense because both are trying to make a play for the business environment."
But Kevin Restivo, analyst with Toronto-based research firm IDC Canada Ltd., said the acquisition by Xandros may be a move toward strengthening its presence in the enterprise market, but Linux distributions in general face a number of business hurdles.
"The overarching problem for any Linux distribution company at this point in time is awareness," he said.
The fact that established operating systems like Windows and Mac are "singed into people's minds" makes them the de facto software, said Restivo. "[Linux] will appeal to users in any sort of price sensitive situation if you're looking for a reliable operating system where updates are able to be incorporated into their version [in the future]," he said.
But he added that as Linux distributors have made it easier to use the operating systems, "they are now in the realm of reality for the mainstream user."