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Xandros Desktop OS Version 3.0 - Deluxe Edition - Page 4
LinuxLinks Review
By Steve Emms


We'll go through a few of the applications that a typical Linux convert might try for the first time. Although the Celeron and AMD processors are reasonably well powered, both the test machines had on-board graphics. This is fairly common with budget PCs as integrating the graphics on the motherboard saves money, but it comes with a 2D performance loss. However, on both machines the general feel of the desktop was good, with the menus appearing without delay, even though anti-aliased fonts have been enabled by default.

The screenshot above shows what you'll see when logging in for the first time. The desktop looks pretty spartan, with only a few icons down the left hand side. However, some other Linux distributions also take this approach. The icons are the most professional I've seen on a Linux distro, except for the Launch icon. The quality of the fonts and the desktop in general make for a fantastic impression, with the default Plastik windows decorations, style and theme being well matched. Window dressing for experienced Linux users is well down the pecking order of importance, but when you're trying to convert a friend or family member to Xandros it is a big help. What we are seeing in operation is KDE 3.3 at work, but having been expertly customized by the folks at Xandros.

On the taskbar there are tiny icons for starting up Mozilla, Mozilla Mail, Xandros File Manager, Help, and show desktop, all of which are self-explanatory. The Show desktop functionality will be familiar to Windows converts, clicking this icon will minimize all open windows allowing for immediate access to the desktop icons.

The screenshot below shows mozilla in action.

And the screenshot below shows RealAudio at work. Although there were no problems viewing the output from the BBC's website, or the German news station Deutsche Welle on the AMD machine, bad flickering was experienced on the Dell machine. This bug was stopped by selecting the 200% video only option from the BBC site, and by using the external player option when watching the German news channel. The same problems were encountered when using Firefox as well, so it looks like a graphics driver bug.

Xandros File Manager is an application that will warm the hearts of Windows users. Although it will take some getting accustomed to, it behaves in many respects like Windows Explorer, letting you organize your files with ease. For example, to move a file in Windows explorer you can drag the file and hold down the shift key. However, moving files in Xandros file manager requires either cutting the file, and then pasting it into the required directory, or using the right mouse buttom and selecting the move here option.

File associations are well thought out, and this software makes mounting shares stored on other computers a trivial task. I especially liked the different window modes that it has including having two top windows and one at the bottom. Although it's not quite as quick as Windows Explorer in use, it's more than a worthy opponent, especially as it has built-in CD and DVD writing.

Disk 2

The second disk in the Deluxe version has lots of additional software that you can install via Xandros Networks, the most notable being:

  • gtk+ 2.4.13 - a multi-platform toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces.
  • Evolution 1.4.6 - a popular groupware client for Linux, Novell Evolution integrates e-mail, calendaring, tasks and contact management in one easy-to-use application. We would have preferred seeing Evolution 2 being included on disk 2, although we agree with Xandros' decision not to install it by default.
  • Firefox 1.0 - an extremely popular web browser. Firefox does not offer the other web related programs (mail/news client, chat client etc) that are included with the installed Mozilla, but over 10 million downloads might have suggested to Xandros that it also be included in the express installation.
  • gimp 2.0.5 - GNU Image Manipulation Program: image editing software.
  • Emacs 21.3 - a real heavyweight editor which has huge functionality. Some people amusingly refer to it as an operating system in its own right.
  • teTex - a complete TeX distribution for UNIX compatible systems, TeX being a language designed for use in typesetting.
  • The Kernel sources - needed if you ever wish to recompile the kernel.
  • Development packages including gcc 3.3.4, bison, perl 5.8.4, and Tcl/Tk.
  • Additional games including Frozen Bubble.

A few notable free software packages are not included on either of the supplied disks including MPlayer (our favourite media player), gaim (a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client) and GNUCash (a money management program).

Read on to find out what's new in this version.

What's New

Read ahead

1. Introduction
2. Hardware
3. Installation
4. Candyfloss & Disk 2
5. What's New & Discussion
6. Conclusion

Last Updated Wednesday, December 15 2004 @ 08:36 PM EST

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