Saturday, March 04, 2006

Xandros 3.0.2 Open Circulation Edition Quick Review

The first time I've heard of Xandros was when someone informed me about Linspire (Lindows at that time). He told me that Linspire and Xandros strives to be as compatible with Windows as possible, or at least, work on opening and saving file in close format.

After digging around Xandros website, I finally found the download link to the torrent file.

After downloading it, I burned the iso file to disc and prepared for installation. Anyway, I have a spare 3GB of partition and installed in on hda8.

Installation went smoothly and I was even surprised on how easy it is. From hardware detection, to installation of files, to setting up user accounts, everything is idiot-proof. My biggest concern is that it's a graphical installation and might not work on old PC's or on all video cards.

However, when it came for me to install a boot loader, I opted not to since I've already had Fedora Core 4's Grub and don't want to mess up my current setup. So all I have to do now is to edit menu.lst and I would then be able to boot my Xandros..... or so I thought.

My previous post regarding how scary this distro is explains why I had a hard time booting it up. Well, a simple Google search allowed me to figure out what I didn't do. Let me show you again what I added to my Grub.

Boot It Up!

After restarting my Fedora, I chose Xandros 3.1 Open Circulation Edition (well that should be 3.0.2 but I seem to have no time editing it).

"Please bear with the images I'll be posting, I only have a camera phone and you know how sucky images turn out to be."

Boot Loader with Xandros Selected

Xandros Boot Loader

Xandros Boot Process

Xandros Login Window

The Desktop

After logging in you'll be presented with the Desktop. I was surprised that Xandros only provided 2 Desktops since I'm used to getting 4 whenever I install Linux. Since this distribution is aimed for Windows-centric persons, I guess the developers figured that they don't need 4 Desktops.

As you can see, Desktop 1 is colored Blue while Desktop 2 is colored Green.

Anyway, If ever there's a need for additional Desktops, I could easily add it from the Control Center.

Switching Desktops is easily done from the Taskbar
As you can see, there's also buttons for Locking the Desktop, Logging Out, and Switching Users located just beside the time.

Desktop Environment

I would really like to personally thank the developers of Xandros for choosing KDE 3.3.0 as it's environment. I prefer KDE over Gnome for obvious reasons. Of course, KDE is much more customizeable than Gnome via the Control Center. I would like to try out KDE 3.5 and I believe it is already in the Debian repository. If you like to update the current environment, make sure you point your sources.list to both Stable and Unstable repositories of Debian. Google out Apt-Pinning so you'll understand what I mean.

Here's the Control Center

Preliminary Tests

Linux is designed to be networked. I have Smart Wi-Fi and NIC is already authenticated so the next thing I check is the ability of my new toy to surf the internet. I have a Sis 900 Fast Ethernet built-in my hardware. My ISP uses MAC Authentication and I'm already surfing from my other OS'es so I have to make sure that Xandros can right after installation. I ran Firefox 1.0.6 (just need to apt-get it for updates) and Konqueror.

I also have to make sure that I can receive emails from an email client as well as subscribe in newsgroups. In this case, Xandros has Thunderbird 1.0.6. I've been using Mozilla products for quite some time now so I'm happy that this distribution installed it by default.

I also have to make sure it has Open Office installed so I can open spreadsheet and word files from work. I have a habit of bringing home work-related files and finishing them at home so I can focus on what's important at work. Good thing that Xandros has OO installed. My complaints? It's v1.1 and it only has Impress, Calc, and Writer installed.

Next up would be a way for me to communicate with my friends and family. Xandros has Kompete and you can use them with your Yahoo! account, Google Talk via Jabber, MSN, AIM, Gadu-Gadu, ICQ, IRC, and possibly send messages via SMS.

As with all dual-boot systems, I have to make sure that I can mount a FAT-formatted shared drive. There's just no sense of saving important files on a partition or drive that you'll wipe out in the future. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Xandros auto-mounts every partition it can find... including NTFS partitions/drives. That's both a plus and a minus for me. Come to think of it, it'll be much more convenient for those that really wanted to migrate from Windows. Shown below is my C: drive where Windows XP SP2 is installed.


And of course, for entertainment purposes, I wanted to see if I can play WMV and MP3 files. I'm used to playing Mp3's using Amarok but XMMS would be fine. And since I've been using Xine for videos, I applaud the developers for including them here.

And of course, there should always be games to pass the time away.

Et Tu Brut!

So here's my conclusion regarding Xandros 3.0.2 Open Circulation Edition. I've used Xandros since the last week of November 2005. I really haven't used it extensively, but I did spent a fair amount of time with this superior distro. So here's my comments:

Xandros is targeted to Windows users who wanted to at least try a different Operating System. Xandros is designed for ease of use to prevent users from being discouraged from using or choosing a Linux distro. Overall, I find it a good first-distro for those who waste their time with Windows.

One thing that really disappointed me would be almost all applications are outdated. Well considering that this version is more than a year old, it should be expected. You can always update your applications using Apt.

Xandros repository doesn't have all the programs that I needed. Imagine, I have to modify my sources.list to point to an Ubuntu repository before I could download Gaim. If you just take a close look at Xandros Networks, you'll see that it doesn't have all the applications other distro has.

The CD Writing program installed by default won't burn CD's or DVD's at more than 2X. You'll have to upgrade to unlock this feature or download another CD Burning Software like K3B. But I advise against it, since it's much better to upgrade than to bypass protections like this.

Like I said, I didn't extensively use Xandros so these are just a few things that I noticed.

However, I also noticed another thing. Once you upgrade to Home or Business Editions, Xandros would direct it's sources.list to a much better repositories allowing you to download and install all the applications that you need.

After upgrading, Crossover Office would be available to you. Meaning you can install and run MS Office, Quicken, etc. This is really great for businessmen. If you're in a corporate environment, don't even hesitate in purchasing this excellent distro.

Let me again remind everyone that what I've installed is a preview software (Open Circulation, remember?) and it doesn't have everything deluxe editions has. Fixes, Patches, Updates, Additional Applications, and even Phone Tech Support is available.

I urge new users planning on switching from Windows to consider purchasing a copy of Xandros. It's a very powerful OS capable of everything you can do with your old crap they call Windows.

Last two words from yours truly: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Contact them once you've made up your mind.