posted by Matt Lacey on Wed 4th Feb 2004 18:53 UTC

"Xandros review, Page 3/3"
Removeable Media + Peripherals:

Xandros - Click for a larger view My USB floppy drive works perfectly, as does the automounting on my CD Drives. Burning CDs is a very easy process as it is integrated into the XFM, allowing a user to right click on selected files and choose "Write to Disc" which brings up a simple burning dialog. Alternatively, double clicking on the CD Writer icon in the "My Linux" folder (get to this by moving up a level from your home directory) brings up a list of tasks which you may wish to perform.

I have a Palm IIIc which connects to the first serial port on my box, and this worked perfectly and straight away using the pilot tool provided, it includes several conduits allowing the calendar etc. to be synchronised with the KDE addressbook and calendar programs etc.

Browsing the menu I found an entry called "Digital Camera" under the Graphics sub-menu so I connected my USB Sony camera and launched it. It is the Digikam program that comes with KDE, and I've never used it before but it didn't take long to get going. I opened the camera preferences screen and clicked autodetect - this took less than a second to successfully find my camera, and then it was trvial matter to download the images stored on it.

Printing is as easy as it should be on any OS, the welcome wizard autodetected my printer (HP DeskJet 930C) on the parallel port and it worked straight away with no problems at all.

Things I Don't Like

There are a few things I do not like about Xandros but they are minor points. I don't like the login screen and the extra space in the menus, and would like to see icons for my partitions/devices on my desktop - automatically adding a CD icon when I insert a CD for example. The Xandros File Manager is a great tool but can appear a little messy - The blue fade on the left hand side when "view as webpage" is selected is particularly ugly and needs removing/improving.

The problem I have with volume changing (see the sound section) is annoying but then having two sound cards and only using the second is a far from common setup. Even when people have a sound card as well as on-board sound it is an acceptable assumption that the PCI card is the one desired for output - not many people leave a broken sound card in their machine and use the on-board option :)

Something that would be a definate plus would be to cater for the multimedia keys on many keyboards - I have an MS Natural Pro and it is irritating when I can't simply move a finger and press a button to change song when I'm typing. I constantly find myself pressing the Windows key as well as D or E to try and hide all the windows or launch my home directory but neither of these combinations have any effect in Xandros.

Problems with font sizes are an issue, and this needs to be addressed. Obviously this is an issue with Linux rather than Xandros, as apps are written using many different toolkits, but it would be nice if somehow I could set the fonts for ALL apps from one place.

The Good Bits

Xandros - Click for a larger view Xandros is one big good bit, apart from the minor niggles I have mentioned I consider this a top quality distribution. It is perfectly usable as a desktop machine although there is always the games issue to tackle. Sure there are good games available for Linux but that doesn't mean people don't want to run those that are released for Windows. I never tried installing WineX as my account has now expired and I can't actually afford to sign up again at the moment, and don't have the time to work out how to install from CVS - however I would suggest checking it out at www.transgaming.com as it allows many popular games to be played on Linux based operating systems which is always a good thing.

I haven't encountered any major (or minor bugs) apart from with MS Word, something which can't be taken for granted with most distros or even other operating systems. I would suggest Xandros is sutiable for all people - I'm a big Slackware fan as I love it's sheer bloody mindedness when it comes to remaining true to roots, but I think Xandros is going to stay on my machine along side it for when I don't have time to fiddle around.

The most striking thing about Xandros it that it doesn't really feel like you're using Linux, it feels like you're running an OS that just happens to run Linux (and many Windows) apps and shares some low level workings with Linux. It should be seen as an alternative to OSX and Windows in it's own right, not just as another Linux distribution as it is much more completete than many other distros - you don't find yourself having to configure each of your devices - it's all ready for you.

Xandros 2.0 is one of the best things to happen to Linux in a long time (not counting the release of 2.6 of course!) and I believe with the right publicity it could attract many users over the next year, not only from other distros but also from other platforms.

I'm not going to bother giving a rating for each aspect as each part would quite simply be 10/10, except for appearance (due to fonts) which would be more like an 8.

Hardware Specs:

For those of you who are interested here are some relevant specs of the box used for this review:

Athlon XP 2400+
512 MB DDR
8GB ReiserFS partition for the install
512 MB swap partition (shared with Slackware)
GeForce FX 5800
Taxan 19" monitor capable of 1600x1200 @ 85 Hz
Realtek 8139 NIC
USB mouse and keyboard
USB floppy

Table of contents
  1. "Xandros review, Page 1/3"
  2. "Xandros review, Page 2/3"
  3. "Xandros review, Page 3/3"
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