posted by Barry Smith on Mon 5th Jan 2004 06:39 UTC

"Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 6"
Xandros Networks

Xandros Networks is the functional equivalent of the Lindows CNR Warehouse. Xandros does not have as many packages available as CNR, but it does offer some other advantages. I will go thru what I saw as the pros and cons in no particular order.

Pro - You can easily choose between multiple repositories with a simple mouse click. You can also deselect repositories just as easily. You can choose CDs, Xandros Networks server or Debian repositories at the user's option. Any or all of them.

Con - You are risking dependency hell if you veer away from the packages that Xandros has specifically blessed.

Pro - Xandros includes (with the Deluxe edition) a second CD-ROM containing a nice selection of Debian packages that you can access directly without the need of any third party hardware. This is on par with what Libranet and MEPIS provide, and all three are miles ahead of the Lindows approach, which presupposes that all customers will have broadband.

Con - You can break your heart and imperil your immortal soul with curses because Xandros never bothers to TELL ANYONE that when Xandros offers you the option of setting up repositories using the 1st CD-ROM and 2nd CD-ROM, it is not talking about the two CDs included with the box set. It is talking about your physical CD-ROM drives. I had to learn this the hard way because as far as I know, there is no explanation of this in the Xandros Documentation. (Did I mention that I got the impression Xandros rushed things a bit, and didn't quite finish polishing up the loose ends?)

Con - When you set the sources to exclusively use the supplemental CD-ROM, you get a few listing errors. Nothing major, but more undeniable evidence of not covering all the bases. For example, when using the Xandros Networks application with the supplemental CD-ROM as the only source, the only text editor that I saw listed was Vim. Emacs was not listed by the Xandros Networks application. But Vim is not included on the CD-ROM, whereas Emacs actually is present on the CD-ROM, along with a few others. They definitely hurried this release and missed a few small things. Nothing major, especially for me since I don't use Vim or Emacs either one. I suppose the most convenient workaround would be to apt-cdrom the extra disk and then use Synaptic.

Pro - Xandros Networks allows you to substitute apt-get instead of the GUI interface if you prefer it. I often do prefer it. In Xandros, either method uses the same repositories. I may be wrong, but I am not aware of any way to use apt-get to access the Lindows CNR Warehouse. Of course, Libranet and MEPIS use raw Debian, so apt-get and synaptic are the way to go with those two.

Con - The user interface generally could be improved for clarity and explicit directions in my opinion. Yet another sign of putting something on the market in a bit of a hurry. The overall layout and approach is excellent, it just needs a bit more spit and polish on the interface. The menus, to me, seemed a bit counter-intuitive. But of course that is also subjective.

Overall I have to give Xandros Networks a thumbs up. Considering everything, I would say that Xandros Networks is better than Lindows CNR because of the flexibility that Xandros provides the user. Lindows CNR pins you down to one source, and in order to acccess that source you have to pay yearly rent and use the proprietary Lindows browser. Xandros provides free access to free software, and allows you to configure their GUI interface to use Debian repositories if you prefer. And Xandros allows you to access the Xandros repositories and extra CD via the command line tools if such be your wish.

However, Libranet deserves to have it mentioned that they are coming up from behind pretty fast. What Libranet proposes to do is set up their own, completely open repository for Libranet users while maintaining full compatibility with Debian in the time of it. Good luck to them. With their track record I have high hopes that they can actually do it. If Libranet pulls this off, it will be a serious blow to the proprietary lock-in approach that some distros are trying to adopt. What was I saying earlier about winner taking all?

MEPIS is already using bleeding edge stuff to begin with, so heigh-ho and dive into the Debian pool. For the brave souls willing to venture into the uncharted web of the raw Debian wilderness.....I can only say that I salute you. I am chicken.

(As a side note, am I the only one who is getting nervous about the way Sarge and Sid are getting so tangled up in the latest distros? I have reached the point that I am almost afraid to try upgrading a Debian-based distro for fear of crunching half a dozen major dependencies and destroying my whole installation. For a while I seriously considered going back to Woody and staying there until the storm passed. All I want is to keep my kernel, video and applications up to date. Is that too much to ask?)

Ratings for installing and upgrading packages, in descending order -

1) Xandros,
2) Lindows,
3) Libranet,
4) MEPIS.

Table of contents
  1. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 1"
  2. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 2"
  3. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 3"
  4. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 4"
  5. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 5"
  6. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 6"
  7. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 7"
  8. "Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, Page 8"
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