Xandros comes with a fair amount of applications including developer's tools and KDevelop 2.1. If you want to install more, you can click on Launch/Applications/System/Administrators Tools/Xandros Update (yes, I believe Xandros should make it more obvious/easy to find that there is such a tool available :). Xandros Update can use both DEB and RPMs packages, and it can connect to both the debian mirrors and automatically download binaries, or connect to the Xandros Networks ftp site for OS updates (even kernel updates). Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, when tried to connect to Xandros Networks it was bombing out after downloading 25% of the information needed. The Debian mirrors worked flawlessly though. There was a fair amount of binary applications available (but there are many more in source form), but one thing that put me off, is the terrible and confusing UI of the Xandros Update application. However, it works pretty well and it figures out the dependancies just fine. Xandros told me that they are retiring this application and they will create a new, better one in place.
The office suite installed by default on Xandros is OpenOffice.org 1.0.1. It works well, but the fonts look really bad. There is no font installation tool that is coming with Xandros that I am aware of, and I did not bother to manually install my Windows fonts. Also, there is no AA by default on Xandros. Switching to AA, the OS itself will reconfigure KDE to use a serif font that supports AA instead of the fonts currently selected.
On the multimedia side, there is a CD-burning app included, Xine, Real Player and more. Unfortunately, the included XMMS could not play at all any web radio stations though, while the "Location" feature works fine on my other four Linux distributions.
Speaking about bugs, I encountered a few, they even rendered my Xandros partition unbootable and had to re-install the OS at one point. However, my biggest gripe so far (the Xandros engineers still investigate to try and find the cause) is the incredible slow UI experience I get (even after re-installing the OS). I click on the window manager to move away a window, and the window will actually move after 1 second, as if it was glued to the desktop. I have 3 more Linux distributions on this very machine, and none show this behaviour with the window manager or the slow widgets or the general redraw (yes, the correct tdfx driver is loaded - Xfree was the one jumping to 85% of cpu usage even on simple operations). Also, it seems that my card does not work in 3D, even if there are 3D drivers and DRI support for Voodoo5s for quite some time now. However, this is still a beta, so bugs are absolutely ok to be expected.
This is a desktop OS, meant to be used by both Windows individual users and Windows-based corporations. The hard core geek Linux user is not what Xandros is aiming for. What I have seen so far from this beta 3b, is that this is meant to be an industrial design, carefully crafted towards people who would want to upgrade from Windows98/ME to Linux. Comparing this distro to Lycoris Build-50 beta or the latest Red Hat Null beta, well, it does not look as sexy or good-looking. But it works pretty well (except the UI slowness issue I am having, which is apparently a bug not so common for other beta testers) and it compares well when it comes to productivity and overall management of the computer. In fact, the "Terminal" application is also kind of hidden under the System submenu, and not as easy to reach as in other distros.
Xandros people are telling me that a lot more changes are coming to the final version, and possibly, even a jump to KDE 3.x. This is a Linux distribution to watch out for, and it would compete with both Lycoris and Lindows. Who's going to win most Windows user hearts? Well, we will see in time.
- "Part I of the Preview"
- "Part II of the Preview"