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Review: XandrOS Desktop OS 3.0 Deluxe (Page 2)

 

General Usability and Feel

Xandros ScreenshotXandrOS is a very balanced Linux distro. It's easy to use, but not infantile or corny. It's similar enough to Windows that most users making the switch will be able to quickly do productive work, but it doesn't try to be Windows. It's Linux, it feels like Linux should, and it works like Linux should.

XandrOS' balance can also be seen in its intelligent choice of applications. I've installed Linux distributions that included literally thousands of applications on as many as eight CD's. Okay, granted, there's nothing necessarily wrong with that; but how many people really need a dozen email clients and twenty text editors?

XandrOS takes a different approach. They select stable, mature applications that make the most sense for the great majority of average computer users. The Version 3 Deluxe Edition installation CD includes (among other things):

  • The Linux operating system itself, along with its various libraries, manuals, core applications, and other standard components.
  • Various well-designed utilities to maintain the system, install software, and so forth.
  • The excellent OpenOffice.org productivity suite.
  • The Mozilla Web browser.
  • Clients for email, newsgroups, and VPN.
  • The Kopete instant messaging client, which works with Yahoo!, MSN, AIM, ICQ, IRC, and several other IM protocols.
  • Interfaces for scanners, cameras, and Palm handhelds.
  • Various games and multimedia applications and players.
  • Codeweavers Crossover Office, which allows some Windows applications to run on XandrOS (more about that later).

A second CD contains additional applications including the GIMP (a powerful graphics editor), some more games, and various editors, utilities, and development tools. More applications are available by download from XandrOS Networks (many of which are free, while others require a paid subscription).

The built-in application installer/manager, XandrOS Networks (XN), works very well. Most programs require only a click or two and entering the root password to be installed or updated. But in terms of the number of programs available, the selection is still a little on the thin side. (XN can also be used to install standard Debian or RPM packages obtained from other sources.)

My two main suggestions for future revisions would be to include Firefox in the default install, and to include a real-time virus scanner. Although Linux is highly malware-resistant, Linux machines can be "carriers" of some Windows malware. (I personally install antivirus software on all my Linux machines.)

But in summary, XandrOS is a powerful Linux distribution with a solid, polished, professional feel, a user-friendly interface that Windows users will appreciate and be able to learn quite quickly, and a generous and intelligently selected complement of applications that will enable users to do productive work right out of the box. But make no mistake about it: XandrOS runs on Debian Linux, and so it has enough power under the hood to keep experienced Linux users happy, too.

 

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