Xandros Desktop OS Version 3.0 - Deluxe Edition - Introduction
By Steve Emms
Xandros Desktop OS Version 3.0 is billed as "an intuitive graphical environment that works right out of the box and offers unrivaled compatibility with Microsoft Windows". So it's pretty clear what the market of the product is - all the millions of Windows users that are fed up with an unstable operating system, want something for email and web browsing, and be able to create, edit and send the boss their Word, Excel and Visio files.
We've decided to put the Deluxe version through its paces. So, what do you get in this distro?
Xandros Desktop OS Version 3 - Deluxe Edition consists of:
2 CDs - an installation CD and a bonus CD which has additional applications, utilities and games. There's no DVD supplied, although with only 2 CDs this isn't that critical.
A 10 page Getting Stated guide.
60 days of email installation support. (The Standard version offers 30 days of support)
A 360 page User Guide (which we received in PDF format), which is concise and well written. It goes into good depth about how to install Xandros, configuring and customizing it, as well as basic file maintenance, networking, internet, office applications, multimedia and games. The deluxe version has this guide in printed form.
The Standard and Deluxe versions retail for $49.95 and $89.95 respectively, the difference in price reflects the commercial software that is bundled with the latter version. Unlike most other Linux distributions neither are available as a free download. It won't be until the spring of 2005 before you'll be able to download Version 3 for free (and then it'll be based, of course, on the standard edition), but you can always download the previous standard version now. Xandros Deluxe is more expensive than say Novell SuSE's Professional 9.2 and provides less software. But does this mean it's less value for your money?
There's little point having dozens of web browsers, email clients and office software installed when most users are only going to use one or two of each. Xandros has made difficult choices in an effort to reduce the bewildering array of options facing the consumer. We've tried a few Linux newbies on SuSE 9.2 in the past, and they certainly were overwhelmed by the amount of choice. Linux programs also suffer from a lack of conformity, with different interfaces, non-standard menus, various widget sets etc. Unfortunately, there's lots of great software which has totally non-standard graphical user interfaces. Creating a professional desktop operating system really does require this conformity for a consistent look and feel.
Highlights of the software included with this distro are:
OpenOffice.org 1.1.2 - the famous open source office suite.
Mozilla 1.7.3 - a web browser, mail & news client, and Web page editor.
xine - a multimedia player capable of playing DVDs, AVIs (including the popular DivX format) and MP3s
Kernel 2.6.9 - the fundamental part of the operating system that handles resource management, process control, and Input/Output (I/O) support.
KDE 3.3.0 - a popular desktop environment.
Xandros File Manager 3.0 - a file manager (surprise, surprise), web browser and network explorer.
Xandros Networks 3.0 - a sophisticated package manager (DEB & RPM), retail shop, and latest news.
We'll look at these in a bit more detail later. There's also a selection of commercial software that's installed including:
RealPlayer 10 - which plays RealAudio, RealVideo, MP3, 3GPP Video, Flash, SMIL 2.0, JPEG, GIF, PNG, RealPix and RealText and more.
CrossOver Office 4.1 - allows you to run programs that are written for Windows including Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, Photoshop and Visio.
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what you'll get for your money. How does it all work together? Would the distro turn eyes or stomachs? We'll share our thoughts with you in the following pages.