Linspire today announced the availability of Internet dialer software that provides direct access to the Internet for desktop Linux users via AOL’s dial-up ISP service. AOL, a subsidiary of Time Warner, is the world’s largest ISP with 29.7 million AOL subscribers in the U.S. and Europe.
The AOL Dialer beta software lets desktop Linux users configure their computers to use AOL over dial-up connections for the first time. Previously, only Microsoft Windows and Apple computers could access AOL dial-up connections.
Since each subscriber account might represent up to seven screen names, access via AOL is now possible for families placing Linux computers in their homes. Recent estimates suggest there are some 90 million unique users of AOL, which could open up Linux to an important new audience.
“We’ve expressed to AOL that America Online dial-up support is the number one request we get from users and OEMs, but they have yet to release anything,” said Michael Robertson, chief executive officer of Linspire. “We decided to build an open source dialer on our own so the massive AOL customer base can now use a low-cost Linux computer with their AOL accounts.”
Available free to all Linspire users, the AOL Dialer for Linux beta version installs from the company’s software repository called the CNR Warehouse. The software also is being released as open source. Code is available at linspire.com/dialersource. An AOL option will be added to existing ISP options for Earthlink, Juno, NetZero and Speakeasy in the next major release of Linspire slated to debut later this year.
To configure and use the software, users must have an existing AOL screen name and know their local access number. Multiple access numbers are supported by the AOL Dialer interface. Clicking the “Connect” button establishes a connection and displays blinking “LED” lights in the computer’s system tray to show activity. After connecting, all Internet-based services can be accessed.