By Steve Emms
Only two installation types are available when installing Xandros 3.0: Express Install or a Custom Install. With the former option you have almost no choices to make, with no discretion about what software packages are installed. As most inexperienced users would choose an Express Install, this is what we went for. We'll briefly summarise how the installation went.
The Dell PC comes with a pre-installed version of Windows XP Home. With the machine running in this operating system, the installation disk of Xandros was inserted into the CD-ROM drive, and after a second a Xandros OS Autorun dialog box appeared. The system proceeded by rebooting the machine.
We were taken into a graphical mode, and a helpful Xandros Installation Wizard proceeded to install the operating system. I went through the simple stages, which included accepting the user license, setting up a root password, a user account, and choosing a name for the PC. All very standard stuff. The monitor was in a 73Hz refresh rate throughout the installation, which was a little on the low side, but considering that when the machine had booted into Windows for the first time it was only at a mediocre 60Hz. A summary screen explained how much of the hard disk was going to be used by the installation, and we were given the option of creating a boot/rescue disk. After this had been created, another reboot was needed to proceed with the installation.
After this reboot, we were still with the 73Hz refresh rate; I was hoping it might have chosen a better rate. Obviously, it can be dangerous for installation routines to exceed the monitor's specification, although the Iiyama monitor we were using has protection to prevent this sort of damage, but many older monitors don't, hence the caution on the part of Xandros. Fortunately, changing the refresh rate was child's play. Just click Launch, select Control Centre, choose Display tab, then Setting, Advanced and I had changed the refresh rate to an impressive 100Hz.
The installation had been a real breeze, certainly anyone who can install Windows will find absolutely no problems installing Xandros. The express option took up only 1.2GB of hard disk space, made very selective choices about what software to install, and not even asked for the second CD-ROM to be inserted.
We later went on to try the custom installation, which gave much more flexibility in the install, including a minimal installation, standard, complete and a custom option. But even if you choose the express option you can always install or remove other packages at a later date.
Xandros Networks (XN)
This moves us nicely on to the Xandros Networks (XN) program. So, you've chosen the express installation but your favourite program hasn't been installed. Actually, this is more likely than you might think, as Xandros has unexpectedly not installed a few programs that we thought were necessities. Firstly, Mozilla Firefox hasn't been installed. This has, in many eyes, replaced Mozilla as the #1 web browser. Fortunately, installing it is trivial. Type firefox in the search box, hit enter and click the install button. Installation proceeds and a menu entry is added. Voila!
The express installation is really geared for the desktop user. The kernel sources aren't installed, neither is the gcc compiler, or servers such as apache and proftpd, all of which would be of little immediate use to the intended desktop user. However, some of the software that hasn't been installed would definately be useful to the desktop user, especially the aforementioned Firefox, gimp and Ximian Evolution.
Xandros Networks makes installing software as simple as in Windows, but if you're on a slow internet connection you may want to set the application source to CD-ROM only, rather than the default Xandros distribution site. It seems pointless installing some of the packages over the net when they are available on one of the two CD-ROMs that are supplied with this distribution. Admittedly for non-modem users it isn't a big deal. XN can install RPM and DEB packages, so we're well catered for. Moreover, XN is more than just a simple package manager. It can do a system-wide update to install all the latest security fixes and software at a touch of a button, and from December 20th you'll even be able to purchase commercial software such as StarOffice using it. With Xandros Networks News providing the latest news releases it even keeps you up-to-date in the Xandros world.
In the next section we'll see what welcomes you once you've logged in.
Candyfloss & Disk 2